In 2006, between April and December, I went from being over 300 pounds to being 190. Many people have asked me what my ‘secret’ is. The only thing you absolutely need to know is this: you must eat less calories than you burn, and everyone burns calories all day long, even doing nothing. I was inspired by fear of a heart attack, diabetes, and sleep apnea, amongst other ailments, and it helps for you to be inspired too, but my success was mostly due to a new knowledge set. One more thing: this shouldn’t be called or referred to as a ‘diet’ – this should be a change for life, and it is an exciting and wondrous opportunity.
1. Learn about nutrition. I read a lot about nutrition, calories, and nutritional theory. If I had to suggest three great books, they’d be The Hacker’s Diet, Volumetrics, and Total Nutrition. I now read a lot of cookbooks, a lot of food blogs, and I search out nutritional (caloric specifically) information fanatically. If a restaurant does not make their nutritional information well known and available, they are always a second choice for me now to one that does.
2. Learn about Calories. I found out what a calorie is, how many I burn in a day sitting still (BMR), which is easily calculated in a general sense with the formula current weight x 10. If I weigh 200 pounds, I can eat about 2000 calories a day without gaining weight. When I weighed 330 pounds, I needed to eat about 3300 calories a day to keep that weight up. By eating 2500 calories a day when I weighed 330 pounds, I started dropping weight by several pounds a week, which had dramatic results for my sense of success. There are great and detailed BMR calculators out there, and you should become aware of them. They take into account your age, weight, gender, exercise level, and more – the weight x 10 is just a very rough estimate, but it worked well for me.
3. Use an objective standard to set goals. I found out the differences between feeling overweight, looking overweight, and being overweight from an objective POV (BMI). I used BMI to set my goals originally, and stayed with it until I reached my goals, but some of the pictures that show me at my ‘ideal’ weight make me look downright bony. I’m a little bit above my BMI goal weight now, but not much. I try to stay at about 195. You can determine your BMI online on lots of free online calculators, and you can find lots of people who find the BMI standard to be controversial, if not downright wrong.
4. Exercise to feel great, not to lose weight. I relied mostly on nutrition and good choices to lose and maintain my weight. I hardly ever exercise, though I did a lot of biking when I was losing aggressively. It helped my mindset and general feeling overall much more than my weight loss. I don’t really like to exercise, and so I don’t unless I’m really just in the mood.
5. Keep an accurate record. Control your portions, know what you are eating, and keep track of everything you put in your mouth. How many calories are in a soft pretzel. What about a piece of a soft pretzel? How about a hard pretzel? You really need to know some more information to know the answer: How heavy is the pretzel? Is it an ounce? 2 ounces? Is it covered in sugar? Is it dipped in chocolate? All of these answers will affect the number of calories. When you know the answer to ‘how many calories are in the thing I’m about to eat?”, you have something to write down — something to record. If you don’t know, or if you are just guessing, you might as well just keep doing whatever else it was you were doing. You have to know what you are taking in calorically to compare it as the day goes on with what you’re allowed to eat today. It helps me to think of calories in terms of money – I start off ever day with $2000.00 (2000 Calories). Eating sensibly for me is about staying in the black. I even keep a record of my calories in a ledger, and when all of my calories are gone for the day, I stop eating. It’s really that simple.
If you want help, I want to help you, so please leave a comment or email me. Thanks!