Today, I hit a new milestone – 30 pounds lost since I started the process of getting healthier 117 days ago. I’ve also left the BMI zone of “obese” (hopefully forever) and now I am only “overweight” (I’ve graduated from fatty to fatso). It’s also the “halfway” point to my total weight loss goal of 60 pounds (154lbs target).
Since I’ve been doing this for about 4 months now, I think I have a good idea of what works for me and what doesn’t. I think some people are in the same boat as me, so I thought I’d share what I’ve discovered.
Here’s my weight graph, starting from when I began at 213 pounds:
Track your food and exercise
You’d be surprised what you learn when you start writing down what you eat and how much you exercise. Certain foods made me go “yikes” (like potatoes and cheese) when I found out how caloric they are. Other foods (like beans and chicken) made me go “more please” because they are low calorie and very filling.
Studies have been done that show that people who write down what they eat lose more weight than people who don’t, even when they aren’t trying to change their diet.
I use MyFoodDiary.com to track my food intake and exercise. It works.
You don’t have to exercise to lose weight, but you’ll probably be hungry all day
Once you figure out your calorie goal for the day, you can lose weight by simply meeting it. But, you’ll probably be hungry. My goal is around 1700 NET calories a day (or less). That means if I don’t exercise, I can eat that many calories in a day. However, let’s say I burn 200 calories by briskly walking for 2 miles. Then, I can eat 1900 calories and lose the same amount of weight. This is a vast oversimplification, but that’s basically how it works.
Now that I’ve figured this out, I make it a point to do some form of exercise every day, and I never feel hungry because I have calorie “wiggle room” to make it work.
Here is my net calorie consumption (calories eaten minus calories burned through exercise):
Now here is my actual calorie consumption, before exercise. See how I get to eat more and still lose weight? 🙂
It’s all about WHAT you eat but even more about HOW MUCH you eat
You have to eat the right kinds of foods. For me, that means food that is somewhat low calorie, low fat, and high fiber. But, you can pretty much eat whatever you want and still lose weight, you just have to eat it in the right portions. I LOVE potatoes, but they are pretty much void of nutrition. But guess what, I still eat them a lot. I just make sure to make the portion pretty small. Same goes for fast food, snacks, etc.
Eat food that tastes good and fills you up, and don’t eat food you don’t like
I know how to cook pretty well, and I like food enough to not eat food that I don’t like. You can cook hundreds of meals that taste good and still fit within your daily calorie allotment. Herbs and spices and other exotic ingredients go a long way in improving the flavor of otherwise “bland” foods. I can make a side dish of smoked lemon brocolli that tastes better than french fries.
Going out to a restaurant is OK
Go out to eat and enjoy the food. But don’t do it too much, just once or twice a week. And if you know you’re going, try to eat light for the rest of the day to “save up” for it.
Exercise needs to be fun for you or you won’t do it
You’ve got to find things that you enjoy or you won’t do them. Sheer willpower will only take you so far. If you’re trying to get healthier, it’s going to be a long multi-month or multi-year process, and willpower doesn’t last that long. So, don’t rely on it. Instead, find things you like to do that are also exercise. For me, that means riding my bike, walking my dogs, and playing racquetball. I HATE TO RUN. For you, it might be something completely different.
Also, try finding some podcasts or audiobooks to listen to while you exercise. I am currently listening to Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (63 hours long courtesy of audible.com) while I ride my bike. So you can get your learn on while you get your burn on.
I can’t believe I just wrote that.
Announce what you are doing to you friends and family. Public humiliation is a great motivator to keep you going 🙂