That being said, as I've aged I seem to put on weight with each year. I finally got sick of it this year and put some serious intent and effort into some losing pounds. I'd always been fairly healthy and have a somewhat athletic past in martial arts and other things. And I have tried to lose weight off and on over the years but never could seem to get the hang of it.
There are several elements that are of primary importance in losing weight. Follow these, and weight comes off.
- Education - Learn what to do. I've spent several years altering my lifestyle toward losing weight so it wasn't a shock when I finally got serious. Results don't come over night or by guessing at what to do or in choosing to do what doesn't work.
- Endurance - You have to do what you decide needs to be done. Set up a work out, do it.
- Perseverance - When you decide on a routine, stay with it.
- Variety - Change things up. One thing we are is adaptable and our bodies will adapt to routine.
- Lifestyle - Make changes you can maintain for good, or the weight comes back on.
Diets. I'd see some progress trying various programs but then in the end, nothing. I'd always plateau, get frustrated and eventually drop it. Or for one reason or another, life would invade and again I'd be no where. Again. Sometimes illness would stop me for a while, I'd get a cold, or the flu (I always get a flu shot now) and then I'd never get back to it. Or, I'd simply get lazy.
Here is my experience in trying to lose weight and get back into shape. Disclaimer, don't listen to me, what do I know. I'm regularly checked up by my doctor and I run my routine by him. This is good for me, and it may not be for you. But you might pick up some ideas from my experience. Go research on your own and try what works for you, then stick to it. Run it by your doctor. Use your mind. But if you follow exactly what I do and you die, well that's your fault and that's on you. OK? Be smart.
At my full height in my life I was 6'2". When I was in the service I could lift two 226 pound B-52 drag chutes, one in each hand, far off the ground enough to carry into the loading room from the packing table room. Back then I was about 190. The most I've weighed has been in the last few years, around 240-50. 250 being the heaviest I've ever gotten and one of those unbreakable lines you don't want to cross. But that was an issue unto itself as it lets one rationalize not going over, but not really doing anything about backing down away from it.
For some reason this year I hit that line again and something snapped. I'd finally had it. I was going well along this road last year, but then I got sick and it took a while to get back to it. I never got back up to the level of exercise that I had previously been at. This year I got my ire up. I was suddenly determined. So I started out on that long road again. Sometimes you have to trick yourself into doing what is best for you. Whatever it takes, whatever it took, I got back on that road.
Last year I had purchased a bicycle, a nice Schwinn from WalMart for $200 on sale. Ironically, a couple of months later I took my daughter down to get one and we got her the same bike, her size, for $100. WallMart had a bin that they had some bikes in, returns I presume. So we lucked out on hers. I like this bike, though the gears could use some adjusting and the tires went flat between each time I rode it (which was every other day). However this year, they seem to be holding the air better and my daughter said she hasn't had that issue, but that perhaps I just need an inner tube replacement.
Anyway, this year I got back at it in the spring. I started slow and started to build back up. Monday's are for weight lifting. Tuesdays, bicycling. I found a road six miles from here that is a perfect 1/5 mile circuit. Or I use my elliptical, usually on days of inclement weather. I really do like bike riding. I also like riding my "new" 2006 Harley Davidson Dyna "Street Bob". But, in seeing too many old guys on Harley's with big guts, I've restricted myself to riding "Bob" when I haven't been peddling around enough that week. A strong motivator once it's a nice day. If I have time to ride, I won't if I hadn't exercised enough and earned it. That situation only took once going through it before I had a carrot on a stick that worked for me.
So I started light on the weights. It's no fun to work out and then the next day or worse, the day after, when you are in so much pain you never want to work again. You could argue, just do it. Though the reality is, it won't always happen and I want to guarantee success. So as frustrating as it was, I started slow and light. After a week and my muscles adjusting, I added some weight and thereafter slowly continued to add small amounts.
The same goes for my aerobic exercise. Moderation and perseverance.
Diet. Over the past few years between my reading about dieting and nutrition, and my daughter (and son's) prodding, I've adjusted my diet. I had heard that a male my size needs a certain amount of calories per day. There is also an issue about carbohydrates, protein and fats that is important. But it's more complicated than that as you need the right kinds of fats and carbs. This can get very complicated very quickly. But it doesn't have to be. Eat less, work out more, pretty much works.
With some fine tuning. Don't let it all overwhelm you.
I mostly cut sugars out years ago and I've decreased dairy in recent years to almost nothing. I'm not lactose intolerant or anything and I can eat just about anything, but I've been trying to get to the basics. Tasty, but useful foods.
But I was making a big mistake. I had kept hearing that it's simple, what you take in needs to match what you put out, plus some. So if you eat big meals, but don't exercise, that food has got to go somewhere, like on your frame, probably as fat. I'm not a big fan of carrying around extra fat. I mean, why? Right? What do you need it for, other than to rationalize why you don't have to work to get rid of it? Fat isn't attractive, it's bad on your body, your joints, your self-esteem, and the nation's infrastructure to be honest. Airplanes don't need to carry our lard around, wasting fuel, adding to carbon emissions. Cars don't need to be lugging around our bulk, wearing them out slowly along with our roads and bridges. We are costing our nation a lot of money year in and year out with all the unnecessary fat we are carrying about. So, why not lose it? You may even live longer.
