My brother has been losing weight lately. Irritating.
Not really. Its not the typical case of ‘men can lose weight so easily.’ He has really worked on losing weight this time. I say this time, because he has undertaken to lose weight (and succeeded) in the past as well. He has had some extremely stressful life events in the past two years and had gained about 28 pounds.
My brother is not like me. He was what I would consider a naturally thin person the first half of his life. As he got older, he gained a bit, but only to be a ‘naturally’ normal weight person. He has lifted weights seriously since he was a teenager. In his twenties I used to ask him if he didn’t think cardio was important, and he would reply “I’m never doing that.” Now, in addition to his weight lifting routine, he runs religiously on the treadmill at the gym. And, the last way he is not like me–he is not food obsessed. He has always been a very picky eater. So sometimes his food choices are limited. He likes the occasional sweet, but it is not the be all and end all of his day. And, although he has made a few healthy changes in the past few years, he still eats some processed food (i.e. frozen pizzas. yuck.)
So when he announced to me the other day that he was down another two pounds, I quizzed him about what he was doing.
He doesn’t count calories. He doesn’t do any food group eliminations (i.e. paleo or primarian.) He doesn’t worry about the addictive qualities of the fat/sugar/salt combo. I know. Irritating. He doesn’t even have a support group that he goes to.
What he does do is this: He eats a low calorie diet VERY CONSISTENTLY. He is fairly regimented in what he eats mostly because he is a picky eater, and secondly because he works and he has to have meals that are easy to fix and to pack.
Every single morning he has a protein shake (protein powder mixed in milk, not the fancy concoctions that I sometimes come up with.) Then he has a piece of string cheese mid-morning. (I checked these out–6 grams of protein for 80 calories. Not bad) For lunch he has a natural peanut butter sandwich on stone ground wheat bread (not diet bread,) some tomatoes or baby carrots, a glass of milk, and a dannon or yoplait low-cal yogurt. Every day. He has those same two meals. Wow. For his afternoon snack he will have one piece of fruit. And then for dinner, he usually has a regular dinner, which usually includes some sort of wheat product (bread or pasta) and many times includes some type of processed food. NO snack after dinner. Even though he doesn’t count calories, I do. I counted roughly 1500 calories a day. And then on Sunday he has a ‘free day’ where he can eat whatever he wants.
The thing is, in analyzing this, it will work for him. Because for him, this is a way of life that he can continue. I can’t do it. I know I can’t/won’t eat the same thing day after day. And when I try giving myself a free day, that does not work either. I tend to go overboard.
I quizzed him to see if there was anything I could learn from him. I took away a couple of things. CONSISTENCY. Day after day, he kept up his low calorie eating regimen. Even when he had weeks where he did not lose any weight, he did NOT GIVE UP (ah, does that sound familiar?) He started dieting in late January or February, and he has lost 17 pounds so far. Do the math–that’s not even a pound a week. Two, CUT DOWN ON THE SNACKS. In fact, my brother says this is the main difference in the way he is eating now compared to how he usually eats. He has two snacks, but they are 80 calorie snacks, not 200 calorie snacks. And three, I bought a mega pack of string cheese at Walmart. Very convenient and tasty form of protein, and fun to eat too! For comparison’s sake, one string cheese has 6 grams of protein for 80 calories. My Hillshire Farm’s Deli Ham has 10 grams of protein for 60 calories. Very tasty, but not as fun as string cheese. What? No one thinks the ‘fun factor’ in food is important?
Well, I thought it would be interesting to hear about a ‘success story’ from a different kind of loser. I love my brother, and it sure is fun to have someone to discuss exercise with (he’s not that much fun to talk ‘food’ with, since he says yuck to most of what I talk about.) Here’s a picture of us back in 2006. That would have been about a year after I started my weight loss journey!