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Hello everyone. This is my first post to this board, and while I have read many opinions and experiences, I thought I would take a moment and share what has worked for me in my weight loss.

I will start by giving a little introduction into where I started and what helped me to begin a transition into a different lifestyle. At the end of March, 2002, I weight 320 pounds as a 6'0, 27 year old male. As a former football player, I have large frame with big shoulders and thighs, so my desirable weight is somewhere around 210-220 pounds. When I graduated High School, I weighed 220 pounds, lifted weights 4 times a week and would run 5-7 miles 5 times per week. In college I still ate like a football player, but rarely exercised and gained somewhere between 10-20 pounds per year for seven years straight.

On April 3, 2002, I was on a business trip and staying in a hotel. That night while in my hotel I ordered two medium pizzas delivered with a two-liter of pepsi. After polishing off about 12 slices of pizza and most of the two liter, I sat in chair and saw my image in the mirror across the room. I felt like I could feel my heart throbbing and for a moment I was wondering whether I was going to make it through the night. I am sure it was nothing more than heartburn, but it made me feel so guilty for the life that I had limited myself to.

An image that finally got to me was thinking of my two year old girl. I had this picture of our family going to the waterslides and watching the other fathers playing with their kids in the water. I imagined myself with a book and white lotion on my nose, as I sat under an umbrella, far away from the action. I loved the waterslides as a kid. I loved having water fights with my dad and intertubing down the slides with him. I knew this was the kind of father I wanted to be.

It may have been just a silly image, but it was enough for me to stay up that whole night to decide what had to be different about this time to lose weight and keep it off. I started by grabbing some hotel paper and making a list. I wrote on it every dark eating secret that I had that I either kept from my wife or tried to ignore myself. I don't know if anyone else here has had some of these or similar items on their list, but some of them were as such:

*I eat good, wholesome meals for weeks at a time, and then for whatever reason go on two to three day eating binges where I can consume 10,000 or more calories a day.

*During those days, I might stop by McDonalds on my way home and eat a Big Mac, 2 cheeseburgers, and a milk shake. I make sure to throw away all the evidence before going home so that my wife will not know. I still eat my entire dinner with her as if I had not eaten already.

There were others as well, but there was something refreshing with writing these types of actions down. When I got back home the next day, I read what I had written to my wife. She was suprised at some of the things that I had written, but it made sense. Why would I gain so much weight when I never eat that bad at home?

I purchased a little book that I began writing down everything that went into my mouth. This included mints, gum, and anything else that had any calories. I pulled out my wife's nutrition textbook from her college years and read the 5-6 chapters that were related to dietary health. I actually read them about 4 times, underlining key concepts and reviewing large food lists. There was a section in the back that listed thousands of food and their nutritional make-up. My wife and I went through the entire list and highligted all the foods that I, personally, liked very much or wouldn't mind eating more of. Based on the list of foods, we made a breakfast, lunch, and dinner plan that would provide enough quantity of food and still limit the amount of calories that I was consuming. When it came time for a snack, I would measure out the amount of whatever I was about to eat and then recorded it in my book. Recording was essential, because it forced me to start making conscious decisions about eating, rather than just devouring a handful of M&Ms while standing at a coworkers cubicle.

I have averaged around 1700 calories a day since that time and still count calories. After having looked up food calories so many times in that textbook, I no longer have to write anything down. I keep a mental tally as I eat throughout the day, it lets me know how many calories I have remaining and what kind of snacks, meals, etc that I can eat. When I need quantity, I keep certain foods around that I can simply eat a large portion of, but has relatively little calories. Once I was used to the reduced calories, I began to start paying attention to the amount of dietary fiber I was consuming.

I have never watched fat grams or carbs since I have changed my eating habits. I feel very comfortable that I am consuming enough dietary fiber and that I am staying to a reduced number of calories, everything else seems to work itself out when those two requirements have been met for me.

Here is what an average day of eating looks like for me:

2 Servings of Crunchy Corn Bran (180 calories)
1/2 Cup of Nonfat Milk (40 calories)

2 slices of light bread (80 calories)
6 slices of lean lunchmeat (60 calories)
2 slices of nonfat cheese (60 calories)
1 serving of pretzel sticks (100 calories)
1 pear (90 calories)
1 light ice-cream sandwich (130 calories)
1 diet cola (0 calories)

6 oz of ham steak (240 calories)
1 sweet potato (100 calories)
4 servings green beans (80 calories)
1 serving wild rice (180 calories)

This gives me a base calorie range of only 1340 calories a day and still eating around 30 grams of dietary fiber! This still allows for me to have somewhere between 200-300 calories of snacks as I see fit. Sometimes, if I feel particularly hungry, than I can add those calories to one of meals by having another serving (a second serving of pretzels at lunch only adds another 100 calories).

I wont get into the details of some of the other steps that I have done, but I will list them briefly:

1. I weigh everyday
2. I keep detailed spreadsheets of my calorie intake, exercise schedule, and weight loss tracking. I have used this to calculate my exact basal metabolism, that is amazingly accurate in guesstimating my weight loss. It also allows for me to see how many calories I can consume per day when I reach a sustaining phase and not simply a weight loss phase.
3. I started mostly with a cardio program, but began weight lifting once I reached about 285. It was very discouraging at first because weight lifting actually made me gain weight for several weeks before I started losing again. Telling a fat person that gaining weight, no matter whether it is good weight or not, is an extremely difficult concept to get a handle on.

Where am I now? I have lost 71 pounds so far in the past 16 months, having weighed in at 249 this past week. My family has asked when I plan to stop the spreadsheets and documenting of my calorie intake, but I have told them that I may never stop. It has become such a way of life for me, that I don't really mind and it doesn't take much time. Maybe several years from now I will stop and not even realize that I have, otherwise, this is as normal for me as balancing my checkbook.

For those who have made it this far through my post - CONGRATULATIONS! Hope it wasn't too boring. I would love to hear it others are having similar success in their strategies. I also don't mind answering any questions that you might have about my plan. Thanks.


By the way, I went to the waterslides with my three year old today! Maybe that was what inspired me to write....

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