Back in 2009, I lost a lot of weight; almost 60 pounds. I’ve kept most of it off for the past three years. “Most” is the operative word here.
Here’s what I know. Losing weight is the easy part. Well, maybe not easy, but you can take weight off using a variety of tricks, gimmicks, and eating plans that wouldn’t constitute being healthy.
Let me be clear. I’m not a medical professional, a fitness coach, or a dietician. My thoughts about healthy eating and weight loss are in no way intended to serve as advice, medical, or otherwise. Before embarking on an eating plan or fitness regimen, be sure to consult your own personal physician.
Weight loss vs. weight maintenance
In 2003, I was working at a large insurance company I’ll call Moscow Mutual. I was getting heavy. Someone told me about The Atkins Diet. I tried it and I lost more than 20 pounds. At that time, everyone was doing Atkins and eating bacon, sausage, cheese, etc. It wasn’t a healthy regimen and many of us gained the weight back and more. It was also a big time at the Hüsker Dü factory.
I’m not here to debate pro-Atkins advocates. I just know that denying my body fruits, vegetables, and other items prohibited by Atkins and the fruit/veggie deniers isn’t what I want to be doing the rest of my life.
When I lost that large amount of weight, it was part of a conscious desire to get my weight down to a healthy level. Having a BMI around 30 isn’t healthy.
For more than three years, my weight stayed within 10 pounds of my weight trough that I’d reached at the end of 2009. Then, for whatever reason, I got away from what had worked for almost three years and the pounds started tacking on.
Actually, it isn’t a surprise why I began gaining weight last summer. Not having a system to track what you’re eating and the subsequent calorie intake is a sure gateway to being fat again.
During the holidays, I decided that beginning in January, I was going to make some changes. In talking it over with Mary, she agreed that she was also going to make some eating changes starting January 7.
I’m happy to report that both Mary and I are down nearly 20 pounds since then.
Diet and Exercise
Here are a few things I’ve learned about eating healthy and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Tracking calories matters
- We eat more than we think
- It doesn’t take many calories per day over what your baseline number should be before you start adding on the pounds
- Maintaining a healthy weight requires discipline
While tracking calories matters (yes it does), so does increasing the amount and the intensity of your exercise. In order to lose weight and keep it off, you must have a plan.
There is some debate about specifics, but in general, there seems to be agreement that losing weight and keeping it off requires that diet and exercise go hand-in-hand.
Since I’m not a fitness expert, or command a large following like some of the fiterati do, I’ll defer to someone I’ve had the pleasure to meet and I think offers great advice. Joy Bauer, fitness and health guru for the Today show has some excellent tips each week on her biweekly segments called, The Joy Fit Club.
Here are a few of hers-
- Get your head in the game-
If you’re not committed to losing weight and changing what’s not working, nothing will work, or if it does, the gains will only be temporary.
Being healthy is a lifelong quest, not some lose- a-bunch-of-pounds-quickly scheme. Know why you want to make the change and be very clear about it.
- Track your progress-
We always think we’re eating less than we do. This aligns with what I mentioned earlier. Find a method, whether it’s a notebook or some other tool that fits your personality and style, and track your food intake, your exercise goals, and even how you feel each day. Mary and I are using My Fitness Pal, and we both love it.
- Find a daily exercise and stick to it, every day!!
I’m not going to go contrary on a guru. She says exercise every day, and I’m not disagreeing. I just know that for someone that’s not attuned to exercising, this could be intimidating. So what I’d tell you is that you need to exercise, but get started with two or three days each week. That’s where I began back in 2009. Then build up the frequency.
Mary and I are both training for a sprint triathlon in June. That means we’re biking (indoors right now), running, and swimming. I’m burning about 4,500 calories a week. That’s probably why I’m down 19 pounds since January 1. We’re also engaging in fitness activity 5-6 days each week.
Whatever it is, know that exercise matters. Try to increase in intensity over time, also.
- Eliminate liquid calories-
This was a big one for me; I cut alcohol out of my diet except on weekends. That means no beer, no wine, and no other calorie-laden drinks. It’s hard, but it works.
Bauer has several more tips that you should definitely check out.
Here are a few more thoughts I have based on my own experiences relative to health.
Getting older means that you lose muscle mass. Find some exercise regimen that incorporates strength training.
Another thing I’ve learned is that you have to push yourself. We’ve been sold a bill of goods that we can sit around on our asses, the remote in one hand, a bag of Doritos in the other and look like super models or athletes with six-pack abs. I’m sorry but it ain’t happening, and those crazy infomercials promising a ripped body with 20 minutes of working out each day are lies from the pit of hell!
Cut the processed crap out of your diet. Get up off the coach, put on your sneakers, and get moving. Start walking, then jogging, and hopefully, before long, you’ll be running. If weight-bearing is an issue, then biking, or swimming might be an alternative.
It isn’t rocket science. Cut your calories, increase your activity, and before long, you’ll find the scale tilting in the direction that will bring a smile to your face. You might just fit into those pants that have been hanging in the closet for a few years that you haven’t been able to button.
You’ll also feel better than you have in years.
Self-help Tuesdays, every Tuesday @ the JBE; because we all need a little self-help.