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This Fast-Food Addict Discovered Mindful Eating and Lost 65 Pounds

by Mackenzie L. Havey
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This Fast-Food Addict Discovered Mindful Eating and Lost 65 Pounds

Eric Jacobson was floored when his doctor told him he was pre-diabetic during a routine physical. After all, the 36-year-old Vancouver, Washington, native exercised regularly.

“I left my doctor’s appointment feeling dejected, frustrated and generally angry at the world,” he says. “I work out out seven days a week! What else was I supposed to do?”

The doctor told him that while the exercise was important, he still needed to lose a significant amount of weight if he hoped to head off a diabetes diagnosis. At 205 pounds, Jacobson was outside the healthy range for a man of his height (5-foot-9).

“I had always thought that since I worked out, I could eat whatever I wanted, but I found out that wasn’t true,” he says.

He saw the writing on the wall: He needed to adjust his diet — while still maintaining his dedication to the gym.


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He started by simply cutting back on the most identifiable (but beloved) culprit: junk food. With that small (but significant) change, 10 pounds came off over the course of six months, but Jacobson wanted more. Around this same time, his wife, Chelsea, started using MyFitnessPal to track her nutrition.

Although initially skeptical, as a self-proclaimed “tech nerd,” Jacobson became engrossed by the statistics involved — and he was stunned when he saw how the numbers added up. It turned out he was consuming almost double the recommended daily calorie intake for a man of his size.

“Prior to using the app, I had no idea how many calories were in some of the foods I loved, and I also had no clue how much I was supposed to be eating in a day — and how much I was overeating,” he says. “It also turned out that I wasn’t burning as many calories through exercising as I thought.”

He knew he needed to make changes, but he didn’t want to deprive himself of the foods he loved. Instead, he decided to focus on portion control and making healthy adjustments to his meals.

For instance, at the fast-food Chinese joint he frequented, he started ordering steamed vegetables instead of noodles or fried rice and limited himself to one fried entree. Jacobson and his wife used the app’s recipe function when cooking at home. By choosing meals designed to be “skinnier,” they were both able to dramatically reduce their calorie intake.

Jacobson says this process has totally changed his relationship with food, making him not only more aware of unhealthy habits, but also more appreciative of the things he eats.

“I naturally fell into the concept of mindful eating because I read it takes 15-20 minutes for the food you eat to hit your stomach, so I started eating slower. Through this, I have found that I savor food more,” he says. “I won’t eat an entire pizza, but I will really savor those two pieces I allow myself.”

In the six months of food logging and mindful eating, Jacobson dropped an additional 35 pounds on top of the 10 he lost previously. Since then, he’s lost even more weight. Now, at 40 years old, he weighs 140 pounds — 65 pounds lighter than in his mid-30s.

His doctor was even more surprised by his weight loss than he was.

“His mind was blown. It was really cool to have my doctor be proud of me instead of how I had always felt previously at my annual physicals — like I failed a test,” says Jacobson.

Not only has he eliminated any sign of metabolic syndrome, his cholesterol and triglycerides — which had been high since he was a teenager — dropped to a normal range.

Now satisfied with his weight, his main goal is to hold steady. He continues to track his diet, often plugging in meals he anticipates eating ahead of time to help guide his eating during the day. He also continues to run and lift weights regularly.

“It was so easy to tell myself that 200 pounds was just the way my body was and that I wasn’t ever going to be able to lose weight,” says Jacobson. “Once I lost 10 pounds, then another 10 pounds, and another — without having to buy expensive food or a special book — it blew me away. It’s really transformed my life.”

Written by Mackenzie L. Havey, a freelance journalist and coach based in Minneapolis. She holds a master’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota, and is a USA Track and Field certified coach. She has run 14 marathons and is currently training for her first IRONMAN triathlon. When she’s not writing, she’s out biking, running and cross-country skiing around the city lakes with her dog.

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  • Ursula Triplett

    Great article. Thanks for the motivation! I’m a female 5’10” and approx 210lbs. I’m trying to get down to 140/145lbs. What is your caloric intake everyday and your grams of protein daily?

    • lilly c

      Thats basically what my goal is! My highest was 210 and I am currently at 201.5. My goal is to get to 130, mostly because I’m only 5″4.

