In 2002 / 2003 I was 185/190 lbs, I worked out at 24 hour fitness, eat well, blended protein shakes, cooked healthy, had a fun group of friends, I was training a friend for a tough man championship, I was an actor, a rapper and a promoter, and lived a pretty good life. This is what I looked like when I met my ex. The first photo is from when I was rapping, the second is from the play I was doing with a traveling theater group in 2002, the others were taken within the first month or two of dating during the summer of 2003.
Before I was married I weighed 185/195lbs. They say everything is bigger in Texas. Between living in Texas and marriage I had put on 80lbs during my marriage. Loosing weight after years of being overweight, especially when you have stress / cortisol dump belly fat, is harder than gaining it. This picture is from 2002. I didn't meet my ex until 2003. This picture was taken in the Swiss Alps. If I could loose the last stubborn 20-30lbs I would be happy with my weight.
When I was married, I gained weight until I was overweight around 260/265 lbs much of the time, now I'm consistently around 210/215 lbs. I was 185/190 lbs before I was married. My physical health wasn't good, due to less activity, my ex was aggressively not active. My mental health wasn't good because I was experiencing emotional abuse and gaslighting. I look and feel so much better now. I'm living healthy and feeling good about myself and my life. Marriage didn't look good on me. These pictures were taken between 2003 and 2019.
Since being Single since March 2019, I've felt so much better and looked so much better. I've been living a healthy life, eating good, exercising, taking care of my mental health and being socially active. I have a much better life now. I am thankful for the changes and I enjoy the life I live now. Single looks good on me. This is also why I'm not eager to be in relationship, I don't want to give up this good feeling. All of these pictures are since 2019.
Since 2019 when I was around 260/265 lbs I've lead a much healthier lifestyle and I've consistently stayed around 210/215 lbs. Here's how I've lost and kept off 50 lbs. The key is long term consistency over short term gains and training new neural pathways in the brain changing the pleasure center of the brain from food addiction to healthy lifestyle addiction. The natural highs that will come make it worth it.
Changing how your body processes food requires a lifestyle change not just a fad diet. Understanding the principles behind various diets can help us understand how food helps us loose weight. Note this isn't about following a "fad diet" it's about learning healthy principles of living and eating that make you feel better and help you loose weight.
The first time I did that changed my weight is not food related, it was stress related, stress amps up your biological processes in an unhealthy way. Stress leads to a cortisol dump that leads to the hard belly fat. One of the first ways I brought down stress was to start practicing mindfulness and using the Headspace app guided meditation to help slow my thoughts and heart rate down. Mindfulness is present moment attention without judgement, not worried about the future or regretful of the past. It's being in the moment and present and aware. Self awareness is a key healthy mental health trait that shows emotional intelligence. Secondly I took my mental healthy seriously attended support groups and individual therapy and cut out unhealthy people from my life. And my body started to feel better and I was losing weight at the same time. Stress and depression can be a causation of weight gain. Your mental health does affect weight gain and weight loss. Good mental health leads to your body feeling good and less stress hormones leads to a healthier body. Mind your mind because it minds your body. And being intentional about socializing and connecting with like minded people has also helped with my overall health. Listening to music, taking time to relax and going for walks is helpful for good mental health. Good mental health leads to good overall health. Ending an unhealthy marriage was also a key factor for me having a healthier mind and a healthier life.
Secondly because I live with Chronic Pain I was ordered by a Dr to begin an Allergy Elimination diet, which means cut out, reduce or eliminate foods that create mucus and increase allergies like dairy, tomato sauce and breads / starches, they cause inflammation and bloating and when you cut them out, or reduce intake they can reduce pain in the body and give mental clarity. I have found that reducing or avoiding foods that create bloating and inflammation will greatly increase how you feel. When I started this is began feeling so much better. Less pain in your body also leads to feeling better and better overall health.
Obviously the biggest causation of fat outside of stress and depression are foods that turn into fat the fastest of those are sugar, carbs and alcohol. Try to avoid, minimize or eliminate Sugars, Alcohol and Carbs all turn into fat in the body. That's simple most people understand that.
Next, I stumbled upon what I dubbed The Passover Diet, every year for the 8 days of passover we eliminate things that rise such as wheat, barley, oats, rice, rye and spelt, as well as corn, soybeans, legumes, rice, millet or other grains. To me this appeared to be the first gluten free diet, in a way. The thing I noticed is every year I'd loose a couple pounds, feel a little better and have mental clarity. It wasn't until I realized that breads and starchy food cause weight gain and bloating that it made sense.
