Lose weight without spending a cent
The story of how I lost 20 kilogrammes (44 lb) in less than three months without going hungry or getting bored and without spending one cent
What? Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey writing a non-political article, without bashing someone on the head and claiming about human rights, indigenous rights, women’s rights, without haranging the war lobby, the pharma lobby, the military-industrial complex?
How to lose weight for free
Yes, basically but also because some of us care for good causes and care for people who need help but cannot afford it. So here is my story, hope it helps.
I used to be, forty years ago, what you might call a sports person. Long distance running was my modality but I used to enjoy playing all sports, individual or team, just for the sport and participation, not necessarily to win medals. During my adult life, and due to professional pressures, especially after the advent of the computer, I became more and more sedentary and had less and less time to look after myself and take exercise.
The result of long hours without having time to eat led to quick-fix comfort food snacks usually based around bread and butter and cheese and whatever else I could cram in, in the five minutes I had and giving up smoking thirty years ago only led to an increase in food intake. The wine and beer to relax in the evenings and at weekends was the cherry on the cake which saw a gradual slip into a Body Mass Index bordering on, but never entering, obesity and blood readings which spiralled downwards until in 2019, practically everything was way out of the normal parameters.
The loss of my mother and my dog, Tolstoi, within two weeks of one another last year did nothing to persuade me to do something about the situation before it was too late and the whole year seemed to aim towards a pig-out fest last Christmas which saw me spend the equivalent of 300 USD on cakes and consume thousands of calories a day with festive cheer. Imagine if I had caught Covid!
Out of shape and heading for a heart attack
At 62 years of age and at 94 kilograms (207 lb), the beginning of 2021 saw a light suddenly dawn upon me that I was way out of shape and heading towards a heart attack, serious complications from diabetes, or a stroke which if I was lucky would have killed me outright... If not it might have left me dependent, lying on my back for the rest of my life.
Forays into the internet saw long articles degenerate into yawn-provoking repetition of the same thing until on page 16 you got a message PAY NOW to get how you do it. Talks with friends revealed fortunes spent on nutritionists and diets “Use our products only and you will lose weight”.
So what about those who find themselves overweight, or obese and do not have hundreds of dollars per month to spend on getting fit and healthy? Well here it is, for free.
It ain't rocket science
Rocket science it is not. If you consume more calories than you burn, basically, you put on weight and conversely, if you use up more than you put in, and get some exercise to help the burning process, you lose weight.
Using modern apps, any calorie-counting app on your cell phone will give you a target, asking how much you weigh, how much you want to lose and how much time you will take to do it. Next it will present you with a daily maximum calorie intake and finally provide you with a counter which registers everything you eat. It is as simple as keeping to the program.If you are not an app person, ask someone to help.
“Oh I tried that and it didn’t work”. OK so why not? “No reason, it just didn’t”. OK so when did you last have a beer? “Well, I had three last Friday but I hadn’t had any all week”. There is your answer. Rule number one: you cannot lose weight and drink alcohol, there is an exponential reaction to that one glass of wine and everything surrounding it (snacks). So you need to take a break for a few months.
“Oh I gave up because it was so boring”. “I was always hungry all the time”. Rule number two: make it interesting. Pickles hardly have any calories. Rule number three: Fill up with low-calorie foodstuffs. A nice green salad before meals leaves you feeling satisfied.
Three simple rules
Three rules only, 20 kilogrammes lost between January 3 this year and March 27. Today I am stable at between 74 and 76 kilograms (163 to 167 lb). When I reach 76 (167), I increase my exercise and spend two days on lower calories and yes I drink wine and beer at weekends. It is easier to control when you reach your target and lose one or two kilograms than to lose the twenty or more that you need to get there.
And that’s it? Basically, yes. I spent some time making lists of low-calorie foods, ruled out anything with sugar, including all alcoholic and carbonated drinks, ruled out rice, pasta and potatoes. My exercise program started with a 5-kilometer walk per day (fast walk) for the first week, then increasing to ten for the second week, then between ten and fifteen for the rest of the time, often more than ten but never less. Fast walking, in my case a mix of that and running (obviously not a good idea for cardiac patients).
Breakfast was three slices of wholemeal toast with a little butter and normally two boiled eggs or else some smoked turkey ham (six slices) and a coffee without milk or sugar. Mid-morning a piece of fruit. Tea without sugar or water whenever I felt any need to eat. Lunch started with a green salad, even with a little mayonnaise, then vegetables and (vegetable or animal) protein, in my case leaning very much towards the vegan side but any lean meat is OK for meat eaters or fish, just count the calories. Mid-afternoon, a piece of fruit and dinner, the same as lunch.
Weighing should be the same time on the same day every week and from January 3 to March 27 my weight dropped constantly until I reached my target weight of 74 kilograms.
Like anything else, it is a question of dedication, discipline and common sense and not wavering from the plan even for one day but if you do, I guess the buzz words are “You can do this, don’t give up”.
I had blood readings when I finished and by the end of March I had the results: everything, and I mean everything, including the glucose levels, was inside the normal. Including Body Mass Index. Nowadays I find that I have to control mainly the carbs, have to walk at least 7.5 km/day and then I can drink at weekends without moving out of my established weight range. If I go over one day, I can compensate the following days with fewer calories and more exercise, increasing to ten or twelve kilometres.
The author can be reached at [email protected]