How I Lost 26 Pounds in 2.5 Months

March 26, 2010

I woke up today, stood on the scale, and good news: I reached my weight loss goal!! Woo-hoo! I’ve lost 26 pounds since January 6 and now weigh what it says on my driver’s license.

Now, I’m no diet guru or health expert, and I’m really hesitant to write this post because it’ll look that way … but, a couple things:

  1. Whenever I mention my weight loss (including today on Twitter), people inevitably want to know how I did it.
  2. If, by sharing this, I can help even one other person lose some weight and get in better shape, it’s worth it.

So let’s throw caution to the wind, shall we? Here’s what I did…

No secrets, no tricks, no fancy diets, just this basic advice you’ve heard a million times: Eat better and get more exercise. And keep track of everything. That’s it. Seriously. It’s not rocket science.

Eat better

I still eat hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, big sandwiches, etc. I still go out to eat — Olive Garden, Outback, local restaurants, In-N-Out Burger when I was in California, etc. But I also watch my calories like a hawk. I stopped eating stuff that was high-calorie and started eating lower-calorie stuff. Here are some of the foods that were key to losing 26 pounds.


1. Light Mayo / Mustard: I really love mayonnaise, but it’s really, really bad for you. One little tablespoon is 90 calories, and I used to put bunches of it on my sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, and other stuff. I’ve switched to light mayonnaise, which tastes much better than I thought it would, and I use a lot more mustard than before. Mustard has, like, zero calories.

2. Pickles: This is the greatest snack ever. Two pickle spears HAVE ONLY FIVE CALORIES. Five!!!! That means I could eat 32 pickle spears and it would be the same as one slice of American cheese. This is my main daytime snack, and I also put pickle slices on my sandwiches.

3. Skinny Cow ice cream: Best. Ice Cream. Ever. And it’s low-calorie. An ice cream sandwich (shown) has only 140 calories. They sell Dippers and Truffles that are even less. And they’re all delicious. Cari loves them. The kids love them. I do, too. I’ve eaten more ice cream since starting my diet than I did before.

4. Late-night snacks: I struggle with this, because we eat dinner at around 5:30 or 6:00 pm, and I don’t go to bed until 1:00 or 1:30 am. That’s a long time without food. Those Jell-O cups are only 70 calories each. The Del Monte Sugar-Free Mandarin Orange cups are even better, only 40 calories each. And delicious.

The only thing I’ve really cut down on is pasta, because a tiny little bit of pasta is 200 calories and I LOVE pasta. So, when we go to Olive Garden now, I order the Chicken Marsala or Mixed Grill, both of which are less than 800 calories. And delicious.

I’ve also cut down on cheese, I suppose. I used to put four slices on a sandwich, but now I use two. And sometimes I’ll skip cheese altogether and just have a hamburger. Cheese is a ton of calories and the taste reward doesn’t justify the cost.

More exercise

I started working out on January 14 and usually go to the gym four times per week. Sometimes at night, sometimes in the morning. I do 10 minutes on the treadmill to warm-up, then do some weightlifting and sit-ups for about 20-30 minutes, then get back on the treadmill for 35 more minutes (with some great workout songs to keep me going).

This has been tough at times because a bad workout really gets you down, and you hit a wall and want to stop … but you can’t. Discipline, discipline, discipline. Fight through it.

For me, the 35-minute treadmill part is the hardest, but I keep myself busy by checking email, checking Twitter, etc. I even write emails and tweets while on the treadmill. It’s a great way to pass the time.

Track everything

I already blogged about this a month ago: the Lose It iPhone app is amazing. Couldn’t have done any of this without it. Every day I input all my eating and exercise and it tells me how many calories I have left. I input my daily weight. I compare how I’m doing day-to-day and week-to-week. Love this app.


So, that’s about it. Maybe this helps someone? I hope so. It ain’t easy to lose weight, but the reward is so worth it. I feel better today than I have in YEARS … maybe even a decade or two.


  • Reply Melissa March 26, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Wow, Matt! Congrats. I understand this little war. I am on the net so much it is easy to forget to work out and grabbing quick food is always an issue. I agree with you, eating right and exercise is all you need. However, I will look at the iPhone app because it is just one more motivator. Great info, especially the pickles! Do you liked pickled okra? I love those!

    I am doing things a little different- I eat really low fat, 45 minutes of aerobics or kickboxing and a mile day on the treadmill. Wish me luck 🙂 Never liked the mayo or cheese, so I am lucky there. I can’t buy crackers cuz I eat the whole box!

  • Reply Caroline March 26, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Good work, Matt. That’s sort of how I did it too. Lost 17 kilos. No cheese, no pasta. One plate meals. Cycle to work. Keep track of everything in a spreadsheet. Couldn’t believe how relatively easy it was in the end.

