When I left for South Africa I was 193lbs/87kg, my heaviest ever on a 6 foot/1.8 meter medium frame. This was shocking to me because I could totally see 200lbs coming. It was right there ahead of me. As a Type 1 Diabetic getting fat(ter) is deeply uncool. You can literally be a Type 1 (insulin dependant) and Type 2 (insulin resistant) diabetic at the same time. This would mean I'd need to take MORE insulin to do the SAME amount of work. I'd already started seeing this recently as my total daily insulin dosage, usually under 30U (Units) was creeping up to 40U.
Then we headed to Africa for our semi-yearly sojourn. Fast forward roughly a month and I'm 176lbs/79.8kg. That's 17 pounds, or as a newly svelt person me likes to say "I lost, like, 20 pounds!" The trick will be to keep it off, but here's what I think worked (as I lose nearly 20 pounds on EVERY trip to Africa, and nearly every trip overseas. The tragedy here is the re-gaining and re-losing of that same 20 pounds.)
These are totally obvious observations/tips, but I'm a little dense, so I'm writing them down.
That picture to the right is me when I was thinner. I'm also the short one in the picture.
Don't Eat a Serving Larger than Your Fist
I didn't consciously do this, it just happened. As my wife and I discussed in our recent podcast, folks just show up to visit and food is divided appropriately. This is not to say that I wanted for food in any way. I didn't. It's that my hosts in South Africa gave us a reasonable amount of food, not an American Amount of Food.
This just happened to be about the size of one's fist. Kind of unrelated, I mentioned this to the boy's doctor since the older boy wasn't eating that much and he said that most kids will naturally eat what they need to, no more and no less, and that amount was often about the size of his fist. We'd been wasting a lot of food as I was giving him a plate full of food as big as his head! So, it's a fist-sized serving for me.
I am notorious for eating one giant 1pm meal, ahem, then a giant 6pm meal, then a small (read: almost giant) midnight meal. This didn't fly in South Africa, as there was a lovely light breakfast at 7am, lunch at 1pm, and a dinner around 6pm. Each was appropriately proportioned, especially lunch which went on the assumption that you ate breakfast.
I realized that I've been eaten Epic Lunches to stave off death by starvation from skipping breakfast entirely. While eating breakfast does make my diabetes a little more tricky to manage as it adds a new variable, breakfast does support the next tip...
Eat Only Enough to Get You To the Next Meal
You Will Eat Again, In Your Life, You Know
My brother, the Ironman competitor and firefighter, taught me this not-obvious-to-me tip. He says that folks who aren't eating often enough eat like it's the last time they will ever eat. Rather, try eating with the knowledge that you will eat again in a few hours. If you realize that this meal only needs to get you to the next meal. This is the single most powerful dieting tip I've got.
Reset Your Full Indicator
My wife calls overeating "Pushing Through" as in "Oh, I pushed through with that last bite." Not recognizing what full feels like is a big problem for me. Basically you can reset your internal gas tank indicator by just thinking about it. "Am I full?" "Do I really need that next bite?" This has caused me to eat about 1/3 less without actually feeling any less full. Actually, I feel less bloated after meals.
Aside: I actually have personal data (and charts!) that reflects this - while I was in South Africa my daily insulin usage (and hence, carb intake) went from 30-40U a day to 20U. Basically I used 33% to 50% less insulin per day.
I didn't visit the South Africa that a lot of people do. In my South Africa not everyone has a car. In mine you can easily fit 9 people into a VW Golf. Either way, I walked a lot. If there's no car available and you want to go to the mall that's 3km away, you walk. This, along with sweltering heat and a lot of water, is another nice way to lose weight.
This year I've started working out, six days a week, for eat least an hour. I'm alternating cardio and anaerobic exercise. I'm finding that if I time my workouts with the length of certain television shows, I can make it through without going insane. That means, 40 minutes of cardio while I watch, say, Heroes. Then 22 minutes of weights as I watch Arrested Development. I'm actually watching more TV (and enjoying it) but I don't have to feel bad since I'm moving.
Yes I know if you drink WAY too much water you can mess up your salt/electrolyte balance, but a few liters a day are what I've found is the right amount for me to lose weight. I can't overstate how water intake directly affects weight loss. It's really amazing. Everyone I know with 6-pack abs carries a water bottle around with them. While I was in Africa I really upped my water intake because of the heat, to the point where drinking water at every turn was second nature.
What are your weight loss tips, Dear Reader?
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