In 2015 New Year’s resolution , I said that I want to lose 10–15 pounds by June 2015. I recognized that New Year’s resolutions rarely last, but that making a public commitment helps people stick with their resolutions.
I’ve been slowly putting on weight for decades (about 1 lb/year since I was 20 years old). I started out very skinny, so the first 20 years probably were getting me to a healthier weight, but I retained my skinny-guy eating habits even as my metabolism slowed with age and I overshot my ideal weight.
When I made my New Year’s resolution, I recognized that successful weight loss requires a change of habits:
Given that I’m unlikely to sustain an increased exercise regime for long enough to lose much weight, it seems like my best bet will be to try to regulate my diet. …
I’ll try to cut back on some of the high-calorie foods (like cheese and ice cream) and increase my intake of bulky low-calorie foods (like vegetables). Changing habits that I developed when I was a skinny person is going to be hard, but I’m hopeful that I can reset the weight homeostasis back to what it was a decade ago, and that within six months new dietary habits will be sufficiently established to be able to maintain the weight without struggle.
What I ended up doing was allowing myself to eat any amount of food for lunch, but only raw fruits and vegetables, which have a fairly low calorie density, filling me up without fattening me. I’ve been generally eating a couple of carrots worth of carrot sticks, a few stalks of celery, some red cabbage or jicama, and an apple for lunch. I’ve stopped eating the tacos from the taco truck (which I miss) and stopped eating snacks from the vending machine (which were never that good anyway).
My evening meal is not restricted by type of food—my wife and I have pretty much been on a “Mediterranean diet” for years, so we didn’t see any reason to change the balance of foods we ate for dinner. Instead, I’ve been trying to control how much I eat by eating slower and stopping before I’m completely stuffed. To keep from feeling deprived of treats, I still allow myself a small amount of chocolate a day (25g of dark chocolate—half of a small Trader Joe’s bar) and occasionally have a mug of hot cocoa (made with non-fat milk, sugar, and Droste cocoa powder).
My exercise levels have remained unchanged, consisting almost entirely of bicycle commuting and weekly bike shopping trips (averaging 4.76 miles/day this month—slightly higher than my long-term average of 3.83 miles/day, but normal for the school term). The intensity of my bicycling depends mainly on how far behind schedule I’m running on my way into work, which is a random variable that is pretty much independent of whether I’m trying to lose weight.
So, one month in, how am I doing? Let’s look at a plot of my weight over the last few years:
My long-term trend over the past 40 years has been a fairly steady pound per year gain, but last year my rate of increase went up. The diet is bringing my weight down fairly fast.
I’m back in the ballpark of what I weighed in 2011, and my rate of weight loss (1.24 lbs/week) is in the 1–2 lbs/week range that CDC recommends for diets that result in a lower stable weight (rather than rebounding). At the current rate, I need to stay on the diet for another 8 weeks, then switch to a maintenance diet to hold a constant weight. Of course, it is quite likely that at some point before then my weight will stop decreasing, as my dedication to the weight-loss diet wanes, but things are going well so far.