How I Got an ‘A’ in Weight Loss
By hitting the books, Professor Lynne Logan shed pounds fast.
Name: Lynne Logan
Current Weight: 130 lb
Pounds Lost: 60
Occupation: English Professor
As a college professor, I have a hunger for learning. Unfortunately, I also had a hunger for treats such as doughnuts and soft drinks, which led me to gain nearly 54 pounds over 20 years.
My efforts to lose the weight always fizzled. The grapefruit diet? Got sick of citrus. Liquid meals? Chalky shakes for breakfast and lunch were not for me. As I ballooned from a size 8 to a 16 and beyond, I never admitted that I had a “real” problem. I figured I was just destined to be a rounder, curvier version of my younger self.
Then I got my wake-up call. While online one day, I landed on a Web site called eDiets.com. Out of curiosity, I typed my height and weight into its BMI (body mass index) calculator. Imagine my shock when the word obese flashed across my screen. Me? Obese? I never would have imagined it. That one word shocked me into getting serious about my weight and my health.
From Teacher Back to Student
As an English professor, I didn’t know much about nutrition, exercise, and health, but as I tell my students, learning begins with doing your homework. So I decided to approach weight loss as if it were a research project. I stacked up a variety of nutrition books, determined to pull out the best tidbits and create a plan that fit my lifestyle and personality.
I pored over The South Beach Diet by Dr. Arthur Agatston, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, and 8 Minutes in the Morning by Jorge Cruise, and was amazed at what I learned–how your body stores excess calories, and how it breaks down sugar. The more I educated myself, the easier it was to formulate a diet plan.
Turning Knowledge into Action
I started my weight loss plan with the one rule the experts agreed upon: You must burn more calories than you eat. And I was eating a lot. I whittled my Pepsi habit down from six to two per day, and eventually switched to Diet Pepsi and water. I also eliminated fried foods, mostly by avoiding fast-food restaurants.
If I needed to eat and run, I microwaved frozen Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers entrées instead. When possible, I replaced refined carbs with whole grain foods, such as whole wheat pizza crusts and whole grain breads. To burn more calories, I started walking for 20 minutes a day. In 2 weeks I had dropped 15 pounds. I was hooked.
I continued researching and experimenting, keeping the tips that worked, tossing the ones that didn’t. I didn’t care for all the protein in the Atkins diet, but eating a bit more poultry and meat did increase my energy. I put pictures of myself at my heaviest weight on the refrigerator to keep me from overeating, and I hung photos of thin celebrities like Jennifer Aniston in my office to remind me of my weight loss goals. For a while I wrote down everything I ate, as Cruise recommends. Reviewing what I had already eaten helped me stay on track when facing temptation.
Kicking It into High Gear
By March 2003, nearly a year after the word obese taunted me from my computer monitor, I’d lost 30 pounds. But my efforts suddenly stalled when I hit a weight of about 160. Now that I was thinner, I was burning fewer calories (a fact I learned from a trainer at the gym I had joined to help jump-start my weight loss again). To keep shedding pounds, I needed to rev my metabolism. The experts recommended strength training, so I began to build and tone my muscles by using free weights and Nautilus machines.
Other habits, changed, too. I noticed that the more TV I watched, the more I was tempted to snack–especially after Nestlé Toll House cookie commercials! So I whittled my viewing habit down from 30 hours a week to less than 8, eliminating all shows except for the news and a few favorites like CSI:Miamiand Crossing Jordan. I also found that by allowing myself three bites of a 3 Musketeers bar or other treat, I could satisfy a sweets attack without sidelining my diet.
As time went on, I kept learning to make smarter choices. If I couldn’t get to the gym, I’d pop in one of The Firm exercise videos. Or if the weather was lousy, I’d head to the mall for my walk. I chose lean ground chuck over fattier beef, white meat over dark, rice pilaf instead of potatoes, and turkey bacon rather than the real thing. I never felt deprived, but I did feel proud of myself, my slimmer figure, and, most important, my new wealth of knowledge.
Today, I’m at my goal weight of 130. Looking back, it’s surprising that I didn’t see the key to weight loss sooner. It’s education.