101 thoughts on losing 100 pounds

I lost a lot of weight a few years ago. I lost even more a couple of years ago, then gained some of it back when we had our first child. It’s not just women who gain weight during pregnancy! However, I have still managed to keep most of it off, and I have learned a lot about weight loss along the way.  The Atkins book is where it all started for me. The following list is in no particular order. It’s simply 101 observations I had from losing 100 pounds. I am not a doctor or a nutritionist so take all of this with a grain of salt and discuss any weight loss plans with a professional.

  1. You will never lose weight because someone tells you to. Don’t even bother trying to motivate yourself to lose weight because so-and-so told you that you should. If you do, it won’t work. This may sound trite, but you have to want to do it for yourself. Then, and only then, you’ll succeed.
  2. Everyone has advice on weight loss. Mention you’re trying to lose weight and every single person will have their own 2 cents. Be patient – in most cases people are either looking to help you or help themselves through reinforcement.

  3. Calories, carbs, fat grams and other measures of food content are not as important as the quality and quantity of food that you eat. Each diet has some truth to it, but the secret to weight loss is simple: eat less, exercise more.
  4. Each measure of food content has some benefit, though, and each has some problems. Try not to eliminate anything completely, but a general tip is that your diet probably contains an excessive amount of carbohydrates. Look at that first.
  5. Get help. Research before you dive in. Do not start a diet before talking to a doctor or reading a book. You may be knowledgeable, but there can be weird interactions you’re not familiar with (for example, a low-carb diet gave me some really significant, er, constipation).
  6. If your dietary needs are expensive – for example, if you find that what you buy on a diet costs more than the junk food you were eating – ignore it! You cannot – I repeat, cannot – spend too much money on your health. All the money in the world is useless if you are dead.
  7. Soda has a lot of calories. Diet soda has a lot of sodium. Quitting both of them makes you shed a couple of pounds in days. Do it now. There is no reason for soda in your life as a regular drink. None. Seltzer is just as good, if not better.
  8. If you MUST drink soda, drink regular soda, not diet soda. One regular soda will at least satisfy you and fill you up for a while. Diet sodas just bloat you and fill you with sodium, not to mention aspartame.
  9. It is very difficult to cut high fructose corn syrup out of your diet, but you should. Bread should not normally need sweetener as the #2 ingredient, should it? Read labels.
  10. Once you quit eating junk food, some of it starts to taste pretty awful. Twinkies have a strange metallic taste. Have you looked at the ingredients in the food you eat?
  11. My personal opinion is that even low-calorie sweeteners like Splenda and Nutrasweet are a bad idea for dieters. Eating something sweet fired off weird hunger impulses in my brain, so I found it was easiest to just avoid every single type of sweets other than chewing gum altogether.
  12. Chewing gum, however, serves a lot of purposes when dieting. It keeps your mouth busy, it satisfies cravings for sweets and if you’re a typical dieter it hides the nasty halitosis (bad breath) that dieting causes.
  13. Ricola is an excellent herbal-flavored substitute for chewing gum. If you haven’t ever tried it, give it a try.
  14. If you have an organic foodstore near you, try some organic foods. I never would have looked twice at edmame/tofu mixes but I decided to try one at a local health foods store. It was amazingly good. Today I would rather eat that than potato chips. I wish I had some right now, in fact.
  15. On the other hand, there are some good diet aids that are non-natural, non-organic but still worth looking into. If you love sweet drinks, try Crystal Light, for example. Tea would be better but not everyone can “get into” tea.
  16. Farmer’s markets vegetables will show you why you don’t like vegetables. Once you’ve eaten never-refrigerated straight-from-the-farm tomatoes you’ll realize that the little flavorless round red balls in the supermarket are not really tomatoes. Farmer’s market veggies are a great way to fill up and learn to love veggies all over again.
  17. Almost any roasted vegetable can be made tasty with the right oils, herbs and spices.
  18. Spice has minimal calories, and so do herbs.
  19. Put enough cayenne pepper on anything and it will slow down your eating. It may even kick your metabolism up (albeit a very, very small amount).
  20. Coffee and tea without milk and sugar will taste just as good once you get used to them. Try a little less added stuff every day. Black coffee has 0 calories.
  21. Fried foods are always bad for a dieter. Always. Without exception.
  22. If you only eat foods that you have to cook or prepare, it slows your eating speed down. Buy blocks of cheese and cut your own slices for a sandwich and you will see what I mean.
