A very important disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Everything written below is either from my personal experience or gathered through research. I make no medical claims.
Seven years ago I was overweight; a lot overweight. To lose the weight I tackled the problem scientifically and lost 50 pounds in a short period of time (two to three months) – there was no magic pill or secret potion. Basically, I needed to burn more calories than I consumed. I also had to make sure I gave my body the nutrients and basic needs it wanted so it did not feel like it was under attack (by my diet). Those last two sentences are the facts of weight loss; the only valid facts. When someone you know loses weight, the only reason they do so is because their body burned an excess of calories. No matter what you see on TV, read on the internet, or hear from your friend’s aunt who has finally found the best wonder diet (this being her 4th – this year), weight loss can only be accomplished one way.
The only way to lose weight: Burn more calories than you consume.The Law of Weight Loss
Some of you are thinking to yourself, if it is that easy then why are so many people unable to lose weight? Many things are easy to do if you are trained properly or have the right information, but you will fail horribly if you do them incorrectly.
For many weight loss can be hard to do, and it does not happen at the speed we would like; it can (and will be) frustrating at times.
For the remainder of this post I am going to give you my W’s of weight loss so you can assist your body in burning extra calories and create a caloric deficit.
I should note that the W’s are not your standard Who, What, When, Where, and Why. These words simply start with the letter “W” and help organize the steps or information you need to know.
Before I get to the first “W” let’s look at some of the top reasons why people fail in their weight loss plans:
- It is hard and it takes work – When you are on a diet you are also fighting your own body at times because it wants to hold onto the storage of energy (you know, FAT) – it is a survival response.
- Life happens and sometimes we can’t stick to our plans – Rather than quitting when this happens you have to get back to your plan when it is possible or you are able to.
- We live in an instant world and we think (or hope) that there is a simple pill we can take – Bottom line is there isn’t one. There may be pills that will assist you such as ones that may increase metabolism or assist in the way the body handle sugars and fats, but you still have to do the work for maintainable weight loss.
Keeping the above in mind, let’s begin our look at the W’s I used to lose my weight seven years ago and which I still try to follow to keep the weight off.
I love my Coke Zero, and before that my Diet Coke. Even though both are zero calorie drinks I don’t really lose weight when I drink them. I am assuming there is some chemical in them that plays tricks on my body. If I change nothing else in my diet or exercises I will lose weight if I switch to drinking only water – and lots of it. Sipping throughout the day is probably best, but for me guzzling a glass every time I pass a sink or fountain ensures I drink enough. When I go pee, I drink a glass of water afterwards. When I get up from my desk to go to a meeting, I drink a glass of water.
“You must drink a lot of water – peeing is good”Dave’s rule #1
My only exception to the drinking water only is a little bit of milk on my cereal in the morning and drinking a mostly unsweet tea (maybe an unsweet to sweet mix of no more than 3 to 1) at one meal or break during the day. This does not appear to hurt my progress – plus it gives me a caffeine boost which as we know is one of the best legal drug for athletes.
There are probably a number of reason that drinking lots of water helps:
- If the body is dehydrated it is less likely to part with precious fuel/energy reserves that your body has – the fats and sugars.
- I would assume it assists the body with digestion and helps the body break up the foods we consume.
- It helps you feel more full throughout the day so you feel less hungry (this helps you mentally which is a very big part to sticking with any weight loss program).
My second “W” is walking. This can be further generalized to exercise and to the statement “keep moving”. When I was losing my weight, and now that I am maintaining it, I move whenever I can. The most important movement in my opinion is walking. It is easy to do and most people can walk for long periods of time without even noticing. You definitely burn more calories/energy running but it is far easier to burn 100 calories walking than running; it simply takes a little longer yet you are not too tired to go burn another 100 calories.
Tricks I use include:
- Walk up the stairs when you can rather than taking an elevator or escalator. More importantly, and a real “duh” in my opinion is to definitely take the stairs down. This is a free calorie burn that takes absolutely no effort to do (perceived effort I mean) yet it definitely burns calories. A little off topic here but I tell folks if you are too tired to run up a hill that you have to walk it, do so but by all means please run down it – you made the effort to go up, so use the free gravity assistance to run down. You will burn more calories and get the added benefits even though it seems easy.
- In my office building I work on the 4th floor. When I have to go to the bathroom (which is a lot because of all the water I drink) I walk to the furthest one. For me that is in the basement of my building. I walk down the stairs, do my thing, and walk back up the 4 floors to my desk.
