Where I offer unsolicited weight-loss advice
The weight-loss challenge is over. And, unless something truly unforeseen happens between now & Wednesday, the scale is going to read some number less than my goal weight when I log in on Wednesday morning. While it’s difficult for me to admit, sometimes I actually like the reflection in the mirror. I still have work to do, that’s for sure, but I feel like I’m well on the way to leading a healthier lifestyle.
And, if I don’t lose a single pound from this point forward, I can be quite happy, as long as I maintain my current regimen. So, here’s how I did it & what I plan to keep doing:
- Log every bite. You need to be honest with yourself. When you’re making yourself a meal, weigh and/or measure every ingredient. Know, precisely, what you’re putting in your body. It’s only natural to want to come in “under” your target calorie intake at the end of the day, but resist the urge to cheat — you’re only hurting yourself when you do it.
- When you go over, do so proudly and don’t be ashamed. My biggest issue, previously, when trying to lose weight, was that, if I gave in to temptation during the day, I gave the day away as “wasted” and stopped thinking about what I was eating for the rest of the day, with the promise that “I’d be better tomorrow.” Now, I’ll go over — but I’ll know how far I went over, and that forces me to remain true to what I’m eating, even on days that I blow my target calorie intake by several thousand calories (e.g. Super Bowl Sunday).
- There is not a magical machine at the gym for burning more calories. The cycle isn’t better than the elliptical isn’t better than the Arc trainer isn’t better than the treadmill isn’t better than the rowing machine1. Simply, the harder you work, the more calories you’ll burn. Ignore that stupid “fat burn zone.”2 Go as hard as you can, for as long as you can. At the gym, I typically work in one-minute segments . . . when I’m “on,” I’m nonstop motion, pushing myself. Then I rest. Then I start right back up again.
- The exception to the prior bullet point is when I head out to run/cycle — there, I always head out with a specific distance in mind, and I aim for consistency in my splits — based on how far I’m going, I really try to gauge how much I have “in the tank” to head out at a maximum pace that I’d be able to maintain throughout the entire event. At the end of a run, or when I get off of the cycle, I want to barely be able to walk. Alas, it’s a trail & error approach to getting to this point.
- Be skeptical about “calories burned” readouts. There is science behind them, but, unless you’re hooked up to a machine that is actually determining the amount of oxygen that you’re consuming, it’s all just a big guess. There are some machines that I typically trust, and some where I completely ignore the number. Remember, the harder you work, the more calories you burn — stick with the activities that you enjoy.
- Always focus on form – be it while lifting weights or sitting in your chair.
- Teach your body to be hungry. It’s easy to fall into a rut of eating you’re bored. I’m not saying that you should starve yourself, but choose random days where you can, and deprive yourself of food – learn what “hungry” means — because, well, in our world, it’s too easy to just reach for food when you can.
- Do not focus entirely on cardio at the gym. Every time I’ve lost weight, I got stuck up on this. The composition of your body matters. A lot. The more muscle you have, the more calories you need to simply maintain your current state. When you add muscle, you’ll find fat loss to be much easier to achieve. If you don’t have a gym, do push-ups.
- Take before pics. There will be days that you get discouraged. When they happen, look at the pictures that you took before & realize the progress you’ve made.