Millions and millions of people struggle with weight in their lifetimes. There are so many over weight people, that the diet industry has turned into, well, an industry. All night we are bombarded with infomercials for the newest weight loss pill, or simple exercise product. All these flashy gimmicks offer the weight loss that everyone craves, with little to no effort. I think its pretty common knowledge that most of these things don’t work, but the other side of the spectrum is the difficult to follow, although effective diets and work out plans. Some of these are so complex that people get frustrated and confused and turn to Krispy Kreme to comfort them.
So I asked myself, does it have to be so complicated? The answer is no. After consulting several in shape colleagues, and even some armature body builders, I started to get a feel for what it takes, and decided to try it out on myself.
I’m a big guy, I’m about 6′ 3″ and at my biggest, I weighted 295lbs. Those are the stats of an NFL linebacker, my problem was I was as weak as a tin can. When I noticed negative health effects, and I’m only 25, I decided that I needed to do something, so I started researching. I read about the fad diets, pills, and shiny gadgets that promise a thinner healthier me or my $39.95 back. My research all pointed to a simpler solution, so I decided to try it out.
The ratio is simple. You need to burn more calories then you take in. That it. Thats the key to weight loss. No pills, no crazy machines, no complex diets, just calorie count. I have to say that there is a caveat. Controlling things like fat content, and other things can give you more effective results. Also there are some supplements that can add to the efficiency. For me, I just wanted to loose some weight, and get in better shape. Body builders need to focus more then that, but for the average user, calorie count and simple exercise is all it takes.
The plan is simple. Think about calories as body fuel. Thats basically what it is. Fat deposits are stores of calories, and everything you do burns calories, as your body needs fuel to move. In fact, I’ve burned about 4 calories typing this out. If you eat 2000 calories a day (the FDA recommended allotment), and burn 1000, then you have 1000 left over. Those get turned into fat for storage. Now, if you take in 2000 calories, and burn 3000, then your body has to take some from the storage, thus resulting in weight loss. It is important to note that taking in too few calories, or burning too many at a time can have severe health risks, you should always consult a physician before starting any weight loss program, or adjusting your diet.
I started out by taking a look at what I was intaking on a regular basis. Leading a bust lifestyle, with 3 jobs, I was a fast food fanatic. Nearly all of my means were made by people in paper hats. If you go on to any of the major fast food places websites, they give you the nutritional statistics for their food. You have to look hard, they would rather you don’t see it. It turns out, I was consuming between 3000 and 3500 calories a day. And this is just an average. There were many days I got over 4000! Thats double the recommended daily allowance. When I consulted my physician, he was disgusted. I got a physical, and the go ahead to start a weight loss program, and discussed what I was going to do with him. This is very important to have your doctors permission when adjusting your diet.
I decided that I needed to do both, lower my calorie intake, and increase my calorie expenditure. I did this by limiting myself to 1500 calories a day (approximately), allowing 1 day a week for a “cheat” day. Cheat days are important for your mental health, and so you don’t get discouraged and fall off the wagon. Even on cheat days, I wouldn’t allow a 4000 calorie binge, but I would eat foods I enjoy, in moderation. 1500 calories a day was a hard level for me to hit, coming from such a high. The first, and most important step I took was cutting out soda completely. I was often drinking 2-4 liters of soda a day. Now, its only water, or coffee (for the caffeine). I had to give up fast food, and start cooking for myself. As I did this though, I found it isn’t nearly as hard as I thought. Chicken breast takes 10 minutes on the George Foreman Grill, and rice takes 5 minutes on the stove. Thats my main dinner, grilled chicken breast, and rice with a salad (no dressing). When you walk around the grocery store, it is actually fun to look at the nutritional labels and think about different combinations of food. I don’t follow any “diet”, anything is fare game, as long as it fits into my calorie count (even ice cream). Per my doctors recommendation, I did begin taking a multivitamin to help replace anything I was missing from my food choices.
The other part of my plan was exercise. This didn’t require any crazy home equipment, or fancy electronics. I have a small gym where I work, and I also signed up for a simple plan at a local fitness center. I try for 3-4 times a week, but I’ve found that the tighter a schedule I try to keep, the harder it is, so I keep it loose. Most weeks I can get at least 3 if not more work outs in. Being so out of shape, I had to take it slow to start. 15 minutes on an exercise bike, and I was toast. But its a start. As I kept going, I could go longer, and longer. I started out being able to only run for 2 minutes on the treadmill, now I can run a mile. Every other time ill pick up some some dumbbells, but I’m waiting to get more into that once I get some weight down. Cardio is the best exercise for weight loss. Walking, running, elliptical, or bike.
So, the formula is simple. Lower caloric intake, higher caloric loss through exercise. Thats the key to weight loss. Next time you see those infomercials, rest assured that they wont take anymore of your money, now that you have the answer. Its not fast, but its easy, and it works.