From my Notebook

Why my diet involved eating until I almost threw up

[Note for those who are overweight, who have tried everything, and for whom nothing’s working: If the beginning of my story below seems self-congratulatory and annoying, stick with it until the end. And know that you are loved, fat or thin. I hope you can find some answers in here in the same way that I found them for myself.]

I kneeled at the toilet, spitting every 8-10 seconds, a (literally) sick grin on my face.

“Please, I don’t want to throw up. Not today. I’ve got deadlines. I need to be writing code now.”

After 10 minutes of spitting, the urge subsided.

A half hour later, feeling more settled, I was laughing. I felt like a scientist who just made a huge breakthrough. I wondered how many people could possibly know about it.

Because it’s blowing my mind.

The secret: I learned how to eat until I am dangerously over-full.

And?

And still lose weight.

And not just 10, 20, 25 pounds.

Nope, I’m keeping off almost 90 pounds so far. And losing more.

Another secret?

I eat chocolate every day.

(No, this is not an ad, or some exotic diet thing)

Like M&M’s, for example. Or the nicer stuff. My amazing wife snuck a bag of delicious Dove chocolates inside of one of my birthday presents. My brother- and sister-in-law sent me one of my favorite Cadbury bars (thank you thank you). That’s long gone.

Nice try though, not gonna be obese again. Ha ha. I don’t eat a lot of the chocolate, just enough for me to not feel like I’m punishing myself or something.

Then there are the shakes.

I have a shake nearly every day, after I eat a huge plate of food for lunch.

I had never tried this before now. Thought it was too extravagant. But man, I love it! The protein shakes really help me feel satiated.

Attempting to drink two tall glasses quickly is really what led to my nausea problem yesterday. I was very worried about losing all that food, and then having to find a way to eat up my allotment again! The deadlines were real, and I didn’t have a lot of time.

For breakfast, I eat a three-course meal: Oatmeal, a protein shake, some cereal.

For dinner, if I’m even hungry at all, I try to get creative and sometimes I just can’t hit my quota, so I’ll have another shake later in the evening. Or I’ll go to bed and take the bonus (more on that below).

And then I wake up the next day and another pound is gone.

How is this even working?

Warning: I’m not selling anything so I’ll just give you the answer. Here it comes, right in the face.

I’m counting calories. I’m using very basic math. I’m eating foods that give me plenty of bulk, that fill me way, way up, but don’t drop a calorie bomb on my body.

And, maybe most importantly, I aim low. One pound a week of weight loss is my goal. My original goal when I started this process was one pound a month, and while I knew it was a very conservative goal, it was unrealistically easy.

Anyway, I calculated, using a calculator, the amount of calories I can eat and still lose a pound every week.

Anything faster than that, I tell myself, is just a bonus that represents a special victory.

This week the bonus was three pounds. Not bad.

I haven’t felt the need to binge since I started. I haven’t even been hungry between meals.

“Isn’t this weird?” I ask myself, every day.

Back when I wasn’t counting calories, I had to give myself a cheat day sometimes. I didn’t know it, but I was being haphazard. I was hurting myself and that was causing me to plateau.

By attempting to judge how much I should eat, without estimating my calories, I was deducting far too many calories, really punishing myself, and thus setting myself up for a binge later.

That was really dumb. Plus in one cheat day I could easily wipe out my losses for an entire week.

Counting calories, the thing I always thought would never work for me, actually liberated me. It led me to a world where people get creative and solve problems. They create desserts that are delicious, low in calories, but so filling you can’t even finish eating them. Like my shakes.

  • One scoop chocolate protein powder
  • One banana (or a tablespoon of peanut butter)
  • Throw a bunch of berries in there.
  • Sometimes I add 1 tbsp of caramel syrup
  • One half cup almond milk
  • 4-6 ice cubes
  • 2-3 cups water

…and blend.

(That’s barely 300 calories. Would you rather have two tall shakes containing lots of protein, or a puny bowl of sugary cereal with cow’s milk? Which do you think would fill you up more?)

