On how to actually lose weight…

I feel slightly uncomfortable talking about this topic. I’m not a personal trainer or a doctor. I am however, really good and working out and eating well (thanks Celiac disease – NOT). And I don’t want to add fodder to body image issues that millions of people face.

However, in the last month I’ve gotten asked about weight loss by a few different folks. I do understand what it is like to be overweight. The year I graduated college I was pushing 200 pounds. Thankfully, for the last eight years I’ve maintained a consistent healthy weight. Without further ado… 5 things you can do to actually lose weight.

  • Recognize your patterns

Diets fail. Yes, nearly ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL of them. AAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL of them.

By diet, I mean those crazy, gimmicky food plans where they tell you “just cut out X” or “only eat Y.”

They fail because they don’t fix long term unhealthy patterns of behavior.

Adkins – BULLSHIT.

Slim fast – BULLSHIT.

Clean Eating – WTF? Why is your food dirty?

Weight watchers – actually – they have a decent plan. I can get on board with Weight Watchers.

Yeah, I’m guessing you know one or two people that lost a few pounds five years ago. But are they still a healthy weight today? Highly unlikely.

People hate hearing this, but most people have a pattern. You likely wake up, skip breakfast, eat a massive lunch (you think you can because you skipped breakfast), scarf a massive dinner, and maybe mow down a late night snack.

And what do you do for exercise? Are you walking a mile or two? Or doing some push ups? Anything? Bueller…. Bueller…

You can’t break a pattern until you know what is it.

  • You need to set up for the LONG game plan

Let me guess – you just want to lose 60 pounds in three months. Sorry dude, that ain’t going to happen.

Diets fail because people only stick to them for a few weeks, lose a few pounds, and then return back to previous behaviors.

If you want to win, you need to set up to change your behaviors for better…. for the rest of your life. Yes, seriously. But is that so bad? Changing how you live so you’re healthy to age 80?

If you don’t change your mindset to a life change, you’re probably going to fail at losing weight.

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Frustrating. Isn’t it?

  • Eat Less

What we eat is the majority of losing weight.

But diets are bullshit and don’t work. So what do you do?

In a perfect world, you’d eat about 2,000-ish calories a day and get the proper proportion of veggies, fruit, carbs, and protein. But you’re probably not going to do that (although it would be good to).

After you’ve done step #1, and know your pattern of eating what you need to do is… just eat less.

What you put in your face is eat is ENTIRELY IN YOUR CONTROL. No one else is making you eat.

If you’re eating 3,000 calories a day, cut back to 2,800. Most people (present blogger included) can’t handle turning away food temptation after food temptation. Rather than giving in all the way and eating an entire cake – just eat a small slice. You’re not going to cut out ice cream – so just get less ice cream (1 scoop instead of 2).

(Side bar: If you have deep emotional issues causing you to eat, I’m sorry to hear that. I’d recommend seeking professional help to break that pattern.)

  • Exercise more

Most Americans do jack shit for exercise. 150 years ago when the population was bailing hay for a living not hitting the treadmill wasn’t a very big deal. But you should exercise because if you don’t your muscles, lungs, and heart are secretly wanting to kill you.

Most exercise plans fail.

P-90X – fail.

30 day shred – fail.

Sweating to the Oldies – fun, but fail.

They fail because people go all out crazy on day one thinking they’re Olympians, they sprain their back, and then stop exercising because they’re injured.

Instead of dropping $200 on some DVDs  and sacrificing your body to the sadist gods – just try exercising a little bit more. If you are doing nothing, walk one mile. If you were doing one mile- do two.

The five exercises most people can do are:

  1. Walk a mile (or two) a day
  2. Do some crunches/sits ups
  3. Try some push up (from your knees or whatever)
    • Or planks, try 10 seconds, then 20…
  4. Do some squats (google how to do these correctly or you’ll jack your knees)
    • Split squats may be a healthier alternative
  5. Do some arm curls with weights (just lift what you can do)

And no. There is no magic formula for this. Just try them for a bit, alternate – whatever.