  • Reply Lisa Zeitlinger March 26, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Great job, Matt. Thanks so much for your tips. They seem to be healthy and sensible choices without giving up taste! I took some notes. By the way, I am addicted to Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches!

    • Reply Matt March 26, 2010 at 1:56 pm

      Thx for the kind words, folks. Caroline — congrats to you, too. And you’re right, it was easier than I expected. I figured it would take until June, but obviously not. Did you find that your appetite has lessened over time? I can’t eat the same amount of food I used to eat. Think my stomach has shrunk.

      Melissa — good luck with what you’re doing. You know what’s pretty low in calories is those Goldfish crackers. I have those with lunch sometimes. 45 crackers for like 120 calories or something.

      Lisa – try the other Skinny Cow stuff, it’s all amazing.

  • Reply Caroline March 26, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Yes, I definitely can’t eat as much as before. And I can’t get myself to buy ‘bad’ food now even when I want to have a treat. I’ll pick it up and then put it back on the shelf. Like sometimes I’ll get a craving for spagetti and meatballs, but I can’t bring myself to cooking it.

  • Reply Dan Eliot March 26, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Nice summary Matt. Glad it worked so well for you.

    I’ve lost about 15lbs since I returned from Hawaii last summer. Approaching goal of about 18 pounds in the next few weeks.

    The “Lost it” iphone/touch app has helped me in the past month with the last 5lbs that would not come off. The key, for me, was tracking EVERY SINGLE calorie, down to the jam on toast and white rice with a main dish. Seeing each calorie for what it is allowed me to make some changes. Particularly the realization of how bad fast food and restaurant food really can be calorie wise.

    Things that helped me: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray. Lots of fat and calories in butter. For cooking, Brummel and Brown yogurt butter, which has 1/2 the fat, but tastes the same to me and melts well has helped. Like you, I’m up until midnight. I have stopped eating after 10pm. I just don’t any more, regardless.

    Great foods that have helped me; 1% milk, subway sandwiches, Eggos, egg white omelets, cold cereal, canned fruit, toast, mustard instead of mayo, and Lara bars for snacks. Love those Lara bars!

  • Reply Melissa March 26, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Hey, came back to read the comments 🙂 Also wanted to mention Special-K protein meal replacement bars. I keep those on hand and they are yummy! Also, hydroxycut has drink packets you mix with water. They don’t make me hot or jittery, but they do completely take my hunger away. You have motivated me even more. 🙂

  • Reply Steve September 7, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Stumbled on this while wasting time at work – props on the weight loss!

    How I got here? I just googled “lost 26 pounds”. I am on a weight loss journey myself and my goal is somewhere in the 40 pound range. My last night’s weigh in has me at about 26.5 lbs lost since I started this journey exactly 2 months ago today.

    My story is nearly identical to yours and if I were to post any sort of blog or journal entry about it, it would be just about the same as your story except for a few things.

    For me, I don’t go to the gym – I’ve taken up running as an obsession. I started out really small – just 1 or 2 miles tops, and not a crazy pace. But within a month I was up to 3 – 4 miles and ran a 5k not long after that. Then I stepped it up to about 5 miles almost every day. Also, I play hockey twice a week (those are the only days I don’t run). I’ve done some light lifting here and there and am integrating that much more now that my hockey league has ended.

    But the key is just like you said… count every calorie in and give yourself credit on calories burned. I’ve been hanging around 2000 calories in per day since I started this and have been burning about 2800-3000 each day. And I track it all on my phone which is kind of the purpose for this comment – just to talk about the Fat Secret app on my Blackberry. It sounds like it’s really similar to the app you’re using. This one is free and comes with a whole synced online profile with access to community forums and challenges. It’s got me addicted to my program!

    Anyway, nice post and congrats!

  • Reply Elle L May 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I also have started dieting recently and in less than 4 months have gone from 180 pounds to 140! I love pickles (careful a little high in sodium) and sugar free jell-o is a GREAT snack idea!
    As far as you mentioning loving pasta something I would try is Shirataki Tofu Noodles (They have spaghetti and fettuccine style where I live).. Rinse and drain (they smell a little like fish at first) and then microwave and dry really well – then when you add pasta sauce or whatever, they taste amazing! They really absorb the flavor just like any normal pasta and the best news ? They are only 0-20 calories per serving! Try researching miracle noodles you will not regret it I buy mine at the local Sendiks or Whole Foods or Trader Joes in the refrigerator section by the packaged spinach/tofu.
    I also am using “MyFitnessPal” like the Lose it app, and it has done miracles.

    A few other products I’d reccomend for anyone trying to lose weight: Better’n Peanut Butter (half the calories of regular peanut butter), if you’re like me and love bagels and carbs try Bagel thins (I like blueberry) toasted with some fat free cream cheese for a bagel under 150 calories! Instead of Skinny Cow I like the sugar free fudgesicles for only 40 calories.

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