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When you need to lose 100 pounds

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On 6/29/2019 at 4:38 AM, Math teacher said:

I am 57 years old, 5'4",  and weigh close to 230-can't believe I have gotten this big. I have a serious problem with sugar, but I know I need to stop eating it. I would like to lose the weight, regain my range of motion, and have mostly pain free joints. I do have arthritis that stems from psoriasis. I'm on a biologic, plus take meloxican for the pain. I have considered checking into weight loss surgery, but I'm not sure I qualify for that.

If you've lost that much, how did you do it?


Every person's weight loss & health recovery journey will be different, because we all have different issues, both psychological and physical. Some people have thyroid issues, some have mobility issues, some have chronic fatigue, some have binge eating disorder, some have a history of food scarcity, some use food to celebrate, some use food to soothe, some self-sabotage ... it is all so complicated. 

Personally, I got over weight because I have a big appetite and am naturally not very active. I've lost 95 lbs through tracking food, focusing on nutrition, & getting moderate exercise. I started out on a "diet" to lose weight fast (WW), but even then I did not cut out any food groups (in fact I plan in daily treats!) and I didn't do anything radical. Over time I figured out which foods were the most satisfying, which addressed the appetite issue. I also learned to stop at "satisfied" and not "full." I'm not an emotional eater, and I only overeat if I've restricted too much, so I've figured out how to eat enough early in the day that I don't go overboard in the evening.

I started out January 2018 using WW's Smart Points program (via iTrackBites) but I've been just counting calories & tracking activity with my Fitbit since last winter. I hit my goal weight in February 2019, and I have changed my habits very little now that I'm in maintenance and not weight-loss mode. I still eat the same foods and get the same activity but have a couple hundred extra calories in my daily budget. For me, tracking calories in and calories out is the simplest, most un-emotional way to approach food. I don't have good foods & bad foods. I don't make good choices or bad choices. I just try to eat mindfully, focus on nutrition, and enjoy treats and junk in moderation. 

Some practical tips that have really helped me:

  • I found substitutions for some of my favorite foods that were a better value for the calories. (different pancake mix, low-carb wraps instead of sandwich bread, Skyr or Greek nonfat yogurt, different hummus).
  • I added a ton more vegetables to my diet and now eat several servings a day.
  • I figured out that I need to have treats available & accessible so I don't think of them as a limited-time offer, LOL. So I keep a stock of single-serve mini ice creams, fun-size candy bars, etc. I don't feel any urgency to eat it today because it will still be there tomorrow.
  • I schedule meals for 9, 12, 3, and 6 and usually don't eat between them. I will eat off-schedule if it's a weird day or I'm extra hungry or extra active, but this is my general schedule.
  • I keep a protein bar and bag of nuts in my purse so that I'm always prepared.
  • I plan on having higher days & lower days. This gives me room to enjoy a restaurant meal or a special treat because it still fits in my plan. I eat lighter 5-6 days a week and have higher days 1-2 days a week.
  • I weigh myself most days but only record it once a week.
  • I use the recipe builder on my app to figure out the nutrition info for my homemade food. Super easy!

The best advice I have followed is to make gradual lifestyle changes that you can maintain for the rest of your life. So to that end, don't cut out chocolate if you really like chocolate. Don't undertake strenuous cardio if you hate it. Don't feel like you are sacrificing too much. And don't make too many changes at once! Start out just tracking your normal diet to get a sense of where you're starting from. Get a Fitbit to see your baseline. Figure out your calorie target - maybe it's 1500 or 1800. Divide those up into your meals - maybe you want to eat 300-500 calories per meal. Build each meal with nutrition in mind, and be mindful of getting enough protein and fiber. Include treats in your plan! Whether it's a mocha, a glass of wine, a brownie, whatever - don't deprive yourself of what you really want, just eat the smallest amount that will satisfy you and track it. Start out trying to increase your step count by 2000 steps or whatever. The slow approach to weight loss is the fastest when you look at it long-term.

Losing weight and keeping it off comes down to adjusting your mindset. Podcasts I recommend are We Only Look Thin and Half-Size Me. HSM recommends the book The Diet Fix by Yoni Freedhoff. WOLT recommends books like Atomic Habits by James Clear and The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I like the book The Diet Trap Solution by Judith S. Beck. When I get a little too interested in treats, I read books about nutrition and food marketing to straighten myself out. I like Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss.