    • You can do it! MyFitnessPal is such a fantastic tool for helping to track calories and nutrition everyday! 🙂

      – Eric

  • meggers

    no offense, but isn’t 140 on a make 5’9 frame a bit low? it sounds like he’s still working out & tracking his cals as if he has more weight to lose. that plus towards the end sounding like he was “addicted” to how easy losing weight become.. i have an eating disorder & i get worried about people at this stage

    • Margie Williamson Dewey

      I thought the same thing. I weigh a little under 140 now, and I’m 5′ 2″. He looks a little malnourished…

      • Amy Lewis

        140 for a man that size is totally healthy. A man of a certain height can weigh a lot less than a woman because a man’s body has less natural fat content since their bodies have different needs than ours. My husband is 6’6″ and can weigh in the 160s and be totally healthy. A woman that size wouldn’t be. I’m pretty sure his doc would point it out if he had issues. I think he looks great. And, I don’t think he’s addicted to losing weight; it sounds like now he tracks to maintain his progress, not to keep losing.

        • Dan Mullen

          A man can also carry a lot more muscle than a woman. This dude looks seriously malnourished.

          • Dave C

            Perhaps you think he looks malnourished, but that is probably in part based upon what we have been conditioned to see as the ideal body for a man, just as happens with women. Look at competitive runners or cyclists. They often appear “gaunt” because they have a different body composition. They don’t want big muscles that give a fast burst of strength, they want lean, enduring muscles. I look at the pictures of Eric and what I see is someone who probably focuses more on cardio exercise rather than weight training.

            I reconnected with a co-worker after several years. When I knew him before, he was a little overweight. When I reconnected, he had lost a lot of weight. My first thought was similar, thinking he looked gaunt. Over the course of the next year, I slowly got used to his new look, found out he had a similar story to Eric and was very focused on healthy eating and exercise habits.

          • Mickeymikado

            I agree and the BMI Index on several of the medical sites indicates that the weight range for a male 5’9″ is 144-176. I asked my doctor today about this while I was in his office and he said that would be a very small-boned man almost child-like in his structure but that the average man should weight in the middle of that range -155 in good shape. The high range would be for someone who is very large boned. I think he looks frail and much older than 40. Sitting on the sofa, it’s like his body has disappeared into the fabric!

        • meggers

          there’s a difference in being tall, naturally thin and physiologically unable to gain weight, and intentionally reducing/increasing exercise to get down to a low weight. your husband’s BMI at 160 would be 18.5. if he’s naturally that weight and Drs say he’s healthy that’s fine. if he loses weight on purpose it’s thisclose to hospitalization for an eating disorder.

      • Dan Mullen

        Couldn’t agree more. Not sure I’d be picking someone so gaunt-looking to extol the virtues of MFP.

        • Marie

          I’m sorry Dan, but this is what a healthy, thin gentleman sometimes looks like. The BMI calculator says he can dip as low as 125 and still be at a healthy weight. I think we might be just a bit too used to seeing overweight people daily, in my case, in the mirror too. After all, well over half of us in the USA are overweight or obese

      • mudholestomper

        To say that a physically fit, healthy man “looks a little malnourished” is apocalyptically obtuse and says everything we need to know about you to know with absolute certainty that we should NEVER take your advice

    • Hi Meggers!

      I definitely keep a close watch on my weight now. A lot of health sites state that a healthy weight for a 5’9″ man is 145 pounds, so if I drop below 145, I increase my caloric intake to gain the weight back.

      My weight fluctuates between 140 and 150 pounds now.

      Your concerns about the differences in my appearance were definitely shared by many of my friends and family (even my wife prefers me a little heavier). I’ve had to have many conversations explaining that I had serious health risks at 205 pounds and am now in better tune with my health through regular vigilance.

      I extol the virtues of MyFitnessPal – if it wasn’t for the app, I wouldn’t have the information I need to stay on top of my health. In order to make sure I stay healthy, I regularly check in with my doctor for annual physicals and speak with him about proper weight maintenance (as well as run the regular battery of blood tests).

      It’s weird. Once I lost the weight, I kind of miss having the regular success of seeing the number drop, but even more than three years later, I still surprise myself when I look in the mirror – I almost feel like I don’t know that guy (but I like him)! 😉

      Sincerely,

      Eric

      • Amy Lewis

        You look great. Keep up the great work! Oh, and I totally know what you mean about missing the excitement of weight loss in maintenance mode. I was the same way (recently put some weight back on so now have the excitement of losing back, unfortunately). Congrats on your success and maintenance!

