As of this week I’ve officially lost 50 pounds.  I’ve been dieting (“changed my eating lifestyle” if you prefer) since January 1st.  If I were a celebrity I could write a book, spin up a company, and make billions.  But as I am, I will give away my secrets freely…for the good of mankind.

I’ve always had a weight problem, which I now recognize to be a medical condition.  My obesity (by every chart I saw, weighing 265 at 5’10” put me in the “obese” category) can only be thought of as a medical condition.  Having cared for my elderly parents the last couple of years until they passed away the fall of 2011, I learned how to manage their medical conditions: diabetes, kidney, heart.  Managing a medical condition requires awareness and diligence.  Both of my parents were diabetic, and we had to maintain constant awareness of their blood sugar levels and diligently control their consumption of sugars and carbs.  Likewise, I determined, my obesity warranted a constant awareness of my weight and diligent control of my caloric intake.

This diet is ridiculously simple, and in fact there’s only 1 hard-fast rule to my diet.  And I guarantee (OR YOUR MONEY BACK!) that if you follow this rule, day-in and day-out, DILIGENTLY, you WILL lose weight.  It’s a “Sure-Fire” diet.

Start by determining what your daily caloric goal should be.  This is mainly determined by whether you’re male or female, and how sedentary a lifestyle you have (there’s no shame in working in an office, sitting at a desk all day long–I do).  Let’s say it’s 1500 calories a day, probably a good generic number and in fact the number I started with.  Once you have this number, here’s the rule:

Never consume more than your daily caloric limit.

Note that this diet doesn’t specify ANY food you can or can’t eat.  If you want to consume your daily limit by eating chocolate cake in one sitting, go right ahead.  If you prefer to max out your day’s limit by drinking milk shakes, go right ahead.  If you want to indulge at McDonald’s, go right ahead.  Just DILIGENTLY manage your calories the rest of the day.  And yes, I have been known to visit McDonald’s (I have a weakness for Quarter Pounders), go out to eat at many wonderful restaurants, and drink beer–and I’ve still lost 50 pounds.

While there’s only a single rule, there are a few tips on how to implement the rule–things I’ve learned over the past few months; I’ll share these with you in upcoming blogs.

Now having fought with my weight all my life, I’ve tried just about every diet out there: Atkins, Sugarbusters, and South Beach; Weight Watchers; NutriSystem, etc.  They’re all fine diets and will work.  Their appeal is that they’re supposed to be easy because the food you DO eat is food that’s easy, more enjoyable, and more convenient to eat.  And while I’ve lost weight on every one of them, some multiple times, they impose restrictions on what you can eat.  My sure-fire diet doesn’t impose ANY restrictions on what I can eat, only how much in total.  And the bottom line is that each and every one of those diets, and the hundreds of other diets out there, are successful because (when it comes down to it) they’re helping you limit your calories.

If you’re ready to start your diet, don’t start with setting your caloric limit.  Besides, like me you’ve probably dieted dozens of times before and you already know about what that limit should be.  Instead start with establishing an awareness of your medical condition.  Observe what you eat, how you eat, when, etc. and make mental notes on the behavior you know to be unhealthy.  Realize and reinforce–tell yourself–that you’re behavior is damaging to your health, no different than smoking.  Talk with your friends and family about your condition (surely they’re aware of your medical condition, so why pretend it’s not a problem?) and build a support structure around yourself.  Set a date and prepare.

Admittedly I’ve been surprised at the success I’ve had this time around.  As have been my friends and family, even my Doctor.  It’s as if weight loss is supposed to be nearly impossible, and more and more challenging the older we get (I’m 46), yet this very simple diet seems to have been the easiest I’ve ever attempted.  Perhaps it is simply my attitude–awareness and diligence.  I started at 265, and didn’t have any particular grand plans.  I set my goal at 200, thinking “I’ll be happy if I get down to 230”.  But I hit 230 and kept going.  As I approached 220 I started to wonder how far I could go–how far I should go–so I set an appointment with my Doctor to determine what my ideal weight should be.  I didn’t trust all the charts published by the insurance companies, because if I did they’d have me trying to get to an impossible 165 pounds (IMO they establish this as “ideal” so practically nobody gets to pay premiums at the best advertised rates).  After a quick discussion with my Doctor about my lifestyle, my age, and my body type, my goal is now set at 190 pounds.  At 215 today, I should get there later this summer or early fall, and I fully intend to do so, particularly after he pointed out that I’ve already cut my risks of diabetes, heart disease, and a myriad of other horrible conditions in half.

Once I hit my goal, I know that I can’t change my new lifestyle, I can only adjust my daily intake rule, something I definitely look forward to.  After all, I’d love to drink a few more beers and visit McDonald’s a little more often.  This awareness and diligence is my new permanent lifestyle, not what I eat.  If I were diabetic, I wouldn’t just start eating whatever I wanted once I got my blood sugar under control, would I?  If I had suffered a heart attack, I wouldn’t just start eating all the fat I wanted after recovering from bypass surgery, would I?  While my caloric intake will become more “liberal”, I realize now that I will have to manage this medical condition the rest of my life.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share more of my “Sure-Fire” diet with you.  Namely:

  • Implementing the Rule: establishing your daily caloric limit, awareness through tracking, balancing out your days and your weeks, some helpful corollary rules, etc.
  • Rules for Weighing: scales are to managing obesity as glucose meters are to managing diabetes, yet weight and scales are way more fickle than blood sugar meters.
  • Let’s Compare Notes: every time we change our diets, we find some “gems”, foods that we really like that have made a difference; I’ll share my finds in this blog.
  • The Big Dirty Word, Exercise: trust me, I’m not going to have you attempt to run a marathon or joining the gym.  Bu you’ll eventually want to do it anyway.