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How I lost 65 pounds: I met a nutritionist and followed Canada's Food Guide

Dan Torbiak

Winnipeg, 55

Pounds dropped: 65

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My turning point: I was 43 years old, 5 foot 9, 230 pounds in 2001. I didn't have the energy to play with my kids. I had warning signs – diagnoses of sleep apnea and elevated blood sugar. I had dieted before. Once, I lost 35 pounds, but gained 70 the next year while on a "maintenance" plan. After that yo-yo result, I was terrified to diet again. One afternoon, my company arranged for a nutritionist to speak at a conference. She talked about common eating problems, and something clicked: I had them all. I took notes for two hours and it changed my life.

My method: I wanted a tried and true method – no fad diets. Based on the nutritionist's advice, I started to follow Canada's Food Guide. The guide helped me correct my portion sizes and showed me what I should eat more of. I also started eating five to six small meals throughout the day. I avoid "white" foods (visible fat, enriched flour, added salt and sugar). I carry "portable" foods in my briefcase (fruits, nuts, cheese), so I'm not left hungry between meals. After three weeks, I had learned great new habits and unlearned most of the bad ones.

I found that if I could eat well only 80 per cent of the time, that was enough to lose weight and keep it off, just like the nutritionist said.

I lost 65 pounds over six months. Today, 12 years later, I eat the same way and still weigh my goal weight of 165 pounds.

During the six months and before reaching my goal weight, I did cardio three or four times a week: mindless stationary bike riding. After I hit my goal weight, I started reading about the importance of strength training. (I learned how important muscle is, especially as we get older.) Today, I work out five days a week: strength training on three days, cardio on two days.

The workouts are medium-strenuous, and last only about 50 minutes each. The strength training is all about large muscle groups – squats, lunges, presses, rows. The cardio is cycling, rowing and speed walking. I love the variety: it keeps me focused and avoids injury. Each week, I take two days off from formal exercise. But I walk or cycle everywhere I can, and I've made it a rule to take the stairs if I'm going up 15 or fewer floors.

My kryptonite: Nutella. My wife hides it. I find it and sneak a few crackers' worth per month. But it's good for you, right?

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This interview has been condensed and edited.

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About the Author
Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More


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