Lifestyle

Chris: An Introspective Look Into Why I’m Overweight

September 6, 2013  —  Written by Chris 

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“No matter what I do, I can’t lose weight.” I hear people say this all the time, using it as an excuse to not exercise and continue over eating. Really? No matter what you do? Have you tried exercising daily and eating healthy for more than two weeks? I mean, they put this crap out there, painting themselves as a victim of the cosmos. As though, somehow, the science of burning more calories than you eat doesn’t apply to them. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it.
 
That said, I recognize there are specific health conditions that cause weight gain or, at the least, make it more difficult to lose weight. If you legitimately have a condition that prevents you from losing weight, then this article doesn’t apply to you. This is aimed at the people creating their own barriers and excusing themselves from the hard work of being healthy. And if my words offend you, then it’s probably because you know you’re guilty. So, it’s time to own it; starting with me.
 
That’s right, me. I’m overweight, and have been for most of my life now. I wouldn’t call myself obese, but I’m on my way. And I’m not going to disrespect the world by blaming external sources. I’m fat because I made myself fat. My parents taught me healthy eating habits. My wife is a beacon of self-control. My daughter is the most active child I’ve ever seen. All external sources are encouraging me to be healthy, yet I remain tired, sluggish and plump. I am the variable in this equation, and that’s where I need to focus. So I made a list of the reasons I’m fat. Let’s take a look, shall we?
 
Why I’m Fat
I eat too much
Portion control is a major problem of mine. I love the way food tastes, and if something is really good I just want to keep eating and eating. The large portions make my stomach expand, and it takes more and more food to feel full. Not only that, but it causes me to feel hungry throughout the day, so I snack. And I usually snack on whatever is within reach, and what’s within reach is rarely healthy.
I snack late at night
While there’s a lot of debate about eating late and whether or not it has a negative impact on health, my experience has been that eating after 8:00pm makes me gain weight. This very well may be because the foods I eat late at night are less healthy, or maybe my body doesn’t handle calories the same once I’m asleep – I don’t know. I’m not going to quote any studies, and I’m not going to have a debate. My evidence is purely anecdotal and is based on me just not feeling as good when I eat late. And when I don’t feel good, I’m not motivated to exercise.
I’m lazy
I spend my days sitting at a desk. I get tired quickly. My body is in a state where it is physically painful to exercise, and that’s very unpleasant to deal with. I’m just a heavy object that wants to roll down hill because that’s easiest. 
I stay up late
Staying up late makes it more difficult to wake up in the mornings. Since our evening schedules are usually full, if I am going to exercise, it has to be done in the morning. Staying up late also makes me tired through my work day and impacts my ability to focus.
I crave unhealthy foods
This is a big one. Certain foods, just like certain drugs, impact the way the brain functions and can alter moods. Though not as intense as drugs, some foods can still be addictive and make it more difficult to choose healthier options. There’s no formula for solving this. No amount of scheduling or preparing will get rid of the cravings – you simply have to power through and get your body used to not indulging so much. Unfortunately, as I learned while working for an addiction recovery clinic earlier this year, will power is a limited resource in the mind and eventually runs out. So in the same way there are drugs that lessen withdrawal symptoms when trying to overcome a cocaine addiction, you can also prepare healthier foods in ways that combat your withdrawals from unhealthy foods. There will still be will power required, but it will be doable.
 
2009 – makin’ pizza with my babe. preheat the pizza stone, rookies. psh.
2012 – just covering up my giant belly with a pillow, nothing to see here. keep it movin’.
 
 
So you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about my weight. Well, for me, the problem with diets is the feeling of missing out. If I have to give up sugar or potatoes or whatever, then it discourages me and I end up quitting. So I’m inviting you all to watch a little experiment over the next month. This weekend I’m gonna begin phasing myself into a plan I came up with that I lovingly call the “Duh” diet. I call it that because it’s pretty obvious that I should be doing these things anyway. Here it is:
 
1. Portion control. I don’t need a full, 12oz chicken breast; I don’t need 3 helpings of rice; I don’t need 2 baked potatoes; and I don’t need a 3rd scoop of ice cream. When eating out, I don’t need an appetizer and an entree. Special occasions will be in play, but they’ll be special because they’ll be rare. I will not have a “splurge” day each week where I engorge myself, because that will make me feel restricted the rest of the time. I’m not going to put strict parameters on this – only that I will stop eating before I feel full, and will turn down offers for additional helpings.
 
2. Eat a better breakfast. When mid morning comes, I’m usually hungry because I haven’t eaten a good breakfast. So I grab a quick snack like chips or candy or something, which does me no long-term good in the energy department. I have always grabbed something for breakfast on the go, and eaten a massive dinner in the evenings. While I’m not going to force myself to eat salad every night for dinner, I am going to spend more time and preparations on breakfast and making things I want to eat. And I’ll share this all along the way.
 
3. Prepare better snacking options. For me, when I want a snack, I want something crunchy and salty. I’m not huge on sweets, but enjoy the occasional handful of candy. A bag of carrots might hold me over for a day, but long term I’ll feel like I’m missing out and I’ll cave. A big part of this plan will be coming up with snacks that aren’t boring. The trick will be finding things that satisfy cravings and curb my appetite, but don’t make me feel gross and aren’t loaded with unhealthy extra stuff. I’m actually excited for the challenge.
 
