185 — or four things I've learned about losing weight.

Haven’t been fatblogging, but have been losing weight. This past week I weighed in between 183 and 186. Today, 185. I’m down from 207 a year ago and losing 20 pounds, I can honestly say, is one of the best things I’ve done in years.

It was a very hard in many ways, but has become easy in other ways. What have I learned? It’s 100% lifestyle and education. I made some major changes to my lifestyle and learned a lot about how the body works and my weak points.

Like many folks I thought I needed to eat less, but in fact I needed to eat different. More vegetables, less bread and pasta, and a close to no sugar as possible. Sugar is bad, very bad.

Step One: Learn your weaknesses when it comes to food.
Also, I learned my weak point: 3-5PM. When dieting I would try to starve myself by skipping breakfast and eating a light lunch and then around 3-4pm I would go mad, fall off the wagon and eat something really bad. Or, I’d hold out and eat a crazy dinner.

The other weak spot was traveling. I’d try not to breakdown in the airport or with the inflight meal and I would fail… eventually. Very depressing.

The solution? I bought boxes of low-sugar fiber and protein bars and put them everywhere. In my car, my desk draw, the kitchen, the office, my back pack–everywhere. When I get hungry I eat one of these 170-240 calorie bars and I do it without guilt because I know that for ~10% of my daily intake I 100% avoid my binge moment. If I eat one of these in the airport lounge or when the plane is taking off I can get through the flight by just eating some salad, some fish, etc. Heck, I can even have two bites of pasta and one bite of bread and push the plate away. Compare that to how I was trained my whole life to use the bread to mop up ever last drop of gravy.

At 3pm when I’m going mad at work I grab a protein bar and cup of decaf. When it comes time for dinner at 6/7/8pm I’m not so hungry that I feel the need to have a steak or pizza. It’s really is a mind game for me… my hunger and inner-foodie gets the better of me and I’ll binge on a 1,000-1,500 meal…. that kills you whole day.

Step Two: Make working out easy.
Also, working out is about making it easy. Getting to the gym is a chore, so I brought the gym to my house. Something I should have done a long time ago. OK, so I’m blown out these days and I can afford to buy a treadmill and I have room to put it in its own room. However, I could have put a treadmill in any of my other places or a stationary bike. I hear from folks over and over again “I don’t have room for it.”

My response to that is, you don’t have time to worry about how it looks in your living room. If you’re a fat bastard you need to put that treadmill or bike right in the middle of you living room in front of your TV. You don’t have time to waste waiting for the day when you’ll be blown out enough to have a gym. Look at it this way, if you get sick and have to be in a hospital bed or have oxygen you’ll screw up the look of your living/bedroom… so, you might as well screw up the look of that room now and get in shape. Nothing in life is more important than your health… except maybe your mental health.

Step three: Change your mindset.
Which bring me to my Tom Cruise point: there is clearly a link with your mental and physical health. I’ve never been a person to get depressed about anything. In fact, I can count on one hand the times I’ve been depressed about something (9/11, laying off 50 people at Silicon Alley Reporter, etc). Becoming a fat bastard at the age of 35 after being a marathon runner? Yeah, that was depressing. Not being able to control my weight when I had a mastery of so many other aspects of my life? Yeah, that makes you feel helpless.

I remember watching Cuban on Donnie Deutsch‘s show a year or two ago. The double D asked him what he was depressed about and Cuban said not being able to control his weight. Think about that: billionaire master of the universe who has everything including a sport team with trainers and huge gym, could have private chefs (probably does), and he can’t control his weight–just like the rest of us! Obesiety, is really one of the major issues of our time.

When you finally get control of your weight and you feel like you have a mastery of your body it really, really feels frackin’ great. Then you get on the good cycle, which I’ve gotten to over the last couple of months. You’ve lost weight so you feel better so your mind is in a better place so you eat better and have energy to work out–which makes you get in better shape. Which makes you feel better. Which makes you want to go for run or play basketball, and eat something healthy. You get the idea.

Step Four: Realize the deck is stacked WAY against you.
Finally, you have to realize that society has stacked the deck against you. It’s helpful to look at the issue as if you’re at war with the world. Everything in our society is designed to make you fat–that’s the truth. Major companies don’t care about you or your health, they care about your money. When I walk through the airport I look at the stores in the terminal as a bunch of drug dealers trying to get your hooked, because that’s the truth. Fast food companies are trying to screw you, entertainment companies want you sitting in your chair consuming their entertainment for hours while you eat their sponsors food. It’s a war and you are out-gunned–big time. You have to walk like the master in Kung Fu and not let these folks impact you. Our whole society is designed to get you fat and you have to optout of it. You have to leave that world behind and create your own world. You have to bring your own food with you, you have to create your own pace, and you have to get off your fat butt and walk. They want you to take the people mover and the escalator, you have to take the stairs. They want you to supersize you have downsize. They want you watching the Law & Order marathon and ordering PizzaHut, you have to get on the treadmill.

Step Five: Lift weights.
Muscle burns more calories than fat from what I understand. If you replace 10 pounds of fat with muscle you will burn more calories which puts you on the positive cycle. Toning up is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Also, it is amazing psychologically to have more muscle… you don’t feel as tired, you can heavier bags for longer…. it’s just a great feeling. Do it. Get a trainer to do it once a week with you. Find someone on Craigslist for $50-75 a session. If you can’t afford it ask for a discount, etc. Learn how to do weight correctly at the YMCA, ask for help, etc.

Anyway, I’m starting to figure this whole weight thing out and I hope this is helpful. I’ve still got 10 pounds to go to get to 175, but I finally feel like I’m driving the bus…. and it’s great.

Good luck to all my fatbloggers out there.