A reader asked if we would mind journaling Rob’s weight-loss journey to provide encouragement for her and anyone else who needed it. I asked Rob how he felt about sharing something so personal in such a public way, and he said he was willing to share in hopes that it would help someone.
In December, 2018, he got weighed at the doctor’s office, as he does monthly. This is our new (since August) primary care physician and is the overall manager of his weight loss journey. He was down another 12 pounds from the last appointment, around Thanksgiving. Since last May, he has lost 67 pounds. If we go back to last January, the number of pounds lost is even higher. Every doctor weighs him, and they all have different scales. No matter which scale you look at, though, it is apparent that he has lost a great deal of weight!
Rob has always struggled with his eating habits and his weight. He has always put more effort into taking care of those around him than he has in taking care of himself. He also struggles with emotional eating. Last spring, he was informed that the chronic pain in his lower back was actually originating in his left hip. X-rays were taken, shots were given, and nothing worked. He was informed he would need a full hip replacement, but they would not approve him for surgery until he lost 120 pounds.
They recommended that he get bariatric surgery for a gastric bypass, lose weight, and then they would do the surgery. He has gone to the classes for the bariatric surgery and they highly recommend that each person think long and hard about that option, as it is permanent. He is keeping that door open and following the guidelines they are laying out in regards to check-ups and other things on the list they require before that surgery would be allowed. However, he decided he really wanted to see what he could do with weight-loss before he would take that super-serious step. And, then, not long ago, the bariatric doctor stated that she would want him to lose each and every pound he needs to lose BEFORE she would clear him for the hip surgery. That would be far more than 120 pounds! Wait, What? He’s in constant, agonizing pain each and every day. So, clearly, that pushed that option down to the bottom of the list. He is doing what they ask, though, in case he cannot lose the 120 pounds in the end by himself. Then, he would have to use that option, because he has to have relief from this pain. We hoped it would ease off with the weight loss, but in fact, he’s getting worse each month.
As life often does, ours took a turn when his contract was not renewed at the school district and his job ended last spring. He had worked that job for 2 years, and it was on a 1-year contract each time, always with the understanding that it could end each June. When it all came down to it, he didn’t really want to do another identical job in another school, so we looked at other options. We spent the summer figuring out what we were doing with insurance, a job, etc., and he just watched what he ate–not worrying too much about it, but losing a few pounds here and there. Once our life was in rhythm again, and we got our new doctor (because the old one was not covered on our new insurance), he started working away in earnest on this project. So, most of the 67 pounds have been lost since August/September, 2018.
He has been asked for his “magic secrets.” I wish it was otherwise, and I hate to tell you this, but there are none! It has been lots and lots of work, but he prevailed and he’s losing weight slowly and steadily, just as the doctor wants him to. This is what is working for him:
- When he met with the new doctor last fall, she asked him to start tracking every bite that went into his mouth on a phone app. He uses “Lose It.” He has been faithful with it. For months, he has faithfully and consistently entered all of his daily food into his app. The app says he can eat over 2,000 calories a day and lose the weight he wants to. He can’t. He is a very tall man, but is unable to move freely and exercise easily because his left hip is completely ruined and he needs full hip replacement. Most days, he eats from 1,300 to 1,500 calories.
- In the daily calorie count, he allows himself a few treats such as a small square of brownie, a 1/2 can of full-sugar Coke, or 1-2 bites of a less-than-healthy food that he likes such as home-made macaroni and cheese.
- He eats lots and lots of salads and veggies. It was easier when the garden was going strong, but he cooks home-canned green beans frequently and I buy salad stuff every week. One thing I do is check the marked-down rack at Fred Meyers and often get mushrooms, tomatoes, and other veggies for $1/bag, which we need to eat quickly. He loves to stir-fry mushrooms with garlic salt from a grinder and eat a big pile of them. He eats veggies at almost every meal. I make veggie-loaded soups as well. He often makes salad his dinner–and tops it with everything from pickles beets to tuna to cucumbers to feta cheese and so on.
- He is eating lower-carb than before. He eats lettuce wrapped hamburgers, tuna salad on lettuce instead of bread, taco fillings without the tortilla, etc. He is not eating paleo or keto–just less carbs. He still eats an occasional potato, some corn, or a piece of bread once in a while–he just counts in the calories.
- He has cut out almost all dessert from his diet. He does not enjoy artificial sweeteners, so has a small amount of real sugar occasionally, instead of lots of artificially sweetened foods or drinks. He does have artificially sweetened things on occasion–just not often. We tried ice cream with sugar alcohol in it, but didn’t really enjoy it much and returned to very infrequent, small scoops of the “lite” ice creams. To give a clear picture, he’s still on the 2nd of 2 cartons I bought last September and he had help with the first one.
- He drinks coffee with a small amount of 1/2 and 1/2 and sugar–1 per day, and makes his own so he can regulate what he puts in it. We buy coffee to-go cups and lids from Cash and Carry so he can take it with him. 2 of his good friends just gave him metal cups for hot drinks. He’s been using those lately. He makes his own smoothies with fruit, milk or almond milk, and frozen banana chunks and whatever else he wants, like vanilla or cinnamon. He might add a tiny bit of sugar, or not, according to how sour the berries are. He made Starbucks so disappointed in him that they took away his Gold Star Status. For reals. I guess he will use that money he has saved for new pants one of these days:)
- He eats lots of protein. He has protein at each meal. Most breakfasts are eggs. He usually fries some ham, sausage, or bacon with them, and often sautés mushrooms, peppers or onions with them as well. He does omelets with cheese and some of those veggies. You may ask how he can eat bacon and cheese and lose all that weight. He controls his portions. A little cheese works for him–it gives him the flavor he wants without too many calories. Bacon is always cut in half so 1 strip becomes 2 strips at our house. He eats a smaller portion that way. Extra bacon is cut into small pieces and used on salads or in a scramble another day.
- He tells himself that no foods are off limits–he just has to count them and write them down. He uses real butter and 2% milk, regular yogurt, and regular cheese . He simply eats less of them than he did before.
- He does what exercise he can. It’s not much right now. He goes to the pool and moves his arms and legs as the physical therapist instructed him to do. They admit it will not help the hip–nothing but surgery will–but it will strengthen his core and help his body be stronger since it has to compensate for the bad hip. He did the 6 weeks of physical therapy the insurance covered. He was glad to learn exercises he could do. He still walks around as he can. Every little bit helps.
It’s really working, as you can see! He is far from done, but I’m so proud of his progress so far.