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How I Lost 70 Pounds and How You Can Do It Too

Many of you have had the chance to meet me and get to know me in the two years I’ve been Health_Journey_copy1the editor at Hotspots. In the last four months, I’ve started a journey to better myself, and I’ve lost a lot of weight. People have given me so many great compliments, and they’ve asked me what exactly I’m doing to get fit. For the first time, I’m writing about my weight loss journey and breaking it down for you in case you want to follow my path.

My Life Decision

I was plagued for many years by low self-esteem. It took me many years to build up my confidence and self-worth to the level it is today. I’ve been on over a dozen diets, starting at the age of 12. All of them eventually failed because I had a negative mindset. I was losing weight for the acceptance and approval of others. I wanted people to be my friend, or I wanted guys to approve of me. That’s dangerous. Then, when I built up my self-esteem, I decided to spend years eating what I wanted, while leading a sedentary lifestyle. That’s also dangerous.

Finally, last September, after tipping the scales at 435 pounds (I can’t believe I just admitted my highest weight in print!), I decided something had to be done. This time, I wanted to lose the weight for myself: for my own health and my own well-being.

The Atkins Diet: What Is It?

Health_Journey_copy2I went through all of the diets and eating regimes I had previously attempted in my head. My first thoughts were: Which program made me feel the least deprived? Which program did I like being on? If you sign up for a diet that isn’t for you, you’re sabotaging yourself before you even get started. Finally I chose the Atkins Diet. I don’t even think it should be called a “diet,” because it’s really a change in your way of life.

The Atkins approach is heavy on proteins and healthy vegetables and restricts sugars and carbohydrates to very small portions. In fact, carbohydrates are almost non-existent when you’re starting Atkins, and “good” carbs like whole wheat are slowly introduced the further along you are in your weight loss journey.

You may have seen Sharon Osbourne talk about how she lost weight on Atkins. The protein-heavy and carb-light approach puts the body into a state called ketosis, which speeds weight loss. Within a month I had dropped twenty pounds. I no longer felt “in a rut” in the mid-afternoon and I had more energy on the weekends. Within a couple of months, pain and numbness that were previously attributed to pre-diabetes had vanished. Why wouldn’t I continue with this?

My Day-to-Day RoutineHealth_Journey_copy3

I start my day with coffee. I had to give up my sweet coffee creamer because it was full of sugar, but I can use half and half with Splenda. Not too much, though, or else you might get a sugar craving that can set you back. In the mornings I either eat scrambled eggs or an Atkins meal bar. Either way, I feel good enough to get through to the early afternoon.

To ensure I get the protein I need, I tend to buy chicken breasts and pork chops on sale at supermarkets such as Health_Journey_copy4ishAldi and Winn-Dixie. I cook them all at once on an evening that I have free, and then I have the bulk of my meals for the next two weeks. I usually pair the protein with a salad or a vegetable like mushrooms or asparagus. A salad works in a pinch for a fast lunch as well.

I work in my home office all day so it can be difficult to find motivation to exercise. I started out with walking. At first, I was so out of shape that I couldn’t even make it to the end of my street without feeling like my back was going to give out. With time and practice, walking 15 minutes aHealth_Journey_copy4day to start, I managed to go further and further and slowly the back pain subsided. Now I walk two miles a day at least three times a week, if not four or five times, and my back pain is nonexistent.

I’ve also recently started doing sit-ups. When I started, I couldn’t even do one properly. Now I can do a set of ten (albeit with a lot of struggling). I noticed this has helped flatten my stomach; it used to protrude a lot more, making me look bloated all the time! These are the exercises I do every week. When I have access to a pool, I like to swim as many laps as I can. I used to be Red Cross certified as a lifeguard when I was a teenager and I’ve always loved the benefits you can get from low-impact exercise like swimming.

Give In to Temptation…Sometimes

Health_Journey_copy6One of the questions I am asked most frequently is, “how do you deal with temptation?” There are some things that are my absolute weakness, like pizza. I am not good at moderating my intake of that particular food so I find it best to substitute with snacks of pepperoni, so I get a pizza taste while not being tempted by what I like to call a “devil food.”

Other times I may want to go to a bar and have a few drinks. Drinking certain spirits and having one cocktail is fine on Atkins, but getting drunk can ruin your progress for a few days. I also love eating sushi, which is a no-no because of all the sushi rice. I Health_Journey_copy7set aside one day a month (sometimes two depending on how I’m feeling) where I will go out and have my favorite sushi rolls and have alcohol if I want to. That way I get my cheat out of the way, I don’t feel guilty about doing it, and I can continue my journey.

How You Can Lose Weight With Me

Atkins Nutritionals offers so many helpful things to keep a person on track. You can send away for your free quick-start kit, which includes a guide and a carb counter so you can figure out how many carbs are in the foods you eat and spur your own weight loss. Atkins.com is a treasure trove of valuable information on how to start a new way of life. They offer recipes, free tools and apps, and even a support group. If you go to facebook.com/AtkinsDiet and press “like,” you will get daily motivational updates, and Sharon Osbourne even checks in from time to time to give advice and support to her Atkins friends.

Health_Journey_copy8Setting Goals and Achieving Them

I always tell people my goal is to “be skinny,” since I’ve never actually been thin in my life. But now that I’ve lost 70 pounds in four months (my weigh-in last Sunday was 365), I pledge to lose 100 more pounds by this time next year. That won’t be the end of my journey either. But it will be an exciting new chapter.

If you’d like to share your weight loss stories with Mike, e-mail him at mike@hotspotsmedia.com.