Steal this professor's strategy for getting his body back—without any hardcore diets.
The first few pounds didn't bother him too much, but the more he ballooned, the less happy he felt with himself. Nutting wanted to lose weight, but he needed the right motivation to lock him into a new set of habits.
A major relocation inspired him to shed the pounds, and now he's on a lifelong journey to stay fit and healthy. "I kept my fat clothes for three years because you could easily slide back to that," he says. "But I had to buy all new clothes. Willpower is something you have to develop." Follow Nutting on his journey to dropping 75 pounds and returning to a healthy weight.
Junior High Weight: 185
Nutting wasn't always overweight; he was slim throughout his childhood and teen years. "I wasn't very active, but I was in the marching band and during marching season I would get thinner," he says.
But he'd soon learn the challenges of maintaining a healthy physique. "In our lifetime we're exposed to so much food," says Richard Weil, M.Ed., program director of the weight loss program at Mount Sinai St. Luke's Hospital. "We don't sleep enough and don't go outside a lot."
These factors can lead to weight gain over time. Once Nutting's marching band days were behind him, the struggle to maintain his weight became real.
High School Weight: 195
Undergrad Weight: 210
Grad School Weight: 260
Nutting grew up in Florida but went to college in Ohio. "I was 18 hours away from my family and friends," he says. "That led to me sitting around my dorm and eating whatever I wanted—lots of McDonald's and other fast food since I didn't cook—and developing a bad Mountain Dew habit."
As a 6'2" freshman, he gained 15 pounds. By the time he was in graduate school, he had gained a total of 75 pounds.
College is a time of discovery—of all-you-can-eat buffets, for one thing. According to a meta-analysis in the journal BMC Obesity, almost two-thirds of freshmen gained weight, piling on pounds faster than the rest of the population.
"There are a couple dozen genes identified to affect weight gain," says Weil. Some are responsible for weight gain alone; others can interact with the environment to cause weight problems. In a new environment—say, a college dorm with a 24/7 cafeteria—that gene might express itself and your predisposition to weight gain might show. (Following a customized meal plan like those in the Men's Health MetaShred Diet can help you get back on track fast.) This continued for Nutting all the way through grad school.
Postgrad Weight: 245
Beginning Of 2013: 210
End Of 2013: 185
"The bigger I got, the more unhappy I was," Nutting says. He finished school in 2012 and landed a teaching position at the University of South Dakota. It was a big move, and he vowed that one big change would lead to another. "I decided to cut back on portions and find the foods I liked," he says.
He ate eggs for breakfast and made lots of meals from black beans and rice with salsa and hot sauce. He added running to his routine.
Smart move. "Life changes can serve as triggers to act," says Lawrence Cheskin, M.D., founder of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center.
Although a major transition can also provide a tempting rationale for inaction, it doesn't have to be a barrier. No big changes on your horizon? Just track your habits using an app or journal. Reviewing the numbers can be motivating.
Current Weight: 185
Nutting runs 3 to 6 miles two or three times a week and swims twice a week. He ran his first marathon two years ago, and he's training for an Ironman. He still eats three eggs every morning for breakfast. "I'm married now, so I can't get away with eating black beans and rice every day, but I just make good choices," he says. "I eat a lot of salad and chicken, but I don't do hardcore diets. I'll still have a few beers on football Saturday. For me, it's about balance."
Balance is key. When you lose weight, your stomach produces more ghrelin, the hormone that signals hunger. "The reason it's hard to lose weight is there is a system trying to stop you from starving to death," says Louis Aronne, Ph.D., director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medicine.
So when your body is trying to rebel, use your brain. "That doesn't need to be the same rigidity or degree of control as when you were trying to lose weight, but you have to tell yourself you're always watching your diet," says Dr. Cheskin. As for the beer—who are we to stop a good thing?
Copy Nutting's bean habit. A study review published last year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that people who ate anywhere from 2.8 to 9.8 ounces of beans, peas, or lentils per day lost significant weight.
Nutting's affinity for eggs was also smart, since eggs are packed with plenty of protein. Protein helps to preserve muscle mass while you drop pounds, so you lose only the blubber.
A consistent exercise routine is also critical to maintaining muscle and keeping fat away. Try the training plan in the new Men’s Health book, Maximus Body. It contains 100 workouts laid out in a schedule that makes it easy for you to stay on track.