Guest Post: A weight-loss programme that works for us

A guest post from a long-time KB reader:

It started in March 2019 when my wife was told she had to lose 20 kg.  Her knees were being replaced and her specialist told her that the prognosis would be brighter if she were lighter.

My own weight had crept up over the years and was then 98 kg.  I thought that shaving 10 kg off that would be nice.  And doing it together would be companionable.

I am nearly 75 and have not done any fitness work of any kind, at all, for more than 30 years.  I have been nursing an arthritic knee that persuaded me to give tennis up in my 40s.  My then specialist told me that I would look quite distinguished with a walking stick.  I didn’t like the sound of that so I have protected my knee with a fairly sedentary life, just the occasional walks.  My knee is no worse than it was 30 years ago.

So, back to the weight thing. We discovered Dr Michael Mosley (The Fast 800and ‘intermittent fasting’) and autophagy and we tried it out together. We gave up lunch so that means we go 10 hours in the day without food and 14 hours overnight.  I gave up the glass of wine at night and we stopped having slices with our coffees out. We still had the coffees, just not the stuff that went with them.  We also consciously cut down on the size of our evening meals – no potatoes or rice and much less pasta – replaced by vegetables like broccoli, onions and beans; also, far fewer take-aways.  But no ‘Mediterranean diet’ or expensive fancy stuff.

We already owned a good set of digital scales and we started weighing ourselves each morning at the same time and sharing the changes.  My wife kept the details in a notebook while I kept my record on a spreadsheet.  Once a week, we reported the latest week and changes to-date to our family.

So, how has it all gone?  Quite well actually.  In the last six months, I have shed more than 17 kilograms (more than one-fifth) and am now almost back to my university days’ weight of 50 years ago.  I definitely look trimmer and have had to get new clothes and put an extra three holes in my belts.  And we don’t feel hungry, not even as we approach meal times.

It actually hasn’t been that hard.  My wife describes it as like having a new hobby, one that is quite rewarding; a change of life style.  And I think of the 35 packets of butter that I am no longer carrying round because that’s what 17.5 kg actually looks like when it’s not layered on me.

It is working for us and we have learned some lessons.

  • The morning weigh-in is an essential part of our routine. You get instant and granular feedback on what you put in your mouth the day before.
  • Doing things together is important and a team-building experience.
  • Being really open with whomever matters is also a necessary part of the process.  It also helps to resist temptations at gatherings with family and friends if they know what’s happening.
  • Keeping a record is part of that and, assuming success, reinforces the whole process. Here is my chart.
  • Some observations from the chart’s numbers: It has been a consistent but jagged journey downwards.  Of the 198 data points, 61 were weight-increases from the previous day.  I shed 3 kgs in the first 13 days but it took, on average, 11 days for each kilogram.  More recently, it has been slower – about 18 days but I am now just about where I want to be.
  • Lapses are punished instantly (next morning) and the weigh-in gets you back on track.  A recent business trip away added 1.2 kg in just 24 hours.  But it all comes off again in the next couple of days.
  • We don’t count calories – too complicated; and we don’t do conscious fitness stuff – no gym work or jogging; no weights.  Exercise isn’t part of our weight-loss regime though, at our age, we should probably be doing that for other reasons.
  • We save quite a lot of money – no lunch means no bread and all the things that we used to put on that; no regular alcohol cuts the liquor bill dramatically; no slices cuts the cost of regular coffees-out in half and our take-aways bill for evening meals is considerably reduced.

Despite all of the above, we aren’t obsessive about the project.  We have the occasional treat but we understand what that means for the next day’s weigh-in.  And it really does show up, quite reliably.  Weight-wise, we become what we put in our mouths. It’s a fun project and so rewarding.  Our routine is working for us and has definitely been a life-changer.

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