How I went from 200lbs to 150lbs and loved every minute of it…

My story goes something like this…

I lived the first 34 years of my life like any geek… mostly sitting around, playing video games, watching TV, working at a desk, staying up all night hacking on some cool piece of code that makes other computer geeks like me say “damn that’s cool”…

I am used to pushing myself to the limit… staying awake 72 hours in a row playing Doom till I vomit only to get right back in the chair to take on 12 more straight hours of demons.  I took that same drive and determination to business and my career. I played hard… and when it came to work, it was all fun, so I worked hard too.

But honestly, I was never very physical. So, as you can imagine, I up to grew up to be… and I mean grew out to be… 5’4” and 200lbs with probably 36% body fat. Then one day, I decided to get “fit”… maybe it was a body image thing, maybe it was the doctor who said to me rather dryly “just don’t get any more overweight”, but probably it was because of some advice I got that becoming more physically active would help balance my overactive imagination and drive to do more better faster in work and business.

It seemed like good advice, but it took me changing jobs to have enough of a break in the routine to start on this new endeavour. So when I left RealNetworks after 8 years to join Revenue Science, I took a short break, joined a 24 hour gym near my home, and started myself on a new diet and exercise regimen.

I basically lost weight the old fashioned way… fewer calories in… more calories out.

My diet consisted of essentially 1200-1500 calories a day. That’s low, trust me… I was always hungry. And interestingly enough, I was also often very cold. 

Since I am a father of 2 with a loving wife who works hard to keep our house running smoothly I didn’t want to burden her with making special food for me when we sat down at the dinner table to eat as a family.  This meant trying to reduce my calories as much as possible for breakfast and lunch and then keeping myself in check at the dinner table.

The first thing I did was cut cheese out of my diet. You see, I love cheese. I would each cheese for 100% of my caloric intake if I could get away with it. I probably eat cheese in every meal. It tastes so good! I can’t resist it. But the fact of the matter is, it’s not good for me… certainly not at the levels I was eating. So I knew I had to go cold turkey on the cheese.

Second, I found a couple of simple meals that I could make easily, and that I liked, and that were low calorie. And I stuck with them. I had a repertoire of about 4 different breakfasts and 4 different lunches, but honestly I settled into two regulars.

For breakfast I usually ate a high fiber, low calorie, high protein “egg on muffin sandwich”. I found some ingredients and a “recipe” for preparing this at under 200 calories.  High fiber english muffin (100 cals), 1/4 cup egg whites (30 cals), spinach or kale chopped and mixed in to the egg whites, sliced ultra-lean turkey deli meat (50 cals), and some mustard or lite-mayo to taste.

For lunch I usually are a salad that I would either make at home or recreate at a local deli salad bar. This salad was usually: romaine lettuce, baby tomatoes, sliced baby carrots, celery, tuna fish, fat-free cottage cheese, and edemami. For a dressing I would make a very light vinaigrette. I usually made this salad with a total of about 250 calories, mostly in the tuna fish, cottage cheese, and edemami; which are all great sources of protein and healthy fats (at least the tuna fish and edemami are).

So by dinner time, I had consumed about 450-500 calories; and I have 600-1000 available to remain under my goal. I would come home and have dinner with the family. I could usually eat a small helping of whatever they were having and feel confident that I was under my target for the day. I could even afford to have a glass of red wine with dinner if I wanted.

Other bad diet habits I didn’t have to break…

  • Lattes and Mochas and other sweet “coffee” drinks – I am a full blown caffine adict. But furtunately I mostly drink black coffee. No sugar, no cream… I drink coffee hot and cold. I drink it every day all day. And sure, I enjoy a mocha now and again… but I don’t crave it. If you are a mocha freak… then you have to cut these kinds of calories out of your diet if you want to lose weight… they taste good, but they have no redeeming nutritional value.
  • Sugar Soda – I just don’t drink high-sugar sodas. Maybe it’s the same reason I’m not drawn to mochas and lattes. I do like Diet Coke. And I will even drink Diet Pepsi. But I just don’t like the taste of regular Coke or Pepsi. Good thing, because these too are huge sources of evil calories. And considering how much iced coffee I drink… if these glasses of fluid had 150 calories per 8 oz, I would be consuming 5000 calories a day alone on soda.

Ok, ok… so now you know what I ate… but what about exercise? Well, I dove into the deep end of exercise too… but for that story you’ll have to read my next post.


15 Responses to “How I went from 200lbs to 150lbs and loved every minute of it…”

  1. beanland Says:

    Wow. What a turn-around. Thanks for posting (honestly) how you did it!

    It really is all about calories-in vs. calories- out.

  2. zappoman Says:

    Yes, indeed, it is all about calories-in vs. calories-out. For what it’s worth… I was always hungry. I just powered through it.

    Three years later, I’ve learned some more things that I would probably change if I was suggesting a better approach. First of all, I’d suggest adding in strength training. I still don’t do enough of this myself today…. as in really any. But I know it would be better for me. Once I got out on the open road with my bicycle, I started building more muscle mass. And spin class made a huge difference in the muscle department also. I didn’t start doing Spin class until a couple years later, but when I did, I leaned up even more. I should probably write a full blog post about that.

  3. Jeremy Reeves Says:

    That’s great that you lost all that weight, even if you did it in a pretty unhealthy manner (so little calories I mean – definitely not good for you)

    I guess you ramped the calories back up since then, since you’re an endurance athlete now?

    I hope so, because you’re killing your chances of running a better marathon if you aren’t eating more carbs! :o)


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    Weigh loss is simple it is like your house economics if you use more calories than you consume tthen you make up the deficit by breaking down your bodies storage.

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