I am NOT a weight loss guru. I want to make that clear up front. Any tips that I post should always be taken with a grain of salt; you should talk to your doctor before starting any weight loss regimen, blah, blah. Now, hopefully, nobody will sue me.
In fact, I feel like I should be the last person giving weight loss advice, because I’m not done yet with this particular round, and the fact that I have never kept the weight off longer than two years. BUT – Eric asked how I lost what is fast approaching 50 lbs in six months. I’m not ready to go in-depth yet, but I’m a firm believer that 90% of our problems (for those who consider them problems) with food and exercise are mental; if you can get emotionally in the right place, you can do anything. So, today I’m going to outline some broad philosophical ideas, that you should mull over before beginning the weight loss plan of your choice.
First off, I’d like you to do the math. Approximately 24 weeks, and 50 lbs. That’s 2 lbs per week. This is actually a decent, slow-and-steady goal. The Redneck Canadian once told me, “You didn’t gain it all at one time, you won’t lose it that way either”. Sage advice. Some weeks, you won’t lose anything. Some weeks, you’ll lose 5 lbs. Some weeks, you might even gain a pound. This is perfectly normal and you shouldn’t give it a second thought. If you follow your plan, no matter what, it’ll even out in the end, and you’ll lose an average of two pounds per week, if you’re a man, probably 1 if your a woman (still 25 pounds in six months).
Let’s stick with math for a moment. It doesn’t matter WHAT weight loss plan you follow, you’ll do fine IF it falls within this formula:
If calories eaten < calories burned then weight loss WILL happen (barring medical/thyroid conditions). There are nutritionists who will argue with this; don’t listen to them. If your goal is weight loss, and weight loss only, other nutritional facts (fat, dietary fiber, sugars, etc) DO NOT MATTER. Of course, your goal should NOT be just weight loss, but that’s not what I’m here to talk to you about. So, do your Adkins, South Beach, Weight Watcher’s, Grapefruit diet, whatever. Just stay within the formula, refrain from starving yourself, and you’ll get the results you’re after.
Here’s an important point: everything happens and is measured over time. Day to day does not matter. If you weigh daily, I swear I’m going to come to your house and smack your fannie. Also, your calorie counts daily DO NOT matter, it’s your weekly counts that matter. In the past 6 months, while losing almost 50 lbs, I’ve eaten at the following restaurants: Cracker Barrel, Monell’s, McDonald’s, Zola, Back To Cuba Cafe, Waffle House, Sylvan Park (meat and 3)…hmmm, I can’t remember them all. I think the only one I fully avoided was Pizza Hut.
OK, another aside, for another important point: this is NOT Lent. You are not paying a penance for past sins, you get no extra points for denying yourself, in fact you are hurting the cause if you do. I can’t stress this enough. All you are trying to do is fit your lifestyle into the formula, and even then, on a weekly basis. I got fat because I ate at the restaurants listed above at least 3 times a week (may weeks, 5 times). THAT busted the formula (and cost me a fortune). Once per week is more manageable, and you don’t have to starve yourself the rest of the days to make up for it.
I guess that now I should tell you that I loosely followed the Weight Watcher’s flex plan. I say loosely, because after a while I was able to convert the cryptic “points” into equivalent calories in my head, and I DO NOT CARE about dietary fiber or fat. It came out to about 1400 to 1800 calories per day, with about 1800 “flex” calories that I could have any way I wanted; I could snack on (Lays Light) potato chips every afternoon, or blow it all at one sitting at Monell’s. It IS best to keep your calorie count to a decent level at the restaurants if you can. Calorie counting books are wonderful.
I haven’t even mentioned exercise yet, and that’s half the equation. Remember, the more you exercise, the more that “calories eaten” side of the equation goes up. Please try to block out a set 45-minute time in your day, plus getting un-stanky time, at LEAST 3 times per week.
I want to talk to just the men for a second. “Our” first instinct is to concentrate on weight training, and making aerobic exercise an afterthought. Reverse that, guys. You just can’t burn enough calories to help with weight loss in the early weeks of your plan with strength training, because you ain’t that strong yet. In fact, do not even touch weights for the first month. (This is where the fitness experts line up alongside the nutritionists to kill me). Assuming exercise has been a foreign thing to you for a while, start with 15 minutes aerobic activity (treadmill is best -make sure you go fast enough to breath heavy by the time you’re done). The second and third weeks, 20 minutes. The fourth week, move to 30 minutes, and keep it this way for about 2 months. Do this AT LEAST 3 times per week.
Once you’re a month in, pick up some light dumbbells. I’ll post the actual routine later, but you’ll start with very light weights and a low number of reps. You’ll STILL be sore the next day. When you stop being sore, raise weight first, then reps. Also, throw about 10 crunches in (at first). Raise that each week as you can.
You WILL be pitiful at all these things the first few weeks. Expect it, laugh at it, but for heaven’s sake, don’t get discouraged.
Find a workout partner if you can, someone with the same goals as yours.
Pretend you’re a diabetic. Get diabetic cookbooks. Diabetics have perfected the art of tasty, low-calorie food.
Use the same scale every week, at the same time. When you first wake up, after bodily functions, is best. If you can’t get to your usual scale, DO NOT WEIGH. This is basic engineering; your measurements have to be using the same instruments as your baseline.
The first few weeks, till you’ve re-trained your metabolism, write down everything you eat. This keeps you from emotional / bored eating.
When you’re struggling to not eat something that’s very tempting, or having a hard time pushing yourself on the treadmill, visualise what you’ll look like when you reach your goal.
There’s a certain insane woman who runs a whacked-out ministry, who also wrote a weight loss book a while back. Read it. Ignore the religious aspects (unless it’s your thing), but she has some good psychological methods for keeping the Weight Down. Especially about training yourself to recognise the difference between stomach hungry and head hungry. I also like her idea of always leaving something on your plate, even if it’s just a morsel. You can probably just read the first half of the book to get the eating tips.
That’s enough for now. I’ll post more specifics in the coming weeks.
If I don’t gain it all back on vacation. 🙂