  23. The exception is raw vegetables. They are very filling, have minimal calories and plenty of other benefits (fiber, vitamins, antioxidants). You can eat as many carrots as you feel like and probably only take in minimal calories.
  24. Water has volume. Drinking water fills you up, at least temporarily – but the nice thing is you can keep drinking it non-stop. You can always add a lemon wedge if you want.
  25. Alcohol has calories. Lots. I like alcohol, too, but it’s 100% unneeded calories.
  26. Some alcoholic beverages, on the other hand, are a lot worse than others. A margarita or a whiskey sour has lots of sugar, calories and carbs – almost any mixed drink is a killer. A glass of wine has some calories and carbs but there are some possible health benefits, as with a glass of beer. And one of my all-time favorites has some calories but no carbs: a dirty martini, shaken, straight up, dry with an olive and a twist. Maybe it doesn’t have so many health benefits as wine or beer, but it’s a nice way to flag the day as “over” and the evening as “beginning.” Plus, it’s hard to chug a martini.
  27. A salad bar is an invitation to disaster. 2000 calories of vegetables are still 2000 calories.
  28. Salad dressing has a lot of calories. Huge amounts, in fact. I love ranch dressing, but I stick with oil and vinegar – lots of vinegar and a little bit of oil. If you eat a salad drowned in dressing you’re probably better off just having some chips.
  29. You hear this often: multiple small meals make you feel much less hungry (eating 6 times a day instead of 3 times per day). I found this generally doesn’t work if you have a 9-to-5 type of job. What you can do fairly easily is eat a hearty breakfast, a raw food snack mid-morning (i.e. fruits or veggies), a largely raw food lunch (i.e. no heavy carbs or meat), a moderate-carb midafternoon snack (shortly before heading home have an energy bar) and then eat what you want for dinner but don’t eat too late. Trying to eat 6 equally-portioned type “meals” was very annoying. Snacking smart made better sense.
  30. Eating carbs within 3 hours of your bedtime is a bad idea - you generally tend to be at your least active late in the evening, and those carbs will not be burned off.
  31. Eating carbs for breakfast is a bad idea. You will be hungry again in an hour. Eggs, cottage cheese, or turkey is better. Fruits are OK, even though they have carbs.
  32. Eating carbs for lunch will make you drowsy in the afternoon, so it is a bad idea.
  33. Carbs are generally a bad idea. Other than natural bread once in a while, maybe rice and some pasta, there’s not a whole lot to say for carbs unless you’re training for the Tour de France. Even then, keep in mind Lance Armstrong gets his carbs from pasta, not from chocolate.
  34. Have you ever actually measured out a single serving of cereal? What constitutes a serving seems like it would not be enough to feed a baby, let alone an adult. However, that should give you something to think about how adults eat.
  35. Your eyes are almost always bigger than your stomach. Eat half of your dinner, wait 5 minutes – sip on some tea or seltzericon or water or whatever – then start eating again. Half the time you won’t want half the food.
  36. If you eat your meals with overweight people, you will eat more. Period.
  37. If you eat your meals with healthy fit people, you may eat less… and save money.
  38. A broad generalization: almost any single-person entrée in the United States is probably about 50% larger than necessary for a normal human meal…at least.
  39. Restaurants don’t care if you eat everything that you are served. Their goal is to fill you up on free breadsticks, extra soda and alcoholic beverages before your entrée comes so you’ll go home happy…and fat. They won’t be there holding your hand when you get that coronary bypass.
  40. Unlearning the “eat because it’s tasty, not because you’re hungry” lesson is hard, but you can do it. Kids do not eat when they are not hungry unless you teach them to.
  41. American corporations want you to be fat. Advertising companies, drug companies, food companies and even the self-help/diet industry need fat people. Healthy people don’t buy weight-loss pills, or new belts, or books on weight loss, or Doritos. This is the worst nightmare of half the corporations in America: a healthy, educated consumer who doesn’t watch TV.
  42. Being fat is not a human’s natural state. If you are overweight and lose weight, you will feel happier. Not just because you are thinner and look better and feel better, but you were intended by nature to be a runner/tree climber/gatherer/builder.
  43. Keeping snacks in the house is just plain dumb. It is bad enough to walk by 50 vending machines at work, but don’t keep snacks lying around at home.
  44. Canned soups are a disaster – salt, calories, preservatives, and not satisfying. No one loses weight eating canned soups.
