If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. Anne Bradstreet

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Ether 12:27

Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season therof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion. D&C 59:18-20

Sunday, September 16, 2007

How to Lose Weight -- And Keep it Off!

In the index on the right, you will see the steps I've gone through, and am still going through, to gain control of my weight problem. I will always have a weight problem -- I've been overweight too often and for too long in the past for me to ever kid myself into thinking I can ever live one day without risk of becoming obese again.

In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul says:

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

And in Ether 12:27, the Lord says to Moroni:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Problems with weight control is my thorn in the flesh, my weakness. If you are reading this, it probably is for you, too, or for someone that you love and want to help.

This particular article is a composite of the principles I've learned through both this effort to gain control of my weight and past successes and failures. These principles do work. These principles are taught in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that they can benefit others as they have benefitted me.

Get Started -- Make the decision to change your life
Get Real -- Face up to what you have to do to get to where you need to be
Get Patience -- Face up to how long it's going to take
Get Healthy -- Make better choices in the foods you eat
Get Fit -- Increase your physical activity

Get Started -- Make the decision to change your life

Before you can make a decision to change your life, you must acknowledge that you bear full responsibility for your weight problem. Yes, it is a thorn in the flesh, and yes, it is a weakness. But it was never beyond your ability to control. You have to get to the point of saying, in honesty, it's my choices that brought me to this point. I have no one to blame but myself.

Once you accept responsibility for your situation, you become teachable, and changeable.

"Everything in the gospel teaches us that we can change if we need to, that we can be helped if we truly want it, that we can be made whole, whatever the problems of the past."
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Ensign, Nov. 1997, 66

Acknowledging that you can't do it alone is a very big step in overcoming your weakenss, your thorn in the flesh. When you go to the Lord for help, humbly admitting that you have this weakness, and seeking help to understand how to overcome it, the windows of heaven will open to you, providing you with the guidance and inspiration you need to overcome your weakness.

In the process of overcoming your weight problem, you will become strong. Your weakness will make you strong, as the Lord promised to Moroni.

Only when you make life-changes can you overcome your weakness. Going on a diet is not going to do it. You must permanently change your diet and the way you use food.

Get Real -- Face up to what you have to do to get to where you need to be

To get from where you are to where you need to be, you must accept the hard, cold fact that you must learn to live within the calorie budget Nature has given you. We all have to do it. Our bodies only need a certain number of calories, and when they are fed more than they need, they store the extra as fat. It's natural law.

To get started, you need to obtain 4 numbers: the first 2 to identify where you are, and the last 2 to identify where you need to be.

Current weight:
Calorie consumption needed to maintain current weight:
Normal, healthy weight range:
Calorie consumption to maintain normal, healthy weight range:

While I do not believe it is entirely about calories, it is enough about calories that this makes the best place to start.

Getting the weight facts

Weigh yourself to get your current weight.

To get your normal, healthy weight range, go to the Halls website. Enter the basic information -- height, weight, adult, and gender. Click "Calculate"

Scroll down to "Medical Recommendation." This is the normal, healthy weight range for your height. This weight range is based on 19-25 BMI, and is sufficiently broad to accommodate the different body frames - small, medium, and large. The only exceptions are super athletes, who may weigh more than this range but still be healthy, because of their higher muscle mass. Medical evidence suggests that all body weights within this BMI range are equally healthy. Above or below this range, health risks occur.

Now you have two of the facts: your current weight, and your normal, healthy weight range.

Getting the calorie facts

To determine the calorie consumption needed to maintain current weight and normal, healthy weight, use a good online BMR calculator.

Put in your height, current weight, age, and gender, and click "calculate BMR. " Write this number down.

BMR is the number of calories it takes to just keep your body alive. Your body burns additional calories as you engage in your daily activities. Use the Harris Benedict Equation to determine the total calories you burn on average per day. When you choose which activity level you are, be honest. If you aren't sure, or seem to fit between two levels, then do the math for both.

Sedentary - little or no exercise. BMR x 1.2
Lightly active - light activity or sports 1-3 days per week. BMR x 1.375
Moderately active - moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days per week. BMR x 1.55
Very active - hard exercise or sports 6-7 days per week. BMR x 1.725
Extra active - very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training. BMR x 1.9

Now, do the same calculations for your normal, healthy weight. Find the BMR for the highest number in your healthy range and do the calculations using the same activity level. Find the BMR for the lowest number in your healthy range and do the calculations.

I will use my stats as an example:

starting weight: 255 lbs.
calories needed to maintain starting weight: 2117
normal, healthy weight range: 94-124 lbs.
calories needed to maintain 124 lbs.: 1433
calories needed to maintain 94 lbs.: 1277

Let's do the math. 2117 - 1433 = 684 calories, a 32% reduction. 2117 - 1277 = 840 calories, a 40% reduction.

For me to get from my starting weight of 255 to within my normal, healthy weight range of 94-124, I must reduce my calorie consumption from 32-40%. That's the cold, hard reality.

Get Patience -- Face up to how long it's going to take

We must all face the cold, hard reality that it's going to take a very long time to conquer our weight problems. In fact, it's going to take the rest of our lives.

Why? Simply because losing the weight is only half the battle. We must continue to maintain the weight loss. That's why it is so very important to know what your calorie budget is, and to learn to live within it.

Right now it may seem like an awful price to pay -- to have to reduce your calories by such a drastic amount for the rest of your life. But you don't have to do it all at once -- you can break it up into much smaller, manageable steps. And by the time you reach your goal weight, I bet you will find that you calorie budget is quite sufficient. I have.

I like to use the fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, to demonstrate the wisdom of using small steps to accomplish a major goal. The name of the Tortoise was "Slow and Steady," and the moral of the fable is that "Slow and Steady wins the race."

In the fable, the Hare stopped to rest because he knew he was so much faster than the Tortoise, but in dieting, many of us quite in desperation because we have a bad day, or get frustrated that the loss is so slow. For whatever the reason, we stop in our tracks. The result often is that we not only stop losing weight, but we gain back what we've already lost, sometimes plus some. Been there, done that.

Just plodding along, taking one step at a time, is the only way to conquer our weight problems. This requires a great deal of patience. We need to constantly remind ourselves that this is a life change, not a diet, and the changes are not only going to improve our looks, but also our health.

We need to forgive ourselves if we fall off the wagon one day, and we need to get right back on.

We need to be firm with others when they fail to understand our need to get control of what we eat. Be firm, but kind.

We need daily communication with God, seeking His strength to do what we can't do on our own.

Get Healthy -- Make better choices in the foods you eat

When we apply the concept of dividing this very big task of losing a lot of weight AND making permanent changes in our eating habits into smaller steps, we signficantly increase our chances for success.

Let's focus again on these simple laws of nature: (1) in order to lose weight, we must consume less calories than our body needs at its current weight, and (2) in order to maintain our normal, healthy weight, we must live within the calorie budget nature has given us.

If I want to go from 255 lbs. to 124 lbs. (the top of my healthy range), I must reduce my calorie intake by 32%. But, I don't have to do it all in one step. I can do it in increments, over time, working with both the quality and quantity of what I eat, as well as increasing my activity level (more about this in the next segment).

Each of you must decide which steps you will take first; these are only suggestions.

Cut calories by reducing the quantity of food you eat

Simply reduce the portions you are currently eating for one meal, two meals, or even all meals. This can be done quite easily by using smaller dishes, or by not taking seconds. If you need to ultimately reduce your calorie intake by 25%, then you can start, as the first step, by cutting back 1/8 on your portions. That's not a very big cut, and you will still be eating all of the same foods. Then, after you've adjusted to this, or when you hit a plateau, cut back another 1/8.

If you are a snacker, as many of us overweight people are, don't buy economy sized packages. Instead, buy single-servings. If you like candy bars, buy the miniature sizes.

If you cook more food than is necessary for a meal, either intentionally or because of habit, immediately store away the excess, even before you begin your meal. Leave out only enough for the meal you are having.

If you drink sodas, switch to diet. That in itself cut a big chunk of calories. Better yet, totally give it up and enjoy water. You can wean yourself from the sodas gradually, or go cold turkey, whichever works best for you.

Fast food can really be calorie-laden, so be sure to reduce your portions here, too. DO NOT go for the super size. Order a kiddie meal instead, or the small size of everything.

If you can't control the portions of a certain food you eat, that means you have an addiction to that food. You will have to just give it up totally. The good news is, there is a lot of really good, delicious food that you can have in its place. You may not believe me now, but you will once you've spent a couple months improving the quality of the food you eat. That I promise.

Cut calories by improving the quality of the food you eat

Food preparation

You can drop a lot of calories out of a favorite recipe just by making some different choices in the ingredients. High-fat ingredients can be replaced with lower-fat versions. Butter or other fats, sugar, meat, and cheese can frequently be reduced without affecting the texture or taste of the finished food. Start by reducing a little bit, and if that doesn't negatively affect the finished food, then next time, reduce just a bit more. Example: years ago I found a recipe for homemade cream pies that was absolutely delicious. The recipe called for 1 cup of sugar. I first measured out the 1 cup, and then removed 1 tbsp of the sugar. The pie was just as delicious. I worked it all the way down to 2/3 cup, and the pie was delicious. When I went lower than that, the taste wasn't as good, so that's where I stopped. I scratched out 1 cup and put in 2/3 cup. Changes like this can really make a dent in your calorie intake.

Calories can be reduced by changes in the cooking method. Instead of frying in a frying pan on the stove top, try oven-frying, which generally adds less fat.

Be careful about low-fat foods. Many of them replace the fat with sugar, which merely replaces one problem with another. Products will vary by how much sugar they add, so read the labels.

Food Replacements

Replace some of the junk food you are eating with whole foods. Eventually, you may be able to totally eliminate junk food.

Replace some of the processed foods you are eating with whole foods. It's almost impossible to entirely eliminate processed foods, since by definition if man does something to it, it's processed. At least I do not find it desirable to eliminate all processed foods. However, we can do much to eliminate the over-processed foods, especially the ones in which most of the nutrients have been stripped and lots of additives used to replace them. Read the labels. If it says "enriched," then it's highly processed. If it has ingredients that you can't pronounce, then it is highly processed.

Go to The World's Healthiest Foods website to see a list of, well, the world's healthiest foods. This is definitely one website you should use again and again. The foods chosen by this organization are:

  • the most nutrient dense -- that means the most nutrition for the least number of calories
  • whole foods, not highly processesed with synthetic, artificial or irradiated ingredients
  • common, everyday foods familiar to most people
  • readily available in most supermarkets
  • affordable for most people, especially in season
  • taste really good
Look over the list and see what whole foods you can add to your menus, replacing some of the processed foods and junk foods you have been eating. Start with the foods you know you like. Then try some new foods.

God has built a lot of nutritional redundancy into the animal and plant kingdoms. That means you don't have to eat foods you don't like to get the nutrition you need -- that same nutrition is available in many other foods.

Over the months, as I replaced more and more junk foods and processed foods with whole foods -- whole grains and whole fruits -- I noticed a definite change in my food preferences. I no longer craved the junk foods and processed foods. It was an amazing transformation that is such a blessing.

By reducing the quantity of food you eat, and improving the quality, you can, over time, reduce your calorie intake from its current level to what it is supposed to be -- the calorie budget nature gave you.

As you progress in this effort, taking one small step at a time, you will lose your excess weight. But more importantly, you will be making the lifestyle changes that are necessary for you to keep the weight off.

Get Fit -- Increase your physical activity

An important element of Health is physical fitness. The body needs to be active in order to be strong. In previous generations, people naturally had to do more physical work than most of us do. To make up the difference, we have to engage in sports and other exercise.

What a blessing we have been given. Our work load is not only made lighter, but we also have an abundance of leisure activities. Still, most of us remain sedentary. This is inexcusable.

Just like in calorie-reducing, you can add physical activity to your life-style in increments. Don't try to go from being sedentary to extra active -- you will not only burn yourself out, but may cause yourself bodily injury.

Instead, work up one activity level at a time. Let's review the activity levels:

Sedentary - little or no exercise. BMR x 1.2
Lightly active - light activity or sports 1-3 days per week. BMR x 1.375
Moderately active - moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days per week. BMR x 1.55
Very active - hard exercise or sports 6-7 days per week. BMR x 1.725
Extra active - very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training. BMR x 1.9

You don't have to move up one activity level all at once. Just make small increases in your activities -- either in frequency, intensity, or duration. And you don't have to go to the top level -- moderately active is sufficent for most people.

In addition to improving your fitness, this increased activity will assist with your weight loss and weight maintenance. For example, moving from sedentary to moderately active for me increases my calorie budget, at 124 lbs., from 1433 to 1851. That's over 400 calories per day.


There really is no mystery to weight control. We've all been given a calorie budget that we must stay within. God has given us such a wonderful bounty of good, wholesome foods in the plant and animal kingdoms.

We cause our weight problems when we reject that good, wholesome food and eat highly processed and junk food instead, and when we consume more calories than our bodies need. We further compound our weight problems when we choose to be sedentary, rather than enjoying the many opportunities we have for exercise.

We solve our weight problems when we reverse those patterns, one step at a time, making good choices daily, forgiving ourselves when we falter, recommitting ourselves to press forward to victory.

Weight problems are a thorn in the side. They can be a debilitating weakness. But that weakness can be turned into strength when we humbly seek the Lord's guidance and draw upon His strength. He can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Make the decision to get started. I did, and I am so grateful that I did.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Significant Milestone -- I am no longer obese

It's time to CELEBRATE!!!

I weighed in at 160 lbs on Wednesday, September 12, officially making my EXIT out of the obese category.

I am no longer OBESE. Do you know how good it feels to be able to say that? After nearly 22 months, after multiple modifications in both the quality and quantity of what I eat, after repeated increases in my activity level, burning 332,500 calories to lose 95 lbs, going from super obese to no longer obese -- it's a tremendous accomplishment.

The next milestone is 135 lbs, which will mark my exit out of the overweight category. That's 25 more lbs to lose.

Final milestone is to drop under 124, which is the top line of the normal weight range for my height.

Will I go any lower? The plan is to let my weight find its natural set point between 94 and 124, the normal range for my height. The point is, I won't be doing anything different after I reach 124 than I am doing now -- I will continue to stay within my calorie budget and to exercise regularly. The changes I have made over these last 22 months were never intended to be a "diet," but rather, a way of life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Step 6: Adding more excercise, Modifying the Fast routine

Alternate Day Fasting (ADF) was working very well for me -- even while on a business trip and through the holidays.

I was, however, having two problems with ADF:

First, I was always cold. Granted it was in the fall and wintertime, but I was in CA, not in the Midwest, and the temps are not that cold in CA in the fall and early winter. At times it was quite distracting.

Second, I was concerned about eating constantly throughout the day -- which is called grazing. I had finally given into a fixed calorie amount, but I was still concerned that continuing to foster this habit had the potential to sabotage my weight-loss efforts because it indicated that I was still very vulnerable to stress eating.

On January 3, 2007, I felt inspired to make the change to 20/4 fasting, which I also learned about from the Yahoo Fasting Group. The program is simple -- you eat only during a specified four-hour block each day. That results in a fast of 20 hours between "meals." You can read about the benefits of this type of fasting at this site.

On the chart below, the reason my weight jumps up on January 3 is because I made the switch following an eat day. During ADF, my weight after an eat day would always be 2-3 lbs higher than my weight after a fast day.

The change was a very beneficial one. I usually ate between 1-5, as that was the most convenient time for me. I didn't eat just one big meal, but 3-4 courses over the 4 hour period. I started out ad libbing, just eating what I wanted. What happens, at least what happened to me, is that when I ate such a large volume of food in such a short period of time, my "need" to eat was totally satisfied. I believe that is referred to as our "appestat" or psychological hunger. After several days, the stress eating just disappeared.

I had now overcome two demons -- my addiction to junk food, and stress eating.

And, I was no longer cold all the time.

Adding more Exercise

A second very important change came at Christmastime, 2006. Through a gift from my family, I was able to start going to a gym. I could only go when my daughter did, and only during the hours of the Kids Club or when her husband was home to babysit, but it was enough to get me started.

I was usually able to go at least 2-3 times a week, and was doing both cardio and weights. For cardio, I was using the treadmill, just trying to increase my walking speed and endurance. For weights, I took advantage of their circuit, which had 8 machines -- Arm curl, lateral pull, arm extension, overhead press, chest press, seated leg curl, leg extension, and seated leg press. My routine usually consisted of 20-30 minutes of cardio followed by the circuit and concluding with some stretching. I usually went to the gym in the morning, which was towards the end of my fasting period. I always had good energy to do the workout, and good energy after the workout.


Net loss of 6.6 lbs.
Total weight loss of 68.8 lbs.
I had overcome stress eating
Still in the severely obese category (the green line is at 173, which will drop me out of this category)

The first large gap in the chart is a family trip. I continued with the 20/4 fasting, but the foods I was eating (at relatives) was a bit more calorie-laden than what I was getting at home. Still, I had very little gain back. The later gaps are because I was only recording a new low on my chart. The last weight shows the starting weight for Step 7.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Step 5 -- Controlling Calories through Fasting

On October 25, I learned about Alternate Day Fasting, which is a method of restricting calories in order to gain longevity and other health benefits. I saw a link to a Yahoo email group on the subject posted on a bulletin board and joined the group. From what I read initially, several studies confirmed that restricting calories to about 65% of maintenance levels (normal weight maintenance) showed definite increases in longevity. Alternate day fasting (ADF) is believed by some to be an easier way to achieve this caloric restriction.

There are a couple of variations, but the gist of ADF is to abstain from all food one day, then eat ad lib the next day. The result is that less is eaten on the eat day than would be normally eaten for the fast day and eat day combined. Those in the Yahoo group that were overweight reported significant weight losses.

I felt inspired to give it a try. I weighed in at 208.8 on the morning of October 25, my first fast day. It wasn't too difficult at all, but I am accustomed to fasting because of my religion, and have completed a 3-day fast in the past.

At first, I ad lib ate, like most in the group. I did see very good results, as shown by the chart. The cycle was pretty regular: on the morning of the eat day, my weight would dip down because of the fast the previous day, and on the morning of the fast day, my weight would go up some, because of eating the previous day. On the chart, I only recorded the weights for the mornings of the eat days.

From November 12 to November 30, I was on a business/family trip -- that is why no weights are recorded for that time. I was able to follow ADF for the entire trip. I was very pleased that I maintained my weight during this trip.

On December 11, I decided to restrict my calories on the eat days to 2400 calories. I had plateaued doing the ad lib eating, and wanted to get back on track losing again. And it worked. On the 13th I dropped below the Green line, which marked the baseline for the morbidly obese category. Finally, after nearly 14 months, I could remove that awful word "morbidly" from my weight description.

By the end of December, I noticed a definite change for the better in my food preferences.
Previously, I had only limited the snack food and junk foods in my diet through portion control. Over the course of the last few months, I had been eating healthier foods and wanting snack foods and junk foods less and less. Sometime in December, I stopped eating junk foods and snack foods altogether. I just didn't want them any more. It wasn't a matter of not allowing myself to have them. They were all around me, and I didn't want them. I just plain didn't want them. That was very exciting to have that happen.


Net loss of 16 lbs.
Total weight loss of 62.2 lbs.
Drop down from morbidly obese weight to severely obese
I had overcome my addiction to junk food

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Step 4 -- Making the Decision to go all the way

In September 2006, I noticed that my weight was starting to creep up again. On October 6, I was up to 214 lbs. -- for a net gain of 8 lbs from the 206 low.

I decided that now was the time to go for it--to lose all the weight. I tried the program I used in 1980. That was my "smaller plate and no snacks" program. I used a salad plate for meals, filled it only once, and had no between meal snacks. I did drink sweetened herbal teas between meals. I started this in the summer and much of what I ate was from our large garden. I ate very little meat. Combined with 40 minutes of aerobic dance 6 days a week, this was a very successful program. However, in October 2006, it didn't seem to work for me, and caused even more nervous eating.

I decided to do a 1700-calorie max program. I allowed myself to eat anything I wanted, as long as I stayed within the 1700 calories. To provide some extra incentive, I rewarded myself with a penny for every calorie that I was under 1700. So, if I only ate 1500 calories, I earned $2.00.


This was a short-lived step in my program, but a very necessary one.

Net Weight loss for this step: 5.2 lbs.
Total weight loss: 46.2 lbs.
Still in the morbidly obese category

You can see from the chart, that I lost pretty steadily for about 2 weeks, then stalled out.

Step 3 -- Increased Physical Activity

From May to September, 2006, I just maintained my emphasis on eating fewer snacks and controlling how much I ate at one time. I was drinking a lot of diet soda, and not much water.

I was able to maintain my weight loss through this period of time, with the usual ups and downs, because I was becoming more and more active. I no longer had the advantage of the step exercise, but I did have 3 grandchildren, ages 6, 4, and 18 months.

Playing with the grandchildren, especially the 18 month old, was my "weight-lifting program." He ran to me, I lifted him high, lowered him, swung him, lifted him back up. It defies logic, but this activity significantly decreased my chronic back pain. Other activities, just standing at the swing pushing him, playing ball with him and the older 2. And the leg lifts -- he sat on my feet and I would do leg lifts with him -- that was really helpful for the stomach. Also, I liked to lay on my back on the couch, with him laying on top of me, and I lifted him up a couple of times to the point of outstretched arms. He just loved it. And the older two would get in on the action as much as possible.

My activity also included taking him for walks in his stroller. Not long walks, just down the block a few houses and back, maybe two or three times.


Weight loss maintenance and lots of fun with the grandkids.

Step 2 -- Cleansing and detoxing the body

From January through April, 2006, I pretty much just continued what I was doing in Step 1 and succeeded in losing about 10 more lbs, getting down to 215. I didn't have a scale, so I don't have daily weights to share.

One mistake I made was to take up drinking diet sodas. As noted in Step 1, I had totally given up sodas. Why did I make this stupid mistake? I was deceived by the myth that it's just about calories. Diet sodas have so very few calories, so why not enjoy them?

Step 2 - Cleansing and detoxing the body

In May 2006 my daughter invited me to do the Fat Flush plan with her. I was at 214 when we did this program. We ate a lot of bitter greens and drank a lot of cranberry juice -- unsweetened, with just a little bit of stevia plus added to make it palatable. We were also introduced to flax seed as a source of omega fats and good fiber.

Phase 1: The Two-Week Fat Flush ® — This initial two-week phase will jumpstart weight loss for dramatic results. Your shape will be transformed as pounds melt away from your body's favorite fat storage areas – your hips, thighs and buttocks. Some individuals report up a loss of up to 12 inches during this first phase of the diet!

After we completed Phase 1, we decided to do the 3-day fast program, designed for cleansing and detoxing.

However, we both lost interest in this plan because so much of the food we ate was not good-tasting to us. For me it didn't make sense to force myself to eat foods I didn't enjoy when there was so much other good, nutritious food available. One example, salad greens. Why eat the bitter greens when Romaine and spinach, which are so nutritious and much better tasting, are readily available?


I lost another 19 lbs, going from 225 to 206, with a total net loss of 49 lbs. I am still morbidly obese.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Step 1 -- Getting Started

I'm not sure what motivated me to finally do something about my weight. The stroke I had in August 2004 didn't do it. I think if I had to choose one single thing, it would be the embarrassment of being at the point of having to go up one more size in clothes. Smaller sizes aren't very forgiving, a 10 lb gain can throw you into the next size. But when you get into the plus sizes, you can gain quite a bit of weight before having to go up a size. I was growing out of all of my 1X plus clothes, and I was too embarrassed to buy 2X clothing.

I didn't decide, in October 2005, to lose all of my excess weight. I only wanted to stop the weight gain cycle and to regain some flexibility and mobility.

I knew from past experience that to halt the weight gain process, I had to change my eating habits and become more active.

The first step

Changes in eating habits

1. I gave up soda and juices and drank only water.

2. I cut back on snacks. I started purchasing the individual sizes of my favorite snacks, and allowing myself only 1 or 2 a day. If I had a large bag of potato chips, I'd eat and eat and eat frm that bag. If I had a box of individual packages of potato chips, I'd open one bag and eat it, and not go back for more. Why? I have no idea, but I used this quirk to my advantage.

3. Conventional wisdom is to eat breakfast soon after rising, but that did not work for me back then. Once I ate, I had a compulsion to keep eating. So, I didn't eat breakfast and refrained from eating each day until the hunger pangs became noticeable. I didn't eat much meat, and ate foods that I could easily count the calories for. I concentrated on not eating more than 300 calories at a time, but ate frequently during the day.

Adding exercise

1. I took short walks. And I mean short. To the end of the block and back. Just something to get moving.

2. I had a step-down from my dining room to my living room that was 5.5" high. It made a perfect step for exercise. I had a CD by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir -- some very energetic gospel songs. I would 'step' to one of these songs, about 3-5 minutes in length. At first, I did a song first thing when I got up, and last thing before going to bed. Then I added a song at lunchtime. Then I added a song mid-afternoon. So, by a couple of weeks, I was doing 3-4 songs per day.

The Results

I started at my peak weight of 255 on October 24. By the end of the year, I was down to 225, and had dropped down one category -- from super obese to morbidly obese. I could fit into all of my clothes again.

Monday, September 3, 2007

My BMI weight goals

The BMI weight categories make excellent short-term goals if you have a lot of weight to lose, like I did. I didn't set up these goals when I first started - but had I done so, this is what it would have looked like.

Weight: 255
category: super obese
October 24, 2005

1st goal: to break out of super obese category
Lose this much: 8 lbs.
To get to: 247 lbs.
Achieved: before Thanksgiving 2005

2nd goal: to break out of morbidly obese category
Lose this much: 49 lbs
To get to: 198 lbs.
Achieved: December 15, 2006
Total weight loss: 57 lbs
current category: severely obese

3rd goal: to break out of severely obese category
Lose this much: 25 lbs
To get to: 173 lbs.
Achieved: May 12, 2007
Total weight loss: 82 lbs.
Current category: obese

4th goal: to break out of obese category
Lose this much: 13 lbs
To get to: 160 lbs.
Achieved: still working on it, but getting very close
Total weight loss: 95 lbs.
current category: overweight

5th goal: to break out of overweight category
Lose this much: 25 lbs
To get to: 135 lbs.
Total weight loss: 120 lbs.
current category: marginally overweight

6th goal: to break out of marginally overweight category
Lose this much: 11 lbs
To get to: 124 lbs.
Total weight loss: 131 lbs.
current category: normal weight range

7th goal: maintain normal weight range
Weight: 94-124

Significant Milestones -- The BMI Categories

These are the BMI categories used by the Hall website, which I find to be the most reputable site on the subject. If you have a lot of weight to lose, like I did, these categories make excellent milestones to celebrate. Each category above normal health range represents a significant increase in health risks.

I've indicated my weight range for each category, and the date I dropped out.

super obese
men & women: 50-60 BMI
my weight: 248-255
I dropped out of this category before Thanksgiving 2005

morbidly obese
men & women: 40 - 50 BMI
my weight: 198-247 lbs.
I dropped out of this category on December 15, 2006

severely obese
men & women: 35 - 40 BMI
my weight: 173-198 lbs.
I dropped out of this category on May 12, 2007

overweight or obese
women: >32.3
men: >31.1
my weight: 160-172
Not out of this category yet, but getting mighty close

women: 27.3-32.3 BMI
men: 27.8-31.1 BMI
my weight: 135-160

marginally overweight
women: 25.8-27.3 BMI
men: 26.4-27.8 BMI
my weight: 124-135

in normal range
women: 19.1-25.8 BMI
men: 20.7-26.4 BMI
my weight: 94-124

women: <19.1 BMI
men: <20.7 BMI
don't want to and don't expect to ever see this category

women: < 17.5 BMI
men: < 17.5 BMI
ditto for this category

You can go to the Hall website and it will compute your BMI, as well as give you the medical recommendation (based on BMI) for your normal weight range.