I recently lost 22 pounds over a period of five months, but the excruciating details of how I did it would be about as interesting to people as, oh, sifting through photos of a stranger’s summer vacation.
So I’ll skip the boring parts and share some simple advice for anyone seeking to get healthier and lose some weight.
Smaller portions, smarter food choices, brisk walks, and an utter dedication to the goal — for the better part of one’s life — are the keys to success in this area.
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Everything else is just plain pain.
It’s why I so appreciate a book out recently, which is more a chatty conversation with a friend about weight loss and becoming healthier than a “program,” “plan,” or “guide” about the whys and hows of dropping weight safely.
“The Little Book of Big Weight Loss: 31 Rules to Live By” by Bernadette Fisers (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster) is welcoming, wise, and incisive.
The author, a full-time working mom in Australia, is blunt about the shape she was in when she began her health journey: “I was time-poor and didn’t make myself a priority. At my worst, I weighed over a staggering (and uncomfortable) 283 pounds. At five feet seven inches tall, that made my BMI a huge 41.8 percent. In medical speak? I was morbidly obese.”
She wanted effective, common-sense advice to drop the excess weight — and without hurting herself, of course.
So she did some in-depth research, talked to her doctor, and consulted experts. She wanted “a way of dropping the weight that would last over the long haul, as I had a lot of weight to lose,” she tells her readers in a straightforward, easy manner.
She also says, “Big weight loss is mostly about the food. Exercise is important to a lesser extent — for me, it’s walking and, in summer, swimming.”
Among the health benefits she gained from dropping 66 pounds so far (and keeping it off for a full year since) are these:
- lower risk of diabetes
- better blood pressure
- lower cholesterol
- less visceral fat (the bad fat around the body’s organs)
- less inflammation in her body
- improved liver function
- more energy
- great mood
- glowing skin
- sharper brain
That’s just for starters.
Importantly, Fisers talks about avoiding sugar and added sugar — the kind hidden in breads, cereals, baked goods and other foods in which we least expect to find them. “I aim to stick to fewer than three added teaspoons of sugar a day,” she says. “A teaspoon is four grams. In general, the less sugar in my diet, the faster my weight loss. This is my most important rule; I equate it to 50 percent of my weight loss.”
She also shares this time-worn but worthwhile advice: At the grocery store, shop the outer aisles almost exclusively — this is far healthier than hanging around the inner aisles. This means, in a nutshell: Buy lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. Avoid the processed foods or all those deceptively attractive but bad things for you in packages or boxes. Let go of the chips and cookies. Watch the salad dressings, too. Forget the fries!
Here’s more advice from her that this lighter writer likes a lot, too: “I finish eating at 7 p.m. and don’t eat again until 10 a.m.” Why, you may ask? “When fasting at night, your body goes into repair mode, correcting blood sugar levels and burning stored fats. Who knew? It’s amazing.”
Oh yes — and watch the alcohol.
She drinks green tea at night and strong coffee in the morning: “I find giving my body this rest period extremely beneficial, as I feel so much better for it. I don’t see myself stopping it, either in the short or long term. I love it.”
I love that, too — and have done a version of it myself for months.
There’s so much more good advice and information jammed into this little book, as well as a list of studies the author consulted before embarking on her life-changing journey.
The book is worth the time for anyone seriously considering dropping some pounds or changing one’s way of eating in order to live a happier, healthier and more enjoyable life.
“The Little Book of Big Weight Loss: 31 Rules to Live By” was published in trade paperback and in a digital edition from Touchstone/Simon & Schuster in December 2017. This article has been updated.