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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

We Finally Lost the Weight: His Story

This is a tale of weight loss, a true story. It's a love story (we love losing weight), we are a happily married couple. Like most stories, there are at least two sides and in our case, it's HIS and HERS. We are both (finally) enjoying success but our roads there were totally separate, although intertwined.
Here is HIS story:

Here's a story as old as time (in fact, there are probably hieroglyphs in Egypt on the subject): Weight gain as we age. Lower metabolism, blah, blah. Less muscle mass, blah, blah. My husband, while extraordinary for his age over 50+, was finding it increasingly difficult to keep his weight in check. I totally get it, it's the story of my life. But this is his story. We have tried almost every diet, Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach, Cabbage Soup and the See Food (everything you see, you eat) diets. We have both enjoyed some limited time, varied level of success. And then the diet ended. The million dollar question: how to get the weight off and keep it off. The answer is different for everyone but most different as a man and a woman (Venus and Mars).

There is a word that sparks my husband's adrenalin (well, maybe more than one word ...): COMPETITION. Last December, my husband announced that his co-workers would begin a "Biggest Loser" type competition in January. It was to last 3 months and include a fee to join, weekly weigh-ins, penalties for weight gains and cash prizes in the end. It was a competition to be sure. There were mysterious donuts and chocolate bars left on desks and emails featuring all sorts of delectable food-porn photos. But it was also a community of sharing what was working. The best tool that they nearly all employed was: Fitness Pal.

This was the other thing my husband really got into--the high tech app. If you are unfamiliar, Fitness Pal is an app that determines how many calories you should eat per day to achieve the weight loss you aspire to. You input information about yourself and lifestyle. Each day, you input your weight and then log all foods eaten. You can store the nutritional value of things you eat often and there is a very cool (guys love this) camera to scan bar codes on products to gather the calorie count. There are graphs. My husband LOVES Fitness Pal. He never believed me when I told him those slices of cheese were not so innocent, but he believed Fitness Pal and suddenly, cheese was the devil. He was a little hungry in the beginning but quickly found filling, lower calorie options for meals and snacks. He still enjoys chocolate, only in smaller portions.

The obvious partner to diet is exercise, this is no great secret. I don't think we were alone in claiming that we had no time or energy to work out. We had both had short runs with fitness but nothing stuck like cuddling in on the sofa after dinner. We decided to join a gym together and go at least 3 times per week immediately following dinner. Especially in the winter, 7 p.m.-8 p.m. was kind of a "dead zone" at our house and we were drifting over to the television and vegging out. Turned out, this is the perfect time for us to work out. We encourage each other and drive together but do our own exercise once we we there. We wave and wink at each other in passing. My husband even found an app for choosing and tracking exercises (of course). 

Fast forward to mid-April. The office Biggest Loser competition was over and the 12 participants lost a total of 214 pounds. Several people not competing even lost weight. My husband lost nearly 30 pounds and came in third place, earning him a cash prize. He is maintaining that loss even with a vacation in the mix. He has better endurance and really nice muscles. Here's what worked for HIM:
  • Competition was the trigger. He hates to lose. If there is no office competition, websites like DietBet.com can provide a similar rewarding experience.
  • Cool, high-tech apps gave black and white facts.
  • Finding an exercise pattern that worked for his lifestyle, and doing it together.
  • The initial competition lasted 3 months. In the past, we barely got through 2 weeks. It took months to finally see and feel the results which led to real lifestyle changes. 
  • We discarded all of his larger clothes and replaced them with smaller. If he starts to gain weight, he will be faced with stretch pants, meggings or nakedness. 
In the nearly 25 years that we have been married, I have never known my husband so fit or thin, or dedicated to his own health. This was HIS story. In the next post, I'll share HER story ...

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