Friday, March 28, 2008

Best Solution - Weight Loss - Update 1

Today I hit a milestone in my weightloss plan. I dropped from a size 44 waist to a 42! Woohoo!!!

In my recent fascination with finding the best solution to a problem, I thought I would update my post from March 11th. My weight loss plan is based on 9 principles:

1. Daily Weigh-ins.
2. Calculate daily caloric intake needs.
3. Subtract 1000 from principle 2's calculation.
4. Divide the remaining amount over five meals and a late snack.
5. Try to eat healthy foods and stay frugal.
6. Exercise regularly.
7. Cycle Caloric Intake.
8. Evaluate Weekly.
9. Constantly look for ways to improve.

The Principles

Principle 1 - Daily Weigh-ins:

I weigh myself every morning to keep my weight loss goal firmly in my mind every day. I weigh myself at 5:00 AM every morning for consistency. I also use pretty much the same clothes - shorts and a light shirt when weighing in.

Weighing in every day also shows me if I "lose consciousness" of my weight loss and begin to slip. Seeing the numbers rise the next morning really focuses me to evaluate what, if anything, I did wrong the previous day.

Principle 2 - Calculate daily caloric intake needs:

I now use a great website I found since my March 11th post to calculate my daily caloric intake needs. I use the RMR calculation instead of the BMR calculation. I highly recommend reading all of the articles on this site. I particularly found the Calculating BMR and RMR and Calculating Daily Calorie Needs very helpful.

Let's take a look at an example of using this wonderful website. Let's say you are a 30 year old woman who is 5'7" tall and who weighs 187 pounds. You could calculate your ideal weight and discover your ideal weight is 139 pounds with an ideal range of 118 to 159 pounds. You realize you need to lose 187 - 159 or 28 pounds to be in your ideal weight range.

So you need to calculate how many calories you need to maintain your weight in one day. There are several ways to do this and you decide to use the BMR/RMR calculator. You have to make a decision on your activity level. You walk 3 times a week and decide that you are lightly active. The results of your calculator are a BMR of 2255 calories and an RMR of 2201 calories.

You want to lose 1 pound a week for 28 weeks so you subtract 500 from your daily intake need. Using the RMR calculation that means you can eat 2201 - 500 or 1701 calories per day for the first week and lose 1 pound. Of course you'll have to re-evaluate your weight and calories each week to maintain the weight loss.

Principle 3 - Subtract 1000 from principle 2's calculation:

This step is based on the theory that if you take in 3500 calories less than what your body needs, you'll lose one pound. I find this theory to be pretty accurate. So to lose 1 pound per week I would need to take in 500 calories less than what I need on a daily basis 3500/7 days = 500/day. To lose 2 pounds, I would need to eat 1000 calories less per day. My goal is 2 pounds per week so I subtract 1000 calories from step 2's calculation.

Principle 4 - Divide the remaining amount over five meals and a late snack.

On Monday through Saturday I eat at the following times:

6:00 AM
9:00 AM
12:00 PM
3:00 PM
6:00 PM
9:00 PM - Cup of milk only

I spread my total daily calorie count as evenly as possible across all meals except the 9:00 PM meal in which I just have a cup of fat free milk. I don't like eating after 6:00 PM.

I am a diabetic and eating 5 smaller meals helps me control my blood sugar and helps prevent me from getting that hungry feeling and it works great!

Principle 5 - Try to eat healthy foods and stay frugal:

I don't eat perfectly, I sometimes like to eat things I actually want to eat, like a cheese coney every once in a while. I do eat healthy most of the time, high fiber whole grain cereal (Kashi) as well as lean meats and vegetables.

I don't like fancy recipes and meals that involve 12 different ingredients. I am trying to watch what I spend and typically eat easy to prepare inexpensive healthy foods. I buy cereal, bread for toast, fruit cocktail in pear juice, chicken breasts (when they're on sale), fat free milk, etc....

I shop at Walmart most of the time and have a strict budget. I only buy what I need for the week and am able to save money and eat healthier at the same time.

Principle 6 - Exercise regularly:

Exercise is obviously important in any healthy lifestyle change. I walk at 2 1/2 miles per hour for 30 full minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I just began doing this because I hurt my hip in 2007 and have had to take it easy for a while. I will increase my exercise progressively until I'm exercising daily for 30 minutes at a minimum and at a higher pace.

Principle 7 - Cycle Caloric Intake

If you eat 1000 calories less than your body needs long enough, it will adjust and burn 1000 calories less than it did before and you'll plateau (stop losing weight). It has been suggested by some to cycle your calories once or twice a week to fool your body into burning the same amount of calories.

Every Sunday I eat 200 calories more than my body requires. The next day I might stay the same or even gain a little bit of weight but it's enough to convince my body that it doesn't have to go into "starvation mode" and drop my metabolism.

If I plateau in the future anyway (so far so good), I may step up my calorie cycling to two days a week (with a couple of deficit days in between) but that would be the maximum.

Principle 8 - Evaluate Weekly

Evaluation is a necessary principle and I do this every week on all of my goals. First I review my goals - what is it I'm trying to do? Then I measure against specific criteria - in this case did I lose 2 pounds this week? If I was successful on my weekly goal then great, if not I need to try and figure out what is going on and make necessary changes to improve my system.

I would only change a system if at least 2 weeks of data supported the need to do so. I already recalculate my calories once a week at a minimum. To tell you the truth I do it everyday as I have the information in a handy spreadsheet. Planning the entire day of eating takes me about 5 minutes now so it isn't even a bother.

Principle 9 - Constantly look for ways to improve

This system is working great and I'm beginning to see less and less of a need to change anything but that doesn't mean I'm not looking.

I think it's hilarious when I tell people of my success. The first thing they do is suggest changes to my system. Hello! I said it was working perfectly! Doesn't matter, folks just need to prescribe changes from their own experiences. I guess I do the same though so it doesn't really bother me. I listen to them with the intent of possibly getting some actual good suggestions. The calorie cycling was one such suggestion from a friend of mine.

I will continue to read and learn about healthy habits and incorporate the "pearls" into my system. I can't wait until I'm ready to do the P90X system, but that day isn't until late in 2009. But having those eight-pack abs will be worth the wait!

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