FYI, I'm more than happy to help friends and family with their computer problems... but the caveat is that if you actively refuse or ignore my advice, don't expect my continued help. (Also, for those who think schedule or travel is an issue... I can do this over the internet)
First of all, I've been working on losing weight, successfully so far. Most of you don't know this because I don't like talking about it and I actually really really don't want support on the matter (anxiety, people offering me support on it would make it harder).
I wanted to make this post less about my own weight loss, but just because I wanted to share information that I've worked on. Some tested, some just psychology that's helped me (and your mileage may vary).
At the root of all diets and weight loss plans is actually a simple formula: (Calories Consumed) - (Calories Burned) = (Weight Gained or Lost)
On the few occasions people have learned about my weight loss efforts, I've heard many many different pieces of advice... but they always fall into one of two categories: (1) Misguided and while may do something for your health, does nothing for weight loss (2) is just a fancy method that hides the fact that you're just eating lower calorie foods
Just paying attention to what you eat makes a difference (you eat more when you're not paying attention). I finally started seeing success after my doctor told me to count calories... not with a limit in mind, just to track what was there. I started doing it with an app that let me scan in foods easily ( http://www.fatsecret.com ).
I had never done this before as I always thought I'd have to set and follow a limit when doing so... instead, just paying attention to the numbers alone shocked me into cutting back.
I've been combining it with workouts, though I've recently been in a rut there (laziness combined with weather pain).
* What are pounds
Reading up on weight loss, albeit more passively, it's important to recognize a few things.
One is that weight alone is not an indicator of health... and BMI is not accurate. Pretty much the only easy way I can think of to check on your status of weight health is with a doctor.
The actual weight you have is a factor of many different things, and not all of them are bad. Consider for instance that muscle weighs much more than fat. If you build up muscle without building fat, your weight will increase, and it won't necessarily be unhealthy.
* Water Weight
This one is very much a personal method, but I think it's super important to realize and accept.
Your weight is not a static number that only changes when you hit some threshold. I'm sure most of you are already aware of this, but people don't really think about it.
It's said that you weight fluctuates around 5 pounds over the course of the day. That's not a slope up or down, but moment to moment... you just ate dinner... how much did that food you ate weigh by itself? You're not even going to keep all of it in your system, but for the time being that 1 pound steak you just ate is a 1 pound weight in your stomach.
This is important because it severely affects the numbers you get on the scale.
For that, I've actually leaned on basic statistics to help me out with mapping that number.
(Note: measure your weight in the nude... otherwise it's much much harder to get accurate numbers and much much easier to get discouraged... a home scale is super useful for weight loss)
When you start losing weight, don't pay attention to the number on the scale by itself... but on how it relates to past weight. Your first time you weigh yourself, you set your number at 5 pounds below your current weight (basically assuming you're at the heaviest you will be in the day).
Now that you have your number, every time you step on the scale you will look at the number it shows and compare it as such:
<= 5 over: Everything is fine, you haven't lost or gained weight. Your number stays the same.
< Number: Congratulations, you've lost weight. The number on the scale is now your new number.
>5 over: Sadly, you have gained weight. Reset the number to this number - 5.
This is something I find important. And when I track my weight (again see http://www.fatsecret.com if you want what I'm using), I only enter that number and only think of my weight in terms of that number.
This means that when I set a new number after seeing it drop... I'm not discouraged the next day when it's 4 pounds higher. I may have just drunken more water, eaten heavier food... etc.
When I first started, I weighed myself daily for a bit, the numbers fluctuated and looked horrible... just switching to tracking this way made a huge difference as the graph is now a gentle slow downward (haven't hit a failure yet on my numbers under this system).
Sadly, be aware that this means if you're losing weight at a healthy rate, you may not see results until a couple of months in.
* Fat vs. Muscle - or Plateaus
From everything I've learned, muscle burns extra calories. So if what I'm told is true, working out is important for building that extra muscle which will burn extra calories.
But there's a more important factor to be aware of. When you lose weight, you're not just losing fat. Your body burns muscle alongside fat in the long run (at first it prefers fat... but when you stick to it it'll start burning muscle).
Your body wants to reach an equilibrium with your calorie intake. If you're consuming 1800 calories to reach 180 pounds... it doesn't care what your weight is, it cares that it's currently burning 2200 a day. So your body starts making changes to reduce that calorie burn, it wants to reach 1800 calories at this point, not 180 pounds.
