A couple days before my 30th birthday, I stood on the scale.

It wasn’t an unusual thing for me to do. Even though I’d gained about 100 pounds over the 5 years leading up to that moment, I still had a scale that I used regularly – well, monthly. I wasn’t surprised by the number above my toes, but I was kind of over it.

When I was in my early twenties, turning 30 was always kind of a joke. Deathday, the end of my life, etc. I posted this every year for four years leading up to my 30th:

Gotta love South Park.

Anyway, for the first time in my life, I saw that number – 360 pounds – and felt like I could do better. I had been perfectly happy at 350, and 340, and 300, and 250. My self-esteem and happiness and ability to live my life wasn’t tied up in my weight, but at that point, I kind of realized it was either time to make a change, or settle in for another 30 years of slow fading mobility.

I looked at the places I wanted to go, and the clothes I wanted to wear, and the goals I wanted to achieve, and thought, 30 is gonna be it.

Aside from one very colorful year spent at the age of 22, turning 30 was the best thing to happen to me.

On my birthday, I watched Wonder Woman, and then came home and ate three cupcakes. I remember looking at each one as I ate it, and thinking, what the hell do I get out of this experience that I’m missing somewhere else in my life? I didn’t have an answer for that question, but that didn’t deter me from my plan.

The next day I started to log my calories in MyFitnessPal. That night, I set off on a sweaty, red-faced jaunt around the neighborhood. I left my house at 11PM, and did a 8-block circuit over the course of about 25 minutes. By the time I got home, my legs hurt, my breathing was severe, but I felt more alive than I had in years.

On the left is the first ever exercise I logged on Strava. It left me out of breath, sweaty, and sore. On the right is an average nightly walk for me, only six months after that first walk.

Over the next year, I navigated the strange, sometimes lateral path of weight loss.

In total, I lost 120 pounds between June 2017 and June 2018. I still have about 60, maybe 70 left to lose, and that’s something I plan to do in 2019. In the meantime, I’m going to share the three things that worked really well for me during that initial 120 pound drop.

1. MyFitnessPal

100%, without a doubt, could not have lost more than a pound or two without MyFitnessPal. It’s very accessible (free and multi-platform) and has a pretty easy learning curve. For the first six months – and for the majority of my loss – I gave myself a daily limit of 1200 calories. I’m six feet tall, so this was a pretty severe cut for me. Prior to this, I had been eating about 3000 to 4000 calories a day to maintain the weight I was at. Gotta love carbs and sugar for every meal.

2. Eating low cal, high volume foods

I wasn’t hungry at 1200. Because I had a concrete number to stick to, I had to make my calories stretch. I generally ate 6 smaller meals a day rather than just one or two big ones – that’s what worked for me, but it might work differently for you. In a future post I’ll share some of my meal plans, but my general “recipe” for a snack was: one protein that came in around 100-150 cals (an egg, tofu, tuna, etc) and a whole shit-ton of low cal, high volume veg (spinach, lettuce, cucumber, etc).

3. Walk far and walk often

For the first year of my weight loss, I went for a 5km walk every night, without fail. I went when it was raining, the one night a year it snowed (west coast yo) and on the days I really wanted to do anything OTHER than walk. I used Strava to track my exercise, and I did that for two reasons. First, you can sync Strava to MyFitnessPal, which was handy, and second, I liked to see my progress as the weeks went by. The first time I went for a walk, I went 1km in 30 minutes, and I was dying by the time I rolled back home. Within three months, I could comfortably walk 5km in about 50 minutes.

So that’s where I’m at now! I still have around 60 to 70 pounds left to lose, which I’m planning to document right here. If you want to follow along, make sure you add me on Feedly.

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