90 pounds in 8 months with MFP (and a little pharma help)

pelocampo Posts: 9 Member
Hi everyone. I wanted to share my success story as an inspiration to those just getting started. If you are like me, you probably thought it impossible to lose any weight, much less lose 35% of your original weight. I am a 61 year old male who had been between 250 and 260 pounds since at least 2007. I had never tried to diet seriously, though I had tried cutting back on various things at times, never successfully. I don't exercise, though I am very active with home projects that occasionally involve strenuous activity. I figured I would be that weight up until the expiration date on my birth certificate.

However, I knew I had to lose weight when it started becoming difficult to do normal activities. If you are my old weight, you can probably guess the issue without needing additional detail... So I talked to my doctor about getting help. She said she could prescribe a dieting aid, but I had to get my blood pressure under control first. That took six months to dial in the meds just right. On my birthday last year (2021), she said I was good to go and prescribed phentermine. In the same visit, of course, she went through all the nutrition information for a good 10 minutes, all of which went in one ear and out the other. But both she and her new assistant, who was accompanying her on her first day of work, suggested MyFitnessPal. I knew I would have to count calories, and while I abhor phone apps, I took the plunge with MFP. Within a week, I had upgraded to the paid version and will continue to renew it, maybe for life.

The biggest benefit of MFP was to log each food as I consumed them, then plan for the last meal of the day to stay within guidelines. You can't wait until the next day to enter your foods because by then it is too late. And even though my doctor had repeatedly harped on me about cutting my beer intake - I think I am related to Kavanaugh! - it never registered how much of a hit I was taking until I started using MFP.

I think the key to a successful weight loss plan is to not change what you eat. I have heard of all the popular fad diets, and was also aware of their poor success rates. But if you can continue to eat the foods you love and lose weight by portion-sizing alone, I think you have a much better chance of success. I know I did. I switched bread to 45 calorie/slice versions, jelly to sugar-free versions, and finally tried light beer for the first time. (There are some really good imports out there, and there are even some really good non-alcoholic beers.) So I still eat (and drink) the same foods I always have, but I have smaller portions and plan the last meal of the day to ensure I stay within goal. Every food is weighed and measured and, most importantly, entered into the app as they are consumed.

The weight just fell off, almost effortlessly. I dropped between 7 and 15 pounds each month, still with no formal exercising. After four months, the side effects from the phentermine got to be too much, so I stopped using it. But the weight loss continued at the same rate as before for the next two months. Then I hit a plateau and went back on it until reaching my goal a week ago. Since then, sans-phentermine, I have maintained +/- 1/4 pound.

I had dropped from 255 pounds to 165 pounds, and all throughout that journey, I noticed very positive physical changes that kept encouraging me to go further. I dropped one blood pressure med and later cut the other in half. I stopped taking other medications (like Prilosec) as well, to the point where I am now taking only a blood pressure medicine and a vitamin each day. I never realized the limitations my weight had imposed on me, nor the extent to which I improvised to live with them. I can now reach every part of my back to scratch an itch without needing a post or a corner of a wall. I can bend down to touch my toes and still breathe. My balance has improved. I don't cut or bleed so easily. The list goes on and on.

I am now back to my college weight. Sadly, my body is not the same as it was back then, but the sagging skin I was expecting did not materialize; my skin conformed to my new figure without folds. My doctor says I am lucky in that respect as it is unusual to drop so much weight and still have tight skin. I still have a bit of visceral fat (my midsection is now only 1 inch more than my waist), but nothing like I had before, where I looked like I was about to give birth.

So it can be done, and for me, it was relatively painless. The phentermine gave me the confidence to start the diet and helped me to portion size until my body adjusted to the new normal; I get full (and satisfied) with much smaller portions than before. I still eat the same foods I always have, though treats like Whoppers and fudge and pepperoni rolls are now few and far between. Still, it hasn't been that onerous.

Good scales are important, one to stand on and one to weigh foods. The former needs to wiegh in tenths of pounds and the latter in single gram increments. Contrary to MFP recommendations, I weigh myself every day when I first wake up and keep a log. I think if I went a week between weigh-ins and didn't like the results, it could get discouraging. You just have to recognize that daily fluctuations are due to water weight changes and are not indicative of actual weight gain or loss - if you are staying within the guidelines on caloric intake, the weight will be coming off. (I focused solely on calories and looked at the nutrition information out of curiosity only.) If anything, a daily gain due to water weight, frustrating as it is at the time, is extra incentive to work harder that day. I got yelled at more than once by MFP for not consuming enough calories, but I ignored it. Take a good regular multivitamin daily, not something with excess ingredients relative to FDA recommendations, to ensure you are getting all your needed nutrients.

