I’ve struggled with weight problems since I was a little kid. I’ve known I needed to lose weight for a long time but I’ve never found the right program. On one hand some dietary programs sound too good to be true and are obviously money-making ploys, on the other hand some seem too radical. After some thought I came up with a program of my own, a program I call the Simple Path to Weight Loss, a program whose essence is simply to place weight loss in a realistic light. Weight loss realism, once and for all.
I find that things are much easier when you have a goal, in fact I find that without goals, life itself becomes next to impossible. The first thing you have to do is to calculate a target weight. Three factors are involved in determining your target weight, your height, your gender, and your build. Put quite simply, 200 pounds at 5’4” is fat, at 6’4” it’s not, a man has more muscle mass than a woman and because muscle weighs more than fat a man should always weigh more than a woman of his height (and a woman should not be alarmed about having a slightly higher fat percentage than a man), and finally a slightly build person should weigh less than a person with broad shoulders. A great place to calculate your target weight can be found here.
After calculating your target weight you need to look at how much you weigh now and put into perspective how much weight you have to lose. If it is a large amount don’t feel disheartened, because you don’t have to lose it all in a week. If you are severely overweight, you should probably focus on losing weight faster than you should if you are simply slightly overweight. Finally, you need to put priorities into perspective. If you are overweight the number one goal needs to be lose weight, nothing else. You should not focus on vitamins, sodium balance, etc. While you need to be aware of these things to some extent, they are a step further down the line to achieving good health. Extra weight need to be lost immediately.
The issue at hand is calories, calories, calories. Calories need to be the number one thing in your mind when losing weight. This is where Basal Metabolic Rate comes in. You can calculate your BMR here. Now what this number refers to is the amount of calories you need per day in order to maintain your current weight. Consume more calories and you will gain weight, consume less and you will lose it; it’s that simple. Finally you need to put in your amount of activity. About.com has a great way of delineating this. If you are sedentary add 20% of your BMR to itself, if lightly active add 30%, if moderately active add 40%, if very active add 50%, if extra active add 60%. Personally I define sedentary as a person who sits around and watches TV on the weekends or does a job when they pretty much only walk from the car to the office and back, a lightly active person might exercise a couple times a week or do a job where they walk a moderate amount, a moderately active person according to about.com is a person who exercises most days a week, a very active person according to them exercises intensely every day or for prolonged period, finally an extra active person is pretty much an athlete.
Now if your number one goal is to lose weight then where this comes in is the speed of your weight loss. The more you exercise the quicker the pounds will peel off. The heavier you are to start the harder it is to exercise although it also is easier to lose weight the more you weigh. You should at the very least keep up a moderate activity level. What moderate activity means is that if it’s nice out and you can choose between watching TV and a bike ride you choose the latter, it means if you can walk somewhere and get there on time vs. driving a short distance you choose walking, it’s nothing special. Also remember to regularly update your BMR based on your weight as you move along.
Finally we need to get into the difficult stuff; counting calories. Yes, it is something that needs to be done. If you ever want to lose weight you need to be aware of what you’re eating. Sometimes it can be shocking to see just how many calories you are consuming each and every day. If you can keep a diary, it is the best way. If you cannot (and there will be situations where we simply cannot such as eating out a certain restaurants) then you need to focus mainly on how your body feels. Just make sure you only eat if your stomach feels empty, if you feel full don’t eat any more. If you feel stuffed or discomfort because of eating then you’ve eaten too much and you need to cut down. Now here are some general observations you need to keep in mind.
First of all, its all psychology and biology. We as human beings need to survive. For most of history survival meant eating as much as you could because starvation was always in the back of people’s minds, and in many Third World countries it still is. Biologically we are driven to enjoy high calorie foods and to want to eat them; ever wonder why everything that tastes good is bad for you? Well for a long time it was actually good for you. A person in Haiti with a genetic predisposition to obesity is going to be better off than his neighbors, a person in America is not. What once helped us survive is now killing us.
As an extension of our psychological desire to eat fatty foods we need to think about the mind-body disconnect. Your mind may be telling you that eating that fatty food is good but your body does not feel physically hungry. Some people describe obesity as a “food addiction,” this is false, it is just surrendering to your mind over your body. Always ask yourself, “does my body tell me I need this food or is it just that I like the taste.”
Thirdly, there’s the fact that our foods contain more calories than their size. A Big Mac is prepared in a very unhealthy way although its mass is not equal to something prepared more healthily that has the same amount of calories (roughly 600). You feel you can or must eat more based on the mass of what you eat. Always remember the mass of food has nothing to do with calories, always keep that in mind. It is more a matter of the subconscious than the conscious.
Additionally, you need to remember that weight loss does not have to cost you a single cent. Companies are trying to make money off you and that is their main goal, not to help you lose weight. They don’t care whether or not you succeed or fail, its all profit. Never ever try to pay for a diet program or book, it has nothing to do with that. People are always looking for a miracle diet or a new lifestyle and for some people the bottom line of burning more calories than you take in seems too simple and they need something radical and some people just want to eat and not exercise so they refuse to accept how the world actually works and look for a miracle diet. Its all bunk. Miracle diets are a lie and dietary radicalism is a lie. Anytime somebody is looking for you to pay, never go for it.
Last but not least, you need to think about the long-term benefits of losing weight. I know that it would be great if we could never exercise and eat all we want and be better off in the long run but it isn’t that. You need to think about the future. If you don’t care about the future then eat yourself to death, its a free country, but if you are like 99% of the population then you need to think about the future. Fat people don’t live as long, fat people don’t feel as good, fat people don’t get as attractive of mates, and fat people shell out more money for both food and for health care. Imagine the better things you will have in the future and not so much what you are giving up now. If gains don’t get you going then just think about how that extra fried chicken today might mean the rest of your life on an insulin pump tomorrow. Ultimately it all boils down to willpower and moderation. You need to remember to eat as much as you need and no more and you need the willpower to do it. Remember, it isn’t the physical aspect that’s the hardest, it’s the mental aspect.
Finally, this is where it comes down for me and for many of the people out there. When I’m bored, I eat. Its just what you do. If you are feeling boarded then you should find something productive to do. You will achieve more and lose weight at the same time. That’s the number one issue for me. Other people are stress eaters and if that’s you then you need to look at somebody else, because I’m not a stress expert. If you’re depressed then that’s another issue, but if you’re bored then find something to do. Follow my steps and you will see the weight begin to fall off, I’ve already noticed it. It’s that simple.