Sunday, July 21, 2013

Weight management is a *very* long game …

When you decide to change your life style, or at least what you eat, you have to be prepared for setbacks and you have to play the long game. Meaning that you have years to get it refined to the point where you are at a weight you are happy with.

Today I came within a whisker of 78 pounds lost so far, which is pretty decent. I am at a weight today that I have not seen in about a decade and I am pretty pleased with the results so far.


I have blogged this before, but I must reinforce the lesson that you need to find out what works for you. Stay away from fads and just work on basic principles, which are:

  • Take in less calories than you burn to lose weight in the long run.
  • Eat healthier foods to feel better and to avoid hidden calories. Remember that anything that is preprocessed for you quite likely has a lot of sodium in it and that is not terribly healthy.
  • Concentrate on the diet side, as it has a much higher impact overall than the exercise side. But do move around – walking, lifting weights, doing your yard work regularly, whatever – as you will be better able to manage your weight and your heart and lungs will thank you. Start slowly, but do start.
  • Get plenty of sleep (this is critical) and you will avoid the restless munching that gets all of us in the end. Studies show that sleep-deprived people eat much more than people who get enough sleep. I can vouch for this from personal experience.
  • Track your progress. This works for some and freaks others out. At the least, track your intake and output (food log, activity log) against your weight (weight log) to see how it is going. And don’t forget that you can lose inches without losing pounds, as muscle weighs more. Just be patient. This is my calorie balance chart for the last month:
    See that really bad day in the middle? I did have one of those days where I could not stop eating, and it really whipped me. But I stayed the course after that and have done ok. Every month, I see a lower peak when I am not completely off the diet. Try it for a while at or another such site.
  • In the spirit of the aforementioned bad day on the graph -- if you have a bad day, don’t sweat it. Don’t throw in the towel and binge eat for a week (hands up for those who have never done that out of frustration.) Instead, eat what you want that day and go right back to eating right the next day and the one after that. One secret I have proven to work is to never eat bad food two days in a row. And the rule is even better of you can avoid bad food two meals in a row. I have, for example, eaten a full bag of popcorn at a movie theater in the last month. I was very careful for weeks afterwards to recover from that, and all it does is cause a blip in my weight curve (the curve above is very compressed, so it looks fairly smooth – but trust me that there are many such blips.)

These are just some thoughts to keep in mind. It is very hard to get into a mode where you understand that you will be eating much better food for the rest of your life. That you cannot just plow into a bad of Doritos every time you feel uptight or sad. I call it that “switch” in your head. Once it goes on, you are good to go for a while, as you will become immune to the binge eating problem. This is what happens when people make their own health their current “project” …

But once you understand that, you are free to cheat now and again without the severe penalty that binging will bring. Heck, Bill Phillips built his entire system (Body for Life) on the principle that diet and exercise and a “cheat day” will work. It does. I am not following his methods strictly these days, but I certainly understand why it worked for me in the past, and any sensible approach will have elements of that kind of plan in it. If you need a formal prescription, try that one out. It is as good as any. If you need a formal diet to follow, try the South Beach Diet. It is based on solid principles from everything I have read.

My best wishes go out to those who struggle with this.