      • Amy Lewis

        Oh, and people will tell you you look thin, pale, or sick because they’re getting used to the new you and how drastic the loss is. I had people telling me that, and I was a glass of water away from being overweight. Go by how you feel and what your doctor tells you because people do tend to assume there is a problem when someone has lost a lot of weight or look out for eating disorders because that’s often the narrative that gets included in these stories. Also, people tend to “look fine” when they’re still a little overweight medically, so when they want to keep losing, others assume they’re going to far. It sounds like you kept perspective and stopped when you hit a healthy range. People who just meet you and do not know you used to be heavier will see you as looking healthy. Again, congrats!

      • Sara

        Great job Eric! I understand what you mean about the regular success of seeing the number drop. I started out at 308 and I’ve lost 62 lbs in 6 months. I’ve used MyFitnessPal the entire way. I hope to be where you are by next year and never go back. Congratulations on continuing to be successful! You are inspiring.

      • meggers

        this has nothing to do with the way you look, you’re a handsome man before and after. this is about you feeling the need to maintain such a low-end weight. i know you’re getting exposure for your story and you have to play it up. it’s a personal brand decision and i respect that. as for touting MFP don’t worry, i’ll never stop using this app. because i’m addicted to the numbers game, too.

        MFP is “awareness eating”, which is not the same thing as “mindful eating”. you don’t need to count calories when you practice mindful eating. i’m in therapy and my therapist is trying to get me off MFP and into meditation. if you’re there at your happy weight and been doing this for 3 years, you should know exactly what to do. you don’t need the numbers.

        • Marie

          Why do you think someone who doesn’t have an eating disorder needs the same practices as you?

          • meggers

            i’m saying he already does the things i do, and i have one. that’s what puts up red flags for me. i understand everyone is different. but it’s better to reach out and say something when you care than for everyone to just blindly go WOOO GOOD FOR YOUU like people did when i lost 45lbs practically starving myself, obsessed with numbers

          • Marie

            He is fluctuating between 140-150 lbs and working closely with his doctor. Are you comfortable just increasing your weight when it dips? Many people use the app and numbers to maintain their weight, due to realizing that when they let go of the numbers, they found the weight back instead.

            Can you clarify why you believe his weight is such a low end weight? His doctor and the BMI scale appear to be happy with it.

            If your therapist is trying to get you off the numbers though, I think that’s a great thing to do since I’m assuming that was a conclusion reached by them personally reviewing your case and working closely with you.

          • mudholestomper

            I agree – I don’t understand why meggers feels the need to try and tell this man that he is at an unhealthy weight when she knows absolutely nothing about him and, since she hasn’t proven otherwise, does not possess the education, professional skills/experience to make such an obtuse, uninformed, long-distance diagnosis

            @meggers: What makes you feel that you can suggest such a serious diagnosis for this man? – because he’s in the lowest percentile of a health organization’s SUGGESTED weight range that is based solely on a person’s height and nothing else?

            you understand that the figures you are taking as absolute not only don’t allow for the numerous other variables that determine someone’s body weight, but also that those figures are based on the AVERAGE person and are not 100% applicable to any 1 person, right?

      • Mickeymikado

        Eric, every BMI index that I see on medical sites puts the range for a male 5’9″ from 144-176lbs. So at 140lbs you are below a healthy weight. The low end of the range would be for a man who is has a very small frame. So while being ‘light’ is a good thing, being too thin can have it’s own challenges. I would just encourage you to gain a few more pounds. I experienced a situation where I was so thin and ‘fit’ that when I got sick, I almost died because I had no fat reserves, had screwed up my metabolism so that I lost weight regardless of what I ate. I was addicted to be ‘fit’ and thin and it almost cost me my life.

  • Yaniv

    MFP will tell you what your caloric intake and protain/carbs/fat ratio should be, if you input your weight, height and age. Its working for me, lost about 7kg and aiming at a total of 25kg (50 pounds+-). I’d add that in addition to using MFP I started walking 45 minutes 5 days a week, did it for 3 months and I am running now 6 days a week (it has been Two weeks of running now) instead of walking. I am so happy with this, my wife and kids are too.

