I have been somewhat overweight for a long time. In recent months, for the first time I can remember, I have succeeded in losing quite a lot of weight—something over twenty pounds—by dieting. The methods that turned out to work for me may work for some other people, although surely not all, so I thought it was worth describing them.
The diet started when my wife was out of town for over a month taking care of her mother, who had broken her arm and needed assistance. The reason that made it easier was not the difference between her cooking and mine—I am an adequate cook. It was the fact that eating is in part a social activity. Her absence made it much easier for me to skip meals.
I have the good fortune to possess a metabolism that is not bothered by skipping meals; I can fast until dinner time without serious discomfort or other negative consequences. So one part of my diet, then and thereafter, was to limit myself to one meal a day, with only a little nibbling at other times. Usually the meal was dinner. Occasionally there was a lunchtime talk on campus with lunch provided, in which case I would make that my one meal and only have a light snack in the evening.
Another part of the diet was finding low calorie food I liked. That largely consisted of fruit salads, using fat-free cottage cheese, yogurt, or mayonnaise, all three of which taste pretty good and are quite low in calories. For snacks, the best solution was kimchee, the highly spiced Korean pickled cabbage which, I concluded, has the highest ratio of taste to calories of any food known to man. I also indulged in an occasional pummelo, the ancestor of the grapefruit, a fruit I had recently discovered and found to be quite tasty.
The final factor was feedback. I got a digital scale, put it in the bathroom, and weighed myself several times a day. Partly that was curiosity, seeing how my weight varied over the course of a day. The range was surprisingly large, typically including a drop of three pounds or so between immediately after dinner and the next morning. But the continual feedback also encouraged me to push my weight lower and warned me when a temporary deviation was letting it come back up.
The most discouraging part of the process occurred after I had reached my initial target, tried to return to something closer to my usual eating pattern of a light lunch plus a substantial dinner, and found that my weight was going back up. So I went back on the diet. I have yet to determine what pattern I need to follow in order to maintain a roughly constant weight, or whether the answer will change once my body has adjusted to its new level.
Recently I was invited to a black tie event, the first such I can remember attending. In my closet was a very good suit that my parents bought me decades ago for such purposes, and that I had not worn—could not wear—for a very long time. The pants still did not fit, but they were a lot closer to fitting than they had been a few months earlier; I wore a less fancy suit to the event instead.
I figure that when I can get into those pants, my diet will be done.