I lost 100 pounds in 228 days (7.49 months). I’ve talked about this several times since I’ve been back, but never at this length. Although I’ve yet to reach the peak of physical fitness, the weight loss I achieved is immediately noticeable. That’s mostly because I was majorly obese before I embarked on my weight loss endeavor. Now, I’m merely overweight by about 20 pounds. That’s not good enough for me, but I am pretty happy with how far I’ve come.

How did I drop the weight, though? Well, it’s not all that complicated. I worked out 5 days a week for about 5 and a half out of the 7 and a half months I was gone. I also ate smaller amounts of food. And the food I did consume tended to be high in protein, low in sodium, and low in calories. This is not a novel approach to losing weight. In fact, it’s pretty basic shit. I guess what I’m getting at is that any one of you reading this right now can lose weight, too, barring a (legitimate) medical condition that prevents it.

My first piece of advice, should you want to embrace it, would be to get up off your ass. Despite a couple decades of bad living, I was able to train my way into some pretty serious exercise. When I started on my path, I could barely do 10 push-ups. In fact, that might even be on the high side of estimates. But by the end, I could do 200 during a standard workout, and 500 during the more hardcore ones. It’s all about building up both your strength and your confidence. But that doesn’t come unless you put in the work. It could be as simple as walking around the block, but just do something.

Speaking of confidence, one of the biggest things I had to overcome was my lack of it. When you’ve been a major league fatass for 20 years, you kinda get used to it. For a lot of people, and I was one of these people, you just accept that you’re always going to be unhealthy. This, in turn, leads to even further indulgence and weight gain. If you never have any hope of reversing your predicament, why bother with eating better or doing strenuous physical activity? This negativity cycle is probably the biggest thing for most people to get past. I know it was for me.

The other big thing is just watching what you eat. Actually, you can usually lose weight just by fixing your diet alone. This goes double if you’re obese or seriously overweight. Cut out fried foods as much as you can, cut down on sugar and sodium, and eat more healthy fats like nuts (and even peanut butter). Eat less, count your calories, and stick with it. This paragraph alone will put you on track to slim down. Will it tighten you up or build muscle? No, but if you either can’t or won’t exercise, this is a great way to still be able to effect change when you step up on the scale.

It’s also very important that you don’t get discouraged (I’ve lost weight before, but I gained it all back due to this). Remember, that’s your number one enemy. Even though I was able to lose 100 pounds while putting on a little muscle, I’m still far from where I want to be. Since I was obese for so long, I still have a gut. That tightening up I mentioned? I have a long way to go there. But I’ve seen such drastic results that I don’t let it get me too far down. Sure, some days it might be a little depressing. But I can look at where I am, versus where I started, and say with 100% certainty that I am proud of my accomplishments. Plus, all the praise and well wishes I’ve received from folks makes me happy. I don’t want to ever go back to where I was, and keeping up with the tactics I outlined above is the way to prevent that.

All of this is not to say you should never indulge, by the way. My trainer told me several times that you don’t want to completely deprive yourself of the things you want. One cheat day a week is good, or, if you’re working out really hard, even two is not out of line. However, you can’t go overboard with it. Cheat, yes, but don’t go crazy. This is having two slices of pizza versus eating the whole fucking pizza. Always keep your portion sizes in mind, even when you’re having the treats you’ve been craving all week.

One good thing about eating healthy, though, is how it changes those cravings. Sure, you’re still going to want some of your old favorites. But, speaking for myself, I don’t mind eating right. Why? Because there’s a lot of tasty stuff you can eat. For example, tuna happens to be both delicious and one of the most beneficial things you can put in your body. Oh, and it’s high in protein as well, so you feel more satiated than if you ate some french fries or a bag of chips. There are many other examples in this vein.

Fruit is awesome as well. Remember that thing I said about cutting down on sugar? Yes, you should try to eat as little added sugar as possible. But the natural sugar found in fruit is much more easily processed by your body. Plus, fruits have other goodies in them, like vitamins and minerals. They’re relatively low in calories, too. Basically, they’re god-tier type shit. They can also be employed to quench your sugar cravings. I would personally recommend bananas with a small amount of peanut butter spread over them. It’s rapidly become my favorite snack.

Anyway, that’s about wraps up my initial advice on how to achieve some decent weight loss. I’ll save specific exercises for another column. But if you just get moving, get in the right mindset, and watch your diet, you will be well on your way to a healthier existence. I can honestly tell you that this is the best I have felt in my adult life. And if I can do it, there is no excuse for any able bodied reader.

So, get out there and do it.