Weight Loss Tips:
First rule: Weight loss equals more calories burned than consumed. Period.
Remember that losing only 1 pound per week adds up to 52 pounds in one year. Discipline and consistency are the key.
Count your calories exactly. Remember that virtually everything has a caloric value, including light beer (alcohol), lean meat, etc., and everything must be counted towards your daily caloric needs.
Plan on eating stuff that you like enough to eat consistently, rather than eating tasteless crap because it fits the diet plan. Careful research of nutrition labels and menus will turn up plenty of items that fit in a diet. They may not be your first choice, but they aren’t inedible like much of the so-called “nutritious” stuff out there. You will never get used to eating protein bars that taste like cardboard and you shouldn’t have to.
Drink non-caloric drinks throughout the day (diet drinks, water, etc). It will help to make you feel full as well as allow you to digest food in a timely way to keep your blood glucose level stable.
Plan to spend a little more if necessary to ensure you are eating the right things. Our food supply is geared to taste good and sell cheap at the expense of nutrition. Healthy food is often on the farthest shelf from the register.
Get a digital scale that weighs to the .2 pounds and weigh yourself daily at the same time each day (for instance, when you first get up before breakfast). Plan on losing no more than 3 pounds per week or thereabouts. More than that will be unsustainable.
By counting calories and matching it to your weight loss or gain on a daily basis, you will soon be able to determine exactly how many calories are required to maintain, lose, or gain weight. Keep a written log if necessary.
Plan to eat a balanced diet regardless of what type of food you decide to eat. “Balanced” means an appropriate combination of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Take a multivitamin with minerals (not a megavitamin) if need be.
Don’t imagine you will be able to eat perfectly and consistently 7 days a week. After a short time, usually about 10 pounds, the body decides you are foolishly trying to starve yourself, even if you are grossly overweight, and initiates both psychological and physical ploys to get you to eat inappropriately. You should however plan and minimize cheat days.
Get used to leaving food uneaten if it exceeds your diet plan. Most commonly a problem when going out. We are trained to eat everything and waste nothing. Maybe plan to take it to the dog, etc., or just leave it behind.
Try to consolidate your losses, even if you don’t continue to lose weight. Pull yourself together when your body adjusts to the new weight (what I call the “set point”) and then move forwards again.
Be aware that the body runs primarily on glucose and glycogen, 2 carbs. Eating a lot of fat and carbs will result in the body selectively burning the carbs and saving the fat. It takes 25% of the carb’s energy to convert it to fat on the body, but only 3% of the fat’s energy to convert it to fat on the body, so the extra fat contributes disproportionately to body fat.
Be aware that table sugar (glucose/dextrose) is converted to glucose in only 1 chemical reaction making excessive sugar intake quickly overload the body’s needs. Starch is converted into glucose in only 2 chemical reactions, so is nearly equal to sugar in the speed with which it can overload the body, but is more insidious because it doesn’t taste sweet.
Try to eat at least 5 small meals per day in order to keep blood glucose level. Try to space them out about 3 hours apart. Low blood glucose is one of the drivers of hunger.
Try to eat 2 grams of protein to 1 gram of carbs. The body needs proteins for building and repair. Carbs are basically converted to energy, as is fat, or else saved as fat (on the body) or glycogen (in the muscles) for later use.
Be aware that the same food (cottage cheese, for instance) comes in many different incarnations (fat % for instance) from lots of different brands. All brands don’t all taste the same. Experiment to determine which best suits your tastes. Reward stores that carry things you need by shopping there and even telling them what to stock for your needs.
Be aware that food is an acquired taste and one can often get used to lower fat and less sweet food items with time, so that the higher calorie foods will seem heavy and excessive.
Try not to eat late at night, as the gastrointestinal tract is muscular and it will be “working” when you should be resting.
When going out, plan where you are going before you leave the house, and decide what type of (healthy) meal you order before you get there. For impromptu or spontaneous outings, visualize what meal is best based on the type of restaurant or eatery.
If you don’t go out to eat, plan in advance what you need each day for the time between grocery visits. Don’t buy anything extra. Don’t keep high carb snacks around the house that will encourage you to cheat the first time you get hungry. Only buy as much as you plan to eat for a particular time frame.
If you like to eat a poor diet choice, like donuts or pizza, try to progressively reduce the intake, say 2 donuts or slices rather than 3, and then 1 rather than 2. The best plan is to avoid this type of food completely, but try to manage consumption down from a daily to a weekly basis if need be. And always check the scale the following day to reinforce the negative effect this type of food has on body weight. It may help you make a wiser choice next time you are confronted with the situation.
Cut food into small bites, chew thoroughly, and eat slowly.
Certain types of foods should be avoided completely although most people will indulge in them occasionally: fried food, ice cream, many salad dressings, most fast foods, etc. Be careful of the “whites”, e.g. sugar, salt, starch (white bread, potatoes, etc.)
When working out, dress appropriately. Exercise is tough enough. Making it harder than it has to be is psychologically defeating. So, for instance, never overdress on hot days “to sweat”. Beyond the actual exercise, you will only be losing water and electrolytes at best and, at worst, perhaps developing heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. Don’t underdress on cold days. If you get cold, there will be no way to warm up. If you get warm, you can always dress down. Always use sunscreen (sunny days) or bug repellant (ticks, fleas, mosquitos, gnats, etc.) as necessary.