4. No eating after 8pm during the week. This is one thing where I’m going to relax a bit on the weekends, because we sometimes have movie nights. And if I want to eat some caramel corn on those nights, by golly I’m gonna eat caramel corn. During the rest of the week, if I feel like I’m gonna explode if I don’t get a treat, I’ll make a a slush out of ice, water, lemon juice and stevia. Treats like that are essentially like drinking a glass of water, so I won’t get down on myself for it. If you’re leery of zero calorie sweeteners, that’s fine. For me, I’ve done my research and I have zero problems consuming Stevia in small amounts, (not using it to completely replace sugar in my diet) because it’s a natural sweetener. This will also require me to plan meals ahead of time so I can have them cooked and eaten by 8.
 
5. In bed by 10:30pm during the week. This is another one where I might stay up a little later on some weekend nights. But I’m the kind of person that needs a lot of sleep, especially in my current physical condition. If this plan works and I can maintain it long term, I’m hoping my body won’t be so tired all the time. But for now, if I go to bed later than 10:30, there’s no way I’ll be able to wake up early enough to exercise.
 
6. Wake up every morning by 6:30am. Again, this is probably something that a lot of people look at and say, “Hah, that’s not early. I’m up at 5:00 every morning blah blah blah, me me me.” Well guess what. I’m not you. I already said I’m out of shape and in poor health, so you don’t have to rub it in. Right now I wake up at about 7:15 in the mornings and rush through my routine to get to work by 8. Waking up at 6:30 will allow me to spend more time on a proper morning routine.
 
7. Exercise 30 minutes every day. Most days this exercise might be taking Charly for a walk. I may even count digging aspen bulbs out of the lawn as exercise on some Saturdays. But at least 3 times a week, my exercise needs to be more formal. IE – P90X or 3 rounds of 10 Minute Trainer. Yes, we have them both. Yes, I’m gonna use them. 
 
8. Reduce intake of salt and refined sugars. Now, I know myself, and I know that I need flavor. I will not be satisfied with a bag of cauliflower for lunch. That means I’m gonna have to get better at creating lots of flavor, without piling on the sugar and salt. I’m still going to use salt. I’m still going to use sugar. The key here will be reducing those levels, and learning better to manipulate and enhance natural flavors already present. I love a good culinary challenge, so this one gets me excited.
 
9. Use better fats. Fats are a necessary part of our diets, but some are more beneficial than others. I already try to use olive oil exclusively for cooking, but I’m going to spend a little more money to get some quality, fresh olive oils. I’m also going to use other healthy oils, such as coconut and modest amounts of butter. Did I blow your mind there? Butter? What? Yes, butter. I’ll go over this in another post, but there are both good and bad things about butter. Everyone focuses on the bad, but in very modest amounts, butter is actual a good part of a healthy diet.
 
10. Involve people who can hold me accountable. That’s why I’m writing this post. I’m involving all of you, so you can hold me accountable. I’ve always been pretty lackadaisical about instagram, but I’m going to instagram all throughout the day. I’ll post about my workouts, I’ll post about my snacks, I’ll post about my meals. Every morning I’ll post a pic of what the scale reads, and I’d love for you to join me for the ride. I also remembered that I started a Twitter account like, 5 years ago. I’ll probably use Twitter to vent, because I’m sure I’ll be moody as my body eases into its new normal. Follow me on instagram and/or Twitter if you want. Give some words of encouragement or call me out on my laziness. Either way, now that this is out there, there’s no turning back for me. I’m doin’ it!
 
Some of you may be reading this thinking, “How is this a diet?” Well that’s my point. It’s not a diet! I hate diets, and I always fail at them. This is simply a plan for me taking responsibility. This is me realizing what’s wrong, and what I need to do to fix it. And since food is such a big part of my life, I’m hoping that I can achieve a healthier me, without feeling like I’m punishing myself. For those of you who already live this way, I envy you. I want to be where you are, so any advice you can give is definitely welcome.
 
I’m starting this thing full bore on Monday, and am aiming to be 200 lbs by my birthday next month. I haven’t been 200 for 9 years. I think right now I’m around 220, so that’s about 5 lbs a week. My blog posts will still be food and recipes, because I actually believe that, for the most part, I cook very healthy food. It’s the other parts of my lifestyle – the laziness and lack of self control – that have gotten me to where I am. I have to believe that I can eat good food while losing weight, and it doesn’t have to be straight salads and blueberries. By reducing the amount of food I eat and increasing my level of physical activity, I know I can get to 200 by mid October. So follow me on instagram and Twitter, and keep your eye open for my first weigh in, bright and early Monday morning. Peace out, internet friends!

What do you think?

  1. I can relate to every last word you wrote here. I overeat too.

    In July I applied those food rules that you mentioned along with adding more raw to my plate. Aiming for about 50% raw per day. I even tried doing one week of gluten free, mostly to see if I could do it. I found that my appetite was much easier to control when I didn’t eat bread and pasta. In fact, I sort of lost my appetite, which then worried me a bit. Not too much…

    I tried noting down everything I ate along with my weight progress for the first time, but I have used the method you are describing lots of times and always with success. I did have one splurge day a week and it was very noticeable on the weight chart, so I think you are right in not doing that.

    I love to walk in the mornings and that kick start to the day is fabulous. I get my best ideas when I am out walking and it really helps with the weight loss and my mood :) I lost 8 pounds in that month. My splurge days were the reason it wasn’t more.

    Then I went on vacation and promptly dropped all my new good habits and promptly put back on the weight, but I am looking forward to getting back on my plan next week.

    I’ll follow on Instagram to get some snack ideas. My favorite snacks: raspberries with a dash of cream or an apple and 8 walnut halves or a plate of water melon or carrots with hummus. Favorite lunch: butter lettuce with carrots, cucumber etc and a sprinkle of Chia seeds. Other favorite: 8 Glutino crackers with half a small goat cheese from Trader Joes, roasted unsalted pistachios and fresh orange slices.

