For the last three months, I committed myself to losing weight towards better fitness and as a challenge. In the past, I had gone through two separate personal challenges when I ate at least 1 salad for a meal/day for 100 as well as 40 consecutive days. I had set out to lose 20 pounds by the July 31st when I started on April 28th. I did meet that goal one day later than I had planned, but nevertheless, I consider it a successful attempt. This post is about some lessons I’ve learned the last three months that contributed to meeting my goal of losing weight. Overall, I needed to have the motivation and attitude to want to lose weight. I also needed some support, strategies, and tools to lose weight. Wanting to lose weight without the tools and strategies to go through the process and vice versa would not have worked.  What I will share below seem to be common sense and they are. The key is to actually committing through the process. Here are some lessons learned:

Find motivations/inspirations that will drive you to start and maintain your effort. Why are you trying to lose weight in the first place? For me, it’s because I hated hearing my doctor tell me I have to lose weight every time I went for a visit. He warned me about potential health issues if I maintain or increase my weight. I also got tired of not being able to find clothes that fit me. I just didn’t like the way I see when I looked in the mirror.I remember Anthony Robbins, the author, write something like “people will only change  because their situation is so painful they want to change or the perceived benefit of the change is so great they want to change.” In my case, I found my situation “painful” enough for me to change.

Find supporters. My wife’s support was key in my weight loss. She and I love to eat and try new food. She can also cook some amazing dishes I request. These dishes are not always healthy but nevertheless, she accommodated my requests. We both committed to changing our eating habits which involved some extra work and opting not to eat what we had enjoyed. For one, she prepared fruits and vegetables which I brought to work for snacks. She also prepared breakfast (scrambled egg white with spinach) I ate before leaving home. This was in place of donuts and pastries I bought at work. While we both enjoyed eating rice and desserts, we chose to minimize the portions we ate or just stopped eating them altogether. During the last three months, we rarely ate rice and even if we did, it was measured so that it was no more than 1 cup per meal.

Develop strategy. Maintaining a sustained effort, which includes daily routines, in the last three months was key. As mentioned above, I was mindful of what I chose to eat and it required some preparations. When my wife and I wanted to eat at restaurants, we looked at their menu online first to plan what to order. Also noted above is the preparation of healthier food to snack on throughout the day. I also found opportunities throughout my work day (and weekends) to have some physical activities. For example, instead of sitting at my desk during my lunch break, I would walk around the campus and go to the beach. Instead of driving to meetings across campus, I opted to walk instead. I also went to the golf course, either just by hitting some balls at the range or playing a couple rounds of golf with some friends. In short, I ate more of the right food at lesser portions and committed to more physical activities.

Use tools to support your effort. I also used Weight Watchers system and its mobile app.  Weight Watchers assigns a number of daily points to use and different foods have corresponding values based on their nutritional values. For example, fruits and vegetables are worth 0 points while meat, pastries, and processed food are worth more. To me, Weight Watchers is more than being aware of what I ate but rather, it was a behavior modification system. By keeping track of what I ate and also guiding me towards food that are healthier (and smaller portions), this changed how I viewed food in general. Another app similar to Weight Watchers is LoseIt! This app doesn’t assign points but it does count calories for the food you eat as well as calories lost from activities.I also use my iWatch and MapMyWalk mobile apps to monitor my daily activities.

Don’t expect results overnight. I didn’t see much result the first week or so and I almost gave up. I didn’t lose any weight that first week and I became discouraged but my wife kept on encouraging me to not give up. After the second week, I lost a couple of pounds and that gave me some hope and motivation to continue.

Have fun doing it/Don’t suffer (too much). To be able to sustain an effort that is not easy to do for an extended period of time without having fun along the way probably doesn’t work. In my case, I made a game out of the process. If I knew I had a planned big dinner, I planned what I could eat during the day so I don’t go hungry and still save my points for dinner. I do have to mention one significant change I made is that I began to snack between meals. When I felt hungry, I ate fruits, vegetables, or cinnamon rice cakes. I’m not sure if this change resulted in how my metabolism works.I also kept track of my activities, such as number of steps for the day, and I tried to meet the goals I had set for the day. As mentioned above, I also started playing golf more or just walking around the campus more often as I knew these activities contributed to my weight loss. A side benefit to these activities was that I felt mentally better. I used the time to relax and think about ideas and dream about the ideal future for my wife and me.

My motivations and the methods I used worked for me though it may not work for you reading this post. So, find what works for you using the general advice I shared.