# # I Lost 50 Pounds Drinking Beer

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

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I Lost 50 Pounds Drinking Beer

 I Lost 50 pounds Drinking Beer - 160 Lbs soaking wet.No, really. I lost 50 pounds drinking beer every day. I went from being a 210 pound, mouth-breathing schlubb to the 160 pound, svelte lady-killer that you see before you now – and all without giving up beer, bacon, butter, or even breaking much of a sweat.

I drank beer every day and treated my Friday and Saturday evenings like a diet-free zone.

The trick to my success is … no trick. It’s not a fad, it’s not hard, and it’s absolutely free – no salesman will come to your door.

It’s just moderation. Simple, common sense, nutrition and moderation – and even that in moderation. There’s the trick, if you must find one.

I Never Expected To Be Overweight

I grew up in a physically active family that ate pretty well (for the 70’s and 80’s) and didn’t tend towards obesity. My youth was spent on a bike or hiking a trail. That being said, I’ve also always been a bookworm and my adulthood has trended towards computer screens and game boards. I work from home, telecommuting, am happily married, and am a beer enthusiast.

A real recipe for disaster, in other words.

In my mid 40’s and starting to swell, I just assumed I was healthy because I had been a healthy kid and came from a healthy family. I thought my two-minute bike ride up the hill to our mailbox once a day would keep me thin despite my ceaseless ingurgitation of beer, pasta, pizza, and potato chips. That my on-again/off-again love affair with a pair of 35 pound dumbbells was all I needed to combat this overfed, sedentary life as a glorified typist.

 I Lost 50 pounds Drinking Bacon and Beer - The Schlubb

Attack of The Schlubb (and his lovely wife)
I had no idea

Then a friend posted a shot of I and my wife on Facebook and I was confronted with the ugly truth: I had become a schlubb. Despite daily mirror-peerings, it took this image to reveal to me the beginnings of my double-chin, the unmistakable swell of my belly under my t-shirt.

I was 46 years old, 5 feet, 10 inches tall, and tooling up past 210 pounds.

I Blame My Wife, Beth

 I Lost 50 pounds Drinking Beer - I Blame BethNot for my being overweight, mind you, but for waking us both up to our self-destructive dietary habits and ridiculously stretched waistbands.

We’ve always tried to be conscious of our diets, eating local and organic, less processed foods, more veggies. With two growing boys, their school schedules, extra-curricular activities, and our own busy working lives, however, we also made lots of lazy, seemingly sensible concessions. All for the sake of time and fatigue, of course – not realizing how much time we actually had or where a lot of that fatigue was coming from.

Around January 2015, deciding she’d had enough, Beth quietly downloaded a calorie-tracking app to her iPhone, called MyFitnessPal, and started using it to watch her calorie intake.

 I Lost 50 pounds Drinking Beer - MyFitnessPalMyFitnessPal is a free application that you can use to track your weight, calorie intake, nutrition, exercise, and more. I’m sure it’s not the only app out there that does this and you could do the basics of what it does with a pencil and paper if you wanted. The ease of the app, though, coupled with our culture’s obsession with glowing pocket computers, make it an attractive and effective tool.

Basically, you’re assigned a calorie level according to physical and goal-weight criterion and then you log your calories as they accrue throughout the day, always working to stay under that assigned number. You can add to your calorie allowance with exercise and track your nutrition along with your calories to make sure your diet is balanced and healthy – not just little chocolate donuts and Chablis.

Walk the Walk

 I Lost 50 pounds Drinking Beer - Walk the WalkAnother practice Beth instigated was adding a walk or two to our daily routine.

We already walked the boys to the bus each morning and are lucky to live in a beautiful, rural setting with lots of low-traffic, paved country roads. Why not extend that walk … and how about another, similar walk after dinner?

It sounded great to me. Beth and I have always enjoyed walks together and we were both eager to have more of them and each other.

The goal was at least 5 miles a day, 10,000 steps, which turned out to be easily accomplished in two loops around the neighborhood on top of our normal daily routines. It might sound like a lot but it’s really not. Maybe two hours total of moderate-speed walking. A nice break from the desk!

Despite an initial period of soreness as our muscles and tendons came out of storage, over and above even these aches and pains, we discovered that our walks made us feel better. A lot better – and I don’t mean after a while but immediately. Our daily walks recharge us, strengthen our relationship, and remind us about the rest of this beautiful world.

There are days we groan “oh, I don’t wanna go” only to finish the walk with far more energy, positive attitude, and ready-to-go-gettum-ness than we began it with.

Well, duh.

Calories In/Calories Out

I Lost 50 Pounds Drinking Beer  - Calories In/Calories OutAfter watching Beth twink around with MyFitnessPal for a month, I was intrigued. I decided to download the app onto my phone as well – but only to track. I had no intention of actually dieting – pffffft. I only wanted to watch as our new walking habit melted the pounds from my frame.

That first week and despite walking 35 miles, I *gained* two pounds.

