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.

Day two of Steph & Del’s crazy diet plan…

DAY 2: REPORT…

Day two of our crazy diet plan – a plan to follow the food plate for seven straight days.  The plan was inspired after finding that after seven straight days of working out and getting enough sleep left us feeling

AMAZING…

We were up at 4:45am and on an elliptical at Planet Fitness for a cardio workout by 5:15am.  Boom.

Whilst increasing our cardiovascular endurance we discussed two things: 1) what we are going to eat for the day and 2) how we were feeling about the crazy workout plan.

THE MENU…

Breakfast (same as yesterday)

¾ c granola

1 c milk

1 c OJ

Lunch

1 c veggies

Leftover salmon or (3/4 c

Leftover couscous or bread (2 slices)

Dinner (we are having two people over for dinner)

Whole grain pizza (2 slices each)

Chicken (as a pizza topping)

Cream cheese & Cheese (on the pizza)

Salad as a side

HOW WE ARE FEELING…

The biggest change Del noticed was “long-lasting energy.”  He noticed that he was somewhat hungry yesterday, but that he felt like he has more sustained energy throughout the day.

I too just felt better in general.  I am not sure if I feel better because I ate well – or if I feel better because I am eating well.  In other terms, I don’t know if I am feeling better because of improved eating habits.  Or if I am feeling better because I like knowing I am eating in a healthier way.  Whether it is the food or all in my brain – I like it.

PUBLIC FOOD DENIAL…

Today at work my co-worker had a “Birthday brunch” to celebrate January birthdays for the office.  Yesterday at work, Del had a coffee tasting with cookies available to munch on.  Because we are doing this crazy diet plan, we had to practice some self-denial and turn down treats that we otherwise would have indulged in.  Instead of opting for “pineapple stuffing” (which I guess is a thing now), I opted for my 1 cup of fruit.  Instead of going for a whole cookie, Del had a smaller serving of the cookie.  Oh, that sacrifices we make.

WE SHALL SEE…

We are having a couple over for dinner tonight.  They may or may not know we are doing this crazy diet plan.  However, whether they know it or not – they will be partaking in the food pyramid.  I am going to have extra food (and dessert) for them.  Yet I am curious to see how this will go once you throw in making dinner for two other people.

IN SUM…

We are feeling good – in spite of having to turn down cookie and pineapple stuffing.  Now let’s see how it goes once we add deux….

On day 1 of Steph & Del’s crazy diet plan…

It is implementation day of our seven diet plan.  I should briefly recap that last week we felt so amazing after getting seven hours of sleep and exercising for sixty minutes each day that we decided to change our diet plan.  By “diet plan” I don’t mean “weight-loss plan.”  I mean we developed a crazy idea to follow the food plate (no longer a pyramid) to see if after seven days we felt really good and healthy.  Thus far, we have bought the food, wrote out what we will eat, and as of 4:55am (the time we woke up to go work out) have begun eating.

DIET PREPARATION: Thoughts

On the set-up… Setting up a new eating scheme totally sucks.  To start, the whole plate thing is in ounces and cups, whereas every other food pyramid in the world is in servings.  So I have had to break out my high school science metric changeover skills (which I haven’t used since I learned them) in order to figure out what we can eat and then what we can buy.  If we are going to stick with this, we will need a food scale ASAP.
On buying fish… Buying fish – sucks.  We live in the Midwest.  I am not about to spend $15 a pound for a fish, so my only two options are salmon and tilapia (#firstworldproblems).  Meh.  Salmon it is.

On staying in budget… At the checkout – I totally stayed within budget.  Whoever said eating healthy is more expensive is totally an idiot, or worked for Frito Lay.  For $4.00 – I could get any ONE of the following HEALTY items: four pounds of carrots, four heads of lettuce, eight cucumbers, five pounds of apples, or five pounds of oranges. For $4.00 – I could get any ONE of the following UNHEALTHY items: a large bag of Doritos, four liters of soda, one container of ice cream, or a large bag of chocolate chips.   My point is, per pound – healthy food is much more affordable.  You get more, and you don’t feel like going into a diabetic coma afterwards.

On sugar… My biggest dietary dilemma is that amount of sugar I consume.  I do well at not pigging out and not eating fatty stuff.  However #SugarIsMyBFF.  However, on this diet, you are only supposed to consume 120 calories per day from sugar (single tear rolls down my cheek).  Since I drink coffee with cream AND SUGAR every single day, I have made the decision that my daily sugar intake will come in this form.

