Thomas McKenzie
by grace alone
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Blog

Thomas McKenzie's Blog.

There is 20% Less of Me

I lost 40 pounds in 4 months. No, I’m not selling anything. And I’m not bragging, at least I hope you don’t take it that way. I’m writing because a lot of people have asked me about it, how I did it and why. So, I figured it might help some people to hear my story.

Why I Did It

As of March, 2015, I usually weighed about 210 lbs (I’m 44 years old, barely 5’ 10”). I took long walks two, at most three, times a week, but otherwise didn’t get much exercise. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. This meant snacks and candy at night while watching TV, or at the movies. I seldom drank alcohol. I rarely ate breakfast. I had given up diet drinks back in October because someone convinced me they were bad for me.

On April 1st I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. You probably know this, but diabetes is a killer. My doctor told me that I needed to stop eating sugar immediately, and change my diet. She told me I needed to get down to 170 lbs, which would put my BMI in the normal zone. I thought she was crazy, as I haven’t weighted that since college. But, I was scared; so I decided to do whatever it took.

In case your interested in some TMI, my fasting glucose level was 260 (you want to be below 100). Normal a1c is 4-5.5%, diabetes starts at 6.5%. My level was 10.8%. My doctor put me on 1000 mg a day of metformin. That’s a drug that helps control blood sugar. She also told me to start low-dose aspirin. I started testing my blood sugar levels every day (which is a whole other story, given my deep fear of both blood and needles).

I had no idea what to do next, and my doctor wasn’t really helpful. I made an appointment to see a diabetes specialist, but the first opening was two months away. So, I did what you do. I got on the internet. I made up my own program.

What I did

I bought a FitBit Charge HR. This keeps track of my exercise, and is especially good because it monitors my heart rate. I also downloaded an app called MyNetDiary. The version I got cost $10, and is designed for diabetics. On this app, I record my glucose levels, track my medications, and, most importantly, record every single thing I eat. It lets me know how many calories, and how many carbs, I’m consuming. That app communicates with the FitBit app. That way, I know how much more/less food/exercise I need in order to stay on track throughout the day.

Using these tools, I set a target to have a daily calorie deficit of 500 (eat 500 calories less than I burn). In reality, I often had a deficit of more like 800. For the first couple of months, I kept my carbs down to below 100 per day, then I slid up to 150. Now that I’ve lost the weight and am maintaining, I keep it under 250. This helps with my weight, but is also good for my blood sugar. 

I started exercising every day. And I mean every single freaking day. I started by walking, and soon I was trying to walk three miles every day. I would go to Radnor Lake, or just walk in my neighborhood. Then I started going to the YMCA (because it was hot outside). There I began walking on the treadmill, then running, then doing weights once a week. Now I enjoy running so much that I’m training for the Music City Marathon (in April). That means I’m training to run a half marathon in November. Then I’ll step it up for the big daddy in the spring.  

I lost a lot of weight quickly, at first. Then it really slowed down. There were weeks when I would eat 500-1000 calories a day less than I was burning but I still wouldn’t lose an ounce. Then, suddenly, I’d drop five pounds in a day. I don’t understand that at all.  

Tips?

There is no real trick to losing weight. Eat less, eat right, and exercise. That’s it. But here are some of the things I did, and continue to do.

  • I record every single thing I eat on my iPhone app. I never cheat. Reality is my friend.
  • I exercise every day, no matter what, even if it’s just a little.
  • I keep track of my exercise and eating on my iPhone, with the help of the FitBit.
  • I found a training program for the marathon on-line, and I’m following that. I purposefully don’t over exercise.
  • I drink lots of Diet Coke (in your face, haters) and water. I don’t drink sugary drinks or fruit juice.
  • I avoid sweets (because I can’t stop eating them once I start).
  • I don’t drink beer. Now I’m a red wine guy.
  • I eat lower carbs, but not nearly as low as when I started. 
  • I don’t eat beans, rice, popcorn, candy, melons, white bread, noodles, potatoes, or pasta. I do eat whole wheat bread (now, not at first).
  • I take fiber and a multivitamin every day. 
  • I eat meat, salad, cheese, some fruit and vegetables, and tons of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (on whole wheat, with all natural fruit spread). 

Last Word

OK, I’m not a doctor, and I’m not giving anyone health advice. I’m just telling you what I did, and what I’m doing. 

Look, several months ago I made the decision that I was just always going to be over 200 lbs. and wear 36 inch waist pants. I was just overweight, and that was it. Now I’m wearing all new pants. I don’t really feel different, to be honest. But I know I’m a lot healthier, and I hope that means I’ll be around longer for the people I love.

I’d like to encourage you. If you’re not as healthy as you should be, you can be healthier. That’s all I’m saying.

Thomas McKenzie