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Last year I ran into a friend of mine at a conference and was shocked to see how he’d lost over 20 Kg since the last time we’d met. It came around a time when I was feeling genuinely unhappy with my appearance and wanted to try losing weight. Having weighed at some point in my life 125 Kg and having dropped down to 73 Kg over the interval of a few years, I knew it was possible. Seeing him just gave me the motivation to try again.

It’s been now over a year. I started my diet back in May 2011, weighing 104 Kg and in January reached my target weight of 74 Kg. Since then I’ve not been dieting but I have been aiming to maintain by weight.

Losing so much weight over a relatively short period of time and running into friends you’ve not see for a few months often raises the question of “WTF happened to you?”, after the initial “Dude, I didn’t want to comment on your weight loss cause I thought you might be sick or something”. Having quite a few people interested in how I accomplished it, I’ve finally decided to write it down.

In this world of warnings and CYA’s, let me make it absolutely clear that I am not recommending you follow this approach and by no means am I qualified to be giving people advice on how to lose weight.

So how did I do it?

I’ll cut to the chase and save on all the fluff. I went on a low-carb diet for about 6 months, shedding a lot of weight. This was from around May to October. I literally cut down all carbs out of my diet and starting counting around 20 to 40 grams of carb per day. This means pretty much anything that contains wheat, sugars, etc. The only thing I did not cut out was beer. Yes I know. Ironic. I still enjoyed a glass or two of beer when traveling.

After 6 months I started re-introducing carbs at a very slow pace. My weight loss starting slowing down but it did not stop. I still did not use sugar or eat anything that contained high amounts of sugar such as cakes, et al. but I did start eating more fruit and gradually introduced carbohydrates that are high in fiber.

From January onwards, I’ve entered into maintenance mode. This means that I regularly now eat carbs and get my daily dosage of fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. In general keep a balanced diet.

Key factors that I feel have helped me

  • I no longer eat chocolates or cakes or any kind of pastry that is rich in carbs / sugar.
  • I do not eat any kind of snacks that has high carbs such as crisps
  • I did not increase my intake of fats. A lot of low-carb diets tell you to eat large amounts of fat. I tried to keep my fat intake low
  • I still eat bread, pasta and rice, but I try and make sure it's wholewheat. It has the same amount of carbs, but digests better so apparently less is retained by your body (or so they say...remember I'm not a nutritionist). I also limit it to maybe 3 times a week.
  • I try and keep a varied diet. I don't eat the same things for breakfast every day. I alternate.
  • Usually I have a salad for dinner, with some chicken, tuna or some cheese topping. This isn't always the case however. If one day I fancy eating something else I do. Again varied diet.
  • For snacks, when I feel peckish, I eat peanuts, almonds, raisins, apricots (good source of potassium).
  • I don't eat bread with my meals and restrict bread intake to breakfast. You'll find lettuce a great substitute to wrap a hot-dog or burger in.
  • I cut down on sodas and fruit juices, specially bottled. Water is fine.
  • I drink two cups of green tea a day.
  • I weigh myself every day or every other day. I think this helps tremendously in not going down the wrong path again.

Coping with travels and exercise

I travel quite a bit, on and off I’d say every other week. This makes it hard to stick to a diet and also hard to practice a specific sport you’d enjoy. Personally I like playing Paddel Tennis, but unfortunately with my travels it’s hard to do so. I’m not a big fan of jogging and when traveling so much you tend to pack light so taking sport material with you means packing double.

What I do end up doing however is walk a lot. Any chance I get to walk I do. I usually walk to the conference venue, even if it’s a few kilometers away. I try and walk into town as opposed to taking public transport. As I said, any chance I have to walk, I do. It’s also great for sight-seeing.

As for food, well I try and stick to what I’d eat at home and avoid fatty, fast foods which is often difficult while traveling, but not impossible.

This worked for me

I’d like to make it absolutely clear again, that maybe none of what I do might help you and you should definitely check with a doctor before going on any diet. Spefically, low-carb diets can be dangerous if prolonged and should be avoided by people that have kidney and/or liver problems. At least that’s what I’ve read.

My only intention with this post, is that maybe it will inspire others that need to lose weight, much like I was inspired by someone else.