A Blueprint for Weight Loss

I weighed 165 pounds when I graduated from high school 23 years ago. My recent decision to reduce my weight of 195 was not driven by high blood pressure or high cholesterol or by having to buy ever-larger clothes. It was a desire to improve my self-esteem through a better appearance. Last June, with my 41st birthday two months away, my goal became to lose 20 pounds in 60 days.

This seemed reasonable because of two characteristics of my lifestyle that I could modify: a relatively low level of physical activity and a diet high in fat.

My first task was to join a fitness center. The gym I selected is close to my home and, most important, open 24 hours. This flexibility was needed as my workout had to fit between a deadline-oriented job and a family that includes my two boys, ages 4 and 7. Many times I've gone to the gym at 11 p.m. or 5 a.m. It was critical that my routine be a simple, solitary experience--no class schedules, no personal trainer.

I settled on a program that includes the treadmill and two or three weight machine stations. I started slowly on the treadmill, walking for 15 minutes at 2.5 mph and building up to 40 minutes at 4 mph. The entire session takes a little over one hour, three times a week.

I tried to make my diet adjustments just as simple: cold-turkey elimination of all the high-calorie / high-fat foods that I love so dearly, including fast food, sodas, candy, chips and my morning doughnut, a years-old tradition.

Replacement of the fun but forbidden foods was easier than I had imagined and includes lots of salads, chicken, turkey and a little fish. What used to be my morning doughnut became a plain bagel, English muffin or biscuit--and surprisingly the world did not end.

Finding low-fat snack substitutes has been fun as I've become an obsessive and boring nutrition-label reader. My favorites include white cheddar rice cakes, microwave popcorn, diet pink lemonade Snapple and fresh fruit.

In my electronic organizer, I plotted a weekly goal for the 60 days, weighing in each Monday at the gym. Progress was slow but steady, and with continuing support from friends at the office, I weighed in at 173 on my birthday. I continued to lose in the weeks following and have been maintaining my high school weight of 165 for more than six months.


Vital Statistics

Name: Vince Petito

Age: 41

Occupation: Architect

Height: 5 feet, 6 inches

Old Weight: 195

New Weight: 165

Time to Get There: Three months

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