Imagine being stuck at home for months with a snack cabinet full of Nacho Cheese Doritos and the Grubhub app at your fingertips.
Wait… never mind. Most of us don’t have to imagine being stuck at home these days thanks to Covid-19. Maybe that’s the reason why you’re here reading this.
Last summer on June 21st I weighed 168 pounds (76 kg). I stand 5 feet 7 inches so I needed to lose 10 pounds (4.5 kg), give or take, to be in the ideal range for my height, sex, and age.
On June 22nd, I underwent major surgery which left me housebound and in recovery for the next 6 months. I was pretty much bedridden for the first 3 months.
On top of that, my doctor put me on a medication called Prednisone, which increased my appetite so much that the only time I wasn’t munching on something, was when I was asleep. These 2 factors, along with others, combined to lead me down a road that would end with me weighing the most I’ve ever had in my life.
My wake up call happened on Christmas day when my younger daughter snapped a Polaroid of me. I kind of looked like Hagrid from Harry Potter. Here’s a side by side. You be the judge. (Keep in mind that I was sucking in my belly to appear thinner than I was)
Not only did I let my weight spiral out of control, I also let my facial hair grow wild. Looking back now, I think I might’ve been dealing with some minor depression. Again, I place half of the blame on the Prednisone. I accept the other half.
Anyway, I gained almost 30 pounds (13 kg) and ended up weighing a whopping 195 pounds (88 kg) when 2020 rolled around. It wasn’t looking good for me and it became obvious something needed to change.
Because I was limited physically, at the time, and took daily medications, I knew that I couldn’t rely on the usual weight loss regimens. I decided to jump on the internet and do a bunch of research. Then I talked with doctor to make sure it was safe for me before embarking on my weight loss journey.
Here’s what I found, compiled into a short list of 3 tips that helped me lose over 20 pounds (9 kg) in 3 months…
3 Tips to Shed Extra Fat Without Working Out
1.Cut The Carbs (All Carbs Are Not Created Equal)
Before I go any further we need to talk about the difference between simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Basically, when you eat carbs your body breaks them down into sugar and uses it as fuel. Simple carbs (white rice, baked goods, raw sugar) are broken down easily and used more quickly. Think “sugar rush.” Complex carbs (brown rice, sweet potatoes, vegetables) take more time to break down and are a longer-lasting energy source.
- Simple Carbs: Easy for body to breakdown, energy is used up quickly, you feel hungry and sluggish once energy is gone. Think “sugar crash.”
- Complex Carbs: Takes time for body to break down, longer lasting energy, you feel full longer
Click Here to learn more about the differences between simple and complex carbs.
Because I grew up eating white rice with every meal, I knew this was my first step.
I decided that I needed to measure my daily carb intake. I found that I was eating an average of about 1 and a half cups of white rice with every meal. That amounts to just over 200 grams per day. The FDA recommends 300 grams if you are eating 2,000 calories daily.
However, I wasn’t accounting for all the other foods (Doritos, cookies, my kids’ half-eaten sandwiches) and drinks that I enjoyed. I needed to include all of these as well to know where I was at.
Okay. If counting carbs and documenting what you eat and drink sounds like a hassle, don’t worry. You only have to do it once, I promise. Just be honest about it, don’t try to be “good” on that day.
I did my count on January 3rd. I ate my regular meals along with snacks and sugary drinks. My actual number was over 300 grams. Click Here for a good carb counter app.
On January 6, I began taking winter classes. On weekdays I would catch a 6 a.m. train up to Seattle and usually got home around 6 p.m.. I decided I would skip breakfast, eat a small lunch, and then eat a big dinner when I got home.
For lunch I’d usually eat a sandwich and a small bag of chips. For dinner, I’d replaced most of the white rice with complex carbs like sweet potatoes, winter squashes, and vegetables, such as carrots and broccoli. I added more protein such as ground turkey and chicken breasts as well as healthy fats, avocados is a good choice. I also cut out sugary drinks from my diet.
By the end of the month, my weight was fluctuating between 190 and 192. I’d lost close to 5 pounds (2 kg). This was promising. I figured if I kept this up, I’d be close to my pre-operation weight by the middle of summer.
2.Deny Your Cravings, Feed Your Hunger
During the first half of February, I was humming right along with no problems. Then I got sick. During that time there was a quiet buzz around Seattle that Covid-19 was already spreading from person to person.
In any case, my routine was shattered and I found myself stuck in the house all over again. My snacking habit returned with a vengeance and I became a regular visitor to the snack cabinet again. My weight loss started stagnating and by the end of the month I’d actually erased some of the progress I’d made in January. I was now between 191 and 193.
One night, sometime between the end of February and the beginning of March, I was sitting down to eat some Doritos and to watch some YouTube videos when my wife asked me to go to the store. I begrudgingly obliged her.
When I returned I’d forgotten about the Doritos. I remember sitting on the sofa watching a video when my wife walked into the living room holding the Dorito bag and complaining about how I never cleaned up after myself.
