How I Lost 20 Pounds In 9 Months Without Dieting

by | Sep 23, 2009
Quarter Pounder

Quarter Pounder

Today one of my best and oldest friends, David Goodman, shares his remarkable story of how he dropped 20 pounds this year so far “without hardly trying.”

He says the influence I’ve had on him through conversations and articles here at Summer Tomato has helped him make better food choices almost subconsciously.

David and I have a long diet history together (he’s the friend from college I mention in the link), and I am honored to have him share his success story with you. Though he says he is only beginning his journey, I think we can all agree he has made tremendous progress already.

Congratulations Dave!

Dr. Darya: Or how I learned to stop worrying about my weight and love food

And drop 20 lbs in nine months.

by David Goodman

In December of 2008 I weighed 225 lbs. As of yesterday, I weigh 205 lbs.

It’s actually hard for me to view this as a big accomplishment. I have been planning to lose a lot more weight. (My goal is to weigh closer to 165 lbs). But the funny part is that while I have been “planning” to lose all this weight, I have, as Darya pointed out, lost a significant amount. And I have lost it, I can assure you, without being on a diet.

Darya told me that this was exactly the kind of weight loss she believed people could achieve by following her advice. She also reminded me that if I kept up this same pace every nine months, it wouldn’t be that long until I reached my goal. And significantly, I certainly won’t be gaining more weight, which is often the trend for people as they get older.

When Darya asked me to think about how I lost these 20 lbs, the reason was hard to pinpoint. Because it hadn’t occurred rapidly, and because I didn’t actively try to lose weight with a restrictive diet, it was almost like it didn’t “count.” Also, because I haven’t reached my ultimate goal, I don’t really feel like a success story just yet.

On the other hand, losing weight without trying is pretty awesome. And if this weight loss keeps up and stays off, I’ll be right where I want to be in 18 months.

So how did this happen, you ask? As far as I can tell, it went like this:

Darya and I have been talking about food for the past year. I have never been much of a cook and I ate out for most of my meals. I think I was eating fast food about 5-10 times a week.

As I talked to Darya and read her blog, I found myself thinking more and more about “good” food. In fact, without really meaning to I started categorizing food into two groups: “real” food and “crap” food. From what I could tell, simply put, real food grows in the ground, or eats food that grows in the ground. Crap food is made in laboratories and/or mass produced. It is fried or filled with sugar or both.

At first my categorizing food as crap didn’t really stop me from eating it. I was used to my routines and didn’t think about actively changing. Talking and thinking about health, nutrition, and good food made me want to behave differently, but I figured I would need to make major life changes to accomplish that, and I hadn’t gotten around to it yet. This is what I meant when I was “planning” to lose weight.

But I think it was hard to read and talk about healthy food and not incorporate some of that into my life. Slowly, without realizing it, I just started eating green vegetables more often. I definitely put more nuts, fish, and brown rice into my diet too. I don’t think I was eating those foods very much at all before I started talking to Darya about healthy food.

(Read more: Get Fit By Becoming A Food Geek)

Most of all, I stopped eating fast food so much and started making more meals at home. This happened so gradually that it is hard to remember the exact chain of events. Nine months ago it was 5-10 times a week for fast food. These days I usually go more than a week without having it at all. Last week I only had fast food once (I had a cheeseburger at In-N-Out. Sorry Darya, but in my defense, I was pretty drunk).

(Read more: Don’t Eat This, Don’t Eat That: Why Fast Food Is Never Healthy)

My eating is still far from perfect. I could do a lot better on the size of my portions and I still eat crap food from time to time. Also, to reach my ultimate goal of 165 lbs I think I am going to have to start exercising more. During the last nine months the most I did was go walking a few times a week. My gym attendance was inconsistent at best. But I think what my experience really shows is that gradual progress is possible with a few basic, common sense changes to what we eat.

Also, the food that I have been making and eating at home has been delicious. I don’t miss the crap food that I haven’t been eating and I look forward to the fresh, healthy food that I’ve been preparing.

Maybe this losing weight thing doesn’t have to be so hard. Maybe it’s just a matter of paying more attention and really being conscious about what we are eating and whether or not it’s really good food.

