It's actually not a big thing, not really. At the most basic level, it's math. Once again, I should mention that when I try to lose weight, I succeed. The question is why, in the past, I've stopped trying. (We'll put aside the times I've stopped ridiculous diets like Atkins. That had to stop.) But, I think that what I'm doing now, the basics at least, provides the basis for a lifelong healthy diet.
On the other hand, if I can toot my own horn for a moment, I have lost about 37 pounds since November 15. That's one to two pound per week, consistently. (I'm also down 44 pounds from my all-time high weight.) Clearly, I'm doing something right (much to the likely chagrin of my physician who thinks I should be eating far fewer calories).
But I should note that my situation is just that: my situation. Everyone has their own mountain to climb, and they may need to take a different approach. Just because it works for me doesn't mean that I believe that it would work for everyone (well, actually, I do sort of, but you'll see why). More importantly, we all have particular hidden obstacles to face, whether we've put them up or allowed someone else to put them up, and there's no one fix for those.
So, anyway, here it goes. My "formula" for weight loss. With no particular organization:
- Maintain a caloric deficit of 500-1000 calories per day. (This will be described in greater detail in another post. For now know that this means that you should burn about 500-1000 caloies more per day than you eat. This includes what you burn by simply existing.) Don't short yourself! I've been averaging 1900-2000 calories per day and losing weight. Food is fuel, and you won't get far without it.
- Eat breakfast. Real food. Every day. Eat right after you get up (or within a reasonable period of time).
- Eat five or six meals and snacks per day, splitting your calories fairly evenly across each meal/snack. Again, this should be real food.
- Eat protein in nearly every meal. (I don't often have protein in nighttime snack, but I do try to have it in every other meal.)
- Eat fruit and/or vegetables in nearly every meal. (My goal is every meal, but it doesn't happen.)
- Eat healthy fats! There is no reason to avoid olive oil, nuts, or peanut butter. Heck, I also see nothing wrong with butter and some not-so-lean meat on ocassion! Just be sure to watch the calories and make sure that fats make up no more than 35% of your food by calories.
- Exercise five times per week. You should sweat and breathe hard. This should include weight/resistance training at least twice per week. Find sports and activities you enjoy.
- Keep yourself hydrated. Your urine should be light or clear. It actually doesn't matter (to me, at least) whether it's plain water or some other calorie-free beverage.
- Don't deny yourself "real food". This leads to a good/bad food mentality. (Or, worse yet, a good/bad person mentality!) The key is moderation.
- Realize that you're sometimes going to need to eat more (or less) depending on circumstances. Just rode your bike for an hour? You'll probably need to eat quite a bit more. Indulged a bit yesterday? You'll probably not be that hungry, and it's OK to eat light today.
- Know that you are NOT on a diet. What you are doing now has to be what you're going to do for your entire life, with certain adjustments. If that doesn't seem do-able, then there's something that needs to change with what you're doing now. (I may make an exception to this later if/when I reach goal and do some "cutting" and "bulking" to efficiently gain muscle and lose fat. But it doesn't apply right now.)
Well, that's all I can think of right now. I will go more in depth about creating and maintaining a caloric deficit in an upcoming post. It just became too unwieldy to try to do it all in one post. Heck, it's a bit unwieldy NOW!