  • Susan O’Donnell

    Hello Eric,

    Just really enjoyed your success journey. You look so healthy, there is nothing like the feeling of health and strength. And see myself in who you where at your top weight.

    I just stopped Weight Watchers due to being at stagnation of 30 LBS. loss and fluctuated 3 lbs. up and down for too long. I do have 60 more to go. Need to stop messing around.

    I have started using MFP and added a Probiotic and had already been exercise on outside bike for 30-45 a night, mixed with swimming. I found with MFP that they want my cal. at a little over 2000 daily, I dropped it to 1600 to see if this works. I seem to have trouble with Sodium too high. Go out too much, have to get a grip on that. Water I am somewhere between 7-10 glasses a day. Seems like I hold water no matter.
    I was hoping you might have a suggestion for better success.

    Thank you, and Congratulations on your success.
    Sincerely
    Susan O’Donnell

    • Thank you, Susan!

      A lot of women in my life have used Weight Watchers to varying degrees of success. For me, it was vital that I didn’t dramatically change my diet in order to lose weight – I knew that any temporary change in my diet would be easily overturned when I got fed up and decided to binge on what I preferred to eat.

      Using MyFitnessPal was a much more effective choice for me – I was able to be more aware of the calories in my food so I could temper my cravings and develop the self-discipline to pace my indulgences.

      For me, at 5’9″, MFP gives me a starting calorie intake of 1500 cal/day. After working out, that ramps up to about 1750-1900 calories.

      Here are a few tips I developed over my 3+ year journey with MyFitnessPal:

      1. Forgo the cheese. A single slice of cheddar carries about 80 calories. If you go to a Subway-type restaurant, they’ll put 2-4 slices of that on a sandwich. 320 calories in cheese?! Yikes!

      2. Substitute the mayo. Low-fat Hellman’s Mayo is only 15 calories per tablespoon. For me, I’ll have Jimmy Johns hold the mayo on my carryout sandwich, and then put on my own light mayo at home. Plus, on a sandwich, I can’t tell the taste difference between full-flavor and low-fat with all the other flavors at work.

      3. Own your own calorie intake. Remember that everyone’s body is different. MFP does a great job giving a baseline, but if you’re not losing weight at the calorie intake it suggests, that means you’re either overestimating your exercise burn, or you’re underestimating your intake. Adjust accordingly. If you’re 100% accurate with your records and still not losing weight, it means your body is like mine – slow metabolism. I had to eat less.

      4. Get used to feeling hungry. Society has taught us that the instant we feel hungry, we should eat. It’s certainly difficult, but I’ve trained myself that feeling hungry is NOT a bad thing. I’m often slightly hungry, and, for me, the hardest part of losing weight was developing the self-discipline to tell myself, “It’s okay that I feel hungry right now. My next meal is just a few hours away and I can make it without snacking.”

      5. Make sure you exercise (like you are). But make sure what you do today, you can also do tomorrow. It’s exciting to get started losing weight and make healthy choices, but too many people want to jump in full force. Fortunately, I started working out at age 28 and have been working out 7 days a week for years now, so when I needed to lose weight, I didn’t need to add a routine. If you’re just starting an exercise routine, start small. Consider going on a brisk 30-minute walk each day. Once you get used to that, bump it up. Then, add weights. However, whatever you do to start, make sure you don’t blow out a full-blown 2-hour workout and end up so sore you don’t want to workout for DAYS afterward. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint – start small with something you can do everyday and add to it.

      Keep up the great work, Susan! I know everyone says this, but if I can do it, ANYONE can do it. Truly. 🙂

      Sincerely,

      Eric

    • Susan O’Donnell

      Thank you Eric for the very inlightening reply. I will use everything you said and try to turn this “fat ship” around.

      Your the BEST!
      Have a great weekend
      Susan O’Donnell

  • Drew Smith

    This story is so similar to mine, right down to our similar heights and starting weight, although it looks like I’ve got 20-years on him. Over the space of 18-month, with exercise and especially tracking my eating with the MyFitnessPal app, I have lost 30-lbs. I still need to lose a bit more but like this person I felt great pride when my doctor praised me for what I had done to turn my health status around.

    • Congratulations on your success, Drew!

      I think so many of us can benefit from just having the data MyFitnessPal provides. Once I realized how many calories I should be eating (and actually WAS eating), I was able to develop the self-discipline to realize that feeling hungry didn’t necessarily mean I should eat something.