Using MyFitnessPal to track my caloric intake, it was no mystery why. At my height and activity level, I require right around 2,000 calories a day to *maintain* my current weight.

During that first week, MyFitnessPal showed my average daily intake was between 3 to 4,000 calories a day.


Watching myself gain those two unnecessary pounds, while already outgrowing 36″ waist pants and in spite of the added exercise? That was all the motivation I needed.

The thing is, I am obstinate and bullheaded. I was going to diet but I wasn’t going to give up bacon, I wasn’t going to give up beer, and I wasn’t going to give up my Friday and Saturday night debauches of good food and drink in front of the tube, partying with Beth and friends, or just curled up with a good book and some tunes. Life is short, dammit!

Counting Calories Works – But It Sucks

Dieting. Yuck. I still shrink from the word and the concept because of what it can and has come to mean. People do the nuttiest crap in the name of dietary health these days. Eating things and in ways that are so obviously screwball. Sudden flowerings of otherwise rare conditions manifesting nationwide via mass-media and mass-hysteria (yes, this post is gluten free). It’s all so unnecessary and sad.

According to most BMI charts, a five foot ten inch male in his mid to late 40’s should weigh somewhere between 129 and 174 pounds. I decided to set my goal for 170. According to MyFitnessPal, our walking pushed us up into the moderately active category (seriously? okay … ), and the app suggested that, to lose weight safely – not much more than two pounds a week, nor more than ten a month – I should aim for a maximum of 1,780 calories a day.

There is nothing more horrid than counting calories.

It is the one downside I have found to this whole diet. Once you do it long enough, it begins to feel like an eating disorder and, to some degree, I believe it really can become one. Unfortunately, it is one of the only real tools we have to counter our easy access to large amounts of calorie rich, deliciously marketed, affordable food.

 I Lost 50 pounds Drinking Beer - digital food scaleIn this instance, a calorie tracker like MyFitnessPal, with its database of nutrition information so easily accessed by search or barcode scan, is a real boon.

Until your eyes and stomach learn the ability to gauge appropriate serving sizes – and they will – a calorie tracker, a decent kitchen scale, and greater awareness of the nutrition information on the side of the package are all you have to defend yourself against not realizing just how many freaking calories are in that innocent looking brownie.

Daily Intake

With Beth’s help, we began to refine our existing diet, being careful to not only trim down portions but also make sure that things remained balanced.

I got to keep my traditional breakfast and probably my favorite meal of the day: bacon, easy-over egg, toast with butter, milk, and grapefruit juice. All I did was adjust the portions.

I Lost 50 Pounds Drinking Beer - Dave's Killer BreadInstead of a full piece of toast, I now have a half of one – and it’s good, tasty bread: Dave’s Killer Bread, Thin-Sliced, 21 Whole Grains and Seeds. We use a modicum of butter – yes, real butter – as well: an approximated half-teaspoon. Instead of two pieces of shite bacon from the local chain grocery store, we switched to one piece of locally raised, grass-fed, antibiotic, hormone, and nitrate free bacon that we slow cook each morning on a cast iron griddle. I still enjoy my 2% milk and grapefruit juice each morning but, instead of a full glass, I have just half a cup each. All in all, it adds up just shy of 290 calories.

One of the greatest joys in my life was discovering that my beloved black coffee has no calories. Winning!

We treated lunch similarly to breakfast: regular foods, just with portions reduced to more correct sizes. I can have a turkey and cheese sandwich with potato chips and a pickle, but now I’ll use wholewheat sandwich thins – a necessary evil – bulk the sandwich up with fresh spinach, and cut back on the cheese and potato chips portions. Another meal in the 300 calorie range.

Dinner is generally up to Beth, given her ability and apparent joy at whipping something up for the family that is not only filling, warm, nutritious, and delicious but also always around 500 calories per serving or less.

At a daily 1780 goal, after my three meals, I am left with around 700 calories, not counting whatever I accrue for my daily walking, which I tend to ignore as bonus weight loss. These last 700 I typically kill with a serving of popcorn, a Greek yogurt cup of some kind … and a beer.

Drink Beer and Lose Weight

 I Lost 50 pounds Drinking Beer - BeerAnd let’s be clear: when I say beer, I mean real beer like Deschutes Black Butte Porter, VanderGhinste Oud Bruin sour ale, or No-Li Wrecking Ball Imperial Stout. I’m not talking Coors Light, here.

Granted, my one beer a day during the diet was down from a previous two or three a night – but a beer a day is better than none at all and don’t forget that I also allow myself relative free reign Friday and Saturday nights.

On weekends I’m (usually) a good boy during breakfast and lunch, just like any other day of the week but, come dinner and after, all bets are off. Want a beer with dinner? Have one. Want an ice cream bar, for dessert? Go for it. Crackers and cheese some time thereafter? Don’t mind if I do! With an Imperial stout bomber? You have to ask?

