Originally published May 24, 2010.
I had terrible back pain and I needed to lose weight. I lost sixty pounds in five months. This is how I did it.
I've struggled with my weight for my entire life. I went to hospital fat camp in seventh grade. I have stretch marks all along my sides and gut (fire belly!). I spend the majority of my day thinking about food, and that's unlikely to change anytime soon, even now. I love eating and have a hard time controlling myself when presented with cakes and pies and bags of Doritos. Oh, Doritos. Oh God, how I adore you. You hear about alcoholics who can't stop drinking until they're blackout drunk. I'm that way with food. I can't stop eating until I'm blackout fat.
So I needed to set some ground rules for myself to lose weight, ground rules that I felt were reasonable to follow for the rest of my adult life. Here's what I did:
1. I bought a scale. I did not own a scale before. I hated weighing myself because I didn't want to face the hard truth about my weight, which is dumb because the hard truth is out there for everyone to see when you're fat. You can't hide it, muumuu or otherwise. Everyone already fucking knows you're a fat repulsive slob. And anytime I stepped on a scale at a doctor's office, I blew it off. "Oh, that's just water weight." "I was 260 because my socks were still on." So I bought a scale and faced facts.
2. I weighed myself daily. In the morning, in my boxers, after pissing/shitting, and before drinking water. At maximized lightness. I also weighed myself every night, just to see what the differential would be in the morning. Usually, it's about 3 to 6 pounds. Where does the weight go overnight? Out of my peepee? MAGIC.
3. I posted that weight daily on Twitter. But it doesn't matter where. It can be on Facebook or your blog or whatever. Shit, you can print it out and stick it on your office cube every day. What I found doing this is that it 1) gave me a public incentive to stick to a goal; 2) garnered support from people. Most Americans struggle with their weight, and most of them sympathize with someone else trying to get healthier. Support helps. Maybe some people will tease you, but that's its own incentive anyway. Part of losing weight is acknowledging the fact that you have issues with food. And holy shit, do I have issues with food.
4. I never ate after dinner. 6 p.m., to be precise, because I eat with my kids. That may not be realistic for you. But there are plenty of people out there who advocate not eating too much at night. For me, it used to be that dinner was the start of my nightly eating. There'd be dessert. Then the after-dessert dessert. Then a bowl of cereal. Then shots of ranch dressing. That's all bad and shit. This rule, and the three rules above, are the ones I really stuck to. The only times I ate dinner late were when I was out with friends or whatever and had no choice.
5. I didn't snack except for fruit. I know all these people who are like, "Oh, I lost weight by having eight very small meals a day!" Yeah well, I can't do that. A snack, in my hands, becomes a seven-course meal. I used to come home from work and eat half a box of Triscuits and a whole container of hummus. Then some chips. Then some peanuts. Then God knows what else I could stuff into my facehole. All bad. I cut that out and had bananas and oranges and apples when I was hungry at midday. And here's what's fucked up: The fruit actually tastes pretty good now. I'm genuinely happy to have fruit as a snack, which makes me feel weird and wrong.
5. I didn't have seconds. I used to eat two plates at dinner, minimum. I'd spend my first helping thinking about my second, which is idiotic. It's the SAME FUCKING FOOD. Then I'd finish my seconds and hover over my wife's plate like a goddamn buzzard. Hoping she wouldn't finish so I could eat her food. I even ate her food a few times before she was done. Wives get fucking PISSED when you do that. I also had to get over my hatred of throwing away perfectly edible food that other people didn't eat. Nothing pisses me off more, but it's not like a Rwandan AIDS baby will get to eat it if I pass it up.
6. I didn't eat sweets. This is kind of lie. I did have the occasional cookie or ice cream sandwich. But I used to eat a bowl of ice cream and then have half a package of cocoa almonds for dessert. My dessert came in stages, usually followed by Cocoa Puffs. This is unwise. Cutting out sugar pretty much guarantees weight loss. I didn't drink anything with sugar. No regular soda (now addicted to Coke Zero). No juice. None of that shit.