(Read more: How To Get Started Eating Healthy)

Have you lost weight eating real food? What are the biggest challenges for you?

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14 Responses to “How I Lost 20 Pounds In 9 Months Without Dieting”

  1. Hilary says:

    I love this post! I remember you tweeting about your friend awhile back, Darya, and wanting to know more about his story . . . So thank you for posting it—and David, thanks for sharing what has worked for you here! Very helpful and encouraging :).

  2. Melissa says:

    Great post David (love the allusion to Dr. Strangelove)!! I have recently started eating healthier as well and have also found it easy , for the first time ever, to drop the pounds. I almost feel like I’m cheating it’s been so easy!

    The gradual change is probably the way to go, I tend to go all or nothing and have found the overhaul in my lifestyle to be overwhelming at times. Overall though it has been a great experience and I only wish I had started down this road years ago!

  3. Congratulations, David!

    Another way to summarize your intake is that you’re eating much less man-made food and more food God made.

    I’ve also heard it put, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize.” E.g., Doritos, Ding-Dongs, Big Macs.


  4. Chandra says:

    Way to go, David!! Steve, that’s a good way to put it!

  5. arvind says:

    Way to go David!! Similar to your “crap food” label, I started using “pure sugar” as a label for anything that is not a whole grain. Soon all white rice, bread and pasta started looking like sugar. I’m still not there, but it has helped me to reduce my carb intake. It is my goal to ultimately get all my carbs from fruits, veggies, nuts, dairy, lentils and whole grains while completely cutting out sugar, polished grains or flour products from my diet.

  6. arvind says:

    Of course, I meant to preface my comment with “Thanks to reading Darya’s blog” but forgot to do that.

  7. Matt Shook says:

    That’s awesome news David, congrats on your success and the great write up too. I love the title, I thought for sure you would mention fluoride at some point. Hahaha…

    Now try to convince my brother to follow your lead. 😉

  8. Wonderful to read about Dave’s experience! He truly has *gotten* what losing weight and keeping it off is all about. Everything you talk about is exactly what I urge my followers, blog readers and clients to do.

    One CAN really lose weight without dieting and being deprived. It’s all about getting back to basics, having a positive relationship with food, and doing it in small steps which over time become habits that you don’t even have to think about much any more — they become part of who you are and doesn’t require a lot of effort. All of which you’ve certainly done!

    Congrats on what you’ve accomplished!!

  9. David Goodman says:

    Wow! I really want to thank everyone for their encouragement. Maybe Darya will have me write another post if I lose another 20 pounds! I totally agree with the “pure sugar” categorization and the “don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize” categorization too. For me, putting food into this basic “yes-or-no” structure has been a lot easier to stick to. It takes all the complexity out of eating and lets you just enjoy food. Plus, after awhile, it just becomes part of your thinking. It’s like, “why would I want to eat that? It’s not even food.” I have also been a victim of the “all-or-nothing” thinking when it comes to food and it has never worked for me for more than a few months. I really think that this is a better way to go. Thanks Darya, for making it a bit easier to do.

  10. Babbalou says:

    Great story! And because the changes you’ve made are positive ones (choosing to make healthy choices) rather than negative ones (deciding to go on a diet, which always seems to imply you’re depriving yourself of something) I think you’re more likely to keep going and eventually maintain your weight loss and healthy habits. Best of luck to your continued success!

  11. Jan says:

    This is a very good post as I feel like I am right there as well! I am trying to adapt more to a healthier, more natural way of eating but cannot help but eat “crap” food once in a while.

    Darya, my biggest problem is…I have a sweet tooth. Having said that, I wanted to ask you how one can manage to eat desserts, what sweeteners are good, etc. I have been suggested to try agave nectar and natural honey but they both have SO much sugar. Diabetes runs on both sides of my family so I have to watch it. (meaning, I don’t even eat bananas out of paranoia but if I’m tempted, I might just take a bite out of that chocolate ganache cupcake)

    Are there any recipes or desserts you suggest? Thanks!

  12. Congratulations. That nine months of “brain-changing” habits will go far for you.

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