Following is a note I wrote to a good friend of mine who is frustrated with his lifelong battle to slim down and then keep the weight off…
This is what has worked for me these past few months, On July 20, I was 220 lbs. As of November 11, I weigh 175 lbs, which is my goal weight.
Note—at first you will see little change. Within a few weeks, if you hold true to this program you will see fairly rapid change, then a slowdown. I do not weigh myself often—maybe every other week. The best measure was clothes size. When I did weigh myself, it was positive. To weigh in every day can be a yo-yo experience and sometimes frustrating. I simply changed how I perceive food, followed through and didn’t worry about it so much. The weight loss simply happened.
The first challenge was mind-set. I had to get to a place where food is not a reward or a reason to wake up. Instead of “live to eat,” it has to be “eat to live.” With that said, you need to recognize that some of the ingredients you consume will create a form of addiction. Sugar, salt, fats, carbs, alcohol. It is really KEY that you understand this—it will affect your approach each day.
You also have to keep on the top of your mind, just how many calories and also which types of food your body needs to function at a high level. You cannot be lethargic, grumpy or jittery. This link takes you to a great calculator… http://nutrition.about.com/library/bl_nutrition_guide_men.htm
Your calorie intake is critical. You need to understand how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. That will change—you weigh more and you need more to stay the same. You weigh less and you need less.
It takes 3500 calories to gain or lose one pound. In order to lose one pound, you need to consume 3500 calories less than you need. SO—if you eat 500 calories less than you need per day, you lose one pound a week. Or—you could exercise and increase the calories you burn and that speeds up the process.
The first two weeks are the toughest. You’ll crave the old favorites in a big way. If your habit is to eat a bag of Fritos while watching the game, what to do? For me it doesn’t work to substitute other foods (like carrot sticks, etc) That makes me crave the Fritos more. Instead, I’ll tell myself, “Mike, you won’t die if you skip this,” and then skip the snack altogether. This eventually helped to break the habit of needing food as a form of crack. That also holds true with other choices. You need to eliminate a few things. Like butter, most fried snacks, mayo, high fat meats—extra beers you don’t need.
If you do slip up and have extra calories, you need to make a conscious effort to make up the losses in the next few days, then resume to normal.
Breakfast—about 250 – 300 calories — DO NOT SKIP BREAKFAST. If you do, you will be hungry, grouchy and jittery the whole day and probably not stick with it.
I have two breakfast bars, which I eat at work. I wait till 8:30 or 9:00 to eat the first, then eat the second about 5 minutes later. I also have several cups of coffee with low fat cream. You could have scrambled eggs instead and maybe stir a few veggies in to the mix. Use a non stick pan and cooking spray. No butter or oil! And skip the toast.
For me, it is not in my life style to cook breakfast for myself, thus the ready-to-eat bars.
Late morning snack about 35 calories — Four dry roasted almonds. They are delicious and cut my hunger big time.
Yes you read it right. Four
Lunch, about 400 calories — Every day, a sandwich. Use Columbo or Francisco rolls—white or sourdough (about 200 calories each). If you use others, make sure the calories are posted. I buy lean Hillshire Farms deli meat and switch between turkey, ham, roast beef and pastrami. Don’t use more than about 2 ounces of meat. Sometimes I will heat it up. Add mustard only and as much lettuce, tomato, peppers, pickles, cukes that you like. Kraft nonfat cheese will give you 2 slices—only 50 calories. NO CHIPS or side dish–only the sandwich. I drink water, ice tea or diet soda.
Late afternoon snack — 4 more almonds, about 35 calories
Dinner — Whatever you want. Just limit it to no more than 700 – 800 calories. Once a week or so, I will splurge and have a 1,000 calorie dinner (then take it easy the next day). Try to avoid salty foods and dessert. If you sauté or pan fry foods, use a very light touch with the olive oil. Sometimes all you need is cooking spray. Learn how to understand calories, by getting a calorie counter.
P.M. snack, about 100 calories — Usually I will have fruit (grapes, banana, apple, etc) Maybe a couple of almonds too.
Note — If you have a beer, you will need to cut those calories off your dinner. This is critical…
That’s it. What I have discovered is the cravings (addictions) mostly disappeared after 2 to 3 weeks. That window is the most critical time. You need to look at each meal and/or snack as a decision that needs to be made. Not unlike an investment. Each time you make a good decision, it feels really good the next day. Do that often enough and the decisions become easier. Eventually it all becomes habit and you no longer look at food as something you constantly live for.
I realize at some point I will get burned out on eating sandwiches every day. Hasn’t happened yet, but when it does, I’ve researched a lot of options. Among them are grilled or roasted chicken, different salads with lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats, wraps and burritos, etc. All with no more than 400 calories or so. Also, it should be mentioned that dinner must have lots of protein, veggies (a good salad will work) and only light dessert (if you must).
To note—this is not intended to be a diet. Rather a change of habit. So far, it has served me well…