    I’m looking forward to following along…

  2. Good for you for taking these steps. I have been eating real food for about 8 months now and exercising for 6 weeks consistently. I feel so much better and am glad that I am able to teach my kids healthy habits by doing.

  3. Andrea says:

    Love your honesty and straightforward approach to non-dieting. I’ll be rooting for you (and fighting my own dietary demon – sugar!!)

  4. KT says:

    Love the ‘Duh’ plan! I just finished doing a reasonable 90 day fitness plan, where I focused on moving my body more and eating healthier. It worked for me – I lost 15 lbs (there’s a before and after on my blog). But it was still too strict to keep up in the long term, so now I’m trying to find a way to back off a bit without giving up entirely. I’ll follow you on Instagram and maybe that will help me be motivated, too!

    The one thing I could NOT do was cut out carbs, especially sweets. Or meat, or cheese, for that matter. Restriction, especially at Eat to Live or Paleo levels, just doesn’t work for me – like you said, it makes me feel like I’m missing out and that makes cravings even worse. Plus, I think you can eat healthy and still have those things. Try to make those things healthy when you can and forgive yourself when you can’t, that’s what worked for me.

    Since ice cream was my biggest hurdle, I decided to make a healthy alternative. Mixing Greek yogurt with chocolate milk, cherries, and mini-chocolate chips and freezing it into pop molds was a low-cal alternative to Cherry Garcia at less than 70 calories. Satisfied my sweet tooth AND it was healthy enough to justify eating for breakfast. Highly recommended!

    Good luck!

  5. You’re amazing Chris. Those “why I’m fat” points that you made describe me to a T! I can’t wait to see your progress and hear your “what works and what doesn’t” and hopefully you will inspire me to get off my own fat butt and lose some weight! :) Thanks! Beth

  6. Val says:

    Might be repeating a few things, a little late to this party. I’m sure that Jules has already told you that you are totally awesome and your self-worth should not be tied to your appearance — just getting that out of the way! And I agree with her, the most important reason for a change is so that you can be with your family for many, many years to come!

    Here are some reccomendations from my husband, who has been slowly but surely reaching his weight-loss goal (bearing in mind that we are both lazy foodies, too). Breakfast really seems to make a HUGE difference. Once he finally hit on a breakfast he liked (greek yogurt plus fruit and granola), the weight loss went up a notch and his mood improved dramatically. It took my husband a long time to find an activity that he enjoys (because you’re right, it can be hard when you’re larger to find something that doesn’t just straight-up hurt), but he has started mountain biking and he is HOOKED. Somebody gave us a hand-me-down bike and he is all over that. But he tried lots of things before he found something that stuck, so if you’re not enjoying it, move on. And if you’re not already, you might want to check out artofmanliness.com. My husband enjoys their quirky, fun, non-traditional fitness articles and workouts (as well as their other stuff). Portion control is still a big struggle, especially on the weekends. But being committed to “B.Y.O.Everything” has helped a lot — we pack EVERYTHING during the week, breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Lot of work, but big payoff.

    Good luck!

  7. Kathy says:

    Little late on this post & I didn’t read the comments, so forgive me if I’m repeating anything- I’m a snacker, too, and my husband and I recently signed up for the NatureBox, which delivers nuitrionist approved snacks once per month. We have the smallest size (5 full sized bags) for $20. They also have an option where you can pick out the snacks you want. For September, we received blueberry dusted almonds (amazing!), southwest corn sticks, dried fruits, chocolate waifers, and one other that I’m forgetting, plus a bonus bag of trail mix. They have gluton free options too. Everything is made with ingredients we can actually understand, which is really important to us!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hi Chris–my name is Jennifer. I’m a longtime reader, don’t think I’ve ever commented. Just wanted to put my two cents in on this one. I’m a diabetic and overweight but still a work in progress. Started with P90X two years ago and then did Insanity, 5K races and now T25. I have lost about 40 pounds and want to lose about 40 more to become a supermodel. LOL It is tough as a diabetic but not impossible!

    My advice is to make changes for the rest of your life rather than for the short term. Five pounds a week is a lot and you will have to limit your calories and push the workouts to do it.

    I suggest you just think of this change as a lifetime commitment. The food will always be there and you don’t have to eat it all now! HAHA And I cannot say enough about P90X! Great workout commit to exercise for life. You will never regret a workout and will gain so much energy.

    • Great point, thank you. This article was a little too focused on my short-term goal of 200, but I actually would like to get down to 185 eventually. I think the first 20 pounds will go quicker than the last 15, but either way I’m hoping that the changes I make are long-term and lasting, especially the exercise. Heaven knows I need it.

      Thanks so much for the encouragement and input!

  9. Lacey says:

    Very awesome. It’s so hard to put something like this on the internet. I think your plan sounds great and very realistic/long-term strategy. One thing that helps is drinking lots of water, it helps your body function better and even helps with sleep and all sorts of things. I never really get thirsty, so I have water goals to meet throughout the day. Wishing you the best!

