I’m nearly down 13kg this year and hope to make it to my target of losing 21kg in another couple of months. People ask me what I’m doing in and inevitably I tell them at length in a tedious, unstructured manner. So here’s the latest on how I’m achieving this so far, and you can let me know what you think. I think this counts as ‘weight loss tips for geeks’ as it involves at least one technology, and a bit of random nerdiness, but hopefully you’ll like it.
NB this post follows on from my earlier post on Chivalry House that I apparently forgot to cross post here. So start there, or here… doesn’t really matter.
I’m logging all food and exercise on DailyBurn.com (the nasty renaming of the friendly ‘Gyminee.com’ as it was). It’s a great way of keeping me honest. My weight loss is operating on the basic principle that if I eat less than I use on a normal day (i.e. not accounting for exercise), I will lose weight. So I’ve set (and maintained) a calorie target of 1,500 since about April. And I’ve been losing about 1kg per week, which I understand is about as well as you can hope to do. I also weigh myself daily (and am unbothered by occasional fluctuations, you can use a moving average if you want but weighing yourself at the same time daily gives some consistency). Dailyburn doesn’t yet have an iPhone app but it does have an iPhone optimised page which works pretty well.
Be aware of what you eat
My previous ‘values’ for food were determined by how much I like the taste of it, and I pretty much indulged in eating food I liked when I liked. Having an understanding of a) how many calories are in everything and b) how much it fills me up for that has changed the way I ‘value’ food. On 1,500 calories a day I’m pretty much always hungry so its necessary to eat cleverly to avoid the worst of it. Here’s my tips:
1) Avoid processed foods and simple carbohydrates (white rice, white bread, rice cakes etc). They digest too quickly, you don’t stay full and have a poor full up / consumption ratio.
2) Eat fresh, eat fibre – go for foods with more fibre content and tonnes of fresh vegetables to fill up.
3) Bulk-up with the good stuff – eat the vegetables etc., FIRST, before you eat the ‘tasty’ (for me, meat) portion of the meal.
4) Find healthy ‘treats’ in each category of food that are better for you – e.g. strawberries for sweets (7 calories each and delicious). I haven’t found a great savoury low-cal snack yet, but if anyone has any ideas…
5) Keep yourself honest – Make sure your food diary is kept on the side of caution – always estimate more rather than less so you don’t go over your calorie target
6) Drink tonnes of water to stay full, before or during a meal – NOT AFTER. After seems to swell your stomach and get you hungry again.
7) Don’t reward exercise with food. Never works, you’ll always bump the calorie count more than you think.
8) Do eat things you want sometimes – even if its bad for you. For me, it’s Hitting the Hut. Make sure you add it to DailyBurn anyway and keep within your weight loss or at least weight maintenance band.
9) Reverse the meat/carbs proportion of your meal. Western diets are generally oriented around eating a LOT more rice/potatoes/bread than meat, but we actually probably need more meat than carbs if we’re doing a weight loss/resistance training programme. Swap in more veg instead of potatoes or rice. Aubergine is a great bet and can be made pretty damn tasty.
10) Soup fills you up more than other things – see this article. Eat’s soup, which is unebelievably delicious and mostly healthy (a few in ‘Very Big Bold’ sizes to be avoided, worse than a baguette), has helped me get through many a tough day on the diet.
The reason most people give up on exercise regimens (including me) is because they require more time than we can gather the willpower to give. I’ve been working to one target – to increase my strength for press ups. This happens to be a good exercise that works a lot of other muscles as well (biceps, triceps, chest, core, etc), so works for me, but others might prefer squats or sit-ups. I’m doing the programme over at Hundred Pushups, which requires the princely time-commitment of 30 minutes PER WEEK. I’ve gone from a max of about 15 push-ups to my current limit, about 35-36, in 5 weeks. In another few weeks I hope to be pushing 60 before I make it to the 100 mark (the idea is to get to the point where you can do 100 in a single set). And I bought their iPhone app to keep me honest, if you want to do it the high-tech way.
Don’t. Most alochol is calorific as all that. On the occasions I’ve been out, I’ve had vodka shots alternating with pints of water. At 50 calories of carbs per shot its as efficient as you can get, but still not great for you over an evening. The pints of water are a great way of feeling involved in social drinking, preventing hangovers, and help reach your daily target for water intake.
…and I think that’s most of it. I’ve been rewarding myself with new clothes (necessary as trousers no longer fit and jackets and t-shirts etc., look baggy) – instead of food – which works well. And a real imperative is getting to my target weight before I get a suit tailored for the wedding in October (first fitting in a few weeks!). That maybe gives me more will power than most, but in honesty I’d just had enough of being a fatass. I’ve been gaining weight from 10 years of eating what I feel like, so losing it over 6 months of hunger is not a great deal to put up with… I’m going to carry on using Gyminee when the target’s met to prevent a resurgence, but I’m really, really looking forward to getting back to 2000 calories per day…
Any thoughts, feedback, further advice, or useful links appreciated. Thanks to all who’ve been encouraging & supportive through the proceedings, both online via Twitter and Facebook, and IRL.