In my introduction to the Weight Loss & Fitness section of our EverAgeless.com website/blog, I introduced my diet hybrid... "The DBS Diet." It's a practical, real-world collection of elements that works within the brain's "Work Rules" - balancing discipline, flexibility and emotional goal-setting with a love of calories.
That was in the fall of 2020. Well I thought I’d update my progress (or lack thereof) in following my own advice. Does it work? How difficult is it to follow? Is it healthy? How do I handle missteps? Is it sustainable?
My DBS Diet Update
Overall, I’m pretty proud of myself… and the value of The DBS Diet as a practical, real-life option in dealing with the importance of weight and fitness as we age. When I was young, it seemed like I could eat what I wanted and I naturally got exercise just living a very active life. In middle age, I found that I had to fight to maintain a reasonable weight and level of fitness. But I had the motivation, energy and forward-looking attitude to fight hard.
But in later years, the motivation, energy and attitude wane, and it becomes a bigger challenge to fight. Fewer pressures to look trim, more enjoyment of food as comfort and pleasure, a less-active lifestyle, more health issues to deal with… there are so many circumstances that challenge our relationship with food and exercise – with the result that we know we should do more about it, but stuff always seems to get in the way.
So we look for help in the form of diets and exercise programs that seem to work for a minute, but tend to fade away because they ask too much of us to sustain our commitment at our stage of life.
All that is why I created The DBS Diet.
I needed a way to sustainably motivate me and challenge me, without the hard edges of too many fixed rules and inevitable guilt triggers that, at my age, I don’t need.
The 6 DBS Diet Rules:
So let’s review the 6 simple rules that form the foundation of The DBS Diet – and how well, or not-so-well, I’ve done in following them over the last 8 months...
1. Set An Emotional Goal
The more EMOTIONALLY invested we are in the weight loss, the better our chance of success for the long term. The more emotionally important the goal is, the more resistant we will be to the unending temptations life presents.
Create a Mnemonic (a memory aid) - a simple, easy-to-remember phrase that will trigger a reminder, at every decision point, of how important it is for us to win that battle in our head.
My Mnemonic is “DON’T BE STUPID.” And I have to say, it’s a good one!
I’m constantly tempted to go back to my old habits. I love to eat! My wife’s extraordinary cooking and baking are a constant threat (I wish I could blame her for my weaknesses, but I know deep down that I have to own those weaknesses).
Every time I open the refrigerator or kitchen cabinet now, especially when I’m being a little weasel trying to justify my search for “something not so bad for me,” an alarm bell triggers that phrase in my head. It makes me stop for just a moment to think about consequences. I seem to instinctively hear in my head “Do you really want to do this?” “Are you really this weak?” “Are you really this stupid?”
“Don’t Be Stupid” is a trigger that is now automatically activated when I am tempted. It stops me for a moment and challenges me to justify breaking my own rule. And, thankfully, most of the time, it gives me a moment to remember how important my goal is to me. Most of the time, that’s enough to get me to back off. Not every time. But most of the time is a lot better than free-wheeling my forever appetite for sinful food.
The results – bottom line
I lost 15 pounds toward my 20-pound weight loss goal in October and November, and I was very proud of myself. Then came Thanksgiving and the Christmas baking season. I must admit I folded miserably, and that lasted through December and into January and February. I wasn’t horrible, but I was weak. I gained back 10 of those 15 pounds that I had lost. Embarrassing.
But I knew I was not totally out of control. I was still doing a lot right. I was just weak. I had some health and personal issues, and I knew deep down that this was just a temporary setback (See Rule # 6). Why? Because I knew the overriding personal goal I had set for myself was too emotionally important to me to give up.
So around early March, I had a serious talk with myself and committed to get back to following ALL of my 6 Rules. The result has been 3 months of terrific progress. I plowed past my original 20-pound weight loss goal with ease, and have added an additional 10 pounds to my goal.
I’ve lost a total of 25 pounds since October.