  10. KATIE says:

    good for you!
    I wanted to add a couple things that I’ve done/seen/heard:
    -Try adding a vitamin B supplement. I was always exhausted – read: in bed at 7:30 (I’m childless so I can do that)and could sleep all day if allowed. My doc told me I was crazy low with my B levels and gave me “Active B Trio.” Holy smokes, it makes a difference. I went about 3 weeks without taking them and could totally tell in how tired I was without them. Vitamin B is found in foods with heavy fat/cholesterol content…aka animals, and I have crazy high cholesterol so I felt the supplement was a good bet for me. just a suggestion.
    -I snack, a lot. I try and keep fruit and healthier snacks at my desk but I always crave salt and crunch, like you. After I’ve eaten my breakfast at 8ish, I’ll have another snack around 10:30 if I have a lighter lunch. In the afternoon I’ll start craving a snack and have taught myself to drink a large glass of water and wait 10 minutes. Cravings apparently only last 10-15 minutes then your brain moves on. You may be snacking like me… out of habit.
    – Try using smaller plates when serving meals. You’ll automatically be ingesting less. And I’ve heard if you finish and still feel hungry, wait 5 minutes before getting seconds and see if you’re still hungry. The 5 minutes allows you to process what you just ate- stomach and brain.

    Anyway, all of these are just my two cents but wanted to share them with you. Good luck!

  11. Lisa says:

    Aaaand, welcome to my world! My husband and I were getting mighty chubby; especially after the second baby. Add in the high stress of moving across the country and shazam! We were porkers. We had been thinking about getting a juicer, found one on sale for $50 and then watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead on Netflix, followed by Forks Over Knives. The next day we decided to go vegan. Me, a Chicago steak lover was going to cut out meat and cheese??

    We decided only to change our eating habits at home, since we didn’t want to “diet,” either. We just wanted to be healthy so we could keep up with our little people once they get older. Five months later, we’re still at it – (although we’ve modified our diet to include a little bit of cheese and eggs), we still enjoy the occasional cheeseburger or McDonalds french fries, and we’ve lost 50 pounds combined – 35 were The Hubs’!

    We didn’t really change much else than our diet at home – we’ve saved tons of money not buying meat and cheese, but we don’t feel like we’re missing anything since we don’t deny ourselves cold turkey. My biggest advice is don’t get yourself into the “guilt” aspect of it all – think of it as a long term change. The first two weeks sucked, then I went through a phase where I never wanted to see another vegetable in my life.

    You can do it!! Stick with it – do it for Greta. Grab yo-self a handful of snap peas and watch those two documentaries… They are as sensational as any documentary, but are good motivation (despite my critical thinking going into overdrive!).

    Here is the post where we decided to go “quasi-vegan:” http://anotherbigbite.com/2013/03/15/the-cheese-stands-alone/ Not alot has changed!

    Good luck!!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Low Carb is your answer.

  13. Deanna says:

    This sounds awesome. I look forward to following your progress and maybe stealing some of your ideas!

  14. Kim says:

    reading your post made me feel like I was reading my own words…exactly…minus the fact that you are male and I am not…but I share the exact same reactions and feelings towards food and deprivation feelings while “dieting”…I like your approach and look forward to following your progress and keep up with you hopefullh… A few things that get me everytime are sauces and pasta…so I found a way around those….spaghetti squash is a lifesaver…try it!! Roasted Cauliflower pureed with a bit of vegetable stock makes a great faux mashed potato substitute also…(roasting the cauliflower keeps it fairly waterless, where boiling it tends to make it runny when pureed)…and my sauce recipe goes well on any meat and especially fish…makes you feel like you are indulging in lovely saucy goodness…

    Red Pepper Sauce **(you can use yellow and orange also for a different flavour profile)**
    4 red peppers, cut in half and stem removed
    1 tsp oil
    4 garlic cloves
    2 oz feta cheese
    Splash of milk (almond milk or even a bit of greek yogurt, although i have never tried that)
    A pinch of salt and pepper

    Preheat oven to 350F. Place peppers on baking dish, rub with olive oil and bake for about 40 minutes. At the same time, wrap all four garlic cloves together in tinfoil and place on baking dish for the last 20 minutes. When peppers are soft, transfer to cutting board and cut in smaller chunks, then blend with roasted garlic and feta cheese. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of milk (about 2 tsp). Serve over chicken breast, white fish, etc…

    this sauce freezes well

    (sorry for the long post, and thank you for writing this post…

    • Thanks Kim! That sauce sounds really good. Since going gluten-free (and even before, during times when Jules’ health was a little rocky) we’ve used spaghetti squash quite a bit in place of spaghetti. It really is amazing how good it can be.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

  15. Nice post! Good luck as you start your journey! You’ll be great! Best of luck for your future.

    Regards,
    Tahitian Noni Juice

  16. very practical ideas. just making a small change or a few small changes can much a huge difference! it is so simple and people make it too complicated. no, you do not need some crazy herbal supplement or protein shake, no you do not need to fast for a month, or follow a paleo diet. I’m glad to see portion control is #1! A few other small tips: use smaller plates, sit down for each meal, eat slowly, fill up on veggies, drink a glass of water before your meal. good luck, you seem motivated and that is key!

    • Awesome tips, Jill. Eating slowly is gonna be tricky, especially since I’ll be very hungry in the beginning. But you’re right, it can make a huge difference. Last night we were invited to a neighbor’s house for dinner and the food was so good. Where I usually would have pounded no fewer than 3 servings as fast as possible, I had a plate of good food and forced myself to wait. Sure enough, after about 5 minutes of conversation, I was already feeling more satisfied and less hungry. It was a little victory that really gave me some confidence. :)

  17. Rosalind says:

    Spicy roasted garbanzo beans are a yummy, salty snack! Good luck!