Seriously: I lost 50 pounds drinking beer and eating on Friday and Saturday nights as if I was on no diet at all.

The Jamaican Acid Test

I Lost 50 Pounds Drinking Beer - JamaicaBy June, I’d hit my original goal of 170 pounds, down from 211. That’s 41 pounds in five months. Not bad but I had found the process so easy that, all things considered, 160 pounds was probably a better goal: ten more pounds to go. Beth was having similar success and we were both excited for the future.

Then, right smack dab in the middle of our dieting, Beth and I found ourselves the recipients of an all-inclusive vacation at a resort in Jamaica. Talk about a challenge!

We were kind of freaked out at the prospects but decided right off to just have fun. I think we both still made an effort to be sensible at each meal but, you know, I spent the days standing in a swimming pool drinking mixed drinks like a … tourist in Jamaica and I know that I frequently lost control at the buffet. I mean, c’mon: there were trays of desserts, fer chrissakes. MyFitnessPal was persona non grata.

Despite this, Beth and I both actually *lost* weight in Jamaica!

After Jamaica, however, I got cocky and, consequently, plateaued in the lower 70’s/upper 60’s for a long while – almost four months. It was summer and, so close to my goal, I wasn’t taking my diet as seriously. Plus, its a known phenomenon: the closer you get to your goal, the harder the pounds are to shed. I wasn’t gaining weight, I was just maintaining it. Having double-hernia surgery in early September didn’t help things much.

Beth hewed closer to her discipline and, though she, too, slowed, continued dropping weight. Show off.

Once the school year started, the routine helped me get back in gear. I hit my goal of 160 pounds in October of 2015, 3 months later than I’d hoped but that much more ready to perform my next feat: maintaining my present weight.

I am confident but time, as always, will tell.

Nothing Up My Sleeve

No, I don’t work for MyFitnessPal and I’m not necessarily saying you can (or should!) do the same thing I have: lose 50 pounds while drinking beer.

We’re all physically different. Different heights, different metabolisms, different body types, different sexes, different stresses, etc. Even though I lost 50 pounds drinking beer and basically ignoring my diet on weekends, you might find you have a tighter row to hoe. However, the basic idea – common sense nutrition and moderation – in moderation! – should work for almost anyone

Further, I think it’s obvious that I would’ve hit my goals earlier had I been more disciplined. Beer is not an ideal part of this nutritious breakfast. I’m not advocating party on the weekend behavior as much as I am saying that, if I can lose weight in this contrary manner, then others should be able to do as well, if not better, quicker, if they’re wise about it.

I only offer my story as proof that many, if not most, of us can lose weight without a bunch of intense dietary restrictions, extreme exercises, cumbersome tools, and other assorted nonsense.

Extreme diets don’t work because they don’t help you learn any new habits with an actual, dietary tool-set. All they do is obfuscate the issue by shifting your attention away from the real problem for a while before throwing you back to the same old, bad habits.

All you really need to lose weight is:
A realistic weight goal
A realistic calorie and nutrition intake goal for safe weight loss
A way to keep track of calories, such as with an app like MyFitnessPal
A good kitchen scale
And the motivation to walk the equivalent of 10,000 steps a day.

Losing weight takes determination and discipline but all you really need do is educate yourself about nutrition and care about your health – the rest – the all important manageable changing of dietary habits – should pretty much fall into place because, folks, nutrition is no mystery – or at least doesn’t need to be.

The first week or two of the diet, it took determination to not just laugh at the seemingly little, bird-like servings that now made up my meals. Easily, the hardest part of dieting was the regularity of my hunger pangs – but my straining waistband cutting into me and virtually every article on nutrition that I read belied my stomach’s cries: I really didn’t need all those calories.

Besides, I soon learned that these first hunger pangs fade on their own or that, in a desperate pinch between meals when they don’t fade, a raisin or two or a literal few peanuts can be surprisingly efficacious in shoring up one’s determination.

Honestly, dieting was never really that hard. I was eager to improve my health, to show support for my wife’s own attempts, and to feel the pride of doing so in a way that felt right. Weigh in on Fridays helped us by showing measurable change, as we tended to lose around two pounds almost every week.

Soon enough, you retrain yourself to a more sensible diet and, suddenly, overeating as you did before doesn’t feel so good and loses its appeal. I still overindulge some on my weekends and I still love my beer – but I find my need to do either has shrunk in proportion along with my waistline. I appreciate food and drink so much more now.

We faced the mother of all diet-destroyers when we had a week at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica but because we’d already spent months retraining ourselves to know how to eat, a week there – sans calorie tracker, kitchen scale, and exercise routine – didn’t matter.

Finally, I know I could not have been as successful at this had it not been for having a partner to work along side of. Beth continues to lose weight using this method and I plan to use it to maintain my current weight. We’ll continue walking together every day, regardless; it has become an integral, positive part of our lives.

If there is one, big, hidden cost to dieting that I wish I would have been more prepared for, it is that you end up needing a lot of new clothes.

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