I’ve received a lot of messages, emails and comments during the past few days (many of which I’ve already responded to), and lots of you have said really nice things about me and my interview on “Home & Family.” It makes me feel really good, so THANK YOU! The most frequent question that I’ve been asked is from people looking to jump-start their their weight loss. They want to know how to get started, so… I’ll tell you!
Here’s what I did, and it really worked for me. Please remember that I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, dietician, or registered/certified anything. I’m just a guy who has worked really hard to improve my health and life. If you’re looking for specific meal plans, calorie counts or training regimens, turn to one of those experts. But if you want some broad, general advice, then keep reading!
I started small. I was incredibly overweight, and the enormity of my weight loss was completely overwhelming. I knew that if I tried a drastic plan that involved cutting back on calories, fat, and sugar all at once, I’d buckle quickly, and go right back to square one.
So, instead, I focused on a few things that I could do daily that didn’t disrupt my life and that I could incorporate into my day. For me, those things included bringing my lunch to work, swapping out soda for water, and cutting back on mid-day snacks.
It only takes a few small changes to get started. What are some small healthy changes that you do today or tomorrow that are easy to achieve and will make you feel good? Can you walk your dog to the end of the street instead of to the end of your driveway? Can you replace a dessert with a piece of fruit? Can you take the stairs at your office instead of the elevator? Can you skip the giant muffin or bagel you get every morning on your way to work, and instead eat an English muffin? Can you decline second helpings during dinner?
Identity a moment or two in your own routine that can be improved on, and start making those improvements every single day. After a few days, when those changes start to take hold and become a habit, add one or two more. Stick with it. Start altering your routine little by little to incorporate more activity and healthy foods. If you work on changing and improving the routine that you already have, you’re going to be more successful in the long term than you will be if you build a new routine from scratch.
You’ll find that once you get the hang of adding/swapping/changing/improving, you’ll build momentum, and that’s important. Don’t let that momentum dissipate. Keep adding a new swap or upping the swaps you’ve already implemented every few days or every week to keep that ball rolling. If you did 15 minutes of exercise in Week 1, up it to 20 minutes in Week 2, 25 minutes in Week 3, and so on.
It really is that simple. This is how I’ve lost and kept off 160 pounds. I eventually got to the point where I had changed every single part of my day, but my point is that I didn’t do it all at once, and the changes I made were all based around the routines I already had in my life, so they weren’t that hard to implement.
My other big piece of advice for beginners is this: Don’t exercise so you can eat more. The idea that “I exercised today, so I can have a piece of pie” is baloney. You’ll never capitalize on your exercise if you turn around and use it to justify additional calories and fat. Think about your exercise and diet separately.
To wrap it up, no one knows your day, your likes, your dislikes, and your abilities more than you. You need to find and build a weight loss program that works for you, and it may take time. It’s also going to take hard work, sacrifice, and determination. I’ve said dozens of times that losing this weight was the single hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but it’s also been, by far, the most rewarding.
In other news…
I was putting away my passport the other day when I was reminded of some nice compliments I recently received. My passport was issued in mid-2007, about 2.5 years before I started losing weight. I’ve only used it a handful of times – most recently, last week when I went to Mexico with my family. It’s pretty much the only ID or document that has the “old” me on it, instead of the current me:
When I was coming home from Mexico a few days ago, I went through customs and immigration at LAX. An officer (an older, heavyset man) took my passport and looked it over, before having the following conversation with me:
- Officer: “Look at that, you’ve lost a lot of weight, haven’t you!”
- Me: “About 160 pounds.”
- Officer: “That’s incredible! Well done! How did you do it?”
- Me: “Diet and exercise.”
- Officer (looking crestfallen): “I was hoping there was an easier way.”
I didn’t know what to say to that, so I just smiled and waited for him to give me back my passport.
A few hours earlier, when I was checking into my return flight at the Cabo airport, the gate agent (a middle-aged woman) looked at it, looked at me, looked at it again, and said “Wow, you look much different than you do in your passport.” She finished typing something in her computer and then printed my boarding pass. Then she handed me my boarding pass and my passport and said, while winking, “you look much better.”
Keep it up, David!