The Saturday Skinny: How I got started with my own weight loss program

By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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In early February, I wrote a column in the Telegraph describing how I had lost 60 pounds. The response I received was overwhelming. People wanted to know how I did it and they wanted specifics. The column was too vague for many readers so that’s why I’m launching this online “how to” guide, describing in weighty detail how I have lost the pounds over the course of the last 14 months. THE JOURNEY In December 2009 and January 2010, I was at my heaviest, tipping the scale at 303 pounds. It was frightening. I had never weighed so much in my life. So I decided to do something about it, but was clueless how to start. For that year, I struggled with exercising, dieting and a fluctuating waistline. By May 2011, I had managed to lose 20 pounds. That was it. I wasn’t happy with my results. What was I doing wrong? Easy. I wasn’t being consistent. On May 3, 2011, according to my written log, I weighed in at 283 pounds. My baby girl was turning 5 months old and I was having difficulty keeping up with her and my 2-and-a-half-year-old son. I knew I needed to get serious so I knuckled down and went at it pretty hard. I went with a common sense approach, eating low-fat foods and lean meats. For the first 10 days I eliminated coffee and alcohol, cutting out meat entirely. I loaded up on fresh vegetables, fresh fruit and cut out bread, potatoes and unhealthy foods such as chips, soda, cookies and ice cream. I managed to lose 11 pounds (coming in at 273) in those 10 days. I was amazed. Of course, most of that would have been bloat and water weight, but it was encouraging. And then, of course, I dropped off my healthy eating plan, quickly gaining back four pounds. That’s where I hovered until Oct. 23, when I had ballooned back up to 277 pounds. I was frustrated with myself. I was on vacation with my wife at the time and had purchased a few shirts off the rack without trying them on first. They didn’t fit. I said, “Well, if I lose another five or 10 pounds, they should fit just fine.” I went back to the same healthy eating plan and again, by Nov. 5, I was down to 267 pounds (losing 10 in about 12 days). That was coupled with regular exercise. Finally, something started to click with me. If I wanted to truly lose weight, I needed to put in the effort. It wasn’t going to happen on its own. I continued eating healthy and exercising. My body seemed to want to lose the weight. What I came to realize is, even though I have a hectic work schedule and am caring for small children, one thing I can control is what goes in my mouth. I finished December 2011 weighing 255 pounds, 20 pounds less than I did in October and more than 30 pounds less than I did in May of that same year and almost 50 pounds less than I did back in December 2009. That has been the plan I stick to now. I watch what I eat, get off the couch and try to maintain a positive attitude. As of today, on April 14, I weigh 217 pounds, having dropped 86 pounds from my heaviest point. This has not been an easy journey, but if you check back each week, I will give you the tips and recipes I’ve used to get here. My ultimate goal is to lose another 14 pounds, making my weight loss 100 pounds. But, ideally, I’d like to be out of the 200s. If you have weight loss success, please share it with me. Do not start any weight loss plan without consulting your physician first. EXERCISE Exercise at least 30 minutes every day, preferably in one block of time. If you find you don’t have the time to spare, try three 10-minute blocks throughout the day. Typically, I will walk from the Telegraph office on Sutter Street in Folsom along some of the pedestrian/bike paths around the river and lake. RECIPE OF THE WEEK Roasted sweet potato wedges Preheat oven to 400 degrees Cut sweet potatoes into roughly equally sized wedges. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Using spray olive oil, lightly coat the foil. Spread wedges over sheet and lightly coat them with the spray. Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic over wedges (or any spice you’d like to try). Roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and turn wedges, roasting another 10-15 minutes. These are great to take in lunches and to have as a side dish alongside a lean meat (like chicken breast) or salad with black beans. Don Chaddock may be reached at or follow him on Twitter @anewsguy.