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Fans of local singer/songwriter, Michael Clarity, may notice there’s less of him lately…..65 pounds less, to be exact. Michael is the subject of an interview I recently conducted regarding weight loss through lifestyle change. He changed his entire approach to nutrient intake, portion sizes and physical activity. According to Clarity, it's been work but totally worth it because the pain of staying was greater than the pain of change.

Wendy, RDN: What was the moment or the catalyst that made you want a change?

Michael: I was having trouble sleeping. I was always tired. It was sleep apnea or something and I intuitively knew that I needed to lose weight. My doctor told me I had high blood pressure. My clothes didn’t fit. I hated what I saw in the mirror. I knew I was eating too much and eating the wrong foods.

Wendy, RDN: What was your starting weight and when did you start?

Michael: I started in December 2018 and my weight was 240 pounds. I’m 175 now.

Wendy, RDN: Did you doctor provide an eating plan for you?

Michael: No. I did the research and created it myself. I came up with a method that works in my life which was portion reduction. I thought I could sustain that over my lifetime because it’s not a fad.

Wendy, RDN: What changes did you make with your exercise and activity?

Michael: I joined Planet Fitness for $10 a month and I just started walking on the treadmill. At first my joints hurt a lot. I had a bad car accident in the 90s and that’s one reason why I gained so much weight. I couldn’t exercise and I got depressed. I started walking for 15 minutes and would be totally exhausted. Every day I went back and pushed another 3 or 4 minutes beyond what I’d done. After a month or so I could jog and then run. I incorporated weightlifting with light weights and a lot of reps.

Wendy, RDN: People always say to me “I gotta lose weight. I gotta get to the gym.” I tell them that weight loss happens primarily with food intake and not from exercise and they are always surprised by that. Do you agree?

Michael: Absolutely! Absolutely! If you eat terrible foods in big portions it doesn’t matter how much you exercise. You’re never going to lose weight. My weight loss is a result of smaller portions and cutting sugar. I definitely had a sugar addiction. I had to teach myself to eat fruits and vegetables. I had to retrain my taste buds and body because they had been hijacked by sugar.

Wendy, RDN: I really agree with that. Super sweetened foods have changed our tongues. I have patients who tell me that fruit is not sweet enough for them.

Michael: My taste buds were specifically hijacked by Starbucks.

Wendy, RDN: Oh, Wow!

Michael: Yeah. I have cut Starbucks completely out of my diet. There’s a lot of calories in their drinks. I mainly changed my diet by making my calories count with better foods. The calories I take in now count meaning that they contain nutrients. They are not empty. Lots of greens. Lots of fruits and vegetables.

If I eat breads the portions are smaller. Like, now I eat mini bagels. I used to get a whole big bagel and smother it with cream cheese.

Wendy, RDN: Did you explore other diets? Vegan? Vegetarian? Mediterranean? Keto?

Michael: I did. But I chose this because I can do it using any grocery store and this is affordable for me. I am a label reader now. I read labels on everything. I look at sugar, carbs, protein. I try to increase my protein intake and reduce carbs. I added in Muscle Milk to my diet. It’s low in carbs and high in protein so for a long time that was my lunch and it kept me full.

Wendy, RDN: So what’s your overall takeaway for anyone thinking of losing weight or changing their diet?

Michael: This weight loss has changed my life and I’ll never, ever go back to my old ways. There is no magic bullet. There is no short cut. I own a business and I see long-term solutions to problems, so I knew this was going to have to last me over a lifetime. So, don’t give up. And if you falter don’t give up completely. Get back to it and keep pushing through because it is worth it.