Many people have been asking lately what my secret was to losing over 15 pounds in six weeks. I know that when it comes to weight-loss, everyone is looking for the magical formula that will shave pounds in a hurry. And, my friends, I have found the perfect formula that is guaranteed to maximize weight loss.
Eat less. Exercise more.
I know that you are shocked at this magical formula. I did not take a pill or do a cleanse or try hypnosis or order specially prepared food with little numbers on it. I didn’t change my diet to high protein or low carbs or low fat or low taste. I didn’t starve myself but I did change the amount I ate. And it worked.
And along the way I picked up some nuggets of wisdom that I thought I should share with you.
It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.
The number one thing I learned during the past six weeks is that a diet will get me to where I want to go, but then what? Would I diet for the rest of my life? No. The answer was going to be a greater self awareness on what I was eating in terms of calories and how many calories I was shoving down my throat.
I used an iPhone app called Tap & Track that allowed me to input my height and weight and lifestyle and a weight loss goal (up to 2 lbs a week), and then it would give you your daily caloric intake needed. You can also find something similar over at Livestrong’s Daily Plate. This alone was the single most effective tool I used. Scrutinizing how many calories was in every food I ingested was eye opening to say the least. And over time I not only adapted to the calories I was eating but really came to realize that many of the calories I was eating were not necessary.
Creating new habits takes time
I’m not gonna lie. The first three weeks were pure hell. All of a sudden I was eating at least 1,000 calories less a day than I had been (and probably more than that on most days). I was going from at least 2,500 calories a day to about 1,300 net calories and my body was giving me the biggest WTF?! ever. But after 3 weeks my body began to adapt and less calories not only became easier but also necessary. I began to feel really full anytime I ate something that was nearing 400 to 500 calories.
Along those lines, I also began exercising. My exercise of choice was 30 minutes on the treadmill but at first it was only 15 minutes. A slow 15 minutes. Then I built up to a slow 20 minutes. Then a slow 25 minutes. Then a slow 30 minutes. And then I began to try and pick up the pace. By the end of the six weeks I went from running 1.75 miles in 20 minutes to about 3.5 miles in 30 minutes. The baby steps were crucial to not getting overly sore or discouraged. Being a former collegiate track athlete, this was one of the hardest parts for me. I wanted to run like I used to and I have to remind myself that I was half my age then. Speed is not what it’s all about anymore.
Find time to exercise
The hardest part of this wasn’t cutting calories. It was exercising. But there’s no other way. You MUST find time to exercise for 30 minutes. If you don’t, you will be an ornery, starving shell of yourself. Exercise not only cuts stress, tones you up, and makes you feel better but it also lets you do one crucial thing that is so incredibly important when doing weight loss. It lets you eat more.
Many days, when I didn’t feel like exercising, I was so hungry that I actually exercised just so I could eat more. The 400 calories I’d burn while exercising meant I could eat 1700 calories rather than 1300 and THAT made all the difference.
After a while I actually looked forward to exercising. During the six weeks, I missed a total of 5 days. Two days I was traveling, two days I was sick and one day I just wanted a rest. But now, I’m going to run my first 5K race on Thanksgiving and will run another one New Year’s Eve. I’ve created some momentum and I want to keep it running. (Pun intended)
What you can and cannot eat
Like I said before, I didn’t alter my diet. I just ate less. But what I learned was that there were some things I just couldn’t (and, really, should never) eat. Fast food does present a problem. The only thing I could really eat at McDonald’s, for instance, was a plain hamburger, small fries and a diet coke. That was 480 calories. (A salad with grilled chicken and ranch dressing is 490 calories. I’ll take burger and fries any day, baby!) At first, the fact I could only eat a small burger and fries was a painful revelation. (Where’s my Quarter Pounder, dammit?!) But after a few weeks, it was plenty filling. It turns out, anything more than a hamburger and small fries will make you fat. Go figure.
I didn’t cut out my Starbucks coffee. I’d rather strip naked on the side of the highway during rush hour than say goodbye to this caffeinated crack. I did, however, downsize to a small (tall) and switched to non-fat milk and cut out the whipped cream for my caramel mocha which cut my calories in half to 170.
Finally, I cut out snacks. At first I needed a late afternoon snack to get me through the day. I had 150 calorie packs of almonds that worked wonders. After a few weeks, however, I didn’t need that afternoon snack as my body adjusted.
This is what worked for me. I’m healthy who just needed a push to drop a bit of weight. My cholesterol is low, my blood sugar is fine and I’m a handsome dude. You might not be. Check it out with your doctor before starting something like this. But do something. You won’t regret it.