how to lose weight in 2011

One of my most popular posts on brip blap for several years now has been my “101 thoughts on how to lose 100 pounds” post.  It still gets 100 or so views a day, three years after I published it.  It’s an inspirational post, I hope, based on the true story of my efforts to lose a huge amount of weight in a healthy and safe manner.  Every new year it gets a boost in traffic.

So for the early days of 2011 – when many people might be struggling with their “lose weight for the new year” resolutions, I thought I’d publish part of my post again. I need to lose weight myself.  Not 100 pounds again, but I’m not at optimal diet and exercise levels, for sure.

My before and after pictures, and some of the original article…

losing 100 pounds before and after
losing 100 pounds ... before and after

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. Read the rest of the 101 thoughts: how to lose 100 pounds.

  • http://20andengaged.com 20 and Engaged

    I never thought about using Ricola. Also, it’s so hard to give up on sodas. The longest I’ve gone is 3 weeks.

    • http://www.bripblap.com Steve

      Well, I’ve written about quitting my diet soda habit in another post: how to stop drinking soda; I highly recommend replacing it with seltzer.

  • http://www.makingmyownwork.blogspot.com Marly

    Beg to differ with you, Steve. You’ve fallen into the trap of so many others, implying that one size fits all, that the strategy that worked for you, low carb, will work for everyone. Some people will junction best with lots of meat (me, for example) while others can’t handle any, some need organic and raw, some need less than 20 grams of carbs a day, others need 150. The only way to tell what’s going to work for any one individual is for that person to experiment.

    • http://www.bripblap.com Steve

      Fair enough, Marly, although I don’t really think I am ever saying these are 101 “rules” – just my thoughts. I make several observations about carbs, but I don’t think I ever say “you should follow a low carb diet.” I think carbs DO make you sleepy and yes, should be avoided “other than natural bread once in a while, maybe rice and some pasta…” but I don’t think anyone could make a serious argument that the types of carbs prevalent in foods today – HFCS, sugars, refined flour, etc. – are a good way to lose weight. I think my intro and first 5 points make it pretty clear I’m just sharing my own experience and not advocating that everyone leap into a low-carb diet.

      So I beg to differ, too :) but it is a good clarification for me to repeat – it’s just MY thoughts on MY weight loss, not a diet plan to follow. That’s for individuals to work out with their physicians/nutrionists/etc.

  • http://fitnessweighttraining.blogspot.com/ Albert

    Hi, Steve. I felt amazed reading your story. I think the way you have decided to share your knowledge about weight-loss and healthy living with all is very inspiring. I agree with most of the points that you have written. However, I don’t agree with you that carbs are bad idea. According to suggestions of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, half of the daily calorie intake of a person should come from carbs. For example, you have a calorie requirement of 2000; 250 calories should come from carbs. Of course, it is crucial to avoid bad carbs such as noodles, pasta and opt for good carbs such as whole wheat bread, fruits, vegetables etc. For more information, you can visit http://fitnessweighttraining.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.thedigeratilife.com/blog/ The Digerati Life

    Really great stuff that reinforces some of the things i already know. But there are other things that I found quite enlightening — like Twinkies have some kind of metallic taste? Eeeewww.

  • http://www.lencurrie.com Len Currie

    Hmm.. I drink a few cups of coffee a day, but I always have it with milk and twin.. I wonder if I could give up the sweetener as you suggest..it would be nice, I’ll admit that much.

    Perhaps worth a try..

  • Skip McGee

    I love it when people are so insightful. It inspires all of us to do more with our being