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Like the weeds that overtake an old, worn rail line, the challenges to weight loss creep onto the path you’ve so thoughtfully laid out before you. I’m 6’1″ (1.85 m) and I used to weigh 300lbs. That was many years ago, in college, but even since then I hovered around 275lbs. I was never self-conscious, embarrassed, or otherwise planning on changing. I am a MAN, after all, comfortable in his own skin no matter how far stretched. Sorry for the bad imagery, but it’s not always pretty.
I began developing sciatica in my late teens and early twenties. I thought it might be caused by my weight, but it wasn’t enough to motivate me. I was a heavy smoker, had extremely high blood pressure, and generally didn’t care about my health in the least. Needless to say, I was in bad shape, regardless of how (mostly) okay I felt.
In my early middle age, the sciatica got worse, to the point that the pain was so severe I couldn’t imagine going on without change. I began researching all the ways to ease the pain without much luck, unfortunately. The biggest help I found was Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain by Pete Egoscue. There are five simple exercises that take about twenty minutes to do, and they are to be done first thing in the morning. After beginning that routine, the pain subsided almost completely within a few weeks. I was elated, to say the least. I thought I was actually cured!
After some time the pain resumed, pulling me back down into the depths of anguish, with which I thought I was finished. At this point, I knew something else had to change. I quit smoking. I began cycling and, damn, I like it. I lost some weight, but cycling isn’t exactly back friendly all the time, so I couldn’t do it as often as I would have liked. I watched a documentary on Netflix called The Science of Fasting directed by Sylvie Gilman and Thierry de Lestrade. This is where things took a turn. I couldn’t believe I was considering it…fasting…who the shit ever did that on purpose?
After watching several other documentaries, researching on Google, and reading up on the Reddit subs, I decided to give it a go. I started with a once a week, twenty-four hours fast. It was difficult at first, but I got used to it. The weight began dropping gradually. I realized that the 16/8 method of fasting might be more conducive to my workaday life. This is where you choose an 8-hour window of time in which you’re allowed to consume calories, and for the remaining 16 hours you don’t have a single, solitary calorie. Only water, plain tea, plain coffee (some of you don’t know what that is…it’s coffee without cream, milk, sugar, or additives of any kind), and air are allowed. I’m sure there might be some other type of calorie free thing that works, but I wouldn’t recommend anything with artificial sweeteners. I don’t think it matters when your 8-hour window is, as long as it’s consistent. I eat lunch at noon, dinner at 6:30pm (ish), and make sure I have any beers or whiskey before 8pm. The best part is, you only have to follow it 5 days a week! That means weekends are still good for hanging and having drinks and snacks with friends.
I won’t sugar coat it. It took me a couple of years to get to a good weight. I’m hovering around 185 now and looking pretty good except for ugly stretch marks and some saggy skin. There seem to be many people on Reddit with claims of losing vast amounts of weight in relatively short amounts of time using the 16/8 method of fasting. It didn’t happen like that for me. It was a low and slow burn, but a burn all the same.
My sciatica hasn’t gone anywhere and I still suffer daily, if you were curious, but my health is great now.