I’ve been meaning to do something systematic about losing my overweight for some time. last Thursday I started the process by seeing an endocrinologist who specializes in weight management.
After some discussion, we developed a treatment plan that surprised me not at all. I’m having my TSH levels checked to see if the hypothyroidism I was diagnosed with about a year ago is undertreated. It is quite possible that increasing my levothyroxin dose will correct my basal metabolic rate to something closer to the burn-food-like-a-plasma-torch level it had when I was younger, and I’ll shed pounds that way.
The other part is going on a low-starch, high protein calorie-reduction diet, aiming for intake of less than 1500 calories a day. Been doing that for nine days now. Have lost, according to my bathroom scale, about ten pounds.
I’d have done this sooner if I knew it was so easy. And that’s what I’m here to blog about today.
I’ve spent my entire life listening to jokes, folklore, and sob stories about dieting. If you leave out the obvious marketing hype, the message is always the same: it’s difficult, most people can’t stick to it, if you try you’ll be beset by grouchiness and food cravings, and too often it doesn’t actually work no matter how hard you try.
But here I am. Nine days in, nine pounds off (allowing for measurement uncertainty).
Here’s what I’m doing:
* Counting calories. My wife and I have been auditing my regular meals – and the recurring specials like steak night at the Outback – for calorie count. The top-level aim is to keep my daily calorie intake below 1500.
* Reducing my simple-carb intake. Less bread. Less chocolate. (Alas, my custom of a bedtime cup of hot dark-chocolate cocoa is no more – it’s the only major casualty of the new routine.)
* Reducing portion sizes. One less strip of bacon in the morning. Half a pan-fried boneless pork chop last night instead of the whole thing. On biweekly streak night, a half portion of fries, and grilled asparagus rather than a dressed salad.
* Less snacking. When I’m feeling peckish I have usually dealt with it by munching a small handful of mixed nuts or pistachios. I still do that, but – consciously – less often now.
* Staying a little hungry. I don’t let myself eat to repletion any more; instead I go for 80% full, and skip meals if I think I can get through to the next without serious physical discomfort.
* But: when my blood sugar craters, I eat something – as soon as possible, actually, so the reaction will be less likely to draw me into eating calories I don’t need. I’m not dieting to beat myself up; controlling my intake is a means, not an end.
* Planning ahead. Yesterday some senior people at my kung fu school met for brunch at a local place called “Bacon Me Crazy”. I know what I like to eat there – a bacon sandwich on toasted sourdough bread. Yes, a calorie bomb. I compensated by trimming my early breakfast to just two eggs, skipping the usual bacon and toast; problem solved.
What I’m not doing is attempting a big-bang change to my eating routine, because I don’t think that would be sustainable. Endocrinologist-dude would have me off bread and potatoes entirely; I’ve decided to view that as a tactic rather than the strategy and relax about it as long as I get my overall calorie reduction.
Now here is the part that is kind of pissing me off. This is not difficult.
I asked Cathy to give me a heads up if she thought I was getting grouchy or withdrawn due to undereating; she consistently reports that this has not occurred. I don’t have food cravings or constant distraction by thoughts of eating. While I don’t exactly like feeling slightly hungry most of the time, I’ve become used to it; it’s no big deal.
I’m pretty sure I can keep this up long enough to get back into size 42 pants. (Stretch goal is 40.) So, why have I been hearing all my life that dieting is a gauntlet of hell?
Admittedly it helps that I eat a relatively high-protein, low-starch diet by choice even when I’m not dieting, because I like it. Still, I have to ask… What is wrong with you people out there? Have most of you not got the willpower of overcooked spaghetti? Are a majority of you too stupid to do calorie counts and intelligent adaptation?
The only thing my diet is making me grouchy about is other dieters. Stop whining and get the job done!