7. I avoided carbs, but didn't go nuts about it. I didn't do Atkins or anything. I couldn't live without sugar, cereal, bread, and pasta. But those are foods I used to eat a fucking lot of. Whole bread baskets at the restaurant. Three bowls of pasta for dinner ("I'm carb loadin'! Gotta stay huge!"). Two jumbo bowls of cereal for breakfast. Triple helpings of rice with my Chinese food. I could eat 90 pounds of plain white rice in one sitting. Golden House apparently steams it in cocaine vapor. Anyway, I'd still have pasta for dinner every week or so. But one bowl at a meal. No more. I also got rid of sandwiches for lunch and had egg white omelets with feta cheese, but that's only because I work from home. Not so easy if you work in an office.
8. I drank a fuckload of unsweetened green tea. It's an appetite suppressant, plus it makes me feel like I just ate a very large Chinese meal, which is fun. I needed something to demarcate the end of a meal, because otherwise I'd just keep eating until all my meals blended together. Breakfunchinner is a better meal than most people realize. Having a cup of tea at the end of the meal (usually decaf) was my way of reminding myself MEAL IS OVER, FUCKFACE.
9. I drastically cut down on boozing. This is a deal breaker for many people. But the unfair truth is that a six-pack after dinner adds about 900 calories, all of which go to your FUPA. So I cut down on it and spent weeks at a time dead sober. I have two kids and no friends, so this wasn't a big deal for me. If you're in college? Eh, not too realistic. But you know what has NO calories? WEED. (Though I suppose it makes you eat 5,000 calories after you smoke it. Again, not really fair. COCAINE! THAT MAKES YOU THIN!)
10. I made sure everything I ate was fucking AWESOME. If I'm only getting three legit meals a day, they better be fucking good. So I made sure of that. Did you know two slices of bacon only have 70 calories? Combine that with a fried egg and you've got a breakfast of less than 200 calories, far less than a bowl of granola or some shit like that. So I went the bacon route. And I don't give a shit about my cholesterol. They can just Lipitor that shit. I'm in this for the sexy. I also learned to braise short ribs, make my own pulled pork, make Thai steak sauces, and all this other crazy shit because I wanted to lose weight and still enjoy what the fuck I was eating. None of this grilled-chicken-breast-every-night crap that NFL players do. Fuck that. I still love food and I LIKE it that way. People who don't love food are fucked in the head.
11. I exercised, but that hardly mattered. I did 45 minutes of cardio five days a week. But I've been doing that for 14 years now. I also started doing hundredpushups.com around the 220-pound mark. But really, the only thing that mattered was that I ate less, and within a daily routine that I could get used to. (NOTE: But by all means, exercise anyway. It helps you not feel like crap.)
12. I took a fiber supplement. Metamucil: Poop Yourself Thin!
So that's what I did. And what I found, other than it worked for me, was that I now enjoy what I eat WAY more than before. Before, I didn't even think about what I was eating. I just shoveled that shit in. I couldn't even tell you what I'd eaten that day. But now, because I'm eating less, I can remember precisely what I ate that day and look back on it fondly. Oh, that sausage was good. So very good.
I also found that posting my weight has helped me keep the weight off, because I don't want to gain it all back publicly and feel like a fucking dipshit. Also, if the weight spikes because I went overboard one day (fucking kiddie birthday parties), I now know I have a program I can stick to to get it back down, and in relatively short order. I'll never stop loving food, or struggling to resist fourth helpings, but that's just how it goes. I'll always have the soul of a morbidly obese person. Maybe the way I lost the weight isn't useful to you. But weighing yourself every day and not keeping that weight to yourself goes a long way to helping you stick with whatever method you're using.
So that's the Public Humiliation Diet. If you're trying to lose weight, I applaud you and wish you nothing but the best of luck. And if you're the kind of person who can stay skinny no matter how much you eat or what you eat, I hope you fucking die in a fire.