      Keep up the great work!

      Eric

      • Drew Smith

        I agree with you, Eric, although I do try to respond in a positive way to what my body is telling me. Throughout the day, I eat about every 2-3 hours, something small with some protein in every other nosh. Also, hunger and thirst have similar responses so I will drink some water first and see if I was really thirsty, not hungry.

    • Sean Johnson

      This is the story I’m hoping for. I’m @220 and should probably be 150ish. And I’ve got about a decade on EriJacobson. @disqus_HefA4Jd9a5:disqus , since you experienced this kind of success too, how did you overcome the hunger and/or habit of eating the quantities or types of food that prevent weight loss? I’ve been using MFP for 8 years on and off and lose ~10lbs only to gain it right back. Is it just sheer discipline?

      • MAS01

        Sean:

        On February 9th, I went to my doctor for my annual physical. I’m right at 6′ tall and weighed 236 when I stepped on the scales. I asked her about losing weight and she suggested the MyFitnessPal app. I have logged in religiously since February 10th. When I stepped on the scale this morning, it read 195.4. For me (and your mileage may vary), the app made me accountable for what I ate. It was not about what I ate, but how much.

        I have found that I need to log everything in each day. By now, I know when I have eaten more than what the app is telling me I should have. I have not changed the types of food, only the amount. When my wife and I go to a restaurant, I now always have lunch for the next day.

        When I returned to the doctor for my six-month follow-up, based on my blood work, she took me off my pre-diabetic medication and cut my cholesterol medication in have. She actually told me that my bad cholesterol was too LOW and needed to come up about half a dozen points. Never heard that too low could be bad. I feel significantly better, probably better now at 55 than in the last 15 to 20 years.

        We’re all different, but I needed the accountability aspect that the app forces me to have. And, by spreading out snacks throughout the day, I’m not as hungry as I used to be.

        My goal is another 10-15 lbs by the end of the year.

        Good luck; keep at it!!!!

        Mark
        Joplin, MO

        • Sean Johnson

          Thanks Mark,

          It is encouraging and motivating to hear of other’s success. I guess I’ll redouble my efforts and try to keep the goal in view.

          Sean
          Redlands, CA

          • Mango

            If I could just add my 2 cents, I’d say judging health and fitness progress by weight loss (numbers on a scale) alone is something that hindered me greatly in my past efforts. Several years ago I lost 65 pounds in about 8-9 months and should have kept going, but I became extremely fixated on that scale and every bump back up was baffling and frustrating. I let it dictate how I felt and being at a probably very natural plateau, I lost sight of what was important – how far I had come in terms of fitness and nutrition. Long story short, I ended up gaining most of it back which was of course miserable. I joined a gym this past January just to start moving again and little by little I became motivated and excited about increasing my fitness and nutrition levels. I’ve re-lost 35 pounds, albeit much more slowly this time, but I’m guessing that’s for the better as obviously the rapid weight loss didn’t work for me. As they say, slow and steady wins the race. I’m committed to working out, committed to moving more during the day (my Fitbit made me love this), and I’m committed to tracking/being accountable for calories and sugar. Do I want more weight loss and is it still frustrating to not see that scale number falling more quickly? God yes, but every day you move/exercise and you stick to clean eating means you’re healthier than the day before. The scale can’t take that away from you. The weight loss will come along with that. It absolutely will.

        • Sean Johnson

          Just noticed a detail in your comment I glossed over in the first reading. You lost ~ 4.4 lbs a month over almost 10 months. And your goal is roughly the same rate over the next 3 months.

          I think I need that reality check. I didn’t add 60-70 lbs overnight and I will not lose it that fast either. I think I’m hoping for the 2/wk loss but get discouraged if I don’t get it. Or worse, when I do get it (with cheats included) I start to think I can eat what I want again.

          -sean

          • MAS01

            Sean:

            Honestly, I think that 2lbs/week is unrealistic without some sort of medical supervision. Each pound is about 3500 calories, so to achieve 2lbs/wk, you have to reduce your calorie consumption by 1000 calories per DAY. No wonder you’re hungry all the time. Plus, when you drop down too fast, the body can go into starvation mode.

            I think the best approach is the turtle vs the hare. Keep in mind the long term goal; you’ll get there eventually. I’ve seen too many take the hare approach and end up putting it right back on.

