Now, for the First Time Ever! My Weight Loss Secrets … Revealed!

 

shutterstock_325624127For the first time in years, losing weight will not be one of my New Year’s resolutions. After several years piling on the padding, which only accelerated when I started working from home, I’ve lost 38 lbs. in the past 98 days. Gee, Jon — what’s your secret? Read on, for all will be revealed in Five Simple Steps.

Google “weight loss” and you’ll get 232 million hits. Everybody is searching for the silver bullet that will replace their pony-keg belly with six-pack abs. And it seems like half the people who are happy with their size are hawking some miracle diet, high-tech fitness equipment, or psychological trick that will restore anyone to their teenage figure. (All for 18 easy payments of $119.99!)

As most adults have learned, there is no magic formula. But now that I’ve achieved a moderate level of scrawn, and with Peter’s prompting, I wanted to share my counter-intuitive observations about shedding pounds.

1. Every diet works.
 South Beach, Jenny Craig, Atkins, Paleo, Medifast, Zone, Modified Zone, Nutrisystem, Jared’s Subway Spectacular — each one of these mainstream diets works like a charm. As will any diet or exercise program that takes in less calories than it expends.
     After failing at a couple of the above plans, I decided that they didn’t work. But now I know that it wasn’t the diets that failed — it was me. If I would have stuck with their program(s), the pounds would have fallen off.
 So read about a few different options and choose the one you think will fit best with your lifestyle. Then choose a second option.

2. Every backup diet works too.
 Say you’re driving to an important meeting and a bad accident blocks your usual route. Do you just go home? No, you use a different route to get to there. If weight loss is an important goal, you’ll act accordingly.
 Since failure is always dispiriting, pick your detour diet ahead of time. Creating this fallback actually helps you stick to your original plan by changing your choices. No longer are you choosing between a protein shake and a DQ Double Mint Oreo Blizzard with Xtreme Spr!nklz. Instead you’re choosing an Isagenix bar or a Paleo meal.

3. No one has ever cheated on a diet.
 You can’t cheat a diet, but you can cheat yourself. If you sneak in a greasy cheesesteak, the diet plan is going to be fine. You are the only one who will suffer since you’re further from your goal. And although we all fall short sometimes, don’t pretend you’re getting away with something.

4. Develop a healthy negative attitude.
 When going through various diets’ promotional literature, I read a lot of happy talk about the various plans. “The food is delicious!” “I was never hungry!” “It’s so easy!”
 Lies all. I don’t care which diet you choose. The food often sucks. You’re desperately hungry, at least early on. And it’s harder than hell to stick to the plan when your friends and family are scarfing down donuts for breakfast and pizza for brunch.
     Obviously, I maintained a positive attitude about achieving my ultimate goal, but I didn’t lie to myself about what a breeze the diet would be. I decided that my food would be a drag for a few months, but the result was worth it. And every time I sort-of enjoyed a lightly seasoned plate of lean meat, organic wild rice, and veggies, it was a pleasant surprise.

5. And finally, the secret to losing weight (and keeping it off): 
You’ll lose weight when you want health more than you want that pile of donuts. 
It’s just that simple — and that difficult. I was overweight for several years and had several failed attempts at lasting weight loss. But it wasn’t the fault of the diet, my metabolism, genes, body type, or anything else. There was no rare medical condition that was keeping the pounds on. I just didn’t want to lose weight as much as I wanted another plate of buffalo wings.

I could list 20 more tips and tricks that helped me along with way, and I’ll probably add a few in the comments. But ultimately I had to make the choice for myself. And once I made that decision, I had little choice but to lose weight.

So, I chose the plan best suited to me and selected a backup plan. I wrote 17 reasons why I wanted to be healthy and read them often when my willpower flagged. I planned my meals days in advance and tracked everything on a fitness app. I gave away my XL clothing like Cortez burned his ships.

And I’ll keep the weight off as long as I opt for health over heartburn.

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  1. Manny Coolidge
    Manny
    @Manny

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    1. Every diet works.
 South Beach, Jenny Craig, Atkins, Paleo, Medifast, Zone, Modified Zone, Nutrisystem, Jared’s Subway Spectacular — each one of these mainstream diets works like a charm. As will any diet or exercise program that takes in less calories than it expends. After failing at a couple of the above plans, I decided that they didn’t work. But now I know that it wasn’t the diets that failed — it was me. If I would have stuck with their program(s), the pounds would have fallen off. So read about a few different options and choose the one you think will fit best with your lifestyle. Then choose a second option.

    That’s a really good insight.  I like that.  Thanks.

    • #1
  2. Max Ledoux Coolidge
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Congrats, Jon! Now you just need to market your diet plan. You could call it the Gabriel Method. Oh… Wait…

    http://www.thegabrielmethod.com

    • #2
  3. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    Max Ledoux:Congrats, Jon! Now you just need to market your diet plan. You could call it the Jon Gabriel Method. Oh… Wait…

    http://www.thegabrielmethod.com

    I often get followers on Facebook who think I’m that diet guru. Wow, are they disappointed! But, for the record, that guy changed his last name to Gabriel … probably to bask in my reflective glow.

