I began this week-long series (a first for me) on diet and weight loss by saying:
This week I'll publish a series of short articles that explain the simple plan and the various tactics I used to drop nearly 50 pounds (or 5 belt inches and one shirt size) in the course of last year.
The advice I'll give isn't likely to be all that different that what you might read elsewhere, but the combination is what worked well for me. Hopefully it'll motivate a few more people to do the same. I learned a lot about my habits and behavior in the process and suspect that much of it applies to most people who are struggling with extra pounds.
If the feedback and discussion I've seen is any indication, there was far more interest in this than I initially thought possible. I hope I've managed to convince a handful of others to try shedding a few pounds and forming new habits. And I hope I haven't annoyed too many people by writing about this for a full week!
One of the most consistent comments I've seen this week is "diets are temporary... you need to change your habits or you'll just put the weight back on!"
I couldn't agree more. If you thought I was advocating this as a temporary solution, I'm sorry to have misled you. The only temporary part is the initial low calorie phase in the first month or so. It is there to help accelerate the loss, build confidence, and to illustrate what's possible.
For the long-term, you can't stop paying attention to what you eat. After reaching your target weight, you'll need to carefully dial up the number of calories you take in every day. And once you reach equilibrium, you need to realize that this is your new diet. That means the sort of diet the doctor is referring to when she asks you about your diet. That's different than when your co-worker says "dude, you lost a lot of weight! What diet are you on?"
One is a long-term mentality and the other is not.
I've purposely not talked much about exercise up until now for a several reasons. First of all, I didn't add exercise to the mix until I had lost about 40 of my 50 pounds. As my uncle said yesterday:
I did not plan to add exercise to the mix, but at the lighter weight I found myself with substansially more energy. As a result, I want to do more and be more active.
I had the same experience. After getting close to my ideal weight, I wanted to exercise. So I began using a mix of weight training and walking. Most mornings I go for a 45-60 minute walk before work and it makes a big difference in how I feel. I look forward to it every day.
As others have mentioned this week, exercise is an essential feature of any successful long-term weight management plan. But if you're significantly overweight, it's difficult to get into until you're shed some pounds.
Adding exercise to the mix too early also needlessly complicates the process and increases the amount of time required every day. One thing at a time. Keep it simple.
Around the time I got into exercise, I spent a bit of time on-line reading about nutrition. I wanted to pay more attention to what I was eating rather than just how much I consumed.
I made a few simple adjustments to the fruit, vegetables, and meats that I eat. But, honestly, I wasn't that bad off to begin with. The only change I didn't expect was adding a multivitamin to my daily routine. I now take one with breakfast every morning.
There's a lot more for me to learn about nutrition, and I'll continue to do that as my interest reminds me. But it's certainly going to be a life-long learning process (like so many things are).
I have a confession to make. I don't maintain my spreadsheet daily anymore. I stopped at the end of last year. My hope was that I'd be able to continue without it, using my newfound habits, limits, and intuition to guide my eating.
The results have been pretty good. In the last 6 months I managed to stay within a 5 pound weight range: 169 – 174. I'm at 172 today.
Some weeks I eat a bit more than others, but I find that I'm able to catch myself and make up for it before things get out of hand. This is often influenced by travel or eating out when special events are going on.
I'm fairly convinced that I managed to internalize the three habits in 2005. I still weigh myself every morning (unless I'm out of town), I still mentally add up what I'm eating every day (not hard once you've been doing it a while), and I rarely eat until I feel "full" anymore.
I managed to lose 50 pounds in a year without spending any time on health clubs, dieting programs, coaching, or books. It all boils down to developing the three habits that I mentioned on Monday.
I started by limiting my calorie intake to roughly 1,500 per day and slowly ramped that up as I neared the end of my initial weight loss cycle. I then added in a bit of exercise. In the process, I refined my sense of how much I can eat and what the effects are on me.
I eat less sugar, bread, and pasta than I used to.
Most importantly, I feel great. If you're significantly overweight, you cannot imagine how good it feels to shed those pounds. After the first 10 or 20 come off, motivation is simply not a problem--you want it all to go.
Anyone can do this.
I've never been much of a cook. In 2007, I hope to cook more food "from scratch" and design my own meals. It's tricky when you live alone (aside from a couple cats, that is) and are fairly busy. But I think it'll be educational, fun, and fairly rewarding.
I also suspect that the act of choosing my own ingredients will result in a slightly healthier diet along the way. We'll see.
Oh, and I like to get down to 165 someday, but I'm really in no hurry at this point. There's always another goal! :-)
- Diet Tips or How To Lose Weight with a Spreadsheet and a Web Site
- The Diet Plan and The Three Habits
- The Diet Spreadsheet
- Diet Tips: How To Eat Less
- Diet Plans and Goal Setting: How Many Calories?
Posted by jzawodn at June 09, 2006 06:56 AM