            Mark

      • Drew Smith

        Sean, I suppose it has a great deal to do with having a sensible vision of how you want to see yourself (for me, this is 75kg/165lbs) and trying to keep that in mind even when you experience some setbacks. I use the goal setting function of MFP to give me a target but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t keep to it. But I log EVERYTHING, even the ‘bad’ stuff.
        Some days you get the bear, other days the bear gets you! But, you will be hungry until your body gets used to having a new sheriff in town. This can take months or even years to achieve.

        Also, I try to distribute my caloric daily goal throughout the day by eating a good breakfast and then trying to eat about every 2-3 hours throughout the day: a piece of fruit or cheese, a small handful of trail mix, etc. Also, sometimes your body confuses hunger and thirst, so a big glass of water can often keep hunger pangs at bay. I try to drink anywhere from 48 to 60+ ounces per day.

  • Mike C

    This article is very motivating. I’m almost halfway through my weight loss journey having lost 60.2 pounds since July 1st, 2017 which was the day my mom died out of the blue of Arteriosclerosis.

    At 359lbs and gaining, in a job as a longhaul trucker, getting healthy had been a challenge. Now I’m 298.8.

    I used to be out of breath just taking a shower, now I get my heart rate up to 144 for 21 minutes, the immediately do circuit training with weights for another 35. It getting to the point where I’m having a hard time getting my heart rate up.

    Around the time of I started eating healthy, my cousin was trying to get me back on Myfitnesspal, and to get me to watch the documentary “What the Health”

    I watched it, then read Prevent and Reverse Cardiovascular disease by Dr Esselstyn, and combined what already I knew from Michael Thurman 6 Week Body Makeover when I lost weight years ago.

    This time is different. It’s not just about losing weight, it’s about prevention of Arteriosclerosis.

    I’m heavy, but also very muscular, extra large framed, and strong…really strong. My goal is 210 which may seem heavy for 6’1″, but I wear 33 waist Levi’s at 210. People say I look to skinny at 220. I think Body Fat percentage is a better measure.

    My macros are 55 Carb, 35 protein, 10% fat. (Never going higher that 10% fat)

    I keep my calories between 1201 and 1250. I eat about 100 – 108 grams of protein. (Mostly from Plant based protein powders)

    I eat about 5 different raw fresh fruits and 8 to 10 different raw fresh and frozen veggies a day, plus vitamins and plant based supplements.

    By Feb I should reach goal weight, but I want to eat like this until July 2019 and then scan my arteries to see if this cleaned out the little bit of calcium I had.

    So far so good. Blood pressure is down to 101/66 with a standing Heart rate at 62. Acid reflux is gone. Cholesterol had dropped 20 points when I tested it on July 27 and without taking Cholesterol meds. Triglycerides cut in half.

    Next test is Sept 20 (in 3 days) Can’t wait to see the results.

  • Kevin

    This Is a great article because it well explains the issues so many Americans have regarding the dichotomy between physical fitness and proper eating. Despite being pretty active and working out, I too suffered from this same lack of awareness for years, also just becoming complacent with a heavier weight and thinking, that’s just the size I am. I worked out, so My thought was I was as low as I could go and couldn’t lose anymore weight. It wasn’t until I realized I was eating way too much for a guy my size that I was finally able to get my eating under control. There appears to be a very prevalent, misguided ideaology in America that working out means you can eat whatever you want. And, although I myself was under the impression that that was true for years, it still surprises how many people still believe it. To be clear, I do think there is an element of denial, as no one really wants to admit or acknowledge their diet is bad. But I was, for a very long time, under the impression that if I went and ran a mile, I should easily be able to eat an entire frozen pizza and not suffer any weight gain. Of course I was wrong, and my fitness pal did really assist in realizing that. I don’t know what the solution would be, but it does seem like a public campaign towards not only getting people to be more active, but to quit eating so darned much (particularly typical calorie-sense foods) seems to be appropriate. But of course the journey is different for us all. But I did really see a major similarity between my situation and that of this guy in the article.

    • Hi Kevin,

      You’re right on!

      I think a lot of people – men, in particular – don’t realize how many calories are in the foods we’re eating. I wanted to reward myself for working out by eating whatever I desired thinking I wouldn’t gain any weight. Boy, was that the wrong approach.

