When I was losing weight, people often asked me, “how are you doing it?” At first, it was a difficult question to really answer. I originally told people that I simply “just ate less,” because it was kind of true.
The funny thing is that I think most people were surprised because they expected me to say that I went on some crazy diet or started exercising 7 days a week. I didn’t exercise or change my diet at all. Seriously, I just ate less!
Of course, for most of us, it’s not that easy. Reflecting on my response, I thought about how for decades I actually ate quite a lot more, getting me to an obese state in the first place. I then thought about what actually changed such that I could consistently eat less, so much so that I lost a hundred pounds. I boiled it down to a few core ideas.
The truth is that I didn’t “just” eat less. What I truly did was that I set up proper goals, I made a plan that aligned to my strengths, and measured my progress. What I did was slowly change my behavior, which then changed my habits, which then changed my lifestyle.
I believe that anyone can lose weight if they convert these ideas below into an action plan for themselves. To help you with this, I developed the Luuze app and created the Luuze blog.
The Key Reasons I Succeeded in Losing a Hundred Pounds
As I mentioned in my About page, there were a few key reasons why I succeeded:
- I defined a weight loss goal and timeframe that made sense for me and was realistic for my situation.
- I recognized my strengths and weaknesses and found a way to create a caloric deficit not through some wacky diet or through intense exercise, but through methods that were right for me, my social life, and my lifestyle. In time, I added exercise to my lifestyle, once I was ready.
- I found a way to measure my progress towards my goal in a meaningful fashion.
- I created a Defining Motivation for myself that kept me going throughout my long journey.
I’ll go through these items in a bit more detail, and explain how you can learn how to use my lessons to lose weight yourself.
Defining a Proper Weight Loss Goal
My initial weight when I decided to take weight loss seriously was just over 253 pounds. This was in October 2015, when I was 31 years old.
I read in a lot of places that losing about 1 percent of your weight a week was a reasonable goal. In the past, I tried to lose weight at that rate and totally failed. I decided this time around, I would aim for a goal that was even easier than that.
My goal was to lose 100 pounds in three years. After all, it took me over thirty years to get fat. What’s three years to get thin? Just a fraction of my life. From that perspective, taking a weight loss journey of three years, less than 10% of how long I’ve lived, was a totally worthwhile tradeoff to be thin for the rest of my life.
100 pounds in three years is 0.6 pounds a week, or 0.3 kg/week, a very reasonable goal for myself. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to think that they can sustainably lose 10 pounds in two weeks, or whatever ridiculous number all of the diet advertisements tell us.
There are always exceptions, but for most people, 0.5-1 pound a week is generally reasonable, a goal that is between one to two pounds a week can be tough but is doable, and anything over two pounds a week generally requires a lot of willpower and can be a setup for eventual failure. I’m sorry to tell you, but any plan you read out there that guarantees that you will lose 10 pounds in two weeks is not sustainable. One can actually lose 10 pounds in two weeks when they first start out, but the weight is mainly water and almost always comes back. In fact, the faster you try to lose weight, the more the body tries to fight back, through metabolism adjustments, hunger, and hormonal changes. If you lose weight slowly, the weight loss is more sustainable.
To help you choose a reasonable goal, you can use the Luuze app. When you set your goal in the Luuze app, the app tells you the rate and caloric deficit you need to hit your goal, and whether or not the goal is reasonable.
Luuze also keeps track of your progress, and provides you with goal adjustment proposals as you go along your weight loss journey.
The key takeaway: It’s okay to go slow. If you’ve had challenges losing weight in the past, pick a weight loss rate that is low to improve your odds of success. If you’re looking to lose weight, losing a fraction of a pound a week is infinitely better than not losing any weight at all or gaining weight.
Find the Weight Loss Method That Matches Your Strengths and Your Lifestyle
Here are two truths.
- Any diet can work for weight loss if it leads to a caloric deficit.
- Any diet can fail for weight loss if it does not lead to a caloric deficit.
People have literally proved that they can lose weight with strange diets like the Twinkie diet and the McDonalds diet. Not only did these people lose weight, but their health markers were also better too! To be clear I wouldn’t recommend these diets to anyone, but the proof that somebody out there was able to lose weight using those diets (and even get healthier) led me to the conclusion that there are millions of ways to lose weight.
There are millions of ways to lose weight and I’ve investigated a ton of them. They all have their pros and cons. In a future post I will discuss those pros and cons in detail. They can all generally be put into four buckets:
- Time-based methods. These methods include the various types of intermittent fasting or extended fasting, such as 16/8, 5:2, etc.
- Food-type-based methods. These methods include going on food-focused diets like a vegetarian, vegan, carnivore, or keto diet.
- Math-based methods. These methods include calorie counting or caloric estimation.
- Exercise-based methods. These methods include upping the exercise so your body burns more calories.
Of course, all of these methods can be combined and mixed together. A calorie-counting, keto eating, intermittent-fasting, exercise freak would probably be able to lose a ton of weight. For the rest of us humans however, it might be impossible to do it all.
