I will be the first to admit – staying lean has not always been my domain. Over the years, I gained weight, and I lost weight, but after the age of 25, I no longer could stay slim permanently.
It was partly caused by lack of physical activity, partly by extended work days (as a software developer, you tend to sit at your desks a lot), but mostly by my very bad diet habits.
More than occasional fast food, sodas, pasta, bread, whatever take-away I could find for lunch – I was guilty of all that.
Gaining weight is a tricky game. You don’t notice an immediate change from one day to another. It is a pretty slow processes – slow enough for us not to notice long after others can tell that you’re getting obese.
My moment of truth came when one year, I decided to go for a weekend of skiing While packing my gear, I was shocked to realize that my skiing jacket was suddenly way too small for my… and I only bought it a year ago. Man, if I can’t fit into my jacket, things are turning bad.
I bought a different jacket, but I also made a solemn promise to myself to finally face this issue, and solve it for good.
Based on common knowledge, your weight is 70-80 percent related to diet, and only 20-30 percent related to exercise, or lack of it.
Therefore, diet is where I decided to focus most of my efforts initially.
Surprisingly, I didn’t take a lot of changes to see great results. I went from 90 kg to 80 kg in a matter of less than 3 months. The most important ones can be summarized in just 5 points.
1. No food after 7:00 PM
Eating at night has been one of my greatest sins. I would often stay late, coding, or (true story) binge watching Netflix, and eating snacks. Or even worse, I would get a delivery from a Chinese take-away, and it eat it 1:00 AM.
I decide to stop any food after 7:00 PM, at the same time forcing myself to go to bed no later than 11:00 PM.
Initially, it was probably the hardest change. I failed on many days, feeling remorse, but at the same time cheating myself that a small bite here and there will do no harm.
Looking back, I think my strategy was similar to when a smoker decides to quit gradually instead of instantly. Even though I violated my principle, I slowly reduced the amount of food I ate after 7:00 PM, up to a point I actually achieved my goal.
One extra change was going to bed even earlier, around 10:00 PM, on most days. It had the extra benefit of feeling so much better the next day, more refreshed.
2. No bread for breakfast 6 days of the week
Coming originally from Europe, I love good bread. But bread makes you fat, period.
I changed my habits completely. No bread for breakfast for me anymore, except on Sundays (my treat day).
I will have scrambled eggs with vegetables, or just some fruit, but no bread.
3. No sugar in any obvious form
I don’t obsess about avoiding sugar – I know it’s hiding in so many products that I can’t eliminate it completely. It exists naturally in many products, including in most fruit, after all.
However, I consciously avoid obvious sources of simple sugars. That means:
- no more sodas, just plain water for me now;
- no sugar in my tea or coffee any more;
- no cakes, doughnuts, etc.
4. Dehydrated fruit and veggies for lunch
Not every day. But I decided to make some significant changes to my lunch menu. Before, I would order something for take-away or just go out for lunch to a restaurant. I still do it, but only twice a week (I just like it to much, especially going out).
But three times a week now I bring a box of dehydrated fruit and vegetables I prepare myself on the weekend. They are nutritious, healthy, and stay fresh long enough that I don’t have to worry about my lunch every day.
If you’re curious, there are plenty of options for the right dehydrator. You can use it not only for vegetable and fruit, but also for meat. Dehydrated beef is something I am planning to try very soon.
I researched my options at https://fooddehydratorshub.com/ – they have a solid guide to dehydrating, and reviews of individual models.
5. Moderate excercise
I know I mentioned that my focus was mostly on the diet, but I added a bit of physical activity to my life. Once a week, I play squash with a friend of mine, and once a week I also do light jogging – something live 7-8 km over 60 minutes. Very slow and relaxing for now, but I am slowly getting more stamina, and I would to improve my pace.
I also try to visit a swimming pool regularly, which in total gives me three days involving physical activity per week. I am not sure if it’s contributing to my weight loss, but it definitely is helping with my mood. And having positive attitude definitely helps when your goals is to lose weight, and maintain it later.