Sunday, January 6, 2013

Successful Weight Loss Starts With A Logical Plan - Part 3

Weight loss has two components - calories in and calories out... put another way, eating and exercise.  This is not a situation where you choose one or the other, you need to manage both to be successful.  So let's take a quick look at the eating aspect.

How many times do you eat each day?  Three? Why?  Most likely because you were trained that way from a very early age.  Interestingly enough, we more likely to eat because its meal time rather than because we are hungry.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating starvation, as that is not an acceptable weight loss tool, rather I am just pointing out how we humans tend to fall into routines that can be very hard to change.
  
How many times have well-meaning parents and grand parents told you to eat everything on your plate or encouraged you to have a second helping.  Our culture is such that overeating can be seen as confirmation of good eating habits and even more bizarre - a compliment to the cook!  Sadly, we have become a society of over-eaters...
  
It's been said that the stomach pouch (not the fat you have accumulated around it) is roughly the size of one or two fists.  Now ball your hands into fists... not very big are they.  So if that is the reference for normal stomach size, then you don't want to eat food that is any bulkier than that.  In other words, the food on your plate should not exceed that physical area.  Sure your stomach will stretch when you OVEREAT but what good is that, as most of the extra stuff may convert into fat, cause you don't need it to sustain your body's energy requirements.
  
Of course, the size of the food is not directly proportional to the amount of calories.  You could eat some standard-sized portions that are heavily loaded with calories.  For example, the Big Mac has approximately 560 calories, yet the burger fits within the two fist category.  But throw in medium fries and a (non-diet) soft drink and that bumps up to about 1140 calories.  By the same token, the additional food and drink also exceeds the two fist rule, so you can see where reducing how much you eat can have a real affect on calories consumed.
  
But why bring in so many calories to begin with by choosing unhealthy food?  Simply replacing the soft drink with a diet drink or better yet water, takes a couple of hundred calories off the table.  Switching to a small fry will help even more and avoiding this particular sandwich will make a huge difference.  Yeah, I know what you are thinking - you really don't want to give up the foods you like and neither did I.  So what did I do about food in order to lose all of my weight?
  
First things first - baby steps!  I didn't try to do too much too soon, rather I made changes gradually.  The first was simply eating less of all the regular stuff.  My simple trick was to eat as slow as I possibly could, pausing between each mouthful to slowly chew and swallow the food.  As soon as my stomach started to signal that it was getting full I stopped eating.
  
Unfortunately, my head said - eat some more.  So I begin a battle of willpower.  I didn't throw out the uneaten food, rather I stared at it and allowed it to get cold, which eventually turned me off to the idea of eating the rest of it.  This helped me reduce the AMOUNT of food I took in at any given meal.
  
I then begin to look a lot harder at the calories contained in the food, and focused on limiting my food intake to 1200-1500 calories per day.  (That Big Mac Meal would have pretty much covered me for the day...).  Yes I counted calories, which I know turns a lot of people off, but it helped me keep things under control.  Too much to cover here, but I provide a lot more details in my e-book, including daily breakdowns in my early going.
  
In addition, to help keep the calories under control, I also started eating packaged meals from the grocery store like Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones and Healthy Choice.  They actually make some pretty good stuff that will fill you up.  It wasn't a total conversion, but those meals helped me out, especially at lunch.  Typically at dinner, I stuck with normal food, but focused on keeping the calories and portions under control.
  
At no time did I force myself to eat stuff I didn't like, nor did I starve myself.  However, there were occasions then (and still today) where I didn't eat a meal because I wasn't hungry. Of course when I say that I get assailed by well-meaning Nutritionists who insist that you can't skip meals. (So many of them have never been overweight and don't really understand what we are going through...) I know what they are getting at, but I also learned that eating because of a certain position of the hands on the clock just doesn’t make sense.  Eating should be about fueling your body… period.   
To sum it all up, you must learn to take control of your eating habits with a focus on reducing portion size and decreasing caloric intake.  And somewhere along the way, you will want to start looking at healthier food choices.  But don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too much too soon!  Baby steps are the key.  It took a long time to gain all the weight and its going to take a long time to lose it all, so be patient and focus on making lasting changes that make a difference and that you can live with forever.
 
So much to learn, so little space here.  If you want more information, with real life experiences, check out the Eat Slow Walk Fast Book.
 
Next stop is exercise, which is not a dirty word, when done creatively.

To be continued…

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