I had just gotten to the point where I was like, "I can't live like this." I thought about getting the lap band, but, really, it was just going off to college. I decided I was going to switch my life around and get healthy. One thing I did was, I tried to cut out the buffets, and that definitely helped.
Counting calories was what I tried to do, and work out some. At first I was eating around 2,000 calories a day -- and I'm 6-2; I was used to a lot more than that. If I had to guess, I would say I was probably eating 5,000 calories a day back then.
I started drinking a lot of water, pretty much whenever I get hungry I drink a glass of water, and I think it really helped me. And I tried to eat just three meals a day and not snack too much.
Being in college, I had to cut back on the drinking and the partying a little bit. Plus, I was in a fraternity and everything, but my fraternity house was at the top of the hill, so that helped. At WVU pretty much the whole campus is hilly, so I was walking up and down all the time.
By the time I graduated, I was down 180 pounds, and I've gotten to the point now where I can eat pretty much whatever I want on weekends and just work it off during the week. I average about 2,500 to 3,000 calories a day.
I definitely get a lot more compliments. I feel more comfortable and a lot more confident.
Name: Paul Epstein
Weight before: 209 pounds
Weight now: 187 pounds
Goal weight: 165 pounds
I tended toward being overweight ever since I was a teenager, but probably in my mid- to late 20s I started doing office work, and I'm over 60 now, so I started growing until I got to 209 pounds and I'm only 5-8 so ... My doctor said he likes his patients at my age, senior patients, to have a few extra pounds so in case they get sick they don't lose muscle mass, but I was never happy with the weight.
I tried dieting over the years and lost weight at some times but always gained it back. The motivation now, or one thing: health reasons. There's heart disease in my family, and about five years ago now, I learned I have high blood pressure, I have sleep apnea. Plus, I'm in the obese range, and it's hard to think of yourself as obese. I would look at those charts and say, "Oh, they don't know how much I work out, how much muscle I have." But I finally had to look at those charts and say, "OK, I'm obese." That's a hard thing to tell yourself.
My problem isn't so much that I have a poor self-image. My problem is my self image is too good. I look in the mirror and I think I look great! My self-image actually worked against me, so for a long time, I wasn't willing to make changes.
But I was looking at some friends who are my age and having health problems, heart disease, heart attacks and dying, and I thought, "I don't want that. I don't want to die. I don't want to be unable to walk around. I want to enjoy my sunset years."
Then, I was listening to "The People's Pharmacy" on NPR and there was an interview with a nutritionist who had worked in a cancer center with another doctor, and they developed this diet and had good results, so they'd written a book, so I started reading the book.
And I immediately made a decision. I had an epiphany. I sent out a message to my hundreds of Facebook friends that I was going on a diet, and I said, "I think this is really going to work." So I offered to buy the book for anyone who wants to try it with me, and I decided to have a blog. So that gave me the drive to keep going.
I ended up buying the book for six friends. It's called "The 2-Day Diet: Diet Two Days a Week, Eat Normally for Five" and it's by Michelle Harvie and Tony Howell.
You do what's called a no-carb, or basically really low-carbs, for two days a week and the rest of the time you follow a Mediterranean diet. What that boils down to is, first of all, in terms of meats and proteins, you want a higher ratio of fish, very little red meat and more vegetables -- green vegetables -- and there's still low fat and low carbs.
This is not just a diet I'm going to do for a while; I'm going to live this way. One of the results of being on this diet is that I learned pretty early on that what I thought was hunger was not really hunger, it was just being not completely full.
People who are healthy eaters look at people like me and say, "Oh, just eat less." Well. I've always had pretty good willpower when I choose to do something, but losing weight has always been really hard for me. I attribute the difference this time to the diet. It's helped me break my carb addiction and control my appetite so I'm not hungry all the time.
I got started on Nov. 2, 2013, and I've been successful. I've lost 22 pounds so far, so I'm halfway to my goal, and I feel great. I have more energy than I used to.
I'd like to hear from other people who have questions or might be curious about the diet I'm on. I'd like for people to check out the blog so they can see for themselves. I am willing at least for a while to create a support group, be a mentor, because it's been a really good approach for me.
Note: Gazette readers might recognize Paul from the editorial columns he writes regularly for the paper. His last column ran on Feb. 18. He also writes about his weight-loss journey on a very active blog, http://paulepstein-muse.blogspot.com.
Reach Maria Young at maria.yo...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5115.