  45. Putting pictures of fat people from magazines and supermodels or athletes or whatever on your mirror will keep you motivated. Not that we should aspire to that body shape, but the simple fact is that it will keep you motivated.
  46. If you are hungry in the evening before bed eat a slice of cheese. You will sleep better and not wake up ravenous.
  47. The first thing you should take into your body when you wake is water. Not spring water, not flavored water, but filtered water. Cold, and a lot of it. It will kill your appetite right off and wake you up. It will cleanse your system for the day.
  48. Natural colon cleansers may not help you lose weight, but they will make you less hungry. This is purely my opinion, but I think sometimes people eat to mask the lingering toxic effects of having too much gunk in their intestines.
  49. I’m sure you know the feeling – after eating a big pile of salty potato chips you need something sweet “just to mask the salty taste in your mouth.” Down that road madness lies! Never chase food with food. Chase food with water, and lots of it.
  50. Drinking cold water burns more calories than drinking lukewarm water (it lowers your body’s temperature slightly, so your body expends energy to warm it back up).
  51. However, you should learn to enjoy lukewarm water. If you can only drink ice-cold water, you will be restricting your options too much.
  52. You will miss some foods worse than others. When I was doing a low-carb diet, I dreamed of bread. Don’t give in. Saying “just one piece” is the equivalent of a junkie saying, “Just one hit.” Don’t do it.
  53. Butter and oil have a lot of calories but sometimes sneak into food, so keep an eye out.
  54. Dieting is lonely. Dieting around others who are not is torture. Tell your friends and family what you are doing, and do not let them push food on you.
  55. Caffeine is an appetite suppressant. Using a suppressant to diet is like using speed to quit crack. You have to conquer this thing on your own.
  56. Drinking green tea and herbal teas is good for you, and it keeps you feeling full.
  57. You may hate cauliflower. Fine. You will hate dragging your overweight body up the road when you are 60 if you do not eat veggies instead of bonbons more, though.
  58. Small, nibbly foods are a bad idea even when they are healthy. Do not keep anything you can grab by the handful and eat lying around the house – even nuts, fruits and veggies if you like them enough to overeat.
  59. Meat should be viewed as a flavoring, not as a food. Never eat a piece of meat at any one meal bigger than your palm.
  60. There is no particular reason for you to eat beef, pork, lamb, etc. You could get all of the protein you need from poultry and seafood. If you like the taste of red meat, fine, but there is no need for you to eat it.
  61. If you go on a low-carb diet, you will get sick of meat. This is not entirely a bad thing.
  62. Don’t be too sure that being a vegetarian or vegan is a good way to lose weight, either. You can eat nothing but cheese pizza and French fries and call yourself a vegetarian – it’s the quality of the food you eat that’s more important than the label you apply to yourself.
  63. A small handful of nuts (almonds, for example) will keep you going for hours. At the same time, three handfuls of nuts are about 2000 calories.
  64. Milk does not work into any diet plan be it low-fat, low-calorie, low-carb. Avoid it. Soymilk is better for you.
  65. Fruit juice is almost universally too concentrated, even organic/natural fruit juices. Cut it down with water. I usually drink about a 25% juice/75% water mixture now. And even better, use seltzer water for a soda replacement (I quit drinking soda years ago). Straight fruit juice tastes like syrup to me.
  66. It is very, very easy to drink a lot of calories, particularly since most people don’t really think about calories in regards to drinks (except for soda, which you hear about in the media). Which has more calories, 8 ounces of milk or 8 ounces of V8? Beats me. Water has no calories, though.
  67. There is no greater feeling than suddenly discovering you can wear that pair of pants that did not fit you a couple of months ago.
  68. Needing to go buy a new belt because your old one is too big is a close second.
  69. Measure portions. You should never eat more at one sitting than fits on a plate. By plate, I mean a plate, not Thor’s shield.
  70. Getting “checked out” is a real mood-booster, even if you are in a relationship.
  71. Jogging helps you maintain weight loss and fitness. Lifting weights helps you lose weight. However, walking is the best exercise because you can so easily do it any time of the day without any special equipment.
  72. Being happy burns more calories than being depressed.
  73. Stairs are free workout machines. Elevators and escalators are rides.
  74. Jogging is easier when you have good shoes.
  75. Never go to the supermarket on an empty stomach. You will end up buying more than you need and probably at least one thing you should not eat.
  76. Try not to watch too much TV. There are many ads for junk food and whether you pay attention or not there is a lot of unconscious programming going on there.