      Thanks to technological advancements in food science and farming, society is able to mass produce food that tastes great. However, so much of it has a lot of calories (and a lot of other bad ingredients, too).

      Unfortunately, thanks to huge portion sizes (again, particularly in the U.S.), it’s almost impossible to keep an eye on how many calories I eat without the assistance of an app like MyFitnessPal.

      From the moment I started using the app, it was shockingly eye-opening. Once I realized I was eating more than double the calorie intake I should be and reduced my intake, the weight sloughed off unbelievably quickly.

      After losing the weight, I was floored by how many people had no problem coming up to me to tell me I’m too skinny or too thin. If it’s not okay to tell an overweight person to stop eating those french fries, why is it okay to tell someone who’s a healthy weight that they’re too thin? Although I am completely against fat-shaming, like you, I am concerned about the fine line between society’s new messaging that you should love the way you look and the importance of ensuring we’re a healthy society that’s eating properly and taking care of ourselves. It’s certainly important for society to not have predetermined ideals about beauty, but it’s just as important that we have a healthy population.

      I agree with your comments about how get society to realize the value of being healthy and eating right – how we get there is really anybody’s guess.

      Anyway, congratulations on your own success and thank you for your kind words!

      Eric

  • Tommy Wilson

    This article reminds me of how and where I started. And I’m encouraged to return to that routine. I got tired of keeping track of my meals and have gained back some of the weight. I’m determined to get back to tracking my meals. When I first started it was just before thanksgiving and I didn’t feel like I missed anything and I didn’t feel stuffed during the holidays. Thanks for reminding me of this.

  • Heather

    I love this and find it so inspirational! I eat on auto-pilot so I eat quickly. I’d love to know how he recommends others get started eating more mindfully and what “mindful” means to him. Spill the beans… I want the dirty details! I’m hungry for any tips, because this is totally my issue, too! Thanks for the inspiration! (also, if he’s a reader like me, I’d love to hear about any books he’d recommend on the subject. I think the topic got a little saturated for awhile so if there’s a particular one, count me in. Thanks!)

  • Mickeymikado

    I think this weight loss goal is unrealistic – 2 lbs. a week. And, if you lose too fast, you can just as easily gain it back quicker. Losing weight too fast can call a whole gamut of other weight issues. I use myfitnesspal as well but my goals are a bit more conservative and I’m losing weight steadily. Personally, to me, I think Eric is very thin. There is such a thing as getting in shape and getting to a normal weight, but I think he has surpassed the healthy weight and has to be on the low end of the spectrum for his frame and height. He looks older to me as well. I was a workout freak and got down to 92 lbs on a 5’2″ small frame (I’m female) and was wearing less than a size 0 – had to go to the preteen department to find clothes. I worked out twice a day, 7 days a week hard core. I quit having periods, had virtually no body fat, major hormonal imbalance and heart palpitations. On top of this, I got pregnant and was very sick because my body had no reserves. I weighed less than 110 lbs when my son was born and quickly gained to a healthier 108 lbs; then eventually settled at 112 and was much healthier. After breaking several bones and my back in an accident, I was fed a daily regimen of steroids which packed 40 lbs on my small frame and now I’m taking a different route to lose the weight. No workout queen here anymore…I’m walking and doing light aerobic exercise, eating a clean diet and staying away from high carbs and YES high protein and substituting some of those high protein foods for good fats. If you don’t use all of that protein, it converts to glucose and wham back where you started. So weight loss is different for everybody, but you cannot get there eating pizza, drinking soda, eating desserts and junk food. I virtually do not have a pantry anymore because I have NO processed food in my house. I make everything from scratch and know everything that goes into my body. Myfitnesspal helps me track my nutrition goals and I also have a cool scale that actually looks like a scale with a nutrition label on it. Basically, it’s good common sense and moderation in all things. But I do not do sugar, caffeine, coffee or soda and eat nothing white or anything that grows below the ground. Vegetables, fruits like berries and also nuts are my snacks and I eat lean meats, fish and shellfish. Small portions – 3 small meals a day and two snacks. Get your doc to check your B12 and Vitamin D as well, as these were culprits for me. Healthy weight loss is a good thing, dying to be skinny isn’t.