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On 6/29/2019 at 2:59 PM, Garga said:

Get a calorie counting app.  Because the calories matter.  In order to lose weight, I need to eat only 1222* calories a day.  So that one meal at Red Robin would be 300 over what I’m allowed for the entire day.  Even if you halve the meal, I haven’t eaten 750 calories in one sitting for the past 3 months because I can’t use up that many calories at one time.  I’d only have 450 left for the other two meals and snack for the day. 


*Remember that I said that I’m very close to my goal weight and am small now.  If you started with the calories app I use, you would be allowed to eat well over 1222 calories a day since you’d be just beginning.  But I just wanted to point out that by the time you get close to the weight you want to be, that half a meal at Red Robin would be waaaay too much food.  And the entire meal would be all you could eat for a day plus 1/3 of the next day.

And that’s part of why people get overweight.  They think, “I’m just eating a burger and fries and a coke.  What’s wrong with that?  I’m even only eating half of it so I’m doing the right thing!”  But if you want to be a smaller weight, that meal is all wrong.  It’s going to make you gain weight and then wonder why you’re overweight when you’re “halving” your meals.  You will honestly think you’re doing the right thing, when you’re actually not.  I’m sorry.  Our food in this country is pretty bad and people don’t even know it and then feel bad about themselves when they gain weight.  It can be eye opening to find out how much you’re supposed to eat and then compare it against what you actually do eat.

Sadly, I agree, LOL. I still eat an occasional burger but usually not with cheese, and I don't eat it with fries. It's just not worth the calorie cost.

The USA really got it right when they started requiring chain restaurants to post nutrition info. You can plan ahead and make healthier choices. Soups are often light or moderate. Some salads are worse than a burger. It's impossible to guess the calories from the menu descriptions. You can eat well and stay in your calorie budget while eating at restaurants, but it takes pre-planning.

A Big Mac is 540 cal and a BK Whopper w/o mayo is like 500 calories. I bring my own bell pepper strips!  I drink free soda water from the soda fountain or a diet soda. Diet drinks work great for me. A 500 cal meal means that my other meals will be lighter, but I can make a very satisfying turkey wrap for about 165 (50 cal wrap, 50 cal turkey, 40 cal hummus, 25 cal tomatoes & spinach). So I enjoy my fast food burger and feel good about my day. If I don't want to spend 500 cal on a burger, I can get BK chicken fries for 290 (which are delicious). McD's has two grilled chicken salads for about 350 cal each. I just spent a month in the states and found lots of yummy choices at Panera Bread. 

I live in Belgium and hardly anywhere posts nutrition info.If I go to a restaurant and can't get the info, I eat until I'm satisfied and log an estimate.

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On 7/4/2019 at 10:42 AM, Ktgrok said:

Now that I'm not in the midst of PMS and less cranky I wanted to come back and say that info sharing is helpful, even when it isn't enough. Because even those who need medical help with the disease of obesity, be it medication or surgery, still need to work hard at eating well, etc. I couldn't lose weight just counting calories, or just low carb, or just vegan, etc...but AFTER surgery lifestyle stuff is important, and helpful. It's not an either or, it's a combination approach, that helps some people. Sorry I got cranky about it. I just wanted to be clear that losing 100 pounds is a medical issue, and for most people a simple approach isn't going to work, for various reasons. And to make clear to the OP that needing help, or not finding success in the stuff that works for people who only need to lose a small amount of weight, doesn't reflect on her as a person - it's NOT about being weak, lacking will power, deep psychological problems, or morality. It's biology. It's a disease. 

Hugs to the OP, and apologies to anyone I crabbed at. 

Cosigning all of this. Apologies as well if I was snippy with anyone. I obviously wouldn't have had surgery if WW or IF or low carb would have worked for me. Having said that, all of those things do work now after surgery because I am now free of the horrific metabolic effects that having 75+ extra pounds of hormonally active fat was wreaking on my body. That's the difference between losing 10 lbs and 100 lbs -- that fat is not inert in the body. It is hormonally active and working against your body's ability to lose it. And the more of it that you have, the worse off you are. That's the part that the calories in, calories out people just don't understand. Obesity becomes a runaway locomotive. I know what to do to keep the weight off (not get pregnant again -- lol!), but I needed to hit control alt delete to get back to my normal adult set point (which has been between 140-150 lbs for most of my adult life). And that's exactly what the surgery did.

Think about it: I didn't go down to 110 or 120 lbs. My body got to 145ish and then basically just stopped. Why? Because that was my set point before obesity began to take over. Now, the surgery is done doing the work and it's on me from here on out.

Edited by SeaConquest
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