- At lunch time I put on my walking shoes (my sneakers) and go for a long brisk walk. Walk fast! I am sure there is a valid reason such as you will burn more calories when you walk fast due to the increase in heart rate, but for me it is simply so I can walk further.
- After supper go for a walk so you keep following my second rule, “keep moving”.
“Keep moving – Walk many times during the day and you will be amazed how far you go and how active you can be.”Dave’s rule #2
I have an added benefit to walking (or any other exercise). In addition to burning more calories you will find over time you have more energy, which means you can burn even more calories.
Watch What You Eat
This could be a long “W’ description because it is a major topic, but I will try to keep it brief. If you eat badly then you are adding a road block to your weight lose success. I am not going to tell you what to eat because you probably already know. If you need help then definitely do a little research on the Internet, make an appointment with a nutritionist, talk to a friend who is a nurse, or go see a doctor. No matter what, use a little common sense. Your body need nutrients and if you cut out some necessary ones you are asking for trouble and any weight you do lose will be short lived and not maintainable. Remember, there is no such thing as a healthy diet where you only eat one type of food.
When I started, I shocked my system and really reduced my caloric intake. This had an immediate result (I lost weight quickly) but to maintain my progression and energy levels I started to add things back. The things I added back were healthy fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. I ate what I felt was the least amount I could, but not walk around super hungry or weak. Of course I had urges but I weighed the short term gratifications with the long term regret I would have later if I cheated too badly (a little cheating is fine).
On the topic of cheating with food while on a diet I have another piece of insight that is based on logic (I have no idea if it is true, but logically it make sense) – at least I have convinced myself that this is true. If you decide to cheat in your eating and you go overboard by a lot; I mean a really large amount like going to a BBQ or Chinese buffet and eating until you are so stuffed your family rolls you out, it is OK. Really, it is OK. As long as it only happens once and you go right back on your healthy diet and exercise you will be fine – in fact you might not have caused any problems. Oh, you will definitely be heavier the next day (maybe two) but you will be heavier because your body will be retaining more water due to all the sodium and fat you ate at the Olympic Food Eating session you just had. Once your body gets back to appropriate/normal levels of sodium and such (a balanced equilibrium) you will be back to where you were before it happened. You see, beyond a particular amount it does not matter how much food you eat because you can only take in so much calories at one time. Your body will simply expel what it can’t use. If you ate this way every day you would definitely gain weight, but as a one-time event you are fine.
Probably the only other thing I would mention about this “W”, Watch What You Eat, is to be safe and take a multivitamin. When we change our diets it is possible that we might not get everything our bodies require. For this reason, play it safe and take a simple one-a-day type multivitamin. They are cheap and I don’t think it can hurt anything, but could definitely help.
Want and Willing
These two go together and are probably the most important. They usually play a background role like a great speech writer, a military strategist, or a trusted adviser to a politician, however without them you are pretty much out of luck.
When I tell people I lost my weight because I watched what I ate, drank lots of water, and walked all the time, I am leaving out the most important part. I am leaving out the mental part. If you do not REALLY want to lose the weight and are not REALLY willing to put everything you got into losing weight, you are going to have a hard time. No, not just a hard time – you are not going to be successful.
When you are willing and want to lose weight you have no problem sacrificing by not eating the desert, bringing your lunch to work instead of eating out with your friends, or deciding to go for a walk rather than watching a rerun on TV.
Wrest (aka Rest)
Talk about shoehorning in a word 🙂 . If you do not let your body recover from the extra activities you are doing or you are shorting your body of needed sleep and recovery, you are asking for trouble.
For me, if I don’t get my rest my body tends to fight me and I will slow down any gains I am making in my weight lose progression. When the body does not get enough rest/sleep it is unable to properly manage things like of insulin and preventing the storage of (or for) fat cells.
I also find that if I don’t get enough sleep I have more cravings for food. Added to that is a reduction in my energy to go out and move around (ex. Walking)
“Get your sleep – As important as eating properly and exercising, sleep should not be skimped on.”Dave’s rule #3
I don’t think one thing I said above is anything new. You probably already knew it. I am simply putting all the items that I found to help me with my weight loss in one place.
You will find that once you start to move around more, drink more water, eat better, and get all the sleep your body requires, that you will lose weight easily. The longer you do these things the easier your weight loss process will be. You will find that your metabolism with increase and you will reap the benefit of burning even more calories in everything you do (even when you are sitting around doing nothing or sleeping).
I would like you to hear what you think. Do you have some tips, or is there something I might be way off on in your opinion? Leave a comment below, or send me a private message using the Contact section in this blog.