What I Learned By Losing 130 Pounds

Though the weight-loss industry is worth over $50 billion a year in North America, I’ve always felt like it’s something I had to do on my own. Call it an aversion to following the crowd. Naturally, I know about as much as most people about what’s good for you and what isn’t, or at least I thought I did. Having a burger at lunch? Have a salad and hold the cheese and mayo. That’s responsible. Or maybe make it grilled chicken on salad. Exercise? Yep, cardio and weights two to three times a week. Result? I hit 355 pounds and was taking four medications to control my blood pressure. Not good.

With my tall and broad physique, most people characterized me as “a big guy.” Not fat, mind you — people would go out of their way to say “you’re not fat” — but definitely big. Some, like my doctor, might say I should lose a “few” pounds. The blood pressure? I rationalized it away as hereditary and, besides, it was under control with medication.

But I knew I needed to lose a lot of weight. I could see I wasn’t any longer just a “big guy.” I was a guy with worsening health and diminishing physical ability. I wanted to look better and feel better, but the holding the mayo and opting for salads wasn’t working. It’s disempowering to know you’re on the wrong path and not know how to find the right one. Even more so since, otherwise, I’m completely in control of most aspects of my life. Career, family, friends and finances — all good. I don’t have any physical disabilities. Really, I had no excuse for not being fit.

So I cheated. I used a Fast Metabolism coach to educate me on exactly what I should be eating and how. After avoiding the self-help weight-loss industry my whole life, I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m a big believer in getting professional help for professional results in every other aspect of my life. Plus, it helped that it’s my wife that’s the coach. What did I have to lose? Other than the weight.

The basic tenet of the Fast Metabolism Diet (though I don’t like the word diet as I’ve adopted it as a lifestyle — diet, for better or worse, seems to have a defined time frame attached) to heal your metabolism so that your body burns energy rather than storing it as fat. You can’t eat just anything, though, I’ve cut out added sugar, refined wheat, dairy and a few other items. I do, however, get to eat an awful lot and I’ve learned to read labels and ask about how food is prepared.

In many respects, losing 130 pounds in just under a year has been pretty easy, if you can believe it. Typically, people on this regimen lose around 20 pounds in the first month and you can just go from there. I don’t think of it as a diet at all but rather a change in diet. I just choose to eat differently without a goal weight and my body takes care of the rest.

My blood pressure is now optimal without any medication. My cholesterol, which wasn’t particularly high, has been halved. My family doctor is at once incredulous, curious and elated. It’s been tremendously empowering. Learning how to control my weight by managing what I eat, as opposed to how much, has been a life-changing education. Sure, it still takes discipline — every change takes discipline — but it’s second nature now. It’s made all that much easier as my tastes have changed.

Surprisingly, things that were once comfort foods (mostly restaurant-prepared ones), I no longer enjoy at all. The hardest to accept has been beer. I just don’t like it very much anymore and I can hardly believe I just wrote that. We don’t buy a single prepared meal at home and any prepared condiments or sauces are carefully vetted. I much prefer whole, simple foods and ingredients. I even like raw broccoli. Seriously.

I was never one for sweets so they were easy to ditch, but it’s been eye-opening trying to cut out all the added sugar and corn. That stuff is in everything!

It didn’t take long for people to start remarking on the effects. I’ve noticed that there are a few common threads. People are really interested in my weight loss. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised — I’ve seen the same commercials and magazines as eve- ryone else. At some point or another, everyone (except me, it seemed) has followed a diet. No doubt conditioned by the weight loss industry, just about everyone I know has also asked what my goal weight is? I don’t have one. I’ve never been fit as an adult (until now) so I have no idea really. It seems to be settling now at about 225 lbs.

At 6’5″ I’ll still be a big guy, but that’s without the quotation marks.