The Saturday Skinny: Set reasonable goals for weight loss, life

By: Don Chaddock, Gold Country News Service
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In this installment of "The Saturday Skinny," we'll look at goal setting and what's reasonable. Over the course of the last 16 months, I've managed to lose 94 pounds, or 31 percent of my original body weight. I started out at 303 pounds and all that weight on my 6-foot-tall frame just wasn't healthy. I was tired and slow to move. The birth of my daughter in December 2010 changed all that and I made up my mind to do something about my problem. The most recent photo of me, taken this morning by my 14-year-old son Cian, shows me wearing clothes I would have never worn in public a year ago. A T-shirt and sweat pants, that actually "fit," were considered taboo. I was simply too self-conscious about my body to wear something that "hugged" my belly, as I used to say. Today I weighed-in at 209 pounds. It feels good but it was also a lot of work. If I had started out this journey thinking, "I need to lose 100 pounds," I would never have been able to get to where I am today. SET ATTAINABLE GOALS I got here with baby steps. Small increments of 5-10 pounds of weight loss were my initial goals. As I proved to myself I could achieve them, I started setting 10-15 pound goals. I apply this same principle in my everyday life as well. There was a time when I could easily allow all the things on my "to do" list to overwhelm me. Now, I tackle them one at a time, rather than taking a shotgun approach and spreading myself too thin. BUY GOAL CLOTHING After I lost 60 pounds, I set about purchasing some new clothes. Since I was now confident in my ability to lose weight, I purchased some clothing to fit me at that weight, some to wear when I lost another 20 pounds and another set for when I lost another 20 beyond that (my 100-pound goal). A few weeks ago, I started fitting into those final goal clothes and I donated all my "Big Don" clothes. MEASURE YOUR RESULTS I keep a weight-log on a small notepad in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. Once each week, usually on Thursday morning, I weigh myself before I've eaten breakfast or had my first sip of coffee. This is what I consider my "official" weight. The rest of the week, usually every other day, I do a maintenance weigh-in to see how my body is reacting to what food I'm putting in. I generally don't write these in the log unless they show a gain. This is a good way to see how my body reacts to bread or salty snacks (if I somehow slipped and chowed on a handful of chips). It's a good reminder for why I need to stay on a healthy eating plan and make healthy food choices daily. At my heaviest, I wore a size 44-inch waist. Now, I'm my 34-inch waist jeans are getting lose and I am about to try 32-inch pants. DON'T EAT THESE Avoid salty or sweet carb bombs like crackers, cookies, chips and most other processed foods. Avoid cakes, pies, ice cream and candy. Don't eat fast food or fried food. Avoid pre-frozen boxed dinners or side-dishes (unless it's brown rice or some other healthy alternative). DO EAT THESE I keep things simple and try to stick to fresh vegetables, fruit, brown rice, lentils, black beans, etc. Roasting yams (without butter or sugar), sweet potatoes and asparagus are staples in my home. Limit your serving of lean meat to 4-6 ounces per meal. If you're seriously trying to lose weight, eliminate meat altogether for two weeks, or limit to once per day. COOKING METHODS Steaming, grilling or roasting are all excellent ways to cut calories and create flavorful meals. Avoid sauces in your cooking, or "flavor packets," as these only add calories and do little to improve the dish. Instead, opt for fresh or dried herbs to improve flavor. Simple is better. CONSULT A PHYSICIAN If you haven't started a weight loss plan yet, be sure to check with your doctor first. EXERCISE Be sure to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. If you can't devote an entire 30-minute block of time, break it into three 10-minute blocks. Some exercise is better than none. Each week, increase your exercise by 5-10 minutes until you're up to an hour or more daily. Reach Don Chaddock at or follow him on Twitter @anewsguy. His column publishes every Saturday.