You came back for part 2! (Read WEIGHT LOSS (Part 1) here). That is the first sign of perseverance and a good outlook for success! Since part 1 explained some basic concept of weight loss, this article aims to go into the nuts and bolts of your weight loss journey.
- Do not gain more weight (geez, you don’t say!). Do not eat more. Do not move less. If you must eat a lot (eg. holiday season), you have to work for it before you do.
- YOU need to be ready for this commitment.
- Aim for 1-2 pounds per week. That is 500-1000 calories deficit a day, achieved by diet, workout or preferably both. (remember, 1 pound of fat = 3500 calories)
- You need to track: calorie in, calorie out and weight. Weigh in every other day to once a week. Do not obsess with individual numbers. You are looking for trends.
- Tackle your weight loss journey in phases, as described below.
- Each phase can be 1-2 months.
- Phase 1: swap out unhealthy food for healthier version. Generally, refined carbs, processed meat and food high in sodium or trans fat are unhealthy. Whole food (food that exists naturally) is generally good. My favorite go to websites are Eat this, not that (if you like eating out), or Hungry girls (if you like to cook).
- Phase 2: cut down on portion size. You can:
- Cook less.
- Order a smaller portion.
- Have restaurants brown bag 1/2 your meal before you start.
- Leave 1/4 to 1/3 of your meal. This is not wasteful. The increase in your waistline is wasteful — think about the downstream medical cost.
- Phase 3: track your daily calorie intake to get your baseline. Just 1-2 weeks will do.
- Phase 4: determine your daily calorie allowance. Here’s how:
- You want to lose 1 pound a week.
- You need negative 500 calories a day.
- If you work out 200 calories.
- You will then need to eat 300 calories less than baseline.
- This is now your new baseline.
- Phase 5 and beyond: every time your weight loss plateaus, repeat phase 4 to further cut your calories, achieving a new baseline every time.
- Learn about food calories. You can download apps or just google it. For awhile, your food options may be:
- Eat whole food that you can get nutritional information.
- Dine at chain restaurants with nutritional information.
- Buy groceries with nutritional information on the packaging.
- You need to do that until you are comfortable eyeballing portion size and calories on most food.
- Generally, any diet plans that restrict an entire class of food is not a good idea.
- Each phase can be 1-2 months.
- Phase 1: just aim to move more. Use the stairs. Park far away. Walk more. Also get medical clearance for workout if you have chronic medical conditions or develop concerning symptoms while working out.
- Phase 2. Ramp it up. Choose any activity you LIKE. Do it 30 minutes to an hour at MODERATE to HIGH intensity, 5-7 days a week.
- If you have a heart rate monitor: Aim for 50-70% of max heart rate (moderate intensity) or 70-85% of max heart rate (high intensity). Max heart rate = 220 – your age.
- If you do not have a heart rate monitor, just aim for an intensity that makes you huff and puff. Sorry, but if you can watch TV or read a magazine or talk on the phone, that is not hard enough.
- Phase 3: every time your weight loss plateaus, assuming you are good with your diet, you will need to switch your workout. Choose a different activity, work out longer, work out harder, increase resistance in strength training etc.
- Incorporate both strength and cardio in your workout. Women do not bulk from strength workout, contrary to popular belief.
- Morning workout wins. I have a million excuses why I cannot get to my workout session after work.
FINE TUNING FOR ADVANCE LEVEL
You may be hungry (haha) for more information as you become proficient. You may have lofty goals eg. running a marathon, getting a 6 packs, swimming across the pacific ocean etc. You will need to build on this foundation to get to those goals.
Not all calories are created equal. Not all nutrients are created equal. There are good and bad carbs, good and bad fat. Not all workouts are created equal. Too much of anything, is not good. I believe in “everything in moderation”. This is important for sustainability and for your sanity. Always stick to this basic foundation but keep learning!
The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.
-Leonardo da Vinci
Bottom line is, there are many knowns, but even more unknowns in weight loss. I am not an expert, and neither are a lot of people. However, I hope I gave you the foundation to build on. Be careful out there and may the force be with you!