  18. Kim S. says:

    You go Chris!
    What a timely post! My daughter and I just started a similar lifestyle change. Our goal isn’t as lofts as yours – we each want to lose 30lbs by Christmas. We started 2 weeks ago and have each lost about 4 lbs. The hardest part for me is not eating after my 8pm snack, but knowing my daughter is going through it with me has helped keep me honest. I my not have the strongest willpower for myself but for her I would do anything! So I look forward reading about your journey and hope I can pick up some ideas for mine!

  19. Good luck on your journey Chris!! We’re all rooting for ya!

  20. Hailey says:

    Yeah! Way to go and good for you! I like your whole approach to eating: it’s not a diet, it’s a life style change for the better. Don’t deny yourself the foods you enjoy, but learn to eat them in moderation. My husband and I have been working on transitioning to a whole-foods, plant-based diet for a while and I’m loving the overall changes. I have more energy, more happiness, and more motivation to keep going. Small steps and big rewards are what we have seen. I’m also in the same boat as you as far as exercise. Mornings are best. I’ve noticed a great benefit from it: I have more energy to finish everything I want during the day and I actually crave my bed around 10:30/11:00 each night.
    Keep it up and don’t be too hard on yourself if you have a few rocky days. Just keep trying!

  21. Great post! Good luck as you start your journey! You’ll be great!

  22. goosefairy says:

    Wow, this post really speaks to me. I am pretty much in the same place. It’s being overweight and physically activity of any kind being painful that really hits home. I have the same problem with portion control with certain foods. I will be following this journey of yours and I will do my best to join you in it.

    • Yeah, I think Charly tweaked something in my back on our walk this morning. She was just pulling so hard, constantly, and now I’m in quite a bit of pain. I’ve always kind of accepted that as normal and just given up, but it doesn’t have to be normal. I’m hoping that in a month, my body will have adjusted to the demand and I won’t be in pain so much. Fingers crossed, haha.

  23. Ginet says:

    I look forward to keeping up with your journey! I have the same sentiments about weight loss – it’s a lifestyle change. I try not to focus on the numbers b/c I try to see it more of obtaining a healthy lifestyle. I exercise at least three times a week and I’m sure I would have lost more weight faster if I had a salad every day, but I don’t like feeling deprived. I would add drinking plenty of water. That, getting enough sleep, and curbing carbs are definite struggles for me.

    • Yes, water as well. I neglected to say that in the post but I’m trying to drink at least 100oz of water each day. This brings on quite a few extra bathroom breaks right now, but I think my body will regulate.

  24. Sophie says:

    You’ve SO got this, Chris! I found your tips super helpful. I’m currently on a journey to lose weight and become more healthy. I’m 31 lbs down since February and still going strong, so this was really useful! Thank you and good luck!

  25. Nora Rose says:

    This is so awesome and I don’t want to be a debbie downer so I waited to post until you got lots of well-deserved positive comments. You guys always seem to post healthy recipes so I’m sure you’ll be able to make a lot of these changes easily. But 25 lbs is a big goal and sometimes that can set you up for failure/de-motivate if you can’t achieve it right away. I’m working through the same thing with my BF and he’s only lost 5 lbs over the last 2 months because he already works out a ton for work so it’s hard to cut back on food he needs for energy and increase exercise if he’s already tired. That being said, we celebrate the little goals of making it to 5 lbs not the overall goal (which we would have “missed” by a long shot). He always would get discouraged from missing the bigger goal after 2 weeks that the healthy habits were hard to stick with. 1-2 lbs a week is often a more attainable/suggested goal when reviewing. That being said, if you hit 25 lbs before October, I’ll force him to read that post and this one!!

    On a positive suggestion, we both use my fitness pal to track food because it’s crazy how much little snacks add up and can be a wake up call of how many calories consumed even if you just do it for a few weeks. I also love the Map my Run app to see how far I run and there are lots of challenges that you can sign up for which motivate. The only thing that got me running was signing up for a 5k and my BF would never do that. He signed up for a flag football league and has started running to train for that!!

    • I completely agree, Nora! 25 is definitely not typical and not even suggested for most people. An earlier commenter actually said something similar. I chose 25 because my body actually responds very quickly to healthy living (which only shows how lazy I truly am to have gotten to this point). I think I’ll be able to respond very quickly to less food and more activity, but the trick is to not starve myself so that I get headaches or anything. Drinking lots of water also helps with that.

      For your boyfriend, I think his situation is pretty unique. If he’s working hard all day, then he definitely needs more calories. Because I’m a bit more sedentary, my body doesn’t need as many calories. I’ve seen marathon runners who look overweight, but really their bodies and lifestyles are just different. The goal is to be healthy and feel good. If he doesn’t feel good, then maybe it’s the type of calories. I’d love to hear more on his progress as you go. Keep me posted. :)

    • Hillary says:

      I lost about 20lbs in two months following the advice in Dr. Fuhrman’s book, Eat to Live. Here’s my story: http://thefriendlyhome.blogspot.com/2012/10/lifelong-struggle-over.html. A year and a half later, I’m down 35 pounds and right in the middle of my recommended BMI (which is funny because as a fat person I thought BMI was a load of crap; I was just big-boned, of course). My cholesterol is also totally normal now. Plus I’m eating super nutrient-dense foods that should keep me healthy for a very long time. All that to say…I don’t think 25lbs is dangerous or crazy. Congratulations on starting a great journey!

  26. Karen W. says:

    An open and honest post! Love the “Duh” plan :-)

    Check it out and be inspired!
    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/#axzz2e85VzOlQ

    I’m not “primal” or “paleo” by definition, but the lifestyle aspect, functional exercise and play, recipes as weekly inspiration stories are awesome. I cured my MS and lost 25lbs in a year by eliminating ALL grain in my diet (not saying you have to do this…just sharing!).

