Scale Down Challenge: One Year Later

So it’s been one year since I joined the Scale Down Challenge. I blogged my initial thoughts here but now it’s been a year.

Here’s me before:

and here is me in the same outfit at the end of the challenge

I also included a picture of better fitting clothes since the clothes I wore don’t really fit anymore.

Overall I lost over 60 pounds since the start of the contest. I took off about 40 during the contest, another 12 or so in the 3 months after the contest for a special “keep it off” weigh-in and then finally took off another 10 pounds last month so I could hit June weighing less than I ever did in my adult life. Now even my high school acid wash jeans are too big. I’m 100% committed to keeping it off. I feel too good about myself at my current weight level to go back. My eating habits are healthy and I enjoy working out (more on that later). So the question people always ask is “how did you do it?” Here are my not-so-secret tips:

1) Write down everything you eat – without writing down what you eat
I did Weight Watchers more than once, and while I knew writing things down was important, it was a horrible pain and often embarrassing. Pulling out a paper and pen at lunch just feels weird. With a smartphone, I don’t need to feel embarrassed. Everyone plays with their phone during a meal. I started with the Loseit! app for the iPhone but switched to the Livestrong mealtracker app. The Livestrong app had a database of almost every food. Banh Mi? It’s in there. Matzah Brie? It’s in there. It tracks the calories and nutrients with three easy clicks. Don’t have time to do even that? Take a picture of the meal with your smart phone and tally up later. Tracking serves two purposes. First, it makes you conscious of what you eat. That is a huge help to an unconscious eater like me — WHAT IS THE SECOND THING?

2) Workout your body and mind at the same time

Towards the end I worked out three times a day. Morning when I woke up, before lunch, and then after work or the evenings. Number one question I get asked is “how did you find the time?” I did, but I didn’t. We all have the same 24 hours in the day, so it’s how we spend it. I like watching TV-who doesn’t? When you sit in front of the TV, you are snacking sometimes, and often unconsciously. We put a TV/computer combination in the basement combined with an elliptical. Now I could watch TV and workout at the same time. My brain was focused on the show while my body did its job sweating. Now workouts were no big deal to find the time to do and I wasn’t snacking. Win-Win.

3) Combined workouts and weight loss with something you believe in.

Losing weight for myself wasn’t a motivation. Doing it for others in some ways isn’t a motivator either. I’m happy with who I am, so why change? I said at the beginning that I’d donate the money to a cause I believe in (the Lawrence Humane Society) and that become a strong motivator. I was doing it because of something I believed in.

On that same vein, I joined the challenge as a branding opportunity for my business: DoctorDave Computer Repair. As you can see in the pictures, I wore my DoctorDave shirt to each weigh in. I saw it as a marketing opportunity. I checked into Lawrence Athletic Club on FourSquare and I loved the fact I was the mayor and anyone that checked in saw my logo. I’d read while on the elliptical and I’d leave my magazines at the gym afterwards, but would put my logo on those magazines so others would see my brand. Obviously I couldn’t just drop off the magazines – I could only drop them off if I read them there. Making working out a benefit to my business made it easier to do. I could go to a business networking meeting and hope for referrals, or go workout and actively pursue a target demographic. The side benefit of course was weight loss

4) Gamification: Make it a game.

I love games. Come on, who doesn’t know about Angry Birds. Weight loss can become a game too if you have fun with it. At the gym I’d play games all the time. I’d try to go a few extra minutes at a higher level on the treadmill or just a minute of two more on the ellpitcal—just to see if I could do it. Many trainers believe in interval training in which you go to short bursts of high intensity workouts combined with reduced intensity. That can be brutal, but you can game it with trying to go just a few seconds longer or give yourself a little less rest. The reward at the end was to see how many calories you burned. A few more each day and I’d often try to beat my “high score.” I only wish there were a leader board showing the top 10 scores and so I could put my initials on the screen of DSG. I never got high score at any arcade when I was a kid.

5) Cheap food is too expensive

I’m the world’s worst cheapskate. Mom used to say I pinched the quarters so tight the eagle flew off. Along those same lines, I was taught that kids were starving and I should eat what’s on my plate and never throw away food. How wasteful. Moreover the environmentalist in me knows the real cost of the food on my plate and the problems we have with refuse in our society. Throwing away food is about the worst thing you can do. Or is it?

Scale Down Challenge had a clear financial component. You could win several thousand dollars. Throwing away half a bagel or not eating all of that appetizer seems pretty logical if it could block you for a several thousand dollar goal. I got into the mindset every time I grabbed some free food at an event or party, I was paying for it with a reduced prize in weight loss. Is it worth taking a “free” donut in exchange for one lower ranking on scale down. I’m not letting a 75 cent calorie bomb block me from my goal. I’ll be able to afford several dozen donuts if I win the challenge.

However, that being said, I’d indulge. Something unique and a solitary opportunity to try it, I’d take advantage of it. I remember going to a place in Florida and having a decadent vegan chocolate cake that everyone raved about. I had a few bites and it was wonderful. I got to try it. Was finishing the cake that much more to the experience? Nah. I took it home. The next morning I tasted it and thought: “It was better fresh”. I threw it out. Sure it was expensive for that few bites. I got my unique experience but minimized the impact to my weight loss. Same with appetizers.

To compensate for my “wasteful” behavior I minimized what I ordered out and at home I focused on other environmental efforts. More composting and recycling helped alleviate my green guilt for wasting food to prevent it, well, going to my waist.

So there you have it, my five tips on how I lost the weight and changed my life. I can’t thank the Scale Down Challenge enough for all their help in jump starting this life change. I still can’t get used to not thinking of myself as fat. If you can see by the picture below I’ve been a fat kid my whole life. People don’t always recognize me and more than one has said “I didn’t know Dave had a brother.” Maybe I do, that was the fat kid and I’m his newly healthy 40 year old brother. Nice to meet you. Tova still recognizes me though, so that’s good.

Here’s me today, one year later in that same outfit (which is way too big now) and me in more average clothes two sizes smaller, 70 pounds lighter, and 8″ off my waist

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