I've noticed the recent obesity diaries; presumably they started because of the diary about Governor Christ Christie and his reaction to a doctor saying that he ran a non-trivial risk of dying while in office.
If you are obese and feel good about it, then this diary isn't for you. This diary is about those who are obese and do NOT want to remain that way. I took the liberty of
1. Gathering some statistical facts about obesity (e. g. actual evidence instead of "what everyone knows") and
2. Sharing my journey from weighing 320 pounds (size 52 waist) to 190 pounds (size 34 for waist) and staying a normal size since 1995.
Yes, my story is merely one data point among thousands (millions?) and it is not complicated by unusual medical conditions, food allergies and the like.
More below the fold. Part I is a link to resources and part II is a bit more personal.
Note: I do not claim to have a "one size fits all" answer or even an answer that will work for anyone else. But I did find a pathway out that worked for me, and I decided to share it with those who are interested.
Part I: resources about obesity.
I've chosen articles that have a base of research to them in order to move beyond mere opinion and to avoid cherry picking factoids that "make sense to me".
New England Journal of Medicine: this article is behind a pay wall, (I've linked to the abstract) but if you are a student or faculty member of a university, your library probably has an online subscription to this journal. This article lists:
1. Popular misconceptions (rebutted by the evidence).
2. Popular "notions" which have neither been rebutted nor confirmed by evidence.
3. Popular "notions" which have shown to be true.
National Institute of Health: Obesity Education Initiative.
This outlines many of the risks. Note: the risks are statistical in nature; in other words, being obese means that one's risk for certain maladies are higher than a non-obese person's. This is no guarantee that a fat person will get these conditions nor be inoculated from them by losing weight.
The Scientist Strangely enough, a father's obesity can induce somewhat harmful epigenetic changes in their offspring! I admit that this sounds counterintuitive to me, but I have no training in this field.
I'll start with "before and after" photos. And no, I am NOT "selling" anything! I used no diet industry gimmicks nor did I pay money to quacks; I am careful about what I eat and I do use a "free of charge, non-commercial" support group. And no, I didn't "give my life to deity X"; I remain an outspoken secular atheist. :-)
The reason for the photos: I posted running photos so my clothes can't hide my body. I posted a non-running photo as well. As far as the weight loss: I was 320 pounds when the first photos were taken; I reduced to 185 in 1996 and have stayed mostly between 185-195 the entire time (save a time when I got a stomach flu, etc.)
What happens: I've found that a 53 year old man needs less food than a similarly active 37 year old man. So I'll eat a certain way, then the pants (now size 34, down from 52) start to tighten, i weigh, then I reduce the amount of food on my plan, then the weight comes down. So yes, I eat less now than I did in 1996.
Me in 1992:
Me in 2000
Me in 2012
How I do it and other thoughts
Basically I eat 3 times a day and only set amounts; I completely abstain from foods that set me off (mostly the standard "junk" foods, snacks, sugary items etc.). There was a time when this made me feel deprived...not any longer! I honestly don't miss it.
As far as working out: I work out on most days; I often pick from either:
1. fast walking
3. weight lifting
4. swimming (not lately)
5. yoga (not lately)
However I don't do these activities for weight control. Example: a couple of years ago, I hurt my knee (meniscus tear) and couldn't run; I tried to swim too far with a pull buoy and hurt my rotator cuff. So there was a several month period when all I could do was to walk easily.....and I gained no weight during that period.
Upshot: for me, these are sporting activities; they are part of my "fun". I don't do these for weight loss or for health benefits. These are the times when I can pretend to be an athlete. :-)
I also don't "diet" in terms of "temporary weight loss diet". I just eat moderately at all times, with no "opening of the flood gates" for special occasions. I'd much rather enjoy the company of others and not be held captive by the food.
Why I enjoy being non-obese:
1. stairs are much easier, so is walking to work.
2. clothes are easier to find.
3. seats at concerts and sporting events: no problem!
4. I can safely play sports that I love.
5. I am not out of breath all of the time.
6. I almost NEVER think about food! When I was obese, I thought about food all of the time. I even remember my vacations, in part, by what I ate and where.
7. I don't live with that "stuffed to my throat" feeling all of the time; I don't wake up with food hangovers.
How I got obese
I overate and lied to myself about how much I was eating. Being around normal people was kind of a shock; I didn't know that humans could exist on so little food!
As far as losing weight: I went the "support group" route; it seemed to work for me.
What I did right as an obese person: I still exercised; I lifted weights and I walked. It may have taken me 36 minutes to walk 2 miles (and that was walking as fast as I could!) but I still got it in...and no, I didn't like the cat-calls (and I got a few).