Monday, January 18, 2010

Weight Loss: My Success

I've spent most of my post-teenage life struggling with my weight. About 16 months ago, I made a fairly radical change to my eating habits and I've now lost 103 lbs.

There's two major things I changed about my diet. First, I ate less sugar. Second, I ate slower. Before I get into the details, I want to clarify something. I am a vegetarian now, but that's a decision unrelated to my attempt to lose weight. I lost over 60 lbs before I became a vegetarian. Vegetarianism wasn't a prerequisite.

Eat less sugar. That sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. A lot of preprocessed foods, including most bread you'll find in the super market, include superfluous high-fructose corn syrup. Even foods that market themselves as healthy will include copious amounts of sugar; they just cut out the fat instead. Unfortunately, that's the opposite of what my experience has taught me. I choose fat over sugar. My body can actually break down fat and do something useful it.

I found that once I reduced the amount of sugar I consumed drastically, my appetite became more regular and manageable. I get hungry again quickly when I have sugary food and it's usually accompanied by headaches, not by an empty stomach. I also have a harder time telling just how hungry I am when I've had much sugar. It scrambles my sense of what I need. I'm really vigilant now to check the labels of food I buy in the store. I also cook more of my own meals than I used to.

Fresh fruit is my one exception to the above rule. Fruit doesn't cause me any of the problems that, say, corn syrup laden bread does. I don't entirely understand why, but it seems to be broken down differently.

Eating slow was the other key change to my life style. If I wolf down my food, I can very easily eat more than I actually need without realizing it. I discovered that if I just slow down, take breaks, and take the radical step of chewing that I can actually tell when I've had enough food. I was never aware of the whole spectrum of sensations in my stomach until I slowed down and paid attention. I was amazed to discover that there's more than just "starving" and "stuffed".

Just these two things, I think, were the most important parts of my experience losing weight.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good for you.

The fat over sugar thing is pretty important. If you read about diabetes, insulin and the zone diet it seems that plentiful sugar carbs are really a big issue. And in north america it is a big issue too.

I eat chinese food every night (family) and I have to say most of our food is not processed much and there is not much added sugar, I avoid the rice because I eat veggies and meat instead and my weight is constant. So whatever works for you.

brian said...

Good job.

What you're saying is consistent with some stuff I just read at http://paleonu.com

Anonymous said...

Nicely done. About 10 years ago, I did something similar (unrelated to weight, however; eating poorly was simply making me feel run down all of the time). After cutting out lots of unhealthy foods, I became vegetarian after coming to the conclusion that it was a healthier way to eat, in general.

- dilinger

blackdog said...

first, congratulations, it's not an easy thing to do.
second, your experience seems to mesh with the way fructose is broken down in the body -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjxyjcvW7RE&feature=related

is an interesting analysis of how it works.

Shawn said...

Great job. congratulations. Vegetables is the conclusion to healthier life. I think treadmill weight loss is one of the more successful methods of lose weight quickly.

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Jeremy said...
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Jeremy said...

This is the most interesting and compelling description I've seen of why a low-sugar diet will give you the results you're seeing. It's a lecture by a UCSF endocrinologist, and its well worth the time.

(This is the same as the one referred to in the earlier comment, but it is one large piece rather than chopped into 10min sections).

Regarding fruit: the fiber is very important in mitigating the bad effects of the fructose/sucrose, partly because it slows the absorption rate.