So diet is important. It also needs to match our lives, our lifestyles. So I spent much of this year doing many of the right things, working out daily, then taking one day off a week as a treat and for rest. I got to where I was more uncomfortable when I didn't work out than if I had. Someplace you really want to get to. I tried to eat healthy, even weighing some of my food on a kitchen scale. I was really trying hard.
Still, I wasn't getting anywhere. Well, that's not completely true, I was getting in better shape, more muscle tone, more energy, better attitude. But the weight was not coming off. I realized that at some point the fat turns to muscle. That is, you lose fat and build up muscle mass and there's an exchange, but I don't want to put on weight, or ever maintain it. I want to get slimmer (which I was, but not enough) and lighter (my knees were begging me for lighter).
It kept echoing in my head about the numbers game, the amount going in needs to match the output of energy it is fueling, not overwhelm it. So I finally said to hell with the "proper" approach and I simply started to decrease my input. But how to go about that?
First thing I looked at was density. Protein is more dense than vegetables. So I decreased that from 4-6 ounces of protein with each meal to taking in that much per day. So rather than a piece of meat with each meal, I cut it down to only with one meal. Except that we do need protein with each meal. So I exchanged the dense protein (meats) with vegetable protein (like garbanzo beans and such) and maybe dairy. I started to consider alternatives.
I love a good steak but I don't eat red meat much anymore. I've taken the things I've been told are bad for us and turned those into treats. For breakfast I started eating an apple with freshly crushed almond butter from the local store with no other ingredients, no sugar, nothing. I only have two cups of coffee in the morning, then tea, mostly green tea the rest of the day until I get off work. Again, no sugar.
Lunch, Top Ramen with a hard boiled egg (no yolk) and a piece of fish or meat weighed at about 4-6 ounces. Dinner, salad with hard boiled egg (again, no yolk), maybe cheese, legumes typically garbanzo and black bean and salad dressing (not creamy). I have a thought that acidic foods might help us lose weight, don't know if there is a basis but it's a way of thinking. And it orients one away from creamy dressings, for one. Whatever works for you to start losing. See?
I work from home now and start early, at 5:30AM working till 3PM with 90 minutes for lunch when I exercise. I used to have a four hour a day commute, driving to the park and ride, bussing to the ferry, 35 minutes on the ferry and 10-15 minute walk to work. When that changed a couple of years ago, I put on a few more pounds and the readjustment was no fun. So I needed to decrease my food intake and increase my exercise regime.
I lost some weight, not much, but some.
After a while I realized how many carbs the Ramen was. I started to think about those noodles, so I cut them in half, two packs now made a meal, and I added sprouts to make up the difference. I kind of liked it. I realized there was MSG in the seasoning of the Ramen so I don't use that anymore. I bought a healthier alternative in liquid form. I'm also now going to stop using the Ramen, once this box I got from Costco runs out. Then I'm going to substitute some other kinds of noodles like Quinoa noodles, or some other healthier version. I've also seen spirulina noodles. I'll have to work all that out with my taste buds. We need to eat healthy, not eat bad tasting food.
Then I changed up other things.
I stopped eating such big salads for dinner. I started eating my biggest meal at lunchtime. I do not eat two to three hours before bedtime. I eat snacks between meals, but only nuts, fruit. I avoid high fructose foods as much as possible, higher fiber contents. I buy a dessert once a week and enjoy it. I go out for a burger or whatever once a week and try to eat healthier if I eat out more often. I have a beer occasionally, telling myself I can't do that often until I drop the weight. I drink wine more than beer. But I don't drink much either way.
As for exercising, for aerobics I started at fifteen minutes on the elliptical, twenty minutes on the bicycle out of doors. I'd add ten minute increments on the elliptical, and mileage on the bike. I started with what felt good, three miles and got up to five and a half before summer wore out, losing the nice weather. The path on the bicycle has rolling hills so I get a variable workout. On the elliptical I started on a level program and worked up to harder increments on a variable workout. I plan to get up to forty-five minutes, at least.
Previously a few years ago I was up to ninety minutes on the elliptical but I think forty-five is reasonable. Thirty seems to just get me started. I mean, it's good to break a sweat. Even fifteen extra minutes seems to be doing real work. Everyone is different so following a generalized plan can be useless for you. My body has always needed a lot of workout to get in a good workout. I can take a lot of punishment. So I push myself, but build up to a point where I can take the punishment I'm doling out.
As for weights, I use free weights, dumbbells and barbell. I found a weight that was easier than what I needed to start with and did enough reps to start to feel it. Then I added weight and reps over time and sets to maintain a solid workout (reps are how many times you do the movement, sets are how many groupings of those reps you do). Weights are important for weight loss and won't just make you muscle bound. So ladies, don't worry too much about it.
