To start, let me note that in February I weighed almost 270 pounds. Today (Saturday), I am down to 211 (before breakfast, always the lightest of the day). For the record, my height is 6 feet 2 inches (on a good day), and the official BMI charts say that the top of the Normal range for me is 194 pounds.
Part of this is specifically targeted for the Mayor, who was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and has said that he needs to loose some weight. I'll be emailing this to the Mayor's secretary as well as printing it out for him.
- First: Eat at home. I typically eat out only one meal a week, the Rotary meeting at lunch on Tuesday. Restaurant servings are over-large (and over priced). At home, you can control the portion size. I have a small pastry for breakfast, along with tomato juice and a glass of iced tea. [I also take the fist full of pills--prescription and vitamins.] By the time of the ALA Conference in New Orleans, I found that I could not eat all the food presented at the banquets which I attended.
- Second: Smaller portions. At dinner, if we are having chicken breasts, Jill and I split a one chicken breast. If I have cooked two, then the other one is sliced for sandwiches. I bring my own lunch (which, to give Jill credit, she makes). That is a sandwich, a piece of fruit and something salty (usually a small bag of chips of some sort).
- Third: No seconds. A great deal of this is about reducing calorie intake. You don't really need seconds. Eventually, you get used to it. Am I hungry? Most of the time.
- Fourth: No snacks. No visits across the hall to the vending machine. No eating at meetings. When I was at Wednesday morning's meeting, I did not visit the coffee table, I did not take any of the little breakfast snacks offered.
- Fifth: No fast food. I love French Fries. But there is no surer way to add calories, than to eat regularly at fast food restaurants. Last week, I needed to get breakfast away from home, and chose a simple croissant rather than a donut or other sugar filled food.
- Sixth: Drink water. I have a Nalgene bottle which I fill with ice and water each morning. This bottle is a souvenir which has been on adventures with me including traveling down the Allagash River in Maine during the summer of 2004, and the Boy Scouts National Jamboree last summer. It holds a liter of water. I try to finish it before lunch. Many days I drink a second one in the afternoon. Does that mean more visits to the rest room? You bet! But most Americans are at least slightly de-hydrated. Drinking water when I feel hunger fills the stomach, with zero calories. Way back in my youth, the librarians in my hometown library adopted the Stillman Water Diet which included drinking six to eight 8 oz. glasses of water during the day. Did it work? As long as you kept it up, it worked. Drinking water before a meal means that you are less tempted to over eat since your stomach is partly full already.
- Seventh: Restrict alcohol intake. I used to have one or two drinks every night, and more on weekends. Those are empty calories. I now have a drink or two on a weekend, and not during the week. I believe that was critical to the loss of the first 40-50 pounds.
- Eighth: Exercise. I only started this in early July. I dug out my bicycle. It is a trusty 30 year old street bike. A ten speed. In an hour I can now ride from my house (in Bridgeport) to Boothe Memorial Park in Stratford (almost on the river). The direct route there is about 6 miles, one way. I try to stay off the busy streets, so my route (which varies) is not direct. My trip is probably 15 - 18 miles round trip. I also have been swimming. In an hour (lunch) I can go to the YMCA, and get into my bathing suit, swim a half-mile (in about 20 minutes), get pulled back together, and return to the office. That means I take about 10 minutes to eat my lunch while reading the email which arrived while I was out. I feel better as a result. I also take the stairs instead of the elevator at work (other than when I am bringing my laptop in or out -- at the beginning or end of the day). There are six flights to my office from the ground floor. That helps. I also take the stairs when I go around the building to meetings and to see people. I take the steps up to the second floor of City Hall Annex. I walk to City Hall, not drive. (With the price of gasoline, there is an additional saving.) Walking is good!
I will be healthier. That I know. But to stay at that weight, I will have to change from what I had been doing before February. Before I started this, I would just eat and drink as much as I wanted. I am now paying attention to not what I eat, but how much I eat. Yes, I have cut down on bread, but I'm one of those people who could go all day, not eat bread, and not miss it. For me the downfall was sweets and especially desserts.
This is a lifestyle change. I have often said about technology and libraries: Change or die. Well, the same applies to diet, I have found.
Those are my secrets. They aren't really secret. If one other person gets healthier, that would be a bonus for me.