“Oh yeah” moment… I was talking to a friend about the idea when she mentioned what I forgot.  She noted “Well, seven days isn’t really enough to feel the full impact of the diet.”  Del and I should have thought of that, but didn’t.  We discussed the thought and came to the conclusion that we would try this for seven days.  Depending on how we felt after that, we might keep it and keep going – or try something else really crazy.

DAY 1 REPORT: Plan and reactions to day one of the food plate diet

Breakfast… 3/4c granola, 1c milk, 1c orange juiceSnack… 2 orangesLunch… 1c broccoli, 1/2c chicken, 1/4c cheese, 2oz tortillasDinner… 1/2c salmon, 1c couscous (I am so cool), 1c brussel sprouts

By lunch I feel hungry.  I want sugar.  I want sugar in the form of chocolate – or a chewy granola bar – or some Doritos.  I think there are sugar packs in the drawer below the coffee maker…. Be right back….

By lunch Del feels… tired.  I should mention that we both got seven hours of sleep and worked out for an hour this morning.  A decision is quickly made that this is not enough food.

WINNER WINNER SALMON FOR DINNER:

OVERALL REPORT: Conclusions

Set up was a pain, but change can be painful.  We stayed in budget.  We planned it out.  We are both hungry and need to up these ounces.  Now on to day two…………..

On Steph & Del’s crazy diet idea…

Last week my husband (Del) and I did something crazy…

We decided we would get seven solid hours of sleep – and we would try to exercise at least sixty minutes every day of the week.

Because Del works early in the morning, we decided we would get up at 4:30 am and then I would go exercise and he would go to work (yes, we went to bed at 9:30 pm each night).  Del would then exercise after work.

We decided to get sleep and work out because… we just decided to try it for a week.  It was not a New Year’s resolution.  We don’t need to lose weight.  Both of us are fairly healthy.  Prior to getting seven solid hours of sleep, our sleep patterns were erratic and ranged from 5-10 hours with periodic napping.

Wednesday night – after a mere four days of solid sleep, Del looked at me and said “I feel amazing.  I haven’t felt this good since, well, I don’t know when.”

Then I said another idea, “What if we actually lived how scientists recommend?  I mean, what if we actually ate according to the food pyramid AND got seven hours of sleep AND exercised?”

And ANOTHER crazy idea was born.

Starting Sunday we are going to spend one full week eating, resting, and exercising according to recommended amounts. We are going to do this just to see how good we will feel afterwards (or bad, because you just never know).

The path to better health had already been paved with changing our schedules (quite drastically) to sleep more and to exercise.  So, of course, the next logical change was figuring out how to alter our diets.  We did this by, picking the pyramid, figuring out what we needed to get, and SHOPPING!

STEP 1: Picking the pyramid… or plate?

Since we are already getting enough sleep and exercise – the first task was to select a food pyramid.  We quickly found out two things.  First, food pyramids vary by country and/or culture.  For example, The Latin American pyramid recommends you eat fish or shellfish daily, while the Mediterranean diet recommends fish on a weekly basis.  Second, we found out that the US food pyramid was replaced with a plate (see: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/).  Thus, the pyramid we were looking to recreate within our own diets had been replaced. Being crazy – yet simplistic – we opted for the plate program.

Step 2: Breaking down the plate

Daily, the plate recommends the following-

  • Grains – 5 ounces a day (60% whole grains)
  • Vegetables – 2 cups a day (11% dark green, 29% red/orange, 7% beans/peas, 28% starchy, 25% other)
  • Fruit – 1 ½ cups a day
  • Dairy – 3 cups a day
  • Protein Foods – 5 ounces (with seafood twice a week)

Step 3: The shopping list

Grains   

1 box of Quinoa

2 Whole grain pizza crust

1 box Whole grain instant rice (because I’m not taking 2 hours to make rice)

Veggies

4 Red Peppers

1 crown of Broccoli

1 bag of Spinach (not frozen)

1 thingy of frozen Brussel sprouts

1 pound of Carrots

3 Sweet Potatoes

Fruit

6 Bananas

5 pounds of Apples

3 pounds of Oranges (when will nectarines be back in season #firstworldproblems)

Dairy 

1 gallon fat-free Milk (and lactose-free, sigh to lactose)

4 pounds of Cheese (YES!)

15 oz Cream Cheese

32 oz Coffee Creamer

Protein 

3 pounds Chicken

Fish of sound kind (which I never eat)

Sliced Almonds (I already have oats and will make granola for breakfasts)

Step 4: Each, watch and wait………….