How I lost 33 pounds in 102 days

On July 23rd, 2017 I weighed nearly 183 pounds.
On November 2nd I stood on the scale and weighed under 150 pounds.

July was a major turning point for a number of areas in my life, not the least of which was my weight. I had reached the point where nothing in my closet fit anymore and even as I bought new and larger clothes, they did little to hide the fact that well, I was just getting fat.

I had reached a critical juncture. Something had to change. I picked a target weight (150 pounds) and a somewhat arbitrary deadline (Thanksgiving) and decided to go for it.

The plans I had tried before had failed. Tracking calories was far too time consuming and complicated. Exercise could only get me so far. Fad diets just irritate me. No, this time I needed something simple I could stick with.

I started with a few simple rules:
 — No snacks.
 — No desserts.
 — No drinking calories of any kind.

I decided to run a minimum of 3 times a week, stick to my new dietary restrictions, and weigh myself every day. That was it.

I tracked my progress using an app called Strides. Every morning, I would get up, weigh myself, and record my weight in the app. Every time I went for a run I recorded it in the app.

When I reached my first milestone (down 10 pounds) I posted screenshots of my progress on facebook. It was humbling and I felt somewhat vulnerable, but I figured that bringing in my friends and acquaintances could only help fuel my progress.

The support was encouraging and I posted again after losing the next ten pounds and one more time when I reached my target weight.

Food and drink are social.

One unexpected hurdle for me was the social impact my decisions carried with them. While everyone gathered at the local brewpub to celebrate an achievement at work, I stood there with my glass of water explaining repeatedly that no, despite the fact that it was on the company tab, I did not want just one beer.

When the guys wanted to go out and grab a bite or a drink I either tagged along and again explained my “strange” behavior or I just stayed behind.

I didn’t realize how much social life revolves around food and drink!

“It’s a small price to pay,” I told myself as I kept my eye on the prize. Regardless, it didn’t make those things any easier.

What do I do now?

Once I hit my target, I celebrated of course! I lifted the dietary restrictions and gave myself a five pound window to stay within. I still weigh myself every day just to make sure I’m within the window but my body seems to have adjusted to its new size.

Many of the habits I developed over those few months have stayed with me. I still don’t fit into half the clothes in my closet… it’s just that now they’re too baggy! And that’s a problem I don’t mind having.

What did I learn?

Here’s the thing; the challenge was more mental than physical. The problem was a physical one, but the solution was a mental one. The struggle was won in my mind, a thousand times a day.

It was won every time I said no to that individual cookie, piece of candy, or beer. It was won every time I decided to go for a run rather than sit and watch TV. And it was won every night that I decided to turn in early to ensure I would have the willpower to make all the other decisions I needed to make the following day.

My progress led to more progress as I really started to believe (and see) that the little seemingly insignificant choices I made throughout the day really did add up. They added up to weight loss or weight gain. They added up to progress or regress.

This idea, that little choices lead to huge results, was at the center of my weight loss journey and continues with me into other parts of my life.

In fact it helped me tackle my first half marathon just a few months later...

Mark Armstrong

Mark Armstrong

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