Great thread - thanks for starting it!
I had been obese for about 10 years (ever since undergrad) heading into 2014 and decided to do something about it. Colorado University has a great program with a terrible name called "My New Weigh" - it's like Weight Watchers, Slim Fast, and The Biggest Loser smashed together. You eat high protein meal replacements, fruits, veggies, and lots of water. You couldn't join the program without getting a physical and blood work. Each week, we were required to go to class - weigh ins, consults with a nutritionist, and education on the basics (and then some) of exercise and nutrition. The whole idea was to break down every single bad habit, deprogram your preconceived notions, and build you back up again. It was awesome - exactly what I needed because I was tired of fads and empty promises.
Anyway, I lost 47 pounds in 20 weeks, 20% of my body weight, and have kept it off for 7 months with relative ease. I've changed behaviors, but I still enjoy life, food, and friends. I recently started working toward losing another 15-20. I want to firmly, permanently get out of the obese range FOR GOOD.
Here were the things that helped me most, for anyone looking for tips:
- Learn your weaknesses with health and then make a plan to counteract them. If you use food to reward yourself, come up with a non-food reward system (a massage costs just as much as that fancy dinner). My fault was not being honest about how much I ate. I'd eat 10 ounces of chicken thinking it was 4 ounces and then wonder why I couldn't lose any weight. I weigh and measure just about everything I make at home to keep myself in check.
- Have an accountability mechanism. Mine was weigh-ins and classes, plus the course fees that went with them. I'd be throwing money away if I didn't go to classes and follow the plan. You could have a gym or grocery buddy to keep you on track, for example.
- This may not be for everyone, but tracking calories in vs calories out was key for me. My biggest tool for this is my FitBit and the FitBit app. I log my food, see how many calories I burned, and make sure that I don't eat pizza or wings on a day when I just sat on my ass and didn't earn it.
- Both nutrition and exercise matter when trying to get in shape. Real results will come faster if you're good about both of these things simultaneously. That said, many trainers have told me that nutrition matters more than the activity (some have told me it's 70:30 importance between food:exercise).
- In general: Move more. Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants. (Thanks, Michael Pollan)