And I hope to achieve my new 30-pound goal sometime in July. I’m in the rhythm of it.
2. Fast 16 hours each day 5 Days A Week
I originally thought this would be too hard. But after getting into the rhythm of it, it’s proven to be pretty easy. I adjusted my fasting hours from 8pm – noon to 7pm – 11am so that I can take some medication that requires eating a little food with it around 11- 11:30, and provides some time for my anti-acid-reflux medication to kick in before eating lunch. Flexibility to work within your individual needs is the best way to make this rule sustainable.
3. Control Portions
I didn’t know the meaning of portion control. If it tasted good, more of it was just fine with me. And I was a snacking expert. It takes some discipline for me to cut back on how much of the good stuff I’ll eat at a meal (or between meals), but I now know that it can be done.
So much of this diet is about developing better HABITS. Initially breaking away from bad habits that give us pleasure is hard. We’re creatures of habit – good or bad. But once we find the discipline to get in a groove, it becomes easier and becomes a GOOD habit. I can’t say that portion control ever gets easy, but doing it consistently for a while makes it easier. And that’s good enough.
4. Drink lots Of Water
I’ve never been a fan of plain water. But, as with the other rules, working at it for a while breaks through the self-created barriers and settles into habits that are a lot easier to sustain than I thought.
My routine is pretty simple. I started buying gallon jugs of plain water to store in our refrigerator (We ran into some issues with higher-than-ideal dissolved solids in our well water after a massive rainstorm, and they have not cleared yet. Otherwise I’d be drinking tap water).
When I get up, during the morning, through lunch and the afternoon, I drink plain water (usually about 48-72 ounces) and then switch to Propel peach, grape or black cherry with electrolytes during dinner and through the evening (about 48 ounces). I occasionally break it up with a ginger ale or even a Coca Cola – especially when we go out for lunch or dinner.
I mostly cut out juices and try to minimize alcohol to an occasional drink (I love my cream sherry and peanuts in a shell – I sometimes cheat to start my fast a little later so I can have some peanuts with a glass of cream sherry with a movie).
5. Plan 20-30 Minutes Of Fitness Activity 5 Days A Week
Marianne and I do a brisk walk about 30 minutes at least 5 days a week (about 1.5 miles) – sometimes less, sometimes more depending on how we feel. And like everything else on this diet, doing it regularly makes it easier. In addition, we have a gym in our basement. I do not have a fixed schedule there, but I try to periodically use it, especially the free weights and the treadmill when we have sustained rainy days.
6. Don't Sweat The Missteps
This one is very important. Just as I did over the holidays, we sometimes come up short with our discipline fails. The key is to not let it disrupt our commitment. We all fail sometimes. Last night Marianne and I got back from visiting our younger son and family in West Pittston, PA and going to our granddaughter’s absolutely freezing outdoor high school graduation from Wyoming Seminary. I ate like I had no discipline – which I proved accurate. But I didn’t sweat the fail for a minute. I loved every calorie and every delicious bite. Today I’m back on my journey – no harm – no foul.
These days I refuse to let brief failures be an excuse to lose my commitment to my goal.
It’s too important to me. So I shrug it off as an inevitable consequence of trying hard to keep after a challenging goal. I know I will occasionally fall short of my expectations and desires. So what! Life is entirely too short to be so rigid.
So I get back on the wagon as quickly as I can and keep moving forward. That’s discipline enough. My real commitment is to living an ageless life not defined by or confined by my age or my weight or my stamina or anything. I am committed to be as fit and agile and sharp mentally as I can be to live my ageless life to the fullest.
I’m doing pretty well and I’m proud of it. And when I fail again, I will not lose my commitment to my goals. I will simply get my generous rear end back up on that wagon and move forward again.
And I’ll feel good about it.
If you have not checked out my website comments on weight loss and fitness for an ageless life, and my DBS Diet, check it out.
And be sure to join our EverAgeless community.