If you get bored exercising, try putting on some music or putting on a tv show. While I’m on the elliptical I watch crappy tv (yes, the Kardashians), and when I’m lifting weights I listen to show tunes on Pandora.

  • Set realistic expectations

1% of the WORLD has the physique of Heidi Klum. The odds of you looking like her are slim (pun not intended) to none. Stop thinking you’re going to look like a model, and simply hope for a fit version of yourself. I bet the fit version of yourself is fucking awesome.

Losing five pounds a week is SUPER UNHEALTHY. I once saw a diet that advocated eating 1,200 calories a day. That diet is bullshit people – unless you’re a toddler.

Realistically, you should probably shoot for 2 to 5 pounds a month. If you shoot for more and don’t make it you’re going to beat yourself up.

Good luck. You can do this.

Del and Steph’s diet plan day 3: Revenge of the Plate

Lets talk about Wednesday. Halfway through the week! Can you believe it? I can’t. let me tell you, Tuesday was brutal. I had the day off and I just couldn’t get out of bed. I did get up with Steph at our new wake up time of 4:45 am and went to work out, but I couldn’t do what I normally do on Tuesdays: and hour of cardio. I could only make it 50 minutes or so and it was certainly not my best effort. I know Stephanie has gone into detail about the food plate and our new eating schedule, but here is my take on our food plate diet – This thing is good, but nowhere near perfect. I know the plate is only showing suggested serving sizes, but if I truly follow the plate I am only going to be taking in 1,600 calories or so a day. So, here I am, 6’0”, 228 lbs. I work out regularly and I have a job where I am running around on my feet all day. I have quickly found out that 1,600 calories is not enough for me. I think this is why I was so tired. The night before I worked a 2 pm to 10:30 pm shift at work. I had been on my feet after day one of this new eating plan. I had been going to be around 9 am for the past week and now I am not only exhausted but by the time I get home and in bed it is 2 hours past my bed time. The wrench in my sleeping pattern and the lower intake of food was the perfect combination for a Del sized crash on Tuesday. However, the last two days I have gotten back to the regular sleeping pattern and I have adjusted the plate scene to fit me a bit better. I liked starting off hard with the plate plane because it 1) made me totally change my normal eating patterns 2) introduced me to new ways of doing food 3) helped with my self discipline and 4) got my body into a detox sort of situation.

So Wednesday. I had to open the store at 5 am and so I wasn’t able to work out until the afternoon. Stephanie slept an hour through her alarm and only had time for a workout dvd. Even with all that we stayed with the plate plan. For our breakfast we are supposed to take in one serving (6-8 oz.) of orange juice, one serving of milk and one serving (¾ cups) of granola. Before I left for work I drank the juice and milk and saved the granola for my first 10 minute break that would happen around 6:30 am. I found that this was really helpful. I get really hungry at work, but having a goal like the plate has gotten me in the mind set of self-denial when it comes to junk food (I LUVS JUNK FOOD!). When I had my granola at 6:30 I found that I was not hungry at all a few hours later. This was quite a surprise seeing as I am a ravenous beast most of the time. I have always heard it said “Eat 5 small meals a day!” This comes to eating about every three hours, depending how long you are up during the day. What they don’t tell you is that by small… they mean very very small. However, I can proudly say that I have fully, (well, mostly fully) adjusted to this different eating pattern. Knowing that I don’t have a ton of food to eat causes me to eat more slowly. It has made me want to enjoy my food rather than shove it down my gullet. The coolest thing is that I am now starting to lean what are appropriate serving sizes and that I can eat a lot and still eat well. Have you ever seen a full cup of rice? One serving of rice is huge! The other night I had steamed Brussel sprouts and I wasn’t even able to finish it. Having salads is nice but these dense starches and veggies are incredibly helpful in the battle for the food plate. The discipline I have been learning through saying no to foods and sticking to this plan has bled into other areas of my life. I love to eat and when food is out I will eat it. But when I am hungry I have started to engage in spiritual exercises like praying, listing my blessings, doing the laundry, reading or writing. When I am not thinking of food all of the time my brain has found space to do other things. Mind you, the first two days all I wanted was a mound of deep fried pancakes but those sorts of urges have gone away.
One thing I noticed yesterday was that my body has been changing since the start of this plate deal. First, I have lost 8 lbs since Sunday. I know this is probably an unhealthy amount of weight loss, but I do have some excess fat on me that is more than likely expendable. I have also started to feel a longer burning energy inside. Have you ever been at a bon fire and just dumped a bunch of pine needles on it? I feel that is how I have been eating for the last 27 years of my life, eating for that burst of huge energy but quickly cooling off after that. Right now the energy I have is small, but it is warm and sustained like well dried logs stacked to last through the night. Another weird thing is that our poops have been awesome! No joke. Believe me, everybody poops and you don’t have to be infantile or a teenage boy to enjoy a good poop or know what I am talking about. Another thing that has been happening is that our mouths have started to taste really bad. Today, it isn’t to bad but yesterday we both started feeling this dry morning breath that lasted through the day. I have heard of this happening when people fast, something to do with the detoxification process. All in all, the results so far have been pretty astounding.

