Thursday, December 16, 2010

3 Months In, 25 Pounds Down!

It is three months to the day since I started my self-experiment to lose weight and, as of this morning, I successfully hit my goal of losing 25 pounds. I did this without eating any special foods, without maintaining a special diet, and without doing any special exercise. I simply consumed fewer calories than I burned and, almost magically, the weight slowly disappeared.

I'll let my nearly linear weight-loss graph speak for itself:

My BMI is now well into the normal range and I went from being in the 54th percentile for my height, age, and gender to being in the 23rd percentile. (See how your BMI compares against your demographic here.)

Here's how I did it (and you can too):
  • Download the free iPhone app LoseIt! If you don't have an iPhone/iPod, go to and set-up a free account.
  • Set your target weight loss goal. I recommend one pound a week to start off. That's been my goal all along and was very achievable. It was also a much smaller change to my eating habits than a larger goal would have been. (I often ate less than this, but never felt guilty eating up to my daily limit.)
  • Record every meal and snack you eat, without exception. (When in doubt, make your best guess at what you're eating and err on guessing too high rather than too low.)
  • Record every exercise you do. This includes any five-minute walk or 15-minutes of housework.
  • Unless traveling, record your weight every day.
  • Try your best to stay in the caloric boundaries the LoseIt app give you.
  • Recognize you will go over your budget on some days. This is okay. Make up for it over the next day or two.
  • Commit to coming under your caloric budget on a weekly basis. Even 5 calories under counts. If you go over one week, that's okay. Make up for it over the next week.
Follow this simple procedure and I guarantee you will lose weight.

The beauty of this approach is that it is easily replicable by anyone, with no special tricks or magic formulas that only "the experts" can understand.

A few comments on my experience:
  • There were many days I went over budget.
  • There was never any week I went over budget.
  • I can only attribute just over 3 pounds of my weight loss to exercise. The rest was from reducing the number of calories I eat. Unless you are a professional athlete or in the military, don't expect exercise to be a major contributor to any significant weight loss.
  • Jared was right. Subway has quite a few 6-inch subs that are quite tasty and low calorie. You could easily lose weight eating nothing but these.
  • During this time, I attended many family events, parties, dinners, frequent meals with friends, etc. I never felt the need to skip any social events or avoid any foods throughout this entire process.
  • Just like running a business, balancing a budget, or making scientific advancement, monitoring is absolutely key to this process. Prior to this experiment, I had no gauge of how many calories I was consuming on any given day or any given snack or meal. The beauty of having an iPhone app is that it is always on me and it allowed me nearly instantaneous, real-time feedback on my caloric intake. (There have been numerous meals where I either modified my order or didn't finish the food on my plate after finding out how many calories it represented.)
Below is another graph showing a fairly typical week for me. Notice some days I went over, some days I went under, but the net for my week was negative.

I am more convinced than ever that weight loss involves nothing more than simply consuming fewer calories than you burn. If anyone tries to tell you anything different or more complicated, chances are they are trying to sell you snake oil.

Hypothesis confirmed. Self-experiment = success!


Triya said...

Congratulations Brian! I am glad you were able to achieve your goal. :)

Ali Hasanain said...

Where are the before and after pics?

Unbelievable! Excellent work Brian!