This is a personal post about my own weight loss journey, and how two small adjustments to my daily routine has resulted in a 20lb weight loss. The best part, it was unplanned and totally unexpected.
Since turning 40, my weight has been more prone to jump around. I’m usually up or down 10+ pounds at different times of the year and depending on what is going on in my life. Unlike a lot of people that gain weight when they are stressed out, I lose my appetite when things are hectic. My weight gain seems to come from my daily routine, and it always seems to creep up on me, until something - a picture, my jeans feeling too snug, a favourite sweater feeling like its been shrunk in the wash. I don’t as a rule, weigh myself regularly, I prefer to let my clothes speak to me about my weight.
Last night my wife Joti, asked me what I’ve been doing recently to ‘drop so much weight’. I was shocked. I had felt that things were a bit loser lately, but it hadn’t occurred to me that there was a noticeable change. Suddenly, I was all ears. Wait, I said. How much weight do you think I’ve lost? She sized me up - at least 15 pounds. Maybe 20. I was stunned. So what have you been up to she asked? And why haven’t you shared it? I was looking at her, blankly and a bit lost.
I read once, that adding or losing 20 pounds will dramatically change the way a person looks, to the point where they look noticeably different to the people in their lives. Is it possible that I unknowingly just lost 20 lbs? My mind raced to understand how this could be possible. As far as I could tell, I hadn’t changed anything in my daily routine, or had I?
I started walking my days backwards, like you do when you are trying to retrace your steps to find missing keys or a lost wallet. Joti and I moved to a new City 2 months ago, leaving Toronto to head west to the coast and the city of Vancouver. I don’t have to tell you guys how moves, especially moves that require a 5 hour flight, can disrupt your routines. Joti started into a new job as the director of operations at a bunch of law firms that were merging, and settled into her new office. I didn’t have an office, and have never liked using shared spaces like WeWork. I decided to make a tiny, charming, Italian Cafe my office, and settled down there to work each day. I would arrive just before they opened, and leave each afternoon when the sky started to darken. The weeks started to tick by.
About a month ago, we signed a lease downtown, and even tho our furniture is still on the way in a moving van, we embraced our new, mostly empty townhouse as home. Then, I made the first change that unknowingly would make a massive impact on my weight. On the way to the Italian Cafe one day, I decided to try working at a massive, sprawling Starbucks instead.
I found that I enjoyed the bustle of the place, it felt social, and I enjoyed the constant stream of people coming in and out. My headset kept the noise at bay, and they have my favourite sugar free vanilla coffee shots. I made the switch to Starbucks for my office (I’m typing this blog article there), which by default changed the food options that I had.
At the Italian Cafe, I had started eating a small ham and cheese croissant when I arrived at 9am, and then around 2pm, I would have a small square of the pizza that they hand made in the back. Not massive portions, but two new things that I had added to my daily routine, Monday to Friday.
When I shifted to Starbucks, I started ordering the red pepper egg white bites (170 calories) and the reduced fat, turkey bacon breakfast sandwich (230 calories).
The Americano coffees remained the same. Weeks started to tick by, and I ordered the exact same thing each day, just as I had at the Italian Cafe.
What I have been able to piece together in retrospect, is that making that location change has been saving me hundreds of calories per day. The ham and cheese croissant and pizza square was likely between 700-1000 calories per day depending on the serving sizes, ingredients etc. The food items at Starbucks where a combined 400 calories. Compound this change over weeks and months, and it’s tens of thousands of calories that I wasn’t consuming. Was this a conscious decision? Did I plan this as part of a weight loss strategy? No. Did making a small shift have a massive impact on my weight? Yes, absolutely. It made me realize that there is tremendous power in making small changes to your daily routine .
The second thing I did has been more recent, maybe starting just a month ago. What did I do? I bought a bag of Jolly Rancher hard candies.
Let me explain. I’ve always been a late night eater. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I typically tip-toe downstairs and grab a snack, partly I think because that seemed to put me back to sleep. Depending on what was in the fridge, I’m guessing that each nightly trip down added at best two hundred hundred calories, and at worst maybe another five or six hundred depending again on what was available. Then, one night, I brought 4 Jolly Ranchers upstairs to enjoy as I read my book before bed. I had 2 of them before hitting the light. That night when I woke up, instead of going downstairs to the fridge, I reached down and as quietly as I could, unwrapped a Jolly Rancher candy and popped it into my mouth. The burst of flavour was intense, and I sucked on it until I crunched it rather loudly, hoping that the noise hadn’t woken Joti. I finished the candy (25 calories), took a sip of water and fell back to sleep. This Jolly Rancher routine has been going every night since, and I haven’t had a fridge light picnic since, saving me tens of thousands of additional calories.
I wanted to share these stories with you guys, to highlight the power of making small changes to your daily routines. These changes seemed so minor - changing my work location and buying a bag of hard candies - that when Joti asked me how I dropped my weight, I couldn’t tell her because I hadn’t even considered the impact these two subtle changes had made. I hope this article encourages you to look at your own day for the small wins that you can make to drive substantial changes in your life. If you are looking for some ideas and places to start, I wrote this helpful article on 32 small things that you can do that will have positive long term impacts on weight loss.
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I enjoy your blog.
Always interesting, keep up the good work.
I know you have a book in all of this.