All right, a few folks asked for pictures so here you go. The inset picture is May 2009, a couple of months before I started my process. The big picture is earlier this week, at 175 pounds, strong and still built like an ox.
I am not a delicately built person and I have a big bust and a fair amount of muscle. I doubt I'll be able to comfortably get as low as 160, but that remains to be seen. I don't have a goal weight yet.
A few people also asked about my plan. Well, like always, there is a short answer and a long answer. The real short answer is that my plan is "Eat less; exercise more - the rest is commentary." That is, the rest is the strategies and the tactics I used to achieve my goals of eating less and exercising more. So here comes a long post about all of that!
I count calories, but not super-rigorously; I don't record my calories every day. Instead, I have developed a routine around a number of go-to meals and snacks that I eat over and over again. I have a good idea of the calories in each of them and I eat within my calories that way. Every month or so, I do a few days of more strict calorie counting and recording, just as a reality check and a way to prevent portion creep.
I love food and I love fine dining. I go out to dinner about once a week, usually for a fine dining meal. (Previously, I went out for fine meals about twice a week and ate take-out frequently as well.) When I am at that once-a-week fine restaurant meal, I order carefully (a cocktail or a glass of wine instead of both, salad starter instead of the cheese plate, fish instead of steak frites, coffee instead of dessert), keep my fingers out of the bread, leave over fattening accompaniments (or ask to substitute them), etc. It just takes a little will and discipline.
Some people might not have room in their plans for that sort of thing. I am sure I could have lost faster by cutting out the restaurant meals entirely or counting calories strictly every day. But as I said above, I have done that before and never made it past 40 pounds lost. So, I'd rather lose a little slower and keep at it long enough to lose all the weight, than lose 40 pounds in a hurry and then fall off the wagon completely.
Other than that one meal, I do a lot of cooking. Like everyone else, I am busy and tired during the week. So I cook on the weekends, making extra portions of protein (like fish, chicken, or lentils) so that all I have to do when I get home from work during the week is saute up some veggies, and I am never more than 15 minutes' work from dinner. And by the way I eat a LOT of vegetables. I love to eat, I love big piles of delicious food, and the way I get that on my plan is to eat heaping portions of tasty vegetables with every meal. I often pass on sides like rice or potatoes - even though I'm not on a low-carb diet, and they aren't objectively "bad" in any way - because they are too calorie-dense to be worth it to me. I'd rather eat two cups of vegetables roasted in a little olive oil than half a cup of rice.
Finally, there are the mental games. The big one for me is "not today."
I did not really approach this process thinking about a "lifestyle change" but I seem to have succeeded in making one, one choice at a time. When I am faced with an eating opportunity, I remind myself that it's not my last chance ever to eat whatever delicious treat is tempting me. There are cookies at work every Friday - I can say "eh, not today" because I know they will be back the next week. There is my favorite tres leches cake on the menu at that Cuban restaurant - I can say "eh, not today" because I know it rotates on and off the menu periodically and it will be there another time. You get the idea.
I have basically "not today"ed my way down 100 pounds. Some discipline too, to go to the gym most days when I don't have something else planned in the evening, to do the cooking I need to do on the weekends when I have time to do it, and of course the discipline of "not today" as well.
Okay, that's way more than enough about me. I promise you, I am about as lazy and weak-willed and food-loving as anyone out there. What it took for me was some self-discipline, some determination to be better than my tantrumming inner-three-year-old. I know you can all do the same.