When exercising, be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
Exercise and diet are both required to lose weight effectively. Exercise encourages the body to save the muscle, as opposed to burning it for energy. Diet alone will result in loss of body tone at the expense of muscle as well as fat. Although weight loss is useful to treat some medical conditions, most people would also like to improve their appearance at the same time.
Don’t imagine that you will simply be able to run or exercise off the extra calories . Only seriously dedicated athletes who can spend several hours a day exercising vigorously are able to maintain a healthy weight on a high calorie diet. And even then, they may be predisposing themselves to physical trauma that will catch up to them when they get older.
Be prepared for a drop in metabolism that makes one feel lethargic when you aren’t involved in some activity that is engaging. It will manifest itself first as sluggishness, then drowsiness.
By the same token, some amount of caffeine is occasionally helpful in retaining mindfulness while dieting. Excessive dependence on caffeine and energy drinks is counter-productive however, as the body will adjust to accommodate the uppers and you may wind up unable to cut back and yet not feeling any more energized than you did before your dependence.
Organize your exercise activity as you would your job. Plan a time each day (up to 6 days a week and at least one day off completely) when you will exercise and develop a specific workout with goals in order to maintain interest.
The hardest part of working out is simply showing up and getting started so don’t psychologically defeat yourself by trying to double up workouts if you miss one or go hard ever day. Start easy and always leave something in the tank, so you don’t try to avoid working out the following day.
The best time to work out is the morning usually, as opposed to after the end of a work day.
After planning an exercise routine, be sure to invest in quality equipment. Don’t buy cheap treadmills, elliptical machines, or other crap advertised for $20 on media ads.
Buy quality clothing and shoes and replace them as needed. For instance, the EVA in the soles of running shoes wears out.
When planning weight loss, check with your physician to see whether you have any medical conditions that must be addressed. Weight reduction for overweight individuals is almost always a good idea, but some people may not as heavy as they imagine. And weight loss is a hardship on the body that needs careful planning. Invest in orthotics (medically-fitted shoe inserts) or other equipment if necessary. Saves wear and tear in the long run and lengthens your exercise life.
Choose a gym that provides creature comforts such as good parking, cold water, clean and well-maintained machines adequate for you needs, clean and private bathroom facilities, not overly crowded, appropriate hours, and good security.
Try to vary your exercise routine. Working with a good coach is the best plan, but anyone can learn how to work out effectively nowadays with all the information available. But learn from reputable sources with a history of effective results. Be wary of “informational resources” that recommend one type of workout one month and a diametrically opposite type of workout the next. Use common sense and expect the actual mechanisms of the exercise or diet to be explained.
No one type of exercise is necessarily better than any other. All types have their pro’s and con’s, including weightlifting, biking, running, team sports, etc. The main thing is to work out consistently and effectively for an hour or so each day. This means raising the heart rate, sweating, and using effort to complete the activity.
Remember that exercise breaks the body down and rest builds it up. So they must be done in equal parts.
In terms of exercise, follow the concept of “hard-easy”. In other words, don’t work out in the same way hard every day because the body will have no chance to recover resulting in physical breakdown and psychological defeat eventually.
In weightlifting, this means not working all muscle groups every day. Only work each muscle group every 4th day. For instance, chest on Day 1, arms on Day 2, back on Day 3, legs on Day 4, and shoulders on Day 5, then start over.
In tri-sports (biking, running, and swimming) it means not doing all 3 activities every day. Only 1 activity per day, then start over.
In running, it means not doing the same type of running every day. In other words, for instance, do hill intervals one day, easy jogging, speedwork, easy jogging, long run (race conditions), easy jogging. Especially in running, because you are working the same muscles and joints every day, the way the muscles are worked has to be changed to avoid repetitive motion injury, which may not affect you so much when young, but will catch up to you when you get older. Always one day off per week at least.
In terms of rest, this means trying to get at least 8 hours of quality sleep per night. If you have a very active or physical job, it means perhaps you won’t need to focus so much on hard exercise to lose weight. By contrast, if you have an office job and sit most of the day, although you may be mentally tired by the end of the day, your body has been resting as opposed to exercising so will need a thorough workout.
Where alcohol is concerned, not drinking at all is best, particularly for people who can’t have just one. Alcohol has many drawbacks. Beer and mixed drinks are high calorie. Excess alcohol is stored in the liver, where it may create all kinds of problems with time. Drinking too much lowers will power resulting in other excesses, like over-eating or under-resting. Alcohol is a depressant so lowers the overall energy level making it more difficult to rally the desire required to exercise, wake up in the morning, go to the gym after work, and generally interfering with the whole process of working out effectively. Given abstinence is impossible, develop a window of time (no more than 2 hours depending on the drink) when drinking is acceptable and stick to it. Meet people interested in working out or activities other than drinking. Leave drinking friends behind. They will understand.
It goes without saying that other drugs, like anabolic steroids, should be avoided as they affect each person differently. Unless one stands to make millions and become famous, like Arnold, which is highly unlikely, they aren’t worth the worry, expense, and risk.
Many supplements are OK, however, such as amino acids, creatine, protein powder, multivitamins, and other naturally occurring substances that simply ensure the building blocks for a healthy body are available, especially under dieting (weight loss) conditions.
When you have reached your desired weight, maintain it for a couple of months until it becomes the new “set point”. Increase your caloric intake to maintain this weight but keep an eye on the scale. Stick to a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Remember every day you wake up is a new day and a fresh chance to do something good for yourself, so never give up on your dreams or goals.