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I have been on a quest to return to my college weight for about two years now. I have just attained that goal, and I am pretty darned satisfied with myself.

I would like to share with the community how I did it. You might be surprised. More over the jump.

I will be 42 next month. I am loving my 40's, so far. My 30's, well, that was a different story all together. I spent the bulk of my 30's with a man seven years younger than I, tall and skinny. We had real attraction to each other, even when I put on weight. I met him when I was 30, and still pretty slim. Over the years, for a variety of reasons, I put on quite a bit of weight. I am not a tall guy, and have a naturally stocky build (my driver's license says I am five feet eight inches tall, which is only true if I am wearing shoes with an inch of sole). From pretty much my college weight at 30 and a 31 inch waist, I put on enough poundage to have been wearing waist size 40 by 38. I was uncomfortable. Miserable, actually.

After my ex partner and I broke up, I decided that I needed to handle my weight. I also knew that at my age, doing it quickly would be not only a disaster, but unhealthy. So I set about it slowly and methodically, and I'll admit it: with only as much exercise as I could stand apart from the natural physical work I do looking after my island home such as hauling in the boat and cutting, splitting and stacking wood and clearing brush.

Here's an arty picture of commonmass taken when I was about 25 in my brother's art studio.

Photo: Radek Skrivanek

I did not "diet". In fact, I eat exactly what I want to, just less of it. I even have my cocktails every night. Less, though, is more. That is exactly how I managed, methodically, over two and a half years, to get myself back into a waist size 32, improve my overall health, stave off creeping sleep apnea and diabetes, and regain my self-respect.

Here is a recent picture of commonmass, older but in a better state of fitness than I have been in in ten years; you can never look 25 again, though:

Some Tips On Sensible Non-Dieting Weight Loss

First, take a long view. Set the goal way down the road, especially if you are over 30. Here are some things I did, besides being somewhat physically active for practical reasons:

--Always eat breakfast. Have some protein, too. I like a poached or boiled egg. I take my coffee black, and when I have tea, with milk but no sugar. Fruit and yoghurt are a nice addition, too.

--Eating between meals can be avoided best if you don't deny yourself foods that if eaten in excess would defeat your goals. Avoiding certain foods is an invitation to binge when the willpower fails, and if you eat a little ice cream or some other sweet from time to time, you will be less likely to binge on it when you just can't take it anymore.

--Eat Meat! Use real butter! A little goes a long way, and your body will thank you for giving it what it needs.

--If you drink alcohol: take it into consideration when you plan dinner. I tend to eat fewer carbs in the evening, because I take a couple of cocktails before dinner. If you like to have a drink or two in the evening, adjust dinner accordingly. I would rather have a couple of martinis or a couple of gin and tonics (diet tonic, of course) than a heaping serving of potatoes in the evening. I have also found that a couple of drinks in the evening are relaxing and fortifying. I am not advocating drinking, but if you do, keep that in mind at dinner time.

--Avoid processed foods. Enough said.

--Go out to dinner once in a while. I went every Monday for a couple of years to a Mexican restaurant I liked and ate what I liked. I had my fix (and my two Margaritas) and it decreased my cravings throughout the rest of the week.

These are just some thoughts, but it has worked for me and I feel really good having reached my goal in a way that I am convinced I can maintain my weight and I am certainly healthier for it. Plus, I get chatted up by cute guys when I stop by the local watering hole for a pint or two (I gave up beer for a year, and I recommend that).

So, friends, thanks for indulging me. I feel really good. Now, if I could only give up cigarettes, I'd be golden....

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