Back in Fall 2007, a buddy of mine and I decided to lose 15 pounds each. I did it, but with little real affect. In fact, I put the weight back onto my body within six months.
Pride. I hit my goal and acted like I was set for life. Little did I know that my cholesterol was going to skyrocket, and my liver would look problematic come my next testing in July of 2008. My entire life changed that summer, when I realized I needed to take my health seriously. I still do, and right now I am at 180 lbs, the lowest weight I’ve maintained since high school, with good blood pressure and healthy biometrics (according to my last test back in February, with a recent one to be finalized by next week). As I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve also recognized that this body and its health is a gift, as its health and well-being. This led me to an even more zealous pursuit of wellness–wellness as worship. This was a game changer.
But part of my long term success was due to my reaching that 2007 goal. The practice, albeit with short term results, made me believe that long term success was possible should I remain dedicated. I did, and now I am healthier than I have ever known myself to be.
Below are some starting points for you to do the same or change your game plan if you’ve plateaued.
This post was originally published at http://www.stunksstage.com/2007/11/15/how-to-shed-a-few-calories/, on Thursday, November 15th, 2007 at 8:41 am
How to shed a few calories…
By Christopher Stunkard
Friends, countrymen, Folks abroad, People of earth, and anyone else reading this, I give to you greetings, thanks, and my warmest Thursday morning well wishes.
As many of you know I have been fighting my obesity for several weeks–I think it’s been 4 now– and last night, shin splints not withstanding, I reached my original goal of dropping from 244 to 229!!!! 15 pounds folks. And you know what, I only worked out 3-4 days a week and altered my diet. I didn’t force myself to the gym every day. I didn’t starve myself. Sure, I killed myself every time I hit the gym, which is hard, but the diet change was so simple, it was ridiculous. I probably made about 20-30 actual overall changes to my lifestyle, but here’s a few specifics that I think really made the difference.
1) I cut out soda. I have had a few sips of my wife’s Pepsi if she got a value meal while we were out, but that’s it. No full cans for me. Or beer–and let me tell you, not having beer was like removing laughter from my life. I do miss my Killian’s. I may have a celebratory one in the coming weeks if I can get down to 225.
2) I gave up buns to get buns–meaning I gave up the buns from burgers and the shells from tacos to tighten my own caboose. Yep, when we’d hit Taco Bell, I’d take all the goodies from my chalupas and put them in a bowl with a half head of romaine lettuce–bada-bing, TACO salad. I did the same thing with a Wendy’s Big Bacon Classic, and it was so good, I almost fainted. As I began counting calories recently, [I] realized how many dead calories come in those processed rolls and things we get. Here’s a little tidbit. If I am at Taco Bell, and I get 2 Baja Steak Gorditas, I’m buying 540 calories. If I remove just the two shells and nothing else, I’m ridding myself of at least 200 calories (maybe more since the bulk of the secret sauce is applied directly to the shell. Now, if I add a serving of Romaine lettuce, that’s 20 calories. I’ve cut 180 calories out of the meal with that minor change–to translate, that’s about the amount of calories I’d burn on the treadmill after going 1 mile at a slow jog. Last night we went to [The Bell], and I got myself three Spicy chicken tacos at 170 calories a piece. I rid myself of the three, 90-calorie Tortillas (270), and I put the contents in a bowl with Lettuce (20), cheese (about 40), and sprinkles of Hormel bacon (about 15), I had still cut 195 calories out of the meal, plus made a bumpin’ salad.
3) I eat when I want to eat, but I eat slowly. This will sound ridiculous, but I never appreciated the wonderful taste of pretzels until I began eating them one at a time. Yes, I have taken to that method. I eat one item at a time, and I no longer double-up bites. What I mean is, I do not take a second bite until I have chewed and swallowed the first. Not only do I fill up on less, but I savor every bite. Delicious.
4) Celery. Oh yes, my friends. I have substituted out Doritos, Ice Cream, Chocolate, and Skittles for this ever-crunchy vegetable. There’s some rumor that it burns more calories to digest celery than the vegetable has, but I don’t think it’s true. The stuff’s mostly water, but it does fill me up, and it is light on the calorie count.
5) Serving size. One major thing I’ve done during this “shed the pounds” phase is eat less but eat more frequently. I usually have 5 small meals a day instead of the common 3 with intermediate snacking. 2 of those 5 small meals are usually half a serving size of something a little more heavy–like mixed nuts or peanut butter on the spoon. Eating only half the serving size of something will still fill me up enough to make it to my next meal without being starving all the time. It’s been a good system.
6) Embrace activity. Obviously, the sedentary lifestyle of a 9-5 desk job is the easiest cause for gaining that glut of a gut, so I’ve taken to embracing every opportunity I have to be active. I have a stress ball at work, which I try to squeeze 50-100 every hour or 90 minutes, and I enjoy walking wherever I can. Taking on the activity has helped reduce the sitting and gaining.
7) Track your progress. In the past, I’ve tried dieting, and I have become discouraged far too fast. I was working hard but didn’t see the results. Well, I forgot that I see my ugly mug every day; and as a result, the gradual change to my face and build during weight loss (or gain) become unnoticeable. Well, I’ve weighed myself 3-4 times a week, and I’ve seen the real results, and it’s spurred me forward, which is great.
8) Splurge. About once a week, I let myself go “all out” for a single meal. I enjoy 2 big slices of Pizza, or extra lasagna, or fried shrimp. I make sure to run the next day (that’s a condition of mine, to run within 48 hours of the splurge), and it’s kept me sane. I don’t really see the problem in doing it either, it’s not like one meal’s gonna undo everything for which I worked–unless the meal was bacon with nacho cheese dipping sauce, that might cause some damage–but it’d probably be worth it.
9) I take less food at a time and stop when I’m full. I used to just eat and eat. I had to eat until I was finished what I was given. Now I take smaller portions at the outset and I eat them slowly. If I’m not full, a take a much smaller (usually half or less) second portion. Usually that fills me up, and it’s LESS than if I have a horde of food on my plate at the beginning that I feel the need to finish.
10) Enjoy yourself. This is probably the biggest thing for me, and it’s 100% mental. I relish my time at the gym. When I’m on that treadmill, I love the feeling of just running. No pressure, I can just go at my own pace. Same thing on stair master or bike. When I eat, I love the sensation of each bite of food. I savor every bite I take. I am appreciating the process; and because of that, because I feel like I’m really “doing it right” it makes it much easier to alter my lifestyle to fit my goals. It’s wonderful.
So, here I am from 244 down to 229. I was originally intending to hit 229 by December 5th, but I’m pretty far ahead of that. Now, the bulk of what I lost was water weight, I’m sure, so I’m gonna really have to strive to shed more pounds here in the upcoming weeks. I am thinking a good, safe new goal for the 5th is 225, which may not sound like much more, but MAINTENANCE is a big part of this equation. So, we’ll see how that goes. Any suggestions on how I can continue to learn and burn. Teach me in the comments section!