I am no health and fitness guru by any means, but I can tell you how I managed to lose 18 pounds in less than 8 weeks.

It seems like I do this just about every year - put on a few pounds, my pants get too tight, and I embark on some sort of weight loss program. I have always have success, but ultimately something happens, usually it's the holidays, and I find my weight creeping back up, and I'm forced to resort to drastic measures.

This time around, I actually made it to Christmas Day and my weight was under control but, over the next several weeks I had to make several trips to the front range, and took a one week vacation to Phoenix (which included many visits to In -N- Out) I was eating out a lot, I wasn't very active, and I became very careless with my eating habits.

So, once again I found myself in a position of needing to drop a few pounds. Keep in mind, I'm not expert, I'm not medically qualified to give health advice, I'm simply relaying what I have done to lose 18 pounds in less than two months. Perhaps it will inspire you to do the same.

Not really based on any one particular diet plan, my plan has consisted of a high-protein, low-calorie, low- fat, low-sugar and low-carb regimen. A typical day's menu is a protein shake before I leave for work, and a protein shake at lunch time, with maybe one serving of something salty like cheddar cheese rice cakes. Halfway through the morning, I will have a piece of fruit - generally an apple or a grapefruit- and one serving of raw almonds.

That puts a lot of focus on the evening meal, which I have kept pretty simple. Usually it's one piece of unbreaded fish, or chicken, some raw veggies with a little ranch dressing, and occasionally some cottage cheese. I do an amazing chicken, bacon, and ranch salad, and taco salad with seasoned ground turkey is a great option.

A nice way to end the day is a small cup of sugar-free, fat-free pudding made with skim milk, and fat-free whipped cream.

One real key to success in any diet is portion control. Most of us are guilty of eating more than we actually need, and that is especially true when it is something we really love like spaghetti, tacos, and pizza. I think, to get out of that rut, you have to retrain your mind and the way you think of food. You put that small piece of fish and veggies on your plate, and it just doesn't look like very much. But, once you get in the habit, you find that the amount is adequate - and is actually necessary for weight loss.

You can see I basically do four meals each day, which is essential to keep yourself from getting hungry- which can then lead to overeating. I have also learned to recognize and guard against those times when I have a hankering to eat a snack - not because I'm hungry, but because it just feels like I should be eating something. As long as it's not severe, I actually look forward to feeling a little hungry because then I know I'm not eating too much.

Now, let me point out that along the way I have had some special treats. There was one spaghetti dinner and I did partake of the accompanying bread. There has been pizza on a couple of occasions, tacos once, a chicken sandwich with french fries, and occasionally a small handful of low-fat vanilla wafers, or three or four miniature Oreos. Oh, and on one of those occasions we made ice cream sundaes.

Sometimes you can't help but go off diet for various reasons. Sometimes it's unavoidable, and there are times when you just do it by choice. Either way, I believe the key is portion control, and getting right back to your diet the next day. The point is, it is not necessary to deprive yourself of all the good foods you love.

I can tell you that I have abstained from deep-fried foods, butter, soda, candy bars, doughnuts, cereal,  most bread, have eaten minimal red meat, and have not had a fast-food meal in two months.

The other part of this is staying active. I do a 30-minute elliptical work out at home several times a week, and walk the golf course as often as possible - with golf clubs in hand. Sometimes a lap or two around the park is a good way to go, or maybe a stroll on the riverfront trail.

I would still like to lose about five more pounds, so I will continue this plan for another month. At that point, it becomes more weight maintenance rather than weight loss. I don't plan to change the way I eat, but will probably loosen the restrictions a bit, as long as I'm staying active.

I'm not saying this plan will work for you, but it has worked for me. I step on the scale daily, which some people say you shouldn't do. But, I find that it helps keep me motivated whether the scale isn't moving or whether it has dropped. Either way. it helps me stay focused on what I'm trying to accomplish. The other motivator is looking in the mirror. It's not always the most pleasant sight, but it does help to remind myself that I need to do this.

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