So, I mentioned junk. That brings me to a thought I had yesterday: anything that doesn’t go towards your daily full nutrition is junk food. Like that beef jerkey that says it contains 40% of my daily protein? Yeh, it also has my next week’s worth of salt. I just feel like we have been tricking ourselves into thinking we are more healthy than we are. Last night Stephanie and I ate baked sweet potatoes (with nothing on them. So delicious!), one serving of chicken grilled in olive oil and rice. It was one of the best tasting meals ever. And it was so basic. We had our fats, carbs and protein all within the percentages suggested by the plate. Actually, the plate doesn’t give you percentages but, being a sort of fad diet connoisseur I have found that there is a pie chart dividing out what percent of our caloric intake should be from carbs/fats/proteins. The ideal pie chart (mmm…pie) looks something like:

I have been keeping track of my calories on my phone and after the second day, daily my caloric intake breakdown looks like this:
I know, not perfect, but pretty darn close! Who would have thought that I needed more fat in my life! I have tracked my calories like this before and most of the time the pie chart just looks like a sad face on a big circle or red. What is crazy is that if you eat according to the food plate, the outcome will in fact be a daily caloric breakdown that looks like the first chart. Carbohydrates are super easy to come by, but they key is getting them from dark and whole grains rather than enriched grain. Also eating fruits and veggies help. Fats are tricky because it is easy to either eat a ton of them or avoid them all together. I think that is my problem. I eat a lot of fat, but when I keep away from fats I keep very faraway. I need to do better there for sure. The protein part is strange to me. I have always heard “protein! Protein! Eat your protein!” especially if you are working out a lot. I understand the use of protein in helping repair your muscles after intense workouts. I surprisingly did have the energy to do 1.5 hours of cardio today but I don’t think I need a protein shake. Honestly, protein enriched foods and beverages tend to just blow your caloric balance way out of whack unless you are a professional athlete. If I was to start working out at such a high level that I needed 10,000 calories a day, I would need a better way to get protein than eating like 10 steaks or something. I understand protein supplements, but again I think they are overused and over marketed to folks who don’t need them. And that is the main point of all that I have learned so far. Pretty much everything that exists to help diet or to not help you diet is unneeded. The first chart is a visual presentation of that old idea of having a balanced meal. Last night my grilled chicken was fairly lean but it was close to making up 34% of my meal’s worth of fat and protein. The rest were carbs: rice and sweet potatoes. No sugar, no butter, no nuthin!
Sweet potatoes without butter and brown sugar? ahhh!
Really, I don’t thin I could ever be a health nut or someone who is super granola but I have started to realize if I am eating anything that doesn’t fully benefit me nutrition wise and does not further me towards the goal of the plate or proper daily caloric breakdown, why eat it? Because I want to. And I will. I will have a donut or a piece of pizza. However, I feel like I now have the tools to not let food rule my life and Stephanie and I are very happy about that!