Last week this post hit Hacker News frontpage. It’s about how Justin Angel lost 100lbs (~45kg) in 6 months. The story is quite interesting, though a little extreme.
My ex-wife cheated on me stating that she found me unattractive, that she never loved me and that she was leaving and taking the dog with her.
Nothing like the loss of a dog to provide motivation for extreme action. See also Wick, John.
But what prompted the post you’re reading right now was not Justin’s story. It was the surprising top comment on Hacker News.
Every legitimate long term study of major non surgical weight loss shows that it doesn’t happen for the vast, vast majority of people. It’s basically freakish when succesful in the long term.
… (links to five studies and their descriptions)
Moreover, you won’t find any reputable study on the web where the average person lost 10%+ of their body weight and kept it off for five years. Not even one.
I found it fascinating for an obvious reason. I’ve lost 26kg in 2013 (106.5kg -> 80.5kg). And I still weigh less and I don’t expect to regain that weight.
My motivation to get rid of fat had nothing to do with dogs. I was unhappy about my weight for years. One day it hit me that I should be capable to control this aspect of my life. I had control over a lot of other things, why not my body? Other people seem to be able to do it, why not me?
A nice-to-have became a must-have. Tim Ferriss calls this kind of epiphany “The Harajuku Moment” in his book The 4-Hour Body.
I started my research. I’ve read the aferomentioned book and scoured the internet. I’ve learned that exercise is not a good way to lose weight. Eventually I settled on a really simple diet, inspired by Keto. I did not want to follow complicated rules or count calories. My diet had just one rule: limit carbs as much as possible.
Concentrate on what will produce results rather than on the results, the process rather than the prize.
– Bill Walsh, The Score Takes Care of Itself
I did not view changes in what I eat as short-term. I commited to eating more vegetables and fruits for life. I’ve decided to stop adding sugar to my tea (and discovered its true taste) for life. I became painfully aware of sugar and its siblings in foods I’ve used to consume. That awareness is still with me.
I’ve learned that willpower is a limited resource. I’ve started conserving my willpower. Instead of buying a bar of dark chocolate and saying to yourself “it will last me a week”, I didn’t buy it all. There’s no surer way to deplete yourself than having something you like within your grasp (or in your fridge).
I’ve also bought a scale, put it where I would see it and started stepping up on it every morning. I still do it today. If I eat burgers for a couple of days in row, I get a quick reminder of their downsides. Then it’s only a matter of eating more salads next week.
I believe that these 3 principles made my weight loss a continuous success:
- simple rules.
- creating habits and commitment to long-term changes.
- trackable and visible performance gauge.
These principles can be applied to other kinds of change. For example, when I’ve decided to improve my sleep, I’ve used the same principles.
With them, I hope to continue my healthier life not just for 4 years, but for 40 more years.