    Glad things are smoothing out for you guys!

    • When we started doing gluten free, it was strictly to help Jules with her thyroid. But I noticed that I also felt a lot better. I think that anyone could really benefit, health-wise, from eliminating or at least reducing gluten intake. Other grains, like rice and stuff, I just can’t give up, haha. I love my sushi. But that is so awesome that you were able to see such an impact. I have so much respect for people like you, who are able to make such big alterations and find that things really are better on the other side of change.

  27. Thanks for putting this out there. It feels like such an open and honest thing to write about and I’m sure it was difficult. I wish you lots of luck on your journey! One of the sites I found really really helpful when I changed my eating habits was Zen Habits…which isn’t really about food…but he does talk about it. It’s all about this guy who was overweight, smoking, eating unhealthy food…and the habits he implemented to change his life. He talks about food, exercise, money, and lots of other things in a simple and totally positive way.

  28. Amanda B. says:

    Great article, thanks for being so real. Losing 25 pounds in under two months is intense! Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet that pace. It sounds like you have a great plan in place. Slow weight loss is sustainable weight loss!

    I am working on losing baby weight before the babe is 6 months old (Christmas), so I signed up for a 5k mud run with my co-workers. All the good-natured smack talk at work (plus the desire not to make a fool of myself in front of my boss) is a great motivator to get out there and get in my 30 minutes of sweat every day. Looking forward to your healthy snacking ideas!

    • Thanks Amanda! 25 lbs is definitely ambitious. My body actually responds pretty quickly to exercise and healthy living – which is only a greater testament to how lazy I really am. 25 lbs in 1.5 months wouldn’t be realistic for everyone – and perhaps it isn’t realistic for me. But if I can see myself moving in that direction while not feeling restricted, then that will be motivation enough to maintain.

      Good luck with the 5K! Positive peer pressure is a wonderful thing. :)

  29. Rebecca says:

    I enjoyed this and it sounds so much like my husband – Im going to share it with him today :) thanks Chris

    • I hope it helps in some way. I mentioned this to a commenter above, but if you decide to bring it up with your husband, make sure he knows that it’s not about attraction or just losing weight. Men want to feel like the special women in their lives find them attractive, and if they feel like their weight makes you less attracted to them, they lose self worth. Why would they work so hard on themselves if they don’t feel like they’re worth anything? So, be sure to make it about your lives together and the things you’d like to do with him – growing old being the main one. The only thing Jules has ever said to me about losing weight is, “I need you around.” Those words are more motivating than telling me I’m unattractive.

      Good luck. :)

  30. I’m sure you’ll get lots of crazy tips that you may or may not want, but here’s my two cents- For snacking, I seriously eat like a bag of carrots a day – but with delicious tzatziki (with 0% greek yogurt) or greek yogurt mixed with fresh horseradish. Crazy good and very light.

  31. Stef says:

    Chris, thanks for sharing! I’ve been trying to change up my diet, to increase my energy levels, and it’s definitely difficult to stick to a plan. Have you considered the paleo diet? When I actually do it, I feel great, though living in NYC there are way too many tempting non-paleo options. Since you guys are already gluten-free it might not be that huge of a stretch! I’m a snacker too, like all day long, so I find that keeping my desk drawer stocked with healthy options like raw almonds, fruits, and veggies, really helps. Thanks for inviting us on this adventure with you!

    • Almonds, yes. There’s a place up the road here that sells sprouted almonds? Have you had those? I’m gonna learn how to make them myself and what the benefit is so I can talk about them more authoritatively. All I know is that they have an awesome texture and are so tasty, but supposedly they’re more healthy as well.

    • Stef says:

      I’ve never even heard of them! I’ll have to look into this…

  32. So proud of you Chris! We’re cheering you on! I love running and working out, but I fail at getting to bed early and not eating sugars like candy and other sweets. I have a massive sweet tooth and thankfully, working out has minimized that. So instead of grabbing a bag of mini milky ways at the grocery store, we have a rice cake with a drizzle of honey on it. That satisfies my sugar craving quickly and I am happy I didn’t pound a bag of milky ways!

    I am so excited to see your posts about this! If you do decide to run occasionally, I suggest you download the Nike+ app. It tracks how far, how fast, how many calories, and it allows you to sync it to Facebook so people can “cheer” you on and see your progress. Every time someone “cheers” for me while I run, I hear a round of applause and it seriously makes me want to fist pump the sky right there on the treadmill.

    • You know, running has never been my thing. The impact is torture on my knees, but maybe as I feel lighter, I can work that in. Your posts about running each day and Ryan’s when he works out have been a major factor in me deciding to make some changes. It’s always good to see people close to you making smart choices on their own, and taking control. It’s very encouraging. :)

  33. I like it, and good for you for putting it out there! I’m looking forward to following you through this. Maybe you’ll even inspire me to start being a little more conscious and active.

  34. This is a fantastic plan! I’m a huge believer in just paying attention to what you put (and how much of it) into your mouth! Seriously, once you realize that you’re the only one responsible for how you look, you take control! This is awesome. I can’t wait to see progress-

    Also, I tend to crash and need snacks around 930-10 every day… I’ve found quinoa or greek yogurt with granola keeps you full and fatisfied until lunch. (Fatisfied is most definitely a word… check it out.)

