The Pizza Diet

To be clear, before we begin, weight is just a number. For me, this is about how you feel. This may be less likely to work for you if you feel like you HAVE to lose weight, it’s much easier to keep doing something if it doesn’t require effort. I went from 250 pounds down to my current 195 while eating pretty much all the pizza I wanted, but the only time it ever felt like ‘work’ was when I had to convince myself my hunger was an illusion (which is usually is when we’re surrounded by readily available food).

Sorry for what sounds like a click bait headline, but this is an important lesson. What you eat, overall, is important for your health. Eating broccoli, salad, and less-processed food on a regular basis is really good for you. But if you’re concerned about your health or weight and want to change either, it doesn’t mean you have to stop eating the food you’re more likely to crave (like pizza).

I first started focusing on my overall health back in the summer of 2015. I had slowly put on about 40-50 pounds in the 2-3 years previous, and was considered obese (I weighed ~250 pounds all the way from summer 2014 to 2015, despite playing soccer that summer). No matter how active I was, my weight never went below 245.

It turns out, as I learned in the fall of 2015, the only thing that matters is being aware of how much you eat, and being able to control it (at least, for most people… medical conditions notwithstanding). Through a portion controlled diet, wherein I limited my intake of things like fries, pop, and other typical ‘unhealthy’ foods, I was able to hit 215 pounds by December of 2015, and by the summer of 2016 I was 190, lower than I’d been since middle school.

Keep in mind, while I did ‘limit’ my portions, and stop eating certain foods, I didn’t limit myself in any other way. I ate burgers, pizza, and snacked pretty much the whole time. But at a restaurant, I would get a soup or salad instead of fries, and if I indulged one day or for a weekend, I doubled down on my efforts the next few days after.

By doing this, I didn’t lose weight every day, but I did drop 2-3 pounds a week while I was biking, and continued to lose 1-2 pounds a week once it got too cold for that. I had a strategy that worked for me, and I felt better, looked healthier, and needed to buy a whole lot of new clothes.

Now, in 2017, I’m still biking to work every day I possibly can, and I’m ranging from 192-197 pounds depending on the day of the week (I’m not as strict on weekends). I have been weighing myself every day since July of 2015 (except on vacation), and I’ve still never felt better. I know exactly how much I should eat in a day to maintain my weight, and if I’m enjoying a good meal or snack, I let myself enjoy it!

So, this brings us all the way back to the title of this post. It really isn’t clickbait. I eat pizza around 6 times a week, and it isn’t the reason I weigh more on some days than others. I probably shouldn’t eat pizza as much as I am for my general health, but in terms of keeping my weight where I want, the type of food I eat has almost no bearing on that.

It’s all about being aware of how much you’re eating, and reasonable portions once you figure out how easy it is to overeat. For me, even more than calories in/calories out, it’s much more s matter of grams in/grams out. And it’s been working for over 2 years now.

I’ll have more on how I got to this point in future posts.

There is no “one weird trick” to weight loss

On July 1st, 2015, I weighed in at 248.5 lbs. Today, I average just under 195 lbs, and I feel better than I have in my entire life.

This isn’t a diet guide to compel you to buy something, hell, I’m not actually trying to sell or promote any product. What I do have for you is a set of principles, and things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about trying to lose weight.

When I set out to lose weight, I was over 250 pounds. I owned a WiFi-connected scale, I was already fairly active, and I had a deep-seated love of food. I was hoping that if I could stick to a diet, and exercise regularly, I might be able to get down to 210-220 lbs. I knew that would be a challenge, and that gaining the weight back would loom over my head.

I had been recording my weight with a scale that sent my measurements to a spreadsheet online since February of 2014, but those numbers alone didn’t help much for about 18 months. Then, in the summer of 2015, I started doing a few things that have fundamentally changed my life and made me WAY healthier.

First, I read this piece about how keeping a moving average of the last 10 days of weigh-ins could prove really helpful (and I made my own super-powered version of the spreadsheet; ask me about it!). Next, I started riding my bicycle to work. Third, and finally, I started taking Soylent to work and having that as my lunch.

By mid-September, after 2 months, I’d lost about 10 pounds, and found my appetite was starting to shrink. By the middle of October, 3 months in, I’d lost another 10 pounds, and was already more than halfway to my goal. This happened for a number of reasons, but the most important ones can be summarized like this:

  1. I was drinking more water (hunger can be a symptom of thirst).
  2. I was being very conscious to only eat when hungry (hunger is often a symptom of boredom).
  3. I chose my foods carefully, because many foods I ate simply weren’t worth it (like bread, and ice cream).
  4. I didn’t let 1-2 bad days get me totally down (because my spreadsheet was reinforcing my progress).

Over the course of the last 13 months, I have been keeping meticulous records of what I weigh every day (vacations aside). I know that I’m not going to lose weight every single day, but I’m always surprised when I look at the stats of how the weight came off.

In the 407 days I’ve been tracking my weight, I lost weight on 242 of those days, which means I gained weight on 165 days. On the days I lost weight, I’ve lost a total of 241 pounds, and I gained back a total of 184 pounds on the other days. If you told me that the road to losing almost 60 pounds would include gaining over 180 pounds in a little over a year, I’d say you were crazy.

Such is the nature of weight loss. You won’t lose weight every day. When I started this little ‘experiment’, I was eating burgers and fries, and loving every minute of it, but I didn’t realize that I felt like garbage most of the time. Now, I feel vital and healthy almost all the time, and I’m much more likely to enjoy a delicious soup and salad at a restaurant.

My final piece of advice that I think is entirely common sense, but is hard to actually fully embrace, is that eating and food are rigged against you. Restaurants offer massive portions, and peer pressure and social situations can make it easy to eat way more than you want to do, or realize you are. Getting a salad isn’t “manly”, but I actually don’t enjoy more than a few french fries anymore, and I don’t miss them.

Making good choices feels weird, and sometimes, the ‘good’ choice is actually to just get something you’re really craving at a restaurant. That’s OK. Like I said, I gained 183 pounds in 165 days over the past year. That is a lot of indulgence.

It’s hard to ‘cheat’ at losing weight, because you have to actually eat healthier and form good habits if you want to make it a sustainable lifestyle. There’s no set of instructions anyone can write you to get you to a health or weight goal, and now, I don’t have one. I’m doing what feels good.

Moderation, and making changes you can enact permanently, are the best way to meet your health goals.