Losing weight is a numbers game. I could end this post with that one sentence. