I truly cannot even believe I finally get to post about how I lost the weight. If you are one of the old faithfuls that’s been hanging out with my blog (or me) for a while, you know this has been a topic on my mind for a long, long, long, long time.
In fact, being fat was the central preoccupation of my life for as long as I can remember. And I mean that literally. In my very earliest memories I knew I was fat and I knew I didn’t want to be. If pressed, I would have also admitted to it being a personal failing on my part. You know, had you asked me, when I was six years old. It wasn’t. But, I didn’t understand that until many years later.
Fast forward through all of the shame and feelings of failure and by some miracle, (and by miracle I mean me churning on the subject of diet and exercise for about 40 years), I was able to crack the code. I was able to lose my excess body fat.
My first instinct once I accomplished this life long feat was to stand on the street corner with a bullhorn wearing a sandwich board and telling people how I did it so they could do it too. I was personally prepared to save all the fat people. Everyone! Come! I have all the answers! I felt like Neo in the Matrix. All of a sudden everything was so clear and so obvious and WHY WON’T ANYONE LISTEN?!
Turns out, what I did to lose weight is a really hard sell. People hear what I did and say exactly what I said when I first heard each strategy: HELL NO.
Here’s the thing, while the bulk of my weight came off over a 6-month period, it took a whole lot of convincing to get me to do the three things I believe were fundamental to my personal success. When I say convincing, please know that I was like a toddler rolling around on the floor kicking and screaming with each of the three strategies. I wanted desperately for there to be another way. There wasn’t. Not for me.
As in, I even took up running. Surely I could eat what I wanted if I became a runner. That’s a big fat nope, y’all. I lost a grand total of ZERO pounds the year I trained for my first half marathon… same for the year I trained for my second one. It just didn’t work. You can’t outrun a bad diet. Believe me, I’ve tried.
So what did I do? Here are the three things I did, in the order I did them:
Strategy Number One: I gave up refined carbs. For me this meant I stopped eating all grains (bread, pasta, rice, crackers) and sugar (cookies, candies, cakes, ICE CREAM). I have watched people have a visceral reaction to this suggestion. Like, they get mad at me for even mentioning it. Look, I don’t care what you eat, friend. You’re a grown person. You can eat what you want. It’s what I did and still do. (Well, full disclosure, I still eat dark chocolate.)
Low carb was the first thing I ever did that I had any success with on my weight loss journey. The first time I tried to go low carb was in 1999 after reading a book called Protein Power. Nowadays people know what low carb is, back when I first ate that way, it was considered lunacy. Over the years it was always what I tried (and failed) to go back to when I was desperate for change. I just couldn’t get it to stick.
Strategy Number Two: I started fasting. People also have a strong reaction to this one. “You mean you starved yourself?” Yeah, no. I consistently and intermittently paused my eating so that my body would use my stored body fat for fuel as opposed to what was going into my mouth.
Convincing myself to fast was a tall order. My biggest issue with every diet I ever went on was constantly feeling hungry — which I hated. I was someone who notoriously got hangry when asked to take a late lunch as a nurse. It took two years after I learned about fasting for weight loss before I was willing to try it. Like, once. It felt like an impossible ask.
What finally convinced me was reading a book called Life in the Fasting Lane. I decided to give fasting a try after one of the authors described hunger as a liar. It clicked for me. I was drowning in body fat (like, literally, it was choking me in my sleep). So why on earth was my body constantly telling me to eat more? Use what we've got, man!
I had immediate success with fasting. It got me to Onederland and I felt like I finally had the magic bullet for weight loss. Then it stopped working after I had been doing it for about a year. The weight started to come back which was completely unacceptable. Since it was so successful in the beginning, I felt like I was on to something but maybe I was doing it wrong. (I was.)
Strategy Number Three: I hired a coach and joined a support group. I don’t know what it says about me that I was so reluctant to get help, but this was a last resort on my part. As in, I would rather walk on hot coals (or run half marathons) than “admit defeat” and get help. Dumb. Winners have coaches, y’all. Every famous athlete you’ve ever heard of has(d) a coach. Getting help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of commitment to succeed.
Of these three strategies I did to lose the weight, I can say without equivocation that it was getting help that made the difference. I had known and believed in low carb for 23 years. I had known and believed in fasting for 4 years. Knowing was not enough. I needed help with the doing.
Eating low carb and fasting with any consistency is hard. Like, really hard. Not impossible, obviously, but it is really easy to talk yourself out of either or both, especially since the whole world thinks you're crazy for doing either (more so if you’re doing both).
I joined the Fasting Method community on April 30, 2022. By Halloween, six months later, I had gone from obese to a normal weight. I went to support group meetings six days a week. I met with my coach once a week. I went all in. It was not possible for me to have been more committed. And it worked.
I have circled the sun at a normal weight for the first time in my entire life. I’m 47. And I was born round.
If you are reading this whilst struggling with your weight and you are ready to make a change but you don’t how to make it work, my very best advice is to get help. Full stop. I say this not only because it is my lived experience, but also because it’s what the academic evidence indicates works. Really. Go look. Or just trust me, I’m a doctor nurse now and I’ve been reading articles about obesity treatment for years. (Knowing isn't doing, folks.)
There are many paths to weight loss, none of them are easy, all of them will fail if you quit. Having support increases your odds exponentially that you will stay in the game and therefore find your way to a healthier lifestyle that you can stick with.
Obviously the Fasting Method and my coach are the team I give credit to for my success and I highly recommend that path. But if fasting is something you can’t wrap your brain around, it is not the only way. Maybe there is a weight management group in your community that offers intensive (meaning: frequent) counseling. WW is an evidence based program with support. You could hire an independent health coach. Or, you could create an accountability group with your own people. It’s just like Girl Scouts, y’all, you need a buddy!
The key to my weight loss success wasn’t magic, much as I wished for it for as long as I can remember. It was tenacity, a successful strategy, and for the love of all that is holy please HEAR ME: Support. Go get you some!
I like to throw things.