Another method of weight loss is reducing how much food you eat, one method is Intermittent fasting going 12 hours between meals, and what I would cheekily refer to as "Eat Like A Spaniard." I stumbled upon intermittent fasting when I was visiting Spain and came to realize they didn't eat a heavy breakfast, instead it was more just coffee and something light like crackers, they had a big lunch and small dinner. They have an olive oil and wine rich diet. Red Grapes is a good rich in MCT oils and olive oil is another healthy food. You find that the Spanish are tall and thinner due to their diet, activity levels and lower stress levels. I was there during Santa Semana, a whole week the entire nation takes off from work collectively. Full time work for them is 32 hours a week. Lower stress and better eating leads to a healthier life. Skipping one meal and eating 2 meals a day instead of three can be a way to reduce caloric intake. Eating smaller portions, such as portion control, can also help. Also taking a siesta after you eat a big lunch allows your stomach to process food and you don't go back to work with the post lunch food hangover that many experience. Eating a big lunch and smaller dinner allows your body to process food better and makes falling asleep in the evening easier when you don't have larger food portions in your gut. And good sleep lends to better mental health. Having a sleep routine can help you fall asleep better along with not eating within 2 hours of going to sleep.
I also follow a Paleo / Mediterranean diet, essentially each meal should have fruits and vegetables and a protein, like fish and chicken, which are good sources of protein, reduce the amount of red meat intake and avoiding breads. Also fish oils are really good for you. Essential this is Eating Clean / natural foods, avoid the processed food, avoid fast food and fried foods. Shop the outside of the grocery store, buy the fruits and vegetables and protein sources, avoid the processed foods found in the middle aisles. This means getting a protein style burger without a bun instead a burger in a bun or a lettuce wrap instead of a sandwich.
Also I take a table spoon of Apple Cider Vinegar daily which helps with appetite suppression that can add in helping to burn fat. I do this in the morning. Eating foods that suppress the appetite along with drinks at least a gallon of water a day is a key to a healthy diet as well and helps prevent over eating.
Then for Breakfast I have fruits / vegetable / breakfast shakes / coffee and yogurt. I may occasionally add a hard boiled egg for protein (to make it Paleo), generally like they do in Spain I try to avoid intaking large amounts of food before lunch. The meals that I have protein along with are lunch and dinner. I do a small lunch and bigger dinner versus the big lunch and small dinner. I'm american it's hard to break habits sometimes.
Eating Foods that have MCT Oil, suck as dark berries like blueberry, boysenberry, elderberry, pomegranates and even strawberries release ketones that lead to caloric bypass better than the keto diet does. Some studies show many people on the Keto diet are not in Ketosis they are simply depriving themselves food they crave but when they go back to those foods they gain more weight than before. Studies also show the keto diet is good short term but in the long term it can have side effects if you don't replace some of the nutrients you are depriving yourself. Everyday in the morning I have a breakfast with strawberries, peaches, nectarines and yogurt is my only meal before lunch. And then a liquid diet drinking plenty of water. Find natural foods that you like for me my go to is peaches and nectarines. My son loves apples, he'll eat 4 a day.
Having a healthy gut biome to help better digest and process food. Doing a cleanse can help clean out your gut biome. But also eating probiotics can help maintain a good gut along with better digestion this is one of the reasons I eat Greek and probiotic yogurt for breakfast along with berries which is good for you. That and high fiber content foods and slow cooked oats, not instant oatmeal which is essentially the same as eating sugary cereals.
Exercise is important to creating muscle mass that burns fat. However I've done all of my weight loss mostly by lifestyle and diet change and to be honest haven't worked out at the gym as consistently as I would like. I do hike, paddle board and train in Martial Arts regularly, staying active does help loose weight and keep it off. Start of 3 days a week with 30 minutes of sweet inducing physical activity and work it up to 5 days a week of 60 minutes activity, is what my Dr advised.
As far as cheat days, it's okay to occasionally relax your diet for a meal once a week if you desire with little impact. But also changing your diet to include healthy snacks you like can be a lot more beneficial. The key is not to stress about you eating habits because that stress is unhealthy. Also meal prepping can help and be beneficial to fight the urge during the work week when you don't have the energy to cook and avoid the unhealthy fast food habits. Also if you are in a crunch finding food that you can order that are healthier for you, not deep fried or heavily processed, a juice, a wrap, a protein burger, or something along those lines. Just note that eating unhealthy takes work, but work your conditioned to do when your tired and feeling lazy. The same amount of effort can be applied to finding healthy alternatives. However our fast food instant fix society doesn't always lend itself to making healthy choices.
All of these methods are healthy lifestyle choices on their own, as I've put it all together and I follow a stricter diet it's helped me overcome depression and PTSD, get through a painful divorce, get to a better place in life and feel better about myself. I continue to feel better and better as long as I keep working the principles of healthy living that I've learned. Living a healthy lifestyle is about making healthy life choices and changing the way we think about ourselves, our life choice and even how we eat. Eating healthy has helped my mental health. During this time with the guidance of my doctor I was able to stop taking prescription medication for PTSD and depression. It's been great taking my life back by making healthy lifestyle choices. Changing how you shop, eat and think can help with your overall health.