    • #3
  4. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    Well done, Jon. I have a three step program: Cut enriched carbs and sugar, walk as much as possible, ignore the new Chick-fil-A in Manhattan.

    • #4
  5. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Or you could read news all day and sweat it off.

    • #5
  6. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    I wonder if I have time to squeeze in a greasy cheesesteak before dinner?

    • #6
  7. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    Willpower.  It always comes down to that.  Where’s my pizza…?

    • #7
  8. John Davey Member
    John Davey
    @JohnDavey

    Wait: Are you suggesting that the infamous ExJon Mug was filled with…water?

    Guess I’ll have to fill my ExJon mug with water as well.

    (Congrats on the hard work and the results!)ExJon Mug from the ExJon Store

    • #8
  9. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Or you could become a lawyer.  Lawyers are often thin because cocaine boosts your metabolism.

    • #9
  10. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    My favorite insight was realizing that as good as carbs can be, if you don’t try to maximize the protein and fat in your diet, you’ll be constantly hungry. That and carbs are terrible for your arteries. (They raise triglycerides which are an indicator for how much actual bad cholesterol, only a part of LDL .)

    So while it might be incredibly sad to minimize french fries and breads, it’s heartening (no pun intended) to replace them with butter and stake.

    • #10
  11. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Every diet works.

    Except it’s not true, and there’s a great deal of scientific research demonstrating that it’s not true.  Some work better than others, and are more maintainable than others.

    Weight gain and loss are primarily hormonal problems, not calorie problems.  Again, there’s a great deal of research to back this up.

    If you are on a diet that is fighting your hormones, then it will not be sustainable.

    The key factor is hunger.  If your diet leaves you hungry all the time, you will fail unless you have superhuman will power.  Most don’t.

    Here’s anonymous’s post on going from a calorie-restricted “diet”—his own—to a proper healthy diet.  Yes, he lost weight, but it’s the rest of the changes that are important.

    Continued…

    • #11
  12. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Continued:

    “…Anyway, I found this sufficiently persuasive that a year ago I decided to give it a try, and now it’s time to review the results. I consider them remarkable. First of all, shortly after eliminating the non-paleo foods from my diet, my blood pressure dropped from the low yellow right into the middle of the green range and has remained there ever since. I have seen a downward bias in my weight which didn’t exist before and, in fact, without any deliberate intention, my weight today is 6 kg less than it was a year ago. … I feel great: after a couple of months almost all of the perceptible symptoms of chronic inflammation are gone, along with just about every other complaint of growing old. The persistent skin irritation from low humidity during the winter, which I’ve experienced since the 1990s, is gone. Nine months after the change-over to paleo, I had the first blood work done since before. The doctor went so far as to shake my hand and say, “I’ve never seen a blood panel like this for somebody your age. You have the blood of a 35 year old man.” Works for me. …”

    • #12
  13. David Sussman Contributor
    David Sussman
    @DaveSussman

    Congrats Jon! Lifestyle also plays a role. Ie: I used to travel about 3 weeks a month… If you don’t plan ahead and bring “snacks” (healthy ones) with you then all is lost. Airport/hotel food kills any diet no matter how disciplined you are.

    • #13
  14. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    It’s all true. In addition I suggest cultivating an adult palate and building muscle mass.

    Fast food is for kids. I take a mommy tax of a couple fries, but otherwise I don’t eat the stuff.

    Also, as my (fitness nut) dad used to say, “it’s vital to have the right tools.” I just reheated and crisped a few ounces of roast chicken breast in an air fryer. Combined with an Asian salad consisting of mixed greens, shredded carrots, sliced Brussels sprouts and chopped snow peas, I couldn’t be more satisfied. Delicious!

    Someone here recommended the Spiralizer as well. Spiral cut “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) are a fantastic substitute for pasta in Asian or Italian dishes. Even the kids eat them.

    Muscle burns more calories. It’s worth the 30 minutes of regular vigorous exercise to be able to eat some Dove chocolate occasionally.

    Congrats, Jon! Well done.

    • #14
  15. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Mike H: So while it might be incredibly sad to minimize french fries and breads, it’s heartening (no pun intended) to replace them with butter and stake.

    High fiber, eh?

    • #15
  16. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    A friend shared a meme the other day that said “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels. Except beer. Beer tastes like healthy can go [expletive] itself.” It’s not beer for me, but many, many foods (and drinks) that taste way better than I can even imagine healthy feeling.

    • #16
  17. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    But how do you plan to keep it off?

