“How did you do it?”
“What’s your secret?”
How do I condense three years of … all of it… into a single blog post? What I do now is an accumulation of three years of decisions, research, and advice.
I’ll try, but there’s no “magic pill” in here.
THE SIMPLISTIC AND SHORT VERSION
I ate fewer calories than I burned. If over the course of a week, I burned 3500 calories more than I ate, I would lose a pound of fat. Doesn’t mean the scale would show a pound loss, though. The scale doesn’t weigh fat. It weighs fat, muscle, bones, organs, and water. Never drop calories below your BMR (basal metobolic rate). You can look that up on line. To create the deficit, you cut out a little from the food and move a lot more. If the calories are cut too much, the body will biologically react to handle the famine. Everything slows down. That’s why people who don’t eat a lot can gain weight. The body will store everything as precious fat while it waits for the famine to end. Be patient. You really want to lose weight slowly. This is the healthiest and most permanent way to do it.
I wasn’t a clean eater at first. That happened about six months into it. When I was ready to really understand it, my nutrition coach/friend Kim sent me some of Tosca Reno’s books. I’ve since started eating like a bodybuilder. No way would I have been ready to eat this way at the beginning. In general, I tell people to eat real food. Give your body the nutrients it needs to do the work you will be asking it to do. Many kinds of vegetables with lots of colors, lean protein, and healthy fats. Try to cut back on processed foods. (It’s just my opinion, but I think the body will store some unnatural stuff in processed food as fat because it doesn’t recognize it as a protein or carb that can be used for energy.) I am what I eat.
Water. So they say 70% of our body is water. Water under the skin can look like fat. (Fat under the skin looks like fat, too.) Once I got used to the fluctuations in my weight based on water, I could predict what it would do. If I ate a big meal, but got back on the plan right away, my weight would go up at first and then settle back down. That was the extra water weight from the extra carbs. No biggie. I wanted to eat a cheat meal every so often – like once a month – to be tricky. Tricks my body from thinking we are starving. One of the many reasons to drink a lot of water is that it will flush water out of the body. If you don’t drink enough, the body,
once again in it’s completely misguided attempt to keep us alive, will hold water. I have no proof of this, but I suspect my body also holds water when it is burning fat. It releases it in a few days.
Move. For the first year, I lost about 40 pounds just cutting calories and doing basic cardio things. There is a ton of stuff out there about what is the best cardio…yeah, it’s all good info, but it can be pretty overwhelming at the beginning. Just move. I was too heavy to do some of the things I do now. Knees were just not going to handle it. I walked. I did the elliptical machine. My buddy StairMonster – I couldn’t handle that beast at that point. My biggest mistake was to not lift. I should have started that sooner. I did the same thing I know others do – I didn’t want to pay for training so I decided to wait until I proved to myself that I wasn’t going to quit. Yeah, it worked out OK, for me this time, but most people fall away because “real life” gets in the way of self-care, doesn’t it? And I think I would have had better results had I done things differently.
What if it didn’t work?
It’s not a day-to-day thing. It matters what happens over the course of a week or two. (I learned this from my bodybugg coach.) If I wasn’t getting results, she told me to make a food substitution and/or change my exercise a little bit. It’s not always about doing MORE cardio. Might just need to change what I did for cardio. The body adapts.
I cruised along just fine losing weight until a point when I stopped losing weight. The next big change was to add lifting into my program. Should have been there all along, but I was intimidated by that part of the gym. That’s when I started working with a trainer. Did that for about nine months. I learned how to lift and didn’t need to have training after that. (I studied, tested, and earned my personal training certification so I could design my own programs. I’ve been working out on my own ever since, however, I do have a coach now for the bodybuilding and contest prep stuff I’m doing. So, I’m not really on my own, am I? Duh.)
SLEEP. I have personal experience with how lack of sleep alone will cause weight gain. The research is out there if you need to see it. But get your 8 hours in as many nights as you can. Everything will work better.
ACCOUNTABILITY. I have no idea what will work for others. I know what worked for me. I started food logging online and I had a someone reviewing those logs regularly. When my own motivation fell away, I hired a trainer and started this blog. Now I have a coach. I found people online doing something similar to what I was doing. This is something you do alone. I had to stop myself from eating certain things. I had to get up early and go workout. I got up and went for a walk. I did the research I needed to do. No one made me do those things. If I found myself spending more time “thinking” about losing weight, I stopped thinking about it and went to workout.
MENTAL GAME. This is much harder than people realize. I think this is when you need people to help you get out of funks. Having real life people to talk to is best, I think, but it’s not always practical. The internet is an excellent resource for you. You are reading this blog right now. There are a bunch of us fitness bloggers – go find more. Read about their struggles. Ask a question and we’ll answer. We’ve all been there. Use Facebook. I used post-its. My bathroom mirror is framed with post-its with motivational quotes that mean something to me. I’ve been reading them every day for… years, I guess.
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I’m very unsatisfied with this post. Starting is simple. After that, things can get complicated, but they don’t have to be. Everyone is different. Every body is different. Some things are universal. I don’t feel like I’m being very helpful just yammering about what I did. I remember reading things like this when I started and thinking “Yeah, that worked for her, but what about…” whatever it was that was stuck in my head as an obstacle impossible to overcome.
How about we do this…if you ask me a question, I’ll do my best to answer it. That might save this post. So… do you have a question?