  77. Another good reason not to drink too much alcohol is that your judgment gets impaired. I am not talking about dancing on the table with a lampshade over your head – I am talking about standing next to the bar grabbing a handful of chex mix.
  78. You don’t wear out shoes as quickly if you weigh less.
  79. The first time you walk by a friend you have not seen in a while and they do not recognize you because you have lost so much weight is an amazingly positive experience.
  80. You can quit wearing black clothes all the time. Black is slimming, but being a healthy weight is slimming-er.
  81. There are some places on your body that will never lose their fat, and there is no point in expecting them too. Even when I lost 100 pounds, jogged 4 miles a day, and lifted weights 3 times a week, my final roll of flab on my gut never went away.
  82. People get angry if you tell them how you lost weight. This was an amazing thing to see in practice. Nobody wants to hear that you did it by watching your food intake and exercising. They want to hear that you wore a special belt or took a pill. Hearing they need to quit drinking Coke really fires some people up.
  83. Gaining weight is incredibly easy for most people, even with a very healthy diet. Once you have wrecked your metabolism by being overweight, it is even easier.
  84. If your knees, back, ankles, shoulders, neck or any other joints hurt and you are overweight, losing weight will very likely help them. My feet used to hurt a lot, and that pain abruptly disappeared when I lost weight.
  85. In the same way, gaining weight is – oddly – going to put more strain on your back and knees than being overweight but holding a steady weight.
  86. If someone takes a picture of you when you are at your peak weight, keep it. Treasure it. Frame it. Use it for motivation. I still have a photo of myself that looks like I ate a McDonald’s. Not a McDonald’s hamburger…an entire McDonald’s building.
  87. I will never forget that when I was over 300 pounds, people would cringe on airplanes when I sat in the seat next to them. The looks you get are awful. Maybe they aren’t fair, but they are there. Avoiding those looks is another benefit of losing weight.
  88. Airplane seats, bus seats, subway seats, even office chairs: for some reason the American seat-building industry thinks all Americans are svelte and trim. Chairs in America need to start being built to accommodate 300 pound people, but nobody wants to admit this fact.
  89. For years, I could not see my feet while standing up. That is a horrible thing to admit, and I’m ashamed to say it even today.
  90. I also couldn’t touch my toes, or tie my shoes without sitting down. Kneeling became very difficult.
  91. Remember that you have only one life to live. A helpful thing for me to remember sometimes is that your average person has around 29,000 days on this earth. I try to think whether I would trade 1 day for potato chips. Would I give up 1 week for a steak, one month for a lifetime of Coca Cola? It may not cost me that much, but I don’t think it’s worth the chance.
  92. If you are afraid that quitting smoking will make you eat more, you should be afraid. However, you should still quit. Using cigarettes as an appetite suppressant is like fumigating your house with poison to get rid of one mouse. Sure, it may work, but at what cost?
  93. Your skin tone will suffer from being overweight. If you are severely overweight, be prepared for wrinkles and sagging skin when you lose weight.
  94. Sex is better if you are fit… and you will probably get more of it, regardless of whether you are married or single.
  95. Diet pills are worthless. I tried one, green tea pills, and although it made me lose some additional weight it was mainly because they made me so dizzy and nauseous I didn’t feel like eating. I could accomplish the same thing by sniffing garbage.
  96. Television will make you hungry. You can’t imagine how many food-related advertisements there are on TV until you start trying to lose weight.
  97. Once you start to lose weight, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it ten years ago. However, once you’ve lost the weight you’ve meant to lose, you’ll forget that euphoric feeling and be tempted to eat a little bit of junk again. This is the hedonic treadmill in fine, fine form.
  98. Once I lost weight, I was afraid of getting fat again, but not so afraid that I didn’t start justifying eating things I wouldn’t have eaten when I was dieting.
  99. There is not one single thing at Starbucks that you can have on a diet, except black coffee.
  100. Appetizers are almost always the worst, heaviest, most caloric foods on the menu. Stick to entrees.
  101. The failure rate for dieters is high. Even successful dieters – like me – often gain the weight back. I managed to lose 100 pounds, then gain some back, then lose some again. I’ve never come close to gaining the 100 pounds back, but I do put on 20, lose 20. You have to think of it as a battle. You are Custer, and food is the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes. Food will keep coming and coming and coming. You will lose if you stop fighting it even for a minute. I tell myself this every day: My will is stronger than my urges.

Good luck, and never give up!