    “Diet” has two meanings:  (1) A crash course of drastic change in nutrient intake to bring about rapid weight loss, and (2) the normal slate of foods that one eats over the long term.  (It also refers to the Japanese parliament, but that’s not important right now.)

    Isn’t the key really “diet” in the second sense, rather than the first?  If one’s “#2” is poor (please, no scatalogical jokes), it will quickly undo the progress one achieved through “#1”.

    • #17
  18. Max Ledoux Coolidge
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    I don’t think I eat enough to put on weight. I’m not anorexic, mind you.

    • #18
  19. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Arahant:

    Mike H: So while it might be incredibly sad to minimize french fries and breads, it’s heartening (no pun intended) to replace them with butter and stake.

    High fiber, eh?

    Good for the heart.  Unless you’re a vampire.

    • #19
  20. Al French Moderator
    Al French
    @AlFrench

    I swear by MyFitnessPal app.  It helped me lose 17 pounds in 4 months, and keep it off.

    • #20
  21. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Here’s a nice post on the topic:

    The Diet Trap

    Phil Maffetone is a highly successful endurance coach.  He’s trained champions in a variety of different sports using a simple, practical approach.

    • #21
  22. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    Wait, you mean there isn’t One Weird Trick?

    • #22
  23. Pilli Inactive
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    Another tip is to set a realistic goal for your weight loss.

    While many diets proclaim that you can lose 10 lbs the first week that is extremely hard to sustain. What usually happens is that week 2 sees very little weight loss.

    A more realistic goal of losing a few pounds each month (maybe 4 to 6) is much more likely to happen.  It may take longer than you would first wish but meeting goals is a great incentive.

    • #23
  24. Charles Shunk Inactive
    Charles Shunk
    @CharlesShunk

    I’ve lost 40 lbs. in the past 4 months, and my experiences very much mirror what Jon has said.  For me, the motivator was the doctor telling me that although I wasn’t diabetic *quite* yet, my blood sugar levels were borderline.

    I have to give a plug for the Withings internet-enabled scale.  For me, a constant 2 lbs. per week goal has worked best, and the feedback offered by daily weighing has been a great.

    I’ll also give another plug for Atkins.  I *believe* that cutting out carbohydrates has diminished the worst of the cravings that losing weight necessarily entails. YMMV.

    • #24
  25. Duane Oyen Member
    Duane Oyen
    @DuaneOyen

    Everything Jon says is true, as is Charles’ comment about blood sugar and the benefits of chopping carbs (which almost killed this lover of breadstuffs and potatoes).

    But you need a motivator, a reward system to help you eschew the bad stuff.  A good wife is very important, and the gender feminists are counterproductive.  Why?

    • #25
  26. Brandon Phelps Member
    Brandon Phelps
    @

    I don’t much pay attention to my diet, I just work out like 4 times a week really hard for about 45 minutes. So that I don’t have to pay attention to my diet. But your point is still true. (I’m 39)

    • #26
  27. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Pilli:Another tip is to set a realistic goal for your weight loss.

    While many diets proclaim that you can lose 10 lbs the first week that is extremely hard to sustain. What usually happens is that week 2 sees very little weight loss.

    A more realistic goal of losing a few pounds each month (maybe 4 to 6) is much more likely to happen. It may take longer than you would first wish but meeting goals is a great incentive.

    Actually, high initial weight loss is a good predictor of success over the long term.

    “…Larger initial weight losses and longer duration of maintenance were associated with better long-term outcomes….”

    Weight-Loss Maintenance for 10 Years in the National Weight Control Registry

    • #27
  28. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    The King Prawn:A friend shared a meme the other day that said “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels. Except beer. Beer tastes like healthy can go [expletive] itself.” It’s not beer for me, but many, many foods (and drinks) that taste way better than I can even imagine healthy feeling.

    As I shared a few times on Twitter over the past few months, “Skinny doesn’t feel as good as pizza tastes.”

    • #28
  29. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    Johnny Dubya:But how do you plan to keep it off?

    “Diet” has two meanings: (1) A crash course of drastic change in nutrient intake to bring about rapid weight loss, and (2) the normal slate of foods that one eats over the long term. (It also refers to the Japanese parliament, but that’s not important right now.)

    Isn’t the key really “diet” in the second sense, rather than the first? If one’s “#2” is poor (please, no scatalogical jokes), it will quickly undo the progress one achieved through “#1”.

    Keeping it off is crucial, which I plan to do by very slowly integrating more calories, but keeping the vast majority of those healthy. It turns out I like brown rice as much as white (this proves I’m not a rice racist), and like the sprouted wheat bread more than that bleached Wonder bread stuff.

    I have also been exercising through it all and will step that up. Not only is it good for my body, it brings even better results to my mind.

    • #29
  30. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Ryan M:Or you could become a lawyer. Lawyers are often thin because cocaine boosts your metabolism.

    Yeah, but the anti-depressants counter the effect.

    • #30
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