…Oh, and good luck downing those two shakes after you just had a huge taco salad. Go slow, learn from my mistake.

And you wake up the next day, another pound lost. You laugh and marvel at this discovery.

Feels too good to be true!

I don’t know what the latest diet fad is, but this is working for me.

Now: Regarding the indulgences: The chocolate I mentioned above. I’m not eating the whole bag, am I? Nope. Am I eating an entire chocolate bar in one go? Nope. If you have any kinds of issues like that, please start with my earlier blog post about stress eating.

So: What am I eating?

Warning: DO NOT TRY TO MATCH THIS UNLESS YOUR CALORIE TARGET IS SIMILAR TO MINE

FEEL FREE TO TRY THIS FOR YOURSELF, BUT FIND OUT YOUR CALORIE TARGET FIRST. YOU CANNOT GO AGAINST BASIC SCIENCE AND EXPECT TO LOSE WEIGHT IN A SUSTAINABLE MANNER.

I AM NOT YOUR DOCTOR, AND THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE.

As an example breakfast:

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal with raisins and some almond milk
  • Chocolate protein shake
  • A small amount of a favorite cereal with almond milk (I’m trying to slowly work through the cereal my wife bought me before I changed my diet…lol)

As an example lunch:

  • 1/2 can black beans
  • Diced tomatoes with jalapeno peppers
  • Tapatio
  • Mixed greens on top (3-4 huge handfuls)
  • ~10 tortilla chips
  • I mix that all together
  • Protein shake, blended, two large servings (w/ banana, etc.)

As an example dinner:

  • Grilled chicken
  • Mixed vegetables or salad
  • Small bowl of refried beans w/ salsa
  • Another protein shake
  • Treat, 15-30m later: 1 pc. Dove chocolate, 15 M&Ms (if that’s not enough for you: How much would be enough? Be honest.)

This is enough to make me really full, like full enough to be 300 or 400 calories below my daily target, and go to bed without any hunger.

Like Scooby says:

“Most people fail to achieve their weight loss goals not because they eat too much but because they don’t eat enough! The starve themselves then end up binging! If you are hungry then you are doing something very wrong.”

When I say I’m not hungry: Remember, I got so overfull I was within seconds of throwing up. I’m not talking “over-promising fitness ad” full, I’m talking really, really full.

Takeaways, or maybe just things to try:

  • Count the calories: They tell you when you’re not eating enough! It’s basically free binge protection.
  • If it’s too hard to count calories and change your diet, try just counting calories to see where you’re at. A diet change by itself can be dangerous—again, binge territory.
  • Counting calories gets really easy after the first couple of weeks. I can eyeball many foods now and get a good idea of how much I should eat.
  • Use a calculator to figure out about how many calories to eat a day for 1lb/week weight loss.
  • Spend your calories on things that fill you up! Add tons of vegetables. Use lots of salad makings, but maybe water down the dressing, or use less and toss the salad longer. Eat high-protein foods. Learn new recipes that are delicious. Don’t let yourself get sick of the food. Be creative.
  • To eat chocolate every day: Eat it 20-30 minutes after a meal. You’ll be in a wiser position to know how much you can (or need to) eat, considering your calculator results above.
  • Keep recalculating your calorie needs as you continue to lose weight.
  • Almost forgot: Exercise. My cardio is walking. I love to put on some music or a podcast and walk. My lifting is lifting. I’m exercising 4-5 times a week for an hour. But for weight loss, diet has been way more important.

Big takeaway:

  • Imagine yourself really, really full. Not a bad way to lose weight, right?

I can’t solve your problems for you (if you have them), but this is what is working for me after being on a plateau for a bit.

This week I’m celebrating being at a normal BMI (another “just a number” thing, but hey, I’m proud of it).

If you read my previous blog post on weight loss, that information still applies. What’s written here is the extra I needed to learn in order to make my final push towards 100 pounds of weight loss.

Oh, and eating until you feel sick is not good. My mistake was eating too fast; I was in a hurry to get back to work. It won’t happen again…

Next month: Hair regrowth!!!

Just kidding!