I’ve been trying to lose weight for most of my life, but a year ago, I started the routine I’m on now and it has worked so far.

Memorial Day 2011 in Columbia, MD – – – – – – – April 29, 2012 in Hollywood, CA

Many people have asked for my advice on what to do to lose weight and I’m happy to help if I can. I know that when I was trying to lose weight, I just wanted to make sure I was putting effort into something that was actually healthy and effective. The reaction can range from being really grateful for the advice and for sharing my story, to being disappointed at my explanation of diet and exercise. I think some people were expecting some secret shortcut way to lose the weight and lose it fast. The truth is that it is a long-term, daily effort and it hasn’t been a quick fix. It’s been an overall lifestyle change. I do think that most people who’ve asked me genuinely have been putting in the effort, but haven’t found something effective.

I’m not an expert and can only say what has worked for me. Different people have different reasons for being overweight. I had to attack this problem logically like I did any other goal in life that I actually achieved. I had to look at why I was at that size and make long-term goals. And I had to start using the same critical thinking and skepticism that I was using in every other aspect of my life.

One major thing that worked was to ignore the pseudoscience. All those junk science “what the mainstream doctors don’t want you to know” plans either don’t offer anything or only offer short-term fixes that aren’t healthy. This meant ignoring that I could just eat this supplement or that fruit to burn more calories.

And it wasn’t just the “easy fixes” that I fell victim to. There were difficult and expensive processes I went through, like cleanses to “detoxify the system”. Those cleanses actually made me sick, but they give you false information to make you believe the sick feeling is the act of supposed toxins leaving your system. “Feeling sick actually means it’s working and you’re getting healthier”. No, it doesn’t. And there were diet plans that told me to eat whatever you want as long as you avoid foods with pesticides or artificial ingredients – as if those were the real reasons I was fat. I went on some strict, hard diets that didn’t make me lose weight and some that actually caused me to gain more. The only thing I lost was a lot of money and time. I gained a lot of stress and hopelessness on top of it all and my health was suffering.

I had to look at the science. It can be overwhelming to figure out what to do. I often thought I actually was following good science. I would read stories from reputable news sources about this or that new study that came out. One thing I’ve learned is to verify sources and read more detail into what was done. When I read a lot of these news articles now, I’ll do some research and find out that it was done for too short a time or on too few people to solidly prove anything.

One huge tool that helped me was MyFitnessPal. You enter your information (age, gender, weight, weight goals, lifestyle, etc) and it gives you a guideline on how much weight you should lose per week and what nutritional goals you need in order to achieve that. I’ve followed what it told me to do as best I practically could and I’m right where they predicted I’d be a year later. It isn’t exact, but it’s a pretty good guideline. Many dieters who haven’t been successful aren’t lazy or lack willpower, they just need to know what to do!

As far as exercising, I have come to realize that doing what I enjoy is important. I love walking and hiking, among other exercises. When I was part of a gym in Baltimore, I attended BOSU and Body Pump classes regularly. Sure, there are probably better exercises I could do, but these are exercises I actually enjoy, so it hasn’t been hard to keep doing them. When I did other exercises that were recommended to me, but that I disliked, I had to force myself to keep doing them, and then I’d eventually stop. I actually look forward and enjoy the activities I do. I crave the exercise.

The main thing I want to say here is that I feel much better than I did one year ago. My body feels different. Everything feels different. Walking feels different than it did a year ago. I can’t describe how great things feel. It’s like old things feel new. There are so many things that being overweight affects and sometimes you don’t even realize it until you lose the weight. The reality is that I’m still overweight; I still have a lot more work ahead of me to get to where I want to be, but I know that I’m already much healthier, more comfortable, and much happier with the way my body feels than I was one year ago.