For good weight loss, use both aerobic and anaerobic types of exercise.
I lost some more weight but it stopped, again. I wanted to drop down below the 240 pound range. So I started further to decrease what I ate, lowering my intake and maintaining my exercise levels. Basically I continued to lower my intake and increase my output. Less food, more exercise. More exercise/movement other than just the exercising, too. Go work in the yard, or something. As I have a rather sedentary job sitting and typing most of the day now, I need to do more outside of that. I need to get up and move around more during the work hours. Every two hours, walk around, do something.
On exercise, I am building up to doing aerobic exercise on my anaerobic days. So then I will being doing aerobic exercise daily but more/double every other day, continuing the weights every other day. I plan to continue that. Less food / more exercise, until I started to see some progress. I started to feel hungry between meals, an odd feeling anymore. I finally hit a point that I saw progress and finally, I dropped below 240.
Today I weighed myself and I am for the first time in years seeing 234.x on the scale. Wow! I think I'm honestly finally on to something. But it's not always easy. My biggest challenge I noticed last night when two hours before bedtime I really wanted something to munch. If you find you are wanting to much too much between meals and at bed time, you are probably not getting enough protein. Adjust things slightly.
Although I got a few tiny crackers and jam, because of that. I realized something. And I know this sounds stupid but I have to assume I'm not the only human being going through all this. I need to start to get used to that hungry feeling and learn to love it. I've done that before. It just takes doing. But first you have to recognize it.
The thing about being hungry between meals is, I'd felt that before, normally. But this is a more empty hunger. And it's a good sign. Now too much isn't healthy, of course. You don't want to lose muscle mass in doing this. But you get the idea. Eventually, find what the balance is. If I'm feeling hungry, I'm doing something right. Yes, I know you can eat right and not feel that, supposedly. But I like it and feel it's a milestone in making progress. So I like to feel it, within reason. It reminds me of what I'm fighting for here in all this. Feeling hungry is one thing, but feeling that right kind of hunger, let's you know you're burning fat. At least that's what I tell myself and it seems to spur me on.
I know it's harder for some of us to lose weight. As you get older, it certainly takes more effort. It's easier to put on pounds, too. We tend not to be as physically active for a variety of reasons as we get older. But we have to keep active. Use it or lose it and you don't want your joints and muscles giving up on you.
But it really is a balancing act. Throw in a lot of poorly planned, not real healthy stuff and don't exercise as much as YOUR body needs (we're all different, you have to find out what your body needs from you), and you will reap the rewards, however disappointing they might be. But try to learn to eat healthier. Take in less dense proteins and less of them. Exercise and keep moving and you just might have to lose weight.
And with losing weight comes a better feeling about everything. If you need to be losing weight that is.
A couple of other things. Be sure you aren't starved when you exercise. If you're feeling weak, eat something, not a lot and not immediately before working out. Try to notice it an hour ahead of time, even a half hour. If you notice an odor as you work out like ammonia, you need more complex carbs. Before working out, eat a slice of whole grain bread, or some nuts. Don't pass out working out. It's dangerous, obviously. You should feel hungry when you work out, but not lightheaded. The food you eat after a workout is metabolized differently than if you eat before a work out.
One more thing. I've had issues in the wintertime about feeling unmotivated. I couldn't figure it out. The doctor thought it might be SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) as I live in the PNW here in Washington State. Winters get kind of dismal for most of the year. You have to stay on top of things. My Doctor even suggested antidepressants if need be. I mention this because if you can't maintain a good attitude during weight loss, you will stop. But if you keep going, overall your attitude gets better. It can seem kind of counter-intuitive sometimes.
Diet and exercise go a long way toward maintaining an upbeat attitude. But I noticed that as I work in my home office about eight hours a day, minimum maybe that could affect things. So I looked at the florescent light bulbs that burn over my head hour after hour. I went to Home Depot and bought two new all natural light bulbs and swapped them out. It's been almost two weeks now and I had at first forgotten that I had done that. One day I started to wonder about my attitude. It was winter and I just felt more, upbeat. And I'm sure it's not just the diet or exercise.
In previous years I had worked out through the winter. But I've found it hard to do, to maintain. I just wanted to sit on the couch. Hibernate. The exercise didn't seem to help, and then I'd stop. But now I feel much more positive and more motivated to continue exercising. To continue all of this. Even when I don't feel like exercising now, I can get myself to. In previous years it would eventually fizzle out. And the only thing I can really attribute that to was this simple change in lighting.
I'm not saying rush out and buy new bulbs. I'm saying that maybe you should, but what I am really saying is, it can be a subtle and small change such as that, to simply swap out a couple of light bulbs, or to stop eating something, or to change your exercise routine and, suddenly you can feel, if not see amazing results.
The point being there, be creative and keep at it.
So, to wrap up....
- Education - Figure it all out as best you can, be smart about your choices and make use of them.
- Endurance - Set up a work out, and do it.
- Perseverance - Stay with a routine.
- Variety - Change things up.
- Lifestyle - Learn it, love it, live it.