The challenge is in understanding which methods work best for you. So how can you figure this out? Well, understanding your current situation and the strengths that you have can help you get started.
My wife is a great cook and usually set the menu. I wasn’t willing to ask my wife to spend extra time making different meals to accommodate some sort of unique diet for my weight loss, and I also wasn’t willing to put in the effort to make my own meals if my wife was already making dinner anyway. Going on any type of diet that restricted certain foods would have been a big lifestyle change for me (and my wife), so weight loss methods based on food type would have been difficult for me.
I was also a director at a big company, which often meant I had to do business lunches and dinners. Time-based methods would also have been difficult for me. Having a newborn when I first started my journey, using an exercise based method wasn’t too attractive to me either.
I have an engineering background so math comes naturally to me. I realized that a couple of my strengths was in my ability to plan and to follow rules. Based on my strengths and my situation, I used a math-based method of estimating the calories that I ate every day (I didn’t personally need to count them). I set some simple rules for myself where if I was behind my goals I had to halve my portions, and if I was ahead of my goals I could eat whatever I wanted. Whenever I knew I had a business lunch or dinner, I planned ahead and made sure the other meals of the day were lighter.
I didn’t have any restrictions on what I could eat, just how much I could eat. And I didn’t impose those restrictions every single minute of my life or every single meal of my life, just when I was behind my goal. As I mentioned to my friends: “I just ate less.” No magic potions or pills, although there was a lot of necessary self-reflection.
Because this weight loss method aligned with my strengths, I was able to stick with the method for over 1000 days, losing over a hundred pounds.
If you love bread with all your heart, don’t plan to use a keto diet to lose weight. If you’re super busy and always on the run, maybe a time-based weight loss method could work best for you. Find a weight loss method that maximizes the probability of success and minimizes the probability of failure.
Don’t blindly copy my weight loss method or the weight loss methods/diets that anybody else is trying to promote either. What you should copy is the process of reflection: thinking about your strengths and your situation to come up with a weight loss method that works for you.
The key takeaway: Reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, current environment, and desired lifestyle BEFORE picking a weight loss method.
Measure Your Progress… MEANINGFULLY
After figuring out how to use the bathroom scale as a powerful tool to measure my progress, I decided that I would try to weigh myself daily. I did this every morning after I went to the washroom to reduce the fluctuations that would show up on the scale. Something I also did was convert my scale measurement to a “trend weight.”
I then compared this measurement to a target weight. I used some more math to calculate this target weight. I weighed 253 lbs in October 2015. To lose 100 pounds in 3 years, that meant that I would need to weigh 153 lbs by October 2018. By drawing a line between the two points and calculating the slope, I knew what weight I should be at a certain date, and what my caloric deficit should be. If this all sounds confusing to do, not to fret: the Luuze app can calculate your daily target weight automatically for you.
Because I weighed myself daily and also had a chart that gave me a path or daily target to follow, I created a meaningful way to measure my progress. As long as your weight follows the goal line, you will achieve your goal. Of course, weight loss is rarely a straight line. This is why the Luuze app also keeps track of your progress and provides recommendations to you to adjust your goal as you are going along your weight loss journey. Although the picture above shows my goal (the yellow line) being perfectly straight, I adjusted my goal on a regular basis throughout my journey.
The key takeaway: What gets measured gets managed. Measure progress and compare it to a target regularly. Doing this will create a feedback loop, giving you information that will help you know if you’re on the right track or if you need to make adjustments.
Create a Defining Motivation
Maybe one of the most important things that led to my weight loss success, if not THE thing that led to my success, was knowing WHY I wanted to get healthy. I call this why a Defining Motivation and I write about how you can discover your own Defining Motivation in more detail here.
Being class II obese with high blood pressure and a history of heart conditions in my family, I knew that if I didn’t change my lifestyle, I might die early. However, even that wasn’t enough to get me started. It was only until I had my first son, and until l really reflected on the importance of being around for the future did it inspire me to change. It was then that I knew what my Defining Motivation was: to get healthy in order to be around to participate in my children’s life milestones.
I don’t think even this is enough. What’s also important is to be reminded about this motivation on a regular basis, so more often than not, when faced with a temptation or path that leads you away from your goals, you use your Defining Motivation to make the right decision.
The Luuze app has a feature where you can record your Defining Motivation and have it visible to remind you about why you’re doing this.
The key takeaway: Set a Defining Motivation for yourself and find a way to be reminded of it on a regular basis.
Nail Down These Four Things To Maximize Your Odds of Success
Define a weight loss goal that makes sense. Reflect on your strengths and current situation and pick a weight loss method that will work best for you. Find a way to measure your progress meaningfully. Create a Defining Motivation and remind yourself regularly about it.
If you can nail those four things down, you’ll be in a much better position for success than others who haven’t done so. And of course, the Luuze app and blog are here to help you do these things, for free!