Guest Post: The Journey to Healthy Eating Habits and Weight Loss


[Today we have a guest post from Dave Banko.  Thanks for sharing your inspiring story, Dave!]

My friend, Crew Dog, asked if I’d be a guest blogger, sharing my experience losing over 100 lbs in a year. I was thrilled by the offer and happy to share my experience!

As this is a complex subject, I will be doing a series of posts about various aspects of my journey and specific topics related to healthy eating and weight loss.

Let me preface by saying I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, or health professional of any kind.  I am a veteran, and I have struggled with my weight all my life.

I’m not a person who sits on the couch eating chips or ice cream.   Diabetes runs in my family, so I’ve been careful to avoid sugary food. I have been very active, but injuries over the years have slowed me down.

To put it frankly, I love life and good food!

But my love of food has gradually put on the pounds. On a fairly regular basis, I started another diet to try to lose weight. I tried pills, special recipes, cleansing purges, fiber, meal plans and countless hours in the gym – costing lots of time and money! I’d be good for a little while, maybe lose a few pounds, then something would happen, I’d have to stop and the weight came back plus more.

I even contemplated gastric bypass (and associated) surgeries.

However, when I went for the consultation and heard how strict a diet I would need to follow for the rest of my life, I felt “What’s the point” as it is really the diet I’d have to maintain to lose the weight without surgery.

I reached in excess of 360 lbs.

I felt old. I couldn’t walk far or up stairs. I sweated profusely in a heated room or in a crowd. I developed sleep apnea and needed a CPAP to sleep properly.

Then I was at a Christmas party in December 2014, my feet tangled on some coats, and I fell on my shoulder. I was in severe pain for weeks from such a simple fall.

I know I’m getting older (approaching 50), and the body doesn’t heal as quickly as it did, but I also know I landed with a lot of force and, if I were lighter, it wouldn’t have been so extreme. I determined I was ready to try again after the holidays, but didn’t know what I was going to do differently.

At the beginning of 2015, the stars aligned!

I was in the right frame of mind to start, a friend of mine started a Facebook group of friends to encourage each other to lose weight and adapt a healthier lifestyle, and a program was aired on TV called, ‘What’s the Right Diet for You?’ (referenced in the 9 February post Food, Glorious Food!).

What’s the Right Diet for You? was a 3 part series put together by doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians from Cambridge and Oxford Universities. Rather than prescribing a formula to follow to lose weight, they first addressed why people are overweight, then provided strategies to address the root causes.

This is the first time any program really addressed the root causes, physiologically and mentally, of why we overeat, and put together a comprehensive strategy for a lifestyle of healthy eating, not just a short-term diet. They then supported the strategy with experiments demonstrating the science behind the advice.

I recorded the programs and watched them over and over, adapting the strategies for me, and the pounds starting melting off. I was stunned by the results!

So far, I’ve lost 132 lbs in a little over a year, and have 9 more lbs to go. My target is to reach my military weight.

Unfortunately, I was too embarrassed by the way I looked and had so little confidence of real success that I didn’t take a proper “before” picture. The one in the side-by-side photo above was the best I can find from when I was generally around 350-360 lbs. In the middle is when I reached 100 lbs lost, and the right is 130 lbs lost.

I wish I could provide links for you to watch the programs yourself, but they are no longer available on YouTube. I will try to do justice to the information imparted over a series of blog posts.  If you are where I was in December 2014, get ready.

Rule #1 – This is a healthy eating lifestyle, not a diet!

Accept this now. What I will be sharing is not a short-term diet, but a plan for a long-term healthy eating lifestyle.

[Note from Crew Dog: I hope you will follow along as Dave shares his techniques and experiences with us in a series of guest posts on healthy eating and weight loss. For links and downloads on “What is the Right Diet for You?”, see the previous post Food, Glorious Food.]



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