This is important. If you don't exercise while losing weight, you'll lose the muscle which will make you weaker... but also more significantly will reduce your calorie burn excessively. This means you're progress will slow and possibly even stop.
This was hard for me to get started, and honestly has been a more difficult part of the process than counting calories. I'm not going to give some magical "give your self a reward" tip for it... rather, I just find it's good to associate good things with it in small moderate ways.
One is that I signed up for a gym with a pool (took me a while to find a place with a pool open at midnight... expensive), because I do enjoy relaxing in the water. It's incidentally exercise because I tend to pace while in the water and use the time to think (and I pace even more while thinking).
While doing my work out routine... well, I listen to audio-books ( http://www.audible.com ) and have on occasion watched tv on my phone (gym has wifi, and as you go a tv show can be a great way to time a workout lol ).
I do also recommend a session with a trainer... which I know is pricey. I wouldn't have done it if I hadn't gotten a couple of free sessions from the gym and they hadn't pestered me about them.
It really helped out to figure out a comfortable routine to follow, especially since the trainer was able to select exercises that avoided existing problems (low impact for instance to have less pain from arthritis).
Food is a horrible addiction... and withdrawal is incredibly lethal.
I've gone into this with a mindset straight out of AA... you never stop being fat, you just lose weight.
Funny thing they don't tell you about diet plans, especially the ones with paid memberships. If you go back to your normal eating after reaching your goal, your weight will come right back (and often much worse).
Basically, once you start your diet... you need to always stay on it. I know already that once I hit my goal weight, I'm going to have to stay on it to just maintain. I might cut back on the exercise (because losing muscle mass won't be as much of an issue), but I already know that I'm going to have to keep counting calories to keep the weight off.
There are reasons you gained all of this weight... and the reasons are often as unique as you are... but they don't go away with the weight. If you can somehow fix those reasons entirely, good for you... but that's "the unicorn" and not the typical reality.
No... don't do it. I've heard so many people talk about these and I already know they're the worst thing I can do. Your calorie intake is, in some ways, like your bank balance. You spend your calories burnt day to day on the food you eat, what's left over takes away from your fat.
If you take a day off, those calories are still there. And the only way you can eat those extra calories without losing weight is to consume even less calories at other times.
So... if you give yourself one day off and have been burning 200 calories a day for the rest of the week (net loss of 1200 calories)... if you consume 1200 calories on that "free day", then you've negated all of your weight loss for the week... more and you've gained weight.
If you really insist on doing this, keep track and consider it like a calorie savings account. cut some calories throughout the week and put them towards something nice... but I don't recommend it as it makes it harder to keep up the diet.
This is the part that's the real kick in the nuts.
You should not be losing more than 2 pounds a week. If you insist on losing weight faster than that, I strongly strongly insist on coordinating with a doctor. Losing weight faster than 2 pounds a week is devastating on the human body and if done for extended periods will ruin you (in the way that gets you the good parking spots).
For those who watch pop culture... shows like the Biggest Loser are basically a handbook of how not to lose weight. If you follow their guide, you will be doing so much more harm to your health than good. Most of those contestants have severe health problems after the show (for example, kidney failure).
If you want to read further on how dishonest that ideal is:
Comedy site with good research: http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-1338-5-details-…
Non-Comedy site in case you think the comedy site is satire: http://nypost.com/…/contestant-reveals-the-brutal-secrets-…/
If you do things right, you will likely be only managing a pound a week (that's roughly the rate I've been able to maintain), if you manage 2 pounds week consistently... kudos to you. If you manage 3 consistently (not just once every now and then), go see a doctor.
It's also useful to note that the CDC does do studies into health surrounding weight. According to the CDC, those who lose weight at a healthy rate of 1 to 2 pounds a week are much more likely to keep it off. (Here's their page on weight loss with tips and advice: http://www.cdc.gov/HEALTHYWEIGHT/LOSING_WEIGHT/INDEX.HTML )
If any of you are trying to lose weight, I hope something in here helps. If nothing else, hopefully it'll help dispel some myths.
- Cisco Systems, Inc.Linux Administrator, 2014 - present
- RackspaceLevel 1 Systems Administrator, 2013 - 2014
- ContactWorksTechnical Support / Linux Admin, 2011 - 2013
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