That’s when I realized something. I’d been feeding my cravings instead of my hunger. All I had to do to know the difference was wait a few minutes if I thought I was hungry. If I didn’t feel hungry after I’d waited about 10 minutes or so, it was just a craving. If I still felt hungry, then I’d eat a whole meal, eating until I felt totally full. Since I’d already incorporated more complex carbs into my diet, I was satiated longer, essentially denying my in-between meal cravings.
After I realized this I immediately jumped on the internet and searched “difference between hunger and cravings.” That’s when I came across this article that became the basis for tip #3. Click Here to read it.
This tip has also been very helpful with other aspects of my life. For example, I’ve learned to be more mindful of my other impulsive urges (buying useless junk, binging YouTube videos, spending hours on Wikipedia).
Also, I’ve learned to be more patient. If something upsets me, I let it marinate for a while instead of acting on my raw emotions and regretting it later.
Sometimes my wife tells me that it’s annoying that I follow the speed limit. Yes, I’m that driver.
Sorry. Not sorry.
3.The Intermittent Fast Life
Intermittent fasting. This is probably the most important and effective tip that I can share.
Not only did it help me to shave off over 20 pounds (9 kg) of unwanted fat, it also made my heartburn and my heartburn medication disappear within a month. The results were so amazing that I had to share it with my loved ones and anybody who’d listen.
Other than saving the best for last, here’s another reason why I made it the last tip on the list. All the people that I encouraged to try it gave up fairly quickly. I believe it was easier for me to keep it up because I’d been practicing the first 2 tips before discovering it. The combination of the first 2 acted as a sort of warm-up to get my body ready for intermittent fasting.
In general terms, intermittent fasting is where we have a certain window of time to eat. The rest of the time we don’t eat or drink anything that contains calories. I drink black coffee and water (lots of water) during my fasting period. Pretty simple, right?
There are a bunch of ways to practice intermittent fasting. Some people do alternate days where they eat today and fast tomorrow. Others fast for 20 hours and eat during a 4-hour window. I practice the 16/8 method. Click Here to read an article that details 6 different ways to practice intermittent fasting.
Although 16 hours may sound like a long time not to eat, it’s actually only 8 hours if you regularly get 8 hours of sleep. So if you’re not already getting enough sleep, this could help with that too.
Another great thing about it is that we don’t limit how much we can eat. We don’t even need to work out to burn fat and lose weight. However, working out and eating clean and healthy food helps the fat burning process along. Eating a low-carb diet also helps tremendously. Remember to eat those complex carbs to stay full longer.
Here’s a simple way to to think about intermittent fasting. Once we’ve eaten our last meal of the day, it takes between 3-6 hours for our bodies to process and absorb the energy from the food we ate. Once that energy is depleted, the body turns to our fat stores for energy.
So let’s say I ate dinner at 6 p.m. then started my 16 hour fast. By 12 a.m. (6 hours later), I’m running on fat reserves until I break my fast the next morning. Even when I’m asleep my body still needs energy to keep my organs functioning. I’m burning fat while my subconscious roams around in dreamland.
*Important Note: Remember and get all of your calorie needs during your eating window. Let me explain why with an analogy…
Let’s think about calories in terms of money and our body as Frugal Bob. If Bob has been earning more money than he can spend, he deposits the extra money into a rainy day fund. That rainy day fund is comparable to our fat stores.
Remember though that Bob is a very frugal person. If he’s been earning a certain amount of money for a while and suddenly loses his job, he will make sacrifices instead of touching his rainy day fund. This is comparable to starvation mode.
When this happens, metabolism slows down by being frugal with its energy expenditure, which is not something you want to happen if you’re looking to lose weight. This is why it’s important to get enough calories during your eating window.
Here are some resources to help better understand intermittent fasting:
- Click Here to check out a video by Dr. Jason Fung.
- Click Here to read a guide for women.
- Click Here for a beginners guide.
I’m not afraid to admit it. My weight is a work in progress, just like all the other aspects of my life. #weightlossjourneyTweet
To conclude, here’s what happens in my body while on a 16/8 intermittent fasting routine. I wake up in the morning and drink some coffee. Then I do whatever I’m supposed to do that morning.
At 10:30 a.m., I have a little food, maybe a piece of banana bread or a few strawberries, then take my meds. This breaks my fast and gives me an eating window from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 pm.
I’m usually hungry between 12-1 p.m. if it was an active morning for me. If it’s a lazy day, I’ll usually feel the hunger pains around 3 p.m. I’d fit in another meal or 2, some snacks and drinks, and that’s it. Some days, probably 4-5 times per month, I eat outside of my eating window, which is perfectly fine.
I was pretty obsessive about it at first, especially when I saw that it was working, but recently I’ve been less strict. It’s okay to be kind to ourselves. I got as low as 170 in June but as I type this I’m maintaining around 174. I’m not afraid to admit it. My weight is a work in progress, just like all the other aspects of my life.
If you’ve read this far, thank you! I hope this helps you along the way. We may not know each other personally, but I know that you’re on the right path because you’re on the internet researching articles like this.
*Important Note: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or a medical professional to see if this is right for you.