  • Mickeymikado

    I think this weight loss goal is unrealistic – 2 lbs. a week. And, if you lose too fast, you can just as easily gain it back quicker. Losing weight too fast can call a whole gamut of other weight issues. I use myfitnesspal as well but my goals are a bit more conservative and I’m losing weight steadily. Personally, to me, I think Eric is very thin. There is such a thing as getting in shape and getting to a normal weight, but I think he has surpassed the healthy weight and has to be on the low end of the spectrum for his frame and height. He looks older to me as well. I was a workout freak and got down to 92 lbs on a 5’2″ small frame (I’m female) and was wearing less than a size 0 – had to go to the preteen department to find clothes. I worked out twice a day, 7 days a week hard core. I quit having periods, had virtually no body fat, major hormonal imbalance and heart palpitations. On top of this, I got pregnant and was very sick because my body had no reserves. I weighed less than 110 lbs when my son was born and quickly gained to a healthier 108 lbs; then eventually settled at 112 and was much healthier. After breaking several bones and my back in an accident, I was fed a daily regimen of steroids which packed 40 lbs on my small frame and now I’m taking a different route to lose the weight. No workout queen here anymore…I’m walking and doing light aerobic exercise, eating a clean diet and staying away from high carbs and YES high protein and substituting some of those high protein foods for good fats. If you don’t use all of that protein, it converts to glucose and wham back where you started. So weight loss is different for everybody, but you cannot get there eating pizza, drinking soda, eating desserts and junk food. I virtually do not have a pantry anymore because I have NO processed food in my house. I make everything from scratch and know everything that goes into my body. Myfitnesspal helps me track my nutrition goals and I also have a cool scale that actually looks like a scale with a nutrition label on it. Basically, it’s good common sense and moderation in all things. But I do not do sugar, caffeine, coffee or soda and eat nothing white or anything that grows below the ground. Vegetables, fruits like berries and also nuts are my snacks and I eat lean meats, fish and shellfish. Small portions – 3 small meals a day and two snacks. Get your doc to check your B12 and Vitamin D as well, as these were culprits for me. Healthy weight loss is a good thing, dying to be skinny isn’t.

  • CE H

    What is discouraging is when the difference between losing weight and staying the same is 200 calories per day. So if I eat 4 Oreos, that’s it. That’s my 200 calories = no weight loss. How can someone stay encouraged if the tiniest snack (like a granola bar, 180 calories) “ruins” that day? I recently (2 years ago) started on antianxiety medication and put on 15 pounds. I’ve been stuck at 140 for 18 months, neither gaining nor losing (I am 5ft 4″). I run 3 days a week, bike 10 miles to and from work, and lift weights twice a week. My (skinny) doctor told me “Well just eat less and exercise more” and recommended MFP, which is where I learned that with my exercise, I should consume 1600 calories per day instead of 1800 to lose 10 lbs over 6 months. Sure. It’s that easy. 🙁 NOT. I feel like I’ll be stuck in my fat pants forever.

    • mudholestomper

      While you may not like to be told the truth, what your doctor told you is the ONLY way to lose weight – and yes, it is that easy – there is no magic beans or some mystical secret that thin/healthy people know that you don’t

      Most importantly, losing weight and keeping it off requires hard work and a lifelong commitment to it – there is no such thing as a “diet” that will shed weight quickly, then allow you to throw the eating/fitness discipline away and stay at the lower weight

      It’s very simple and exactly as your doctor told you: eat less calories than you burn and you lose weight – exercise helps, but your eating is 80%-90% of it

      If you are unable to keep yourself from resisting 4 Oreo cookies a day and a medical professional tells you exactly what you need to do and your response is that it’s not that simple/can’t be done, then you will not be successful

      it’s called denial and if you refuse to accept the truth, then your goals are unattainable

    • Nick Fergadis Giannakopoulos

      My two cents: Maybe your ratio of cardio/weight training is a bit off; meaning you might be focusing on too much cardio and too little strength training. You could try to lift more often and do less cardio and track the results for a while.

  • Mike H

    Almost the same story here, i have been working out for the last several years but not loss, just yo yo up and down. After burning as much as 1000 cals. during a work out and lost 5 lbs and just gave up, I figure that ti suppose to weigh 319 lbs, after all i am 6ft 5 inches tall. I still work out and have been on the Fitness Pal program since July 10, 2017. I have lost 16 lbs., still have 18 lbs to go. IT CAN BE DONE!!!

  • Felecia Watkins

    Love this article!!