How My Husband Lost 40 Pounds and I Lost Belly Fat

Bebe Nicholson

His diet was drastic. Mine only involved a few lifestyle changes.

Photo by LYFE Fuel on Unsplash

My husband has lost 40 pounds. I don’t think he needed to lose that much, because he has never been what I would call fat. But at 220, 5 ft. 10 in., he was heavier than he wanted to be, so he set a goal of 180, which he reached this week.

We celebrated by toasting with glasses of lemon water, since he gave up wine as part of his diet. I’ll get to what else he did to lose 40 pounds, but first a bit about my weight.

I didn’t follow his diet plan, but with a few minor adjustments to my diet and lifestyle, I lost weight, too.

I have never dieted and am not overweight according to BMI charts. But I started to notice extra weight settling around my middle, which is exactly where I didn’t want it to settle. Sitting more and going out less led to Covid Belly, which is how I refer to the extra pandemic pounds.

My husband lost his first 10 pounds by exercising more. He had recently retired, so he tackled several projects that were labor intensive, like building a new deck and carting wheelbarrow loads of mulch and gravel all over the yard.

The Diet Plan

When he finished his projects, his weight plateaued, and he invested in a weight loss program that involved ordering $500, or a month’s worth, of food. Shake mixes, protein bars, and even little bags of protein pancake mix arrived in a large box, along with two thick books that included everything he did or didn’t want to know about calories, nutrition, and this particular diet plan.

He explained it to me. He would eat six times a day. Breakfast, lunch and snacks would come from the food he bought. Dinner would be whatever we cooked, as long as it wasn’t pasta, bread, potatoes, fried foods, or white rice. He also couldn’t drink alcohol.

I am surprised he has stuck with the plan so religiously. When I cook eggs and bacon for my mother, who lives with us, the aroma wafts through the room and smells delicious. But he doesn’t deviate from his morning protein bar.

He eats out of his box, which is stored in a corner of the kitchen. He goes to the box and selects his daily allotment, which doesn’t look too appetizing to me, no matter what his choice of the day is.

When I told him I didn’t think he could go more than three nights without a glass of wine, he proved me wrong. He has now been a whole month with only one glass. He still has 8 days left on the diet and he has reached his weight goal, but is sticking with it to the bitter end.

Our Dinner Menu

I try to be supportive by only making dinners he can eat, so I’ve ditched the spaghetti, lasagna, chicken pot pie, fried chicken baked potatoes, and bread slathered with butter (which I love). When I fry cornbread for my mother, I only mix enough cornmeal for one piece.

Dinners consist of a protein, which can be steak, pork, chicken or fish, grilled, or baked, and vegetables with brown rice.

In our search for variety, we ran across jicama, a globe shaped root vegetable which is crunchy and a little sweet, reminding me of a cross between an apple and a potato. One cup has only 49 calories, but jicama is high in fiber and rich in vitamin C, along with other nutrients. It’s also called yam bean, Mexican potato, Mexican water chestnut and Chinese turnip.

Jicama: Photo credit Wikimedia Commons

Once it’s peeled and sliced, you can eat jicama raw, like a carrot, or you can cook it. I coat slices in a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with garlic, seasoned salt and paprika and bake in a 425-degree oven for about 40 minutes. Most recipes call for boiling jicama first to soften it, but I like the crunchy texture of baking without first boiling it.

We have also eaten lots of salads, with my husband using balsamic vinaigrette as a dressing while I stick with the more fattening alternatives like Ranch and Blue Cheese.

Nuts are another big part of his diet, but they can only be pistachios and almonds, and he can only eat 20 at a time. He used to eat several handfuls of nuts. We always had large containers of mixed nuts from Costco or Sam’s sitting around. But we’ve both developed a taste for the pistachios, and it’s amazing how only a few can take the edge off your appetite.

I used to eat too many nuts and get a stomachache, leading me to believe I was allergic to nuts, but I’ve discovered that limiting the amount to a small handful solves the stomach issues.

One other thing that’s part of the diet plan is drinking lots, and I mean lots, of water; about 10 or 12 glasses a day.

My daily diet, except for dinner, hasn’t changed. Sometimes breakfast is bacon and eggs, sometimes pancakes, but a lot of times I only nibble a cookie or something else sweet with coffee. For lunch, it’s usually a sandwich, a hamburger, peanut butter with bananas, tuna, or whatever happens to be around.

Sometimes as an afternoon or bedtime snack, I eat chocolate or lactose free ice cream. I should probably change that to a fruit or something else healthy.

But dinner, with a protein and vegetables without any bread or potatoes, has been a deviation from normal. One bonus has been that I don’t have the stuffed feeling I used to get when I loaded up on bread or pasta. Going forward, I want to stick with a more plant-based diet and cut down on things that lead to bloating.

A Rowing Machine for Great Toning

My husband’s radical diet led to a 40-pound weight loss, and the unexpected result of his diet was that I shed a few pounds. But there is one more important thing that helped me get rid of the unwanted Covid Belly. For Christmas, I got a rowing machine.

I walk almost every day, and although walking is good exercise, nothing can compare with the rowing machine for great overall body toning. It’s easy to use, and I watch Hulu or Netflix while I work out, which gives me a reason to look forward to exercising.

I’ve been amazed at how rowing increases my heart rate, and even more amazed at how fast this exercise has slimmed my waistline. Rowing is a total body workout that targets the upper back, pecs, arms, abdominal muscles and even strengthens the legs.

photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The biggest problem with the rowing machine is that my husband likes it too. A lot of times he beats me to it. Somebody asked why we didn’t buy another machine and row together, and I pointed out why that would never work.

He watches shows like How to Code JavaScript and The Historical Ramifications of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. I watch the TV equivalent of junk food. So while we agree on dinner, we can’t agree on TV.

Whoever gets to the rowing machine first, uses the rowing machine first.

He finishes his box of food next week, but he says he plans on eating smaller portions and limiting sugar and bread once the official diet is over. I plan on eating a more plant-based diet and limiting sugar.

We ditched the glass of wine a night habit and probably won’t resume it. And we will still share the rowing machine.

Everybody is different, so the diet that works for me might not work for you. But I’ve found it only takes a few modifications to lose a few pounds and trim your belly fat, if that’s your goal.

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I've worked as editor, newspaper reporter, freelance writer, and book publisher. My writing includes lifestyle, humor, travel, relationship, family, politics, faith and health articles, along with three published books. In my various careers, I've been a journalist, retail manager, nonprofit director, flight attendant, freelancer and mom. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Medium.

Alpharetta, GA

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