One of the my most asked question is: how did I lose my weight? Sadly, there is really no secret; the secret is simply diet and exercise. I went from 170 to 180 lbs, throughout high school and college, to 150 to 155 lbs for the last six years. I’m 5’9” by the way.
The main focus is to eliminate refined sugars and exercising everyday. Eating healthy is important but not necessary eating the leanest cut of meats.
I must warn that my method is long term, requiring lots of patience. In fact, you might not see any results for months but the foundation is building up. Took three years before I slimmed down to my desired level of fitness. This is a mindset, a willpower, type of weight loss program.
Firstly, I scaled back the soda intake. One or two per day. Slowly reducing the soda intake over a year. Same for sport drinks and candy bars. This can be a difficult task especially when your brain is so wired to carve the sugary beverages.
Start jogging around my neighborhood, there no need for expensive gym memberships. Started with an one mile and walked back every day. Threw in some push-up and negative pull-ups in the backyard. Chin-up and pull-pulls are great workout and indicator of overall fitness, in my opinion. You can use the local park’s monkey bars if you don’t have a pull-up bar at home.
Setbacks and Burnout
Be careful with your enthusiasm at the beginning. Over exercising or restricting your diet will only cause you to burn out or binge. The idea is to adopt the new lifestyle slowly so it becomes a part of you.
I have family members that tried Atkins Diet; only to regain the weight and more once they got tired of the diet. Also, you have to allow yourself to cheat once in awhile if you’re craving it, or else you will binge.
On the workout side, another tried the Insanity Workout with great results. Unfortunately, he never really built a foundation for a lifestyle change; he would end up burning out and regaining the weight after two months. To be fair to Insanity, waking up at 4 am to workout before work – he was self conscious – was not sustainable.
I have succumb to burnout. When I first started, I used to hit the gym everyday for 3 hours. In addition, I would drive across town to meet up with cousins. Frankly, this got old and tiresome. I soon started to make excuses not to go. It’s cold. It’s far. Too lazy to fill the gas tank.
Unless you have a background with exercise or diet restriction, I highly suggest going it easy and make continual changes as you go. From what I observed over the years, taking small steps then slowly ramping up is the best way to get use to change and adopt.
Cutting Off Refined Sugar
After a year or so, I started to cut out soda completely. By this time, I really do not miss it. I cut off sugary sport drinks when exercising as studies show that they do not improve your performance any better than water, unless you’re a professional athlete.
I went another step further and restricted refined sugar in general. Currently, refined sugar is low in my diet. Water, tea, and coffee is all I really drink; no sugar or sweetener added. Honey is a good substitute, if I need to sweeten things. I still eat ice cream, pies, cookies, and other desserts sparely. Occasionally, indulge in a carving to avoid excessive binge eating – I enjoy a few donuts with black coffee once in awhile.
The initial meal plan was four small meals; breakfast, two “lunches”, and dinner. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables were the staple. I prefer the full flavor of fatty meats, including skins, as I find lean cuts too plain and boring. Meats consist of about 25% of the plate. The other 75% are vegetables and some form of carbohydrates – like rice and potatoes.
In addition, I got use to eating at home. I make foods that are easy to prepare. Youtube can help if you don’t know where to start. For example, marinaded chicken thighs in a ziplock bag is a easy source of protein for days.
Breakfast was usually oatmeal – I used steel cut oats – with fruits and nuts to provide sweetness and texture. Lunches were usually natural peanut butter and honey/banana/avocado/nuts. I was back in college at this time so sandwiches were portable and cheap. Dinner is the biggest meal. For dessert, I ate fruits on most days. I do not eat chips and other processed snacks often; snacks were fruits and nuts.
These are my usually meals. You should always eat what you like every other day. Even, fried chicken can be a nice treat once a week. The main thing is that you’re eating relatively healthy with moderation most of the week. Boredom is a huge concern so change things up. Changing the fruit with my oatmeal daily makes a lot of difference. Finding something healthy and cheap that you can eat everyday will be a personal challenge, luckily you have time.
My initial workout routine was an one mile jog and one mile walk back home everyday. Yes, home. I stopped going to the gym. I did this because I wanted to create a mindset where exercise can be anywhere, not just the gym. Plus, there no more excuses not to exercise.
For three days a week, I did weight training at home using dumbbells, calisthenics, power bar, workout ball, and high bars in the backyard for chin-ups and pull-ups. You can read about my early workout routine in one of my earlier post. Don’t be afraid to try out moves and see what works for you.
The most important aspect is not skipping any days. Exercise a bit earlier or later to work around events of the day.
Ramp Up Exercise
After few months, you will see some results and performance. That one mile that you struggled with at the beginning will seem like a walk. At this time, you might want to increase the jog to two miles, no more walking back.
By this time, I settled into routine of five to six moves that target major muscle groups: biceps, abdominal, chest, leg, back, and triceps. Pull-ups and chin-ups are still the core of my workout. When I do go to the gym, I would do a mile on the treadmill before hitting the weights.
Eventually, I only jogged four days and weight trained the other three days in the week, since my weight training was getting more intense.
I know the idea of working out everyday seems like a hassle but after years of doing it, you sort of get use to the idea. In fact, I feel strange if I don’t workout, even anxious. I even workout when I’m traveling or on vacation.
Again, this method requires a lot of patience and willpower. I can say that I kept my weight off for about six years now. Everyone is different, even you decide this is not for you, I hope that this gives you ideas to formulate a program that fits you as I was able to.