Monday, December 5, 2011

Weight Loss....

I haven't really been focusing on weight loss for about 6 months now.  Last November I started losing weight and by May or June I had lost 70 pounds.  I never really intended to keep it at that level, but once I got to 65 pounds, I got it down to 70 just to prove I could, and then let it settle in around a loss of 65 pounds.  That had me at a weight of 163, which I was good with, and I kind of had a trigger point of 5 pounds over that.  I've been lifting weights and put on a little muscle, so I wasn't too concerned at getting up to 167 - 168 or so.  Well..now I'm getting ready for my marathon and have been reading about weight and performance.  Every pound is worth about a minute on a marathon.  So, I figure it's time to get the weight back down to 160 or so.  It's been a while since I've been in "weight loss mode", but I'm hoping that I learned enough the first time around, that I can still get it under control when I put my mind to it.     I know everyone is different, but some of the things that worked for me are:

Eat something small first thing in the morning:  I think your body is in conserve energy mode when you wake up, and in order to get the energy/fat burning furnaces fired up, you've got to give it some fuel.  It seems counter intuitive to lose weight by eating, but everything I've read says breakfast is important, so I added it to my day.  

Some of the steps I took probably didn't contribute to losing weight, some did for physical reasons, and some did for psychological reasons.  NEVER, EVER, EVER discount the psychological benefits of something.  I really think that more than 50 % of a weight loss plan is mental.  The physical stuff is pretty simple ( not easy, but not complicated ) Burn more calories than you eat.  That's not a difficult concept to understand, but it's difficult to implement.  That's where the mental games come in.  You start to tell yourself that a snack here or there isn't a big deal, you're hungry, you'll workout a little harder tomorrow, you'll sleep better, you can have a lighter dinner....yada..yada..yada.   Your mind is the biggest obstacle to weight loss.    I know the reason for weight loss and the desire for sucess comes from that same mind, but so do the obstacles.  The mind is complicated and efforts that seem illogical, but placate your mental hurdles are well worth the effort and will pay big dividends in your weight loss plan.

The reason I mention the psychological angle is that part of what having a breakfast did for me, was help me to tell myself that I could wait until lunchtime to eat.  If I didn't have anything to eat, I would get hungry and eat something out of the snack machine at work.   I could justify it as "I haven't eaten in 12+hours, of course I'm hungry and need food"  By eating a little something in the morning, I could tell myself it's only been a few hours since I ate, and lunch time will be soon.  I can make it without snacking.  Eventually I could.

 Eliminating the between meal junk was a biggie for me.   This has a few benefits.  It gets your body used to feeling a little hungry and dealing with it.   I used to think I was starving at the first signs of hunger.  I got a little used to the feeling and could deal with it for a while.  Enough that I could wait until the next meal without too much trouble.   Sure, it was inconvenient and maybe a little uncomfortable, but so wasn't carrying around a crap load of extra fat !!!  For me, that was the key to losing weight.  The process of losing weight had to be less uncomfortable than being fat.  Once that value equation tips in favor of weight loss, progress starts to happen.  Once the progress starts, it feels good and the balance tips even further.  Your confidence in yourself and your weight loss plan builds, and your momentum starts to snowball.  The other bonus to eating at meal times is the quality of your food stays high.  When you eat a snack, it seems acceptable to have a cookie, donut or something borderline nutricious, but you would never consider sitting down to a dinner of granola bars, or fig newtons.  Getting your calories at meal time keeps them healthier.  Your mind set it that meals should be good quality healthy food.  Even if it's a fast food meal, you know enough to try to get some veggies in there and keep the fat content down.  That idea is much more ingrained in a meal decision than a snack decision.

Stop eating before bedtime  This was my toughest step to put into action, and yet I knew it was one of the most effective.  Not because I'm some sort of weight loss genius, but becasue EVERYTHING you read says so.  Like I said earlier, this isn't a complex process or dark mysterious artform...burn more than you eat.  What you eat, and when you eat make a difference, but how much you eat is the biggest thing.   I used to eat almost an entire meal between 10:00 and Midnight.  That means that my nighttime fatburn didn't start until 2 or 3 in the morning.  By not eating after 7 or 8, I had a few more hours of fasting overnight, conditioning my body to get used to digging deeper for energy.  I believe this is when fat gets burned.   When your body needs energy and it hasn't eaten for a while so there's nothing in the bloodstream, liver or stomach, the body has to go to the fat stores for energy....and that means weight loss.

I have a few other mental excercises that I think help a lot, but this entry is getting pretty long.

take the stairs instead of the elevator.   This probably only burns about 20 calories, which is insignificant, but it means that 2 more times each day you are taking actions on your weight loss plan.  If you eat a little breakfast, and then don't think about weight loss until you're fighting cravings at 10:00 pm, your mind isn't used to thinking like a person pursuing weight loss.  This can't be something you think about a few times a day.  Anything you can do to bring this to the forefront of your thought process as often as possible will help. By consiously saying to youself, I'm taking steps to lose weight, so I'm going to make this decision with that in mind, you get the idea to be more a part of who and what you are.  It becomes more natural to make decisions with your weight loss plan in mind.   This is one of the reasons a few situps and pushups in the morning help.   By eating a little breakfast, doing a few excercises before I shower, weighing myself when I get dressed, taking the stairs up to my office, and filling up a 32 oz water bottle while my computer boots up, I have made 5 seperate decisions and actions towards losing weight.  That reminds me and reinforces the idea that I am sucessfully losing weight.

Of course, running and running and running helps too.  Just don't stop..

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