  35. Wow. I admire you taking this on. One observation I might make about this post is that it may be helpful for you to evaluate the way you view and feel about food and eating in general. You mention several times that you don’t want to feel like you are “missing out” when not indulging in certain foods. It may be that you treat food as a “reward” or as a comfort or a symbol of a celebration. Therefor you may be eating to satisfy emotional needs/feelings rather than for hunger and the simple enjoyment of a well cooked meal (which you do so well). You need to find another activity, pursuit or passion that fulfills this emotional feedback that is not food and shift the way you feel about food. Sometimes a movie date can be just a movie date without caramel corn as the symbol of the celebration, sort of like a wedding ceremony can be a wedding ceremony without glasses of champagne as that same symbol. (I hope you understand the analogy). -Caitlin

    • Definitely understand the analogy, and I think you’re totally right. Everything about food for me has become a way to address emotions. I actually love the process of cooking, so perhaps I can focus more on that than the actual eating, and find some other things. Right now, I’m very drawn to watching TV and doing mindless activities, but I’m really hoping that I can break those habits and address my emotions with healthier activities.

      Thanks for the thoughts, Caitlin. I definitely need to keep this in mind.

    • Anonymous says:

      I just learned about a local charity here that teaches parenting classes, and apparently they need volunteers to prepare meals that they serve during the classes. The volunteers cook the meals in their own homes, then bring them to the organization where they are re-heated and served. If you can find something like this in your community, it might be a fun way of getting to enjoy the process of cooking without actually eating all the great stuff you cook yourself. (In my case – “Oh, it’s 9pm and I feel like making this big batch of cookies – but I’ll definitely *only* have one…” But if the cookies were going to a good cause, that would keep me from eating them!)

    • That’s an awesome idea, Anonymous – is that your first or last name? ;) – I’m gonna do some research and see what I can find.

  36. Shannon says:

    I also like the My Fitness Pal app! It helps to keep you acocuntable! Good luck! You can do it!!

    • Yeah, My Fitness Pal is a great way to keep your math right. It can be very, very difficult to keep sticking to 1,200 or 1,300 calories long term though, at least in my experience. I like Chris’s idea of making a lot of small changes without getting really hung up on the numbers. That’s probably a healthier way than trying to hit that number no matter what I put in my body throughout the day. My Fitness Pal is pretty addictive because it definitely works, if you are honest with your numbers/portions, etc.

    • Yeah, I think I might look at My Fitness Pal a little closer. I actually already have it on my phone, I just haven’t used it. Like Angie mentioned, I’m not trying to make myself fit into a box, per se. Just a smaller size of pant. ;)

      I think the real value of these apps is that you’re bringing awareness to your health. You may see me posting my My Fitness Pal info soon, so you can follow me there, too.

  37. Erin says:

    Right on, dude. I’m right there with ya. Have you ever seen Jim Gaffigan’s Mr. Universe? In some aspects that’s me: I think I’m lactose intolerant; I just ate a pint of ice cream and I feel *terrible*.

    My brother went hardcore-ish about two years ago and has lost/maintained the loss of 40 pounds. But he’s in his mid-20s, so he doesn’t count. My dad, on the other hand, lost 80 pounds by simply…wait for it…eating slower. For real. He cut waaaaay back on sugar, of course, and started doing some exercise, but the main principle was eating for 10 minutes at a time, slowly. Same food as usual, but eating only what he really wanted the most first, and chewing slowly. Then taking a break after 10 minutes for a few minutes, then eating more if he was still hungry. If not, donezo. And that was it!

    I like your realistic approach.

    • I’ve heard about this eating slowly thing too! I get so excited to eat, my plate is empty in like 5 minutes tops and I have food remorse afterwards. Especially eating pasta.

    • That is so interesting, but makes perfect sense. Every so often I’ll be eating a meal and I realize that I probably look like a ravenous wolf who hasn’t eaten for days to everyone around me. I’m gonna work on this, thanks for the tips.

      Also – I love Mr. Universe. I’m driven to laugh-induced-tears every time I watch it.

  38. Anonymous says:

    If you’re looking for a new exercise regime try crossfit. I just started and I really like it! I was really nervous to start because I knew I’d have a tough time with the weights (I’m petite) but I found that most people in my intro class were at my same skill level… which was none.
    Everything I learned in class I can apply outside of the crossfit “box”, whether in the gym or working out at home. So I definitely recommend it! And I have muscles now!!

  39. Anonymous says:

    I’m not a person who struggles with weight, but dang I struggle with not eating a whole bag of chips in one day! Yes, that big full size bag, not the snack size. So I just don’t buy them. I still crave them, but I can’t eat them if they’re not in the house.

    And to help motivate you on your path, my great-grandmother was a firm believer in everything in moderation. Although, in her words it was, “Just a little, but don’t be stingy!” She always made sure to have a little bit of everything on her plate, meat, potatoes, fruits, veggies, oh and a piece of that delicious pie! As she aged she also would have a bowl of ice cream every other night, and on the nights she didn’t she’d have a glass of wine. I always remember her moving as much as possible- use your body or lose it! She even played basketball in her 70’s! She lived to be 95, so she was clearly on to something! Eat a balanced ‘diet’ and move, move, move! You can do it, Chris!

  40. Sounds like you have a good plan. I think the most important thing is figuring out what will work for you, because everyone’s different. Good idea to reach out and find a community to support you–excuse me while I follow you on Twitter and IG. Selfishly, I’m looking forward to seeing what yummy, healthy snacks you come up with. :)

  41. Anonymous says:

    Have you looked into the atkins/south beach/paleo diets? I think there is a lot to be said for cutting sugar/carbs to control insulin. The idea behind all the low carb diets is that when your insulin is out of control, your body turns the calories you consume into fat, not energy, hence the fatigue and weight gain.

    I use my fitness pal too, and I keep under 100 grams of carbs a day, no more than 30 per meal, and it has worked for me. I eat healthy normal food and no longer crave sugary things.

    • You know, I looked into a few of those diets but I just don’t think they’re for me. That said, I actually use a lot of South Beach’s recipe ideas. They have some great meals.

    • MLB says:

      Great Job for taking steps toward change, Chris! You’re the only one who can do it for yourself, and it sounds like you have exactly the right mind set to make it happen. I find this incredibly motivational (and judging from the comments, others do as well!). I just wanted to back up the South Beach Diet comment above. In the past when I was strict with it, I really did lose a tremendous amount of weight on South Beach… like… crazy fast. Faster than I could even notice – it took other people saying something to me, and some photographic evidence for me to “see” it. However, I find it hard to maintain a diet like that, so in general I tend to eat “South Beach-ish”. As you mentioned above, there really are great recipes in those books, and many of them are inherently gluten-free. I especially like the 30 Minute Meals Book. A little cheap-o tip: check your local thrift store (Goodwill, Salvation Army, Thrifty Shopper, whatever…) for copies of the recipe books – they are almost always there for just a couple bucks!

      One tip I try to keep in mind: Don’t let “off” days, or “oops” meals be major stumbling blocks – don’t dwell on it or let it discourage you! Just get back on the wagon tomorrow and you’re back on track, (dusts off hands) done and done.

  42. Thanks for sharing your journey with us Chris. I saw a documentary on Netflix called “Hungry for Change” that might have some useful information for you – it also talks about how no one diet regimen is right for everyone – you have to customize to what is best for your body. Also, I recommend looking at vegan recipes for new flavor ideas — because the “good stuff” is left out of vegan meals, they know how to do flavor! All the best in your endeavor. Cheers – CT

    • Great idea about the vegan recipes. I actually follow 6 or 7 vegan blogs, but I’ve never approached it that way. If they can drive crazy amounts of flavor without “the good stuff,” just think what can be done when you add a little of that stuff back in. ;)

  43. Kara F. says:

    Wow you can do it Chris! Baby steps in a framework and accountability are two keys to success – and you will do it. I’m a new reader and excited to be on this journey with you. I myself am in full on sugar detox mode (http://the21daysugardetox.com/) now that school is back in session and we have a more regular routine. I sometimes feel like I exercise so I can eat what I want, but it’s really 80% diet, 20% exercise. Good luck!

  44. This is such a well written and raw post! I think it’s extremely rare for people to actually acknowledge their own barriers and it takes a strong persont o be able to publicly speak about them so openly. I like your whole “no diet” approach – Good luck!

    I’ll be rooting for you!

  45. K says:

    This was really encouraging to me. This week I just started on a plan to get healthier. I’m using the some guides (Skinny Rules by Bob Harper – really similar to the steps you laid out above). I’ve been exercising daily and I’m so encouraged by how much better I feel even having lost just a few pounds. My energy is way up and I feel so alert. For me, having three kids, I just wasn’t taking care of myself, usually eating whatever I could grab quick.

    So, thank you for sharing and being honest and vulnerable. I’m right there with you.

  46. Emma says:

    Good for you! This sounds like you are setting yourself up for success by being realistic and aware of your weaknesses! I really want to show this to my fiance because I think he has a lot of the same problems and many of these goals would be good for him without really feeling like he is restricting!

    • Everyone needs a little encouragement. Of course, as I’m sure you know, in order for it to stick, it has to be your fiancé’s decision. So if you decide to bring it up to him, be sure he knows how much you love him. If he’s like me, I’m sure he already feels bad about his weight. So when you bring it up, it can’t be about weight. It can’t be about attraction, and it can’t be about looks. Make it about the parts of life you want to enjoy together that unhealthy lifestyles may hinder.

      Good luck! Thanks for the encouragement. :)

  47. I think that most of us just have to practice self control and discipline…which is hard to do. Obtainable goals are the best way to stick to a “diet” plan. Best of luck to you!

  48. You can do it, Chris! I have a lot of the same “problems” as you do, and last December, I really made some new goals for myself. I lost 42 pounds in four months, and I’m keeping it off. The trick, for me, is definitely finding exercise that I like and foods I like, too.

    Your beautiful wife once told me, “Get out of breath and sweaty for 30 minutes a day.” It totally works! I also really like to run, and signing up for races is a great motivator. (“Gotta get my run in today… that 5K is coming up…”)

    The best news, for me, was that I started to feel differently on Day One. The first time I exercised and planned some delicious, healthy eating, I felt lighter, less tired, and happier. Onto to Day Two! (“Geez, do these pants feel looser…”)

    Finally, make sure you’re loving on yourself every day. (“Dang, I look good.”) Those self affirmations can keep you going.

    P.S. Have you tried MyFitnessPal? It’s a fun way to stay accountable, with friends. I’m happy to do it with you.

    • Valerie says:

      I am 4 weeks into using the “My Fitness Pal” app (counts calories, exercise), and it is definitely helping! I am looking to lose that extra 20 lbs that have found their way to my body over the past 6 years. I am more mindful of what I eat and how I exercise. I even got my boyfriend to join two weeks ago and he is enjoying the process of losing weight as well.

      Good luck, Chris!

    • You know, I actually have the My Fitness Pal app installed, and have for awhile. I’m gonna take a closer look at it, because I’ve heard great things.

  49. Slavolosi says:

    Good for you, Chris. This is exactly what you need to do. Portion control is the number 1 priority to loose weight. It really is that simple and people make it complicated and follow fads. You’re going to do great!

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