Sorry for the length of this post, but I have been looking forward to writing it for some time, and the ideas just flowed. I am proof that even the most skeptical can lose significant weight, and I am convinced I now have the tools to maintain this new normal. Just knowing how much better my life is now compared to all the limitations I was living with before is incentive enough.

I know this post sounds like I am a MFP advertising exec trying to drum up sales - I'm not, I assure you - but I do believe my weight loss success would not have happened without MFP. The pharma help was important early on, but MFP was the key - it appealed to my retired electrical engineer's data-driven brain, so using it became second nature.

Best of luck to everyone. If I could do it, you can too.


  • Archcurl
    Archcurl Posts: 234 Member
    Congratulations on your loss! I'm aspiring to be just as a successful as you one day
  • cdcultice
    cdcultice Posts: 1 Member
    Congratulations on your weight loss!!! I am so happy to hear Phentermine worked for you. I have lost a lot of weight on it multiple times, but it seems each time I quit taking it, I just pack the pounds back on. I am insulin resistant and I think that while on Phentermine I just don't each much at all, but once I am off and start feeling hungry again, I start eating all the things I shouldn't eat as a person with insulin resistance. So, this go around, I am really trying to work on this journey with diet aids. Over the years I have really come to realize it is not really a diet because diets never work. I have to change my lifestyle; The problem is old habits are hard to break and when I am ill prepared or short on time I tend to just grab whatever and go with it. But I sincerely wish you all the success in the world and hope you are able to keep those pounds off. Maybe if I had MFP at the times I had used Phentermine in the past I could have kept it off, but back then, I used a good old fashioned notebook and a pen. lol Good Luck!!!!
  • Sand_TIger
    Sand_TIger Posts: 805 Member
    Congratulations! I like how you used the phentermine as a tool to help you develop the good and reasonable habits, then kept those habits going. That's the kind of thing that will give you success for life.
  • pelocampo
    pelocampo Posts: 9 Member
    @cdcultice - I totally agree. While the phentermine was a big help in the beginning, it was really MFP that was driving the show (and still is). I am now on day 11 since achieving my weight loss goal and I am still entering everything into MFP and trying to get used to the transition. So far, so good as I have stayed in a narrow +/- 0.5 pounds since, and have started a new section in my spreadsheet to track the min, max, and standard deviation. I still use MFP to plan the last meal of the day to ensure I stay on track. I think the pandemic (and being retired) have both helped since we rarely eat out and can easily control the calories we consume by eating at home.

    So I think your plan is sound: use the pharma help in conjunction with MFP to train your body to the new normals for both parts of the diet - the weigth loss portion AND the weight maintenance portion. Maybe that is where people get off track: they assume the diet is only for the loss part and then drop the vigilance when they reach their goal, setting them up for an unwelcome bounce back up. A successful diet, I think, has to be lifelong. But it is not too terrible a burden with the help of this app, IMHO.
  • pelocampo
    pelocampo Posts: 9 Member
    @Sand_TIger - I was reluctant to even mention phentermine as I hadn't seen anyone else comment about pharma help and wondered if it was a taboo subject. But it was so integral to my success, I had to include it.
  • huntersmom2016
    huntersmom2016 Posts: 185 Member
    about 5 years ago, I tried phentermine for about a week. but the dry mouth was so very severe for me. also I didn't poop the entire week! I stopped using it, but was thankfully able to control what I ate without it and lost about 60 lbs.

    I'm very happy for you and your success. I know how great you must be feeling🥰 congratulations!!
    LINIA Posts: 1,026 Member
    This is so wonderful, everyone is different and you needed to use all available tools to become healthy. What you have done is very rare, hopefully you can keep those extra pounds off long term. Continued success to you!
    LINIA Posts: 1,026 Member
    Your comment is far too negative, many people do not use any help or weight loss assistance, however we are here to understand that every person has a different journey.

    I am so sorry you had to take meds to lose weight. I wish you wouldn't mention it in your headline, because now many will believe that they will need pharma help as well. Which is so sad and so wrong!

    While I understand that 'some' might never be able to achieve anything on their own, millions of others accomplish weight loss and maintain a healthy weight for the rest of their lives without tricks or gimmicks.

    All it takes is MFP, a plan, good friends, a kick in the rear, a good sense of humor, a hefty dose of willpower, exercise, and a get-it-done attitude.

    I am proud to have lost 156 pounds without pharma help or surgery on my own. Half of my start weight is gone and I am maintaining.

  • urbanr1
    urbanr1 Posts: 5 Member
    these are all fantastic stories! It sounds like MFP really is the key to weight loss--and keeping it off...
  • pelocampo
    pelocampo Posts: 9 Member
    @urbanr1 - MFP was certainly the key for me. And my transition thus far has been smooth. In the 22 days since achieving my goal, I have maintained my goal weight +1.0/-1.6 pounds. And MFP has been the key to that mini-success as well.
  • HelPur25
    HelPur25 Posts: 11 Member
    Congratulations on your success! I really like your strategy of adjusting a few of your favorite foods to lower calorie versions, eating and tracking a typical breakfast and lunch, and then making any necessary adjustments for your last meal of the day. I think that's the first time I've ever heard of someone using that approach. It makes so much sense and is probably the reason you've been so successful!
  • joebeauchesne
    joebeauchesne Posts: 7 Member
    For every drug that any of us takes, there's a determination (tacit or otherwise), as you said, that "the benefit is greater than the risk of the side effects."

    In most cases, the longer term impacts of the weight loss should far outweigh the methods...Personally, I wouldn't consider using Phen (I get jittery on certain allergy meds, so I can only imagine), but I've not traditionally had trouble losing weight so much as keeping it off long term. Last time, I lost 85 lbs (getting to a weight that I actually felt was far too low), but then gradually put back 75 over a number of year. On the bright side, still started my current journey at 10 lbs under that first time (and still nearly 30 from my peak years ago) and I've lost 35 total since June 1, and nearly 20 since late October when I re-started MFP and really started trying to lose weight in earnest. Honestly, I could still do more, but at the moment things are working so well I don't want to tweak it further.

    I'm a HUGE proponent of your "eat whatever you want, just eat less" - I believe that is the most sustainable (though I failed last time I tried) long term path - but I've learned since that earlier failure and look forward to being at goal around the summer so I can start trying again. Over time, you realize that many healthier foods allow you to eat more, so you change anyway...but when you want a cookie (or whatever your food of choice is), have a cookie! Just figure out how to get it on plan.

    My wife said when I started 6 months ago that I had an unfair advantage because one of the diabetes drugs I was on helps with weight loss. 100% correct, but look at the clinical results...it doesn't help nearly to the extent of what I've accomplished thus far.
  • GrandmaNeedsALap
    GrandmaNeedsALap Posts: 1 Member
    Hi, I'm a new member, and I just wanted to express my thanks for an honest post that reinforced my hope that a person can be successful in losing weight without buying into someone else's "plan," because heaven knows I've failed in my attempts at those. It seems much less intimidating to consider just eating familiar foods and counting the calories, and then allowing those calories to provide their own education of sorts. Also, may I just say to the original poster, you are an excellent writer.
  • runningintherain1
    runningintherain1 Posts: 2 Member
    Awesomeness. So glad to see someone my age having such success!
  • RochelleHowe
    RochelleHowe Posts: 1 Member
    What is MFP?
  • pelocampo
    pelocampo Posts: 9 Member
    edited January 22
    @GrandmaNeedsALap - Thank you so much for the compliment. I do try to write as well as I can. I am an engineer, and it was always a struggle to get my cohorts to review what they wrote to ensure coherence _before_ they posted something. Engineers always try to hide behind the myth that "engineers can't write." Hogwash.

    Since we are on a "success" thread here, I credit a technical writing class I took many years ago. It was just four days, but it really hit home for me and gave me tools I never knew existed. My favorite example is one I use all the time for complicated documents: how to create an outline. I had struggled trying to build an outline in a word processor and it took forever and never did seem to flow or include everything I wanted to say. The class taught me a new method - they called it the "yellow sticky method." You grab a pad of sticky notes and start writing ideas, one to a sheet. Tear them off as you jot down your ideas and set them aside, letting the creative juices flow. Write just enough on each sticky to get the idea; don't try to create full sentences. When you have emptied your brain of ideas, sort the stickies into long strings by topic, the top of one to the bottom of the one above such that you can see each idea in the string. Move things around like you would with cards in a Solitaire game until the outline flows well. Very quickly and almost effortlessly, the outline is done. Now you can work on the prose part as you normally would. Give it a try sometime - you will be amazed.