Today, for the first time since I left Japan a decade ago, my actual weight is what it says on my drivers license: an honest 175lbs (or 79.4kg for our readers not in the US, Burma, or Liberia).
Granted, at my leanest, I did weigh in a tad less in Japan (around 77) but that was before marriage, home-cooked meals by my mother-in-law (a retired professional chef), and driving everywhere in a car. High food prices, minimal refrigerator/pantry space, and small serving portions in Japan helped, as did my weekly 15 to 20 miles of running. So, how did I change it around?
It started last February. I had lunch with Bernie Corrigan, an ex-FreeMarkets sourcing specialist. Bernie had picked the restaurant and over lunch he elaborated on the concept of Paleo eating, something that he was trying and having great success with. Essentially it revolves around making sure that all carbohydrates are in as basic of a form as possible, that you avoid processed foods, and eat minimally prepared dishes with lots of greens and meat. In other words, you eat like a caveman, which is another name for this diet.
I took this with a grain of salt, but Bernie talked about his great success so I filed it away for future thought. A month or two later, I was faced with a depressing wardrobe reality in that nearly all my suits were too small! The scale had hit around 204 lbs, or 92.5 kg on the painfully accurate Tanita scale. Something had to be done. I had tried cutting back on portions in the past, but it didn't work. The stories about how the body switches to starvation mode and refuses to let go of excess was true. It was time to do something radical, because buying larger suits was not a solution.
So I decided to try out Bernie's approach after reading up on it online: keep the food intake true to really old-school eating. I especially needed to work on eliminating useless empty carbs, and reading food labels will show you how much sugar and its sibling HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) is in everything. It's difficult to find food without it.
So, long story short, I settled on this diet:
- Breakfast - plain yoghurt (Chobani - one of few with no sugar added) with raw almonds, and dried (unsweetened) fruit (blueberries, cranberries, mango, and gojiberries)
- Lunch - sometimes skipped, but usually a whole bag of spicy dry roasted edamame (soy beans)
- Dinner - meat (chicken or pork, sometimes beef) or fish - with lots of veggies (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus)
No bread, no rice, no potatoes, no chips, no candy. Streng verboten!
I don't want to seem like an ascetic, though. I didn't change my habit of splitting a bottle of red with my wife around three times a week. Had I done that, I might have lost weight quicker, but my quality of life would have dropped considerably. Love the big reds! Good for the heart too. And I occasionally splurge on cheese, particularly Roquefort and similar tasty soft cheeses.
My copious daily intake of coffee (a pot of French roast) and sodas (probably four or five diet sodas – not because it's diet, I just never liked the sugar aftertaste) have remained unchanged over the past 20 or so years. Take that all you hand-wringers who try to come up with ideas that caffeine and diet sodas confuse the body!
I started this regimen early in the summer and the kilos came off quickly at first. But then of course I strayed at times, and hit a few plateaus along the way. Nevertheless the scale kept showing less and less as I stuck to the regimen. Six or seven months later I'm down almost 30 pounds without any real suffering or effort other than a bit of persistence.
Recently I discovered almond flour (buy on the internet) that lets you indulge in bread-like creations. It works wonderfully when you make Swedish pancakes (not the IHOP fakes) and even homemade pizza! In all honesty, the pizza tastes better with ordinary flour – but the almond flour version comes without guilt!
In case you were curious, I have not changed my exercise regimen along the way. I do a lot of yard work (close to 4 acres to maintain...) but other than that, not much really. Now that I'm down below 80 kgs I will start running again. At my earlier higher weight, it was just too painful on the knees and back. Note that when you switch to Paleo eating – and you are in weight-reduction mode, it is recommended to avoid intentional strenuous exercise since you don't have the carb intake to back it up. Get to your target weight, and then switch to a slightly different diet that works with whatever exercise routine you like.
As a final reward, last night I went to a business reception and I could put on my tailored suits and shirts again and they fit! Fantastic - and will be even better once I get back to the lucky sevens - 77 kg - or, a hair under 170 lbs. A side benefit is that my back feels a lot better these days, and so do my knees and feet!
Just as in procurement, a small change applied consistently over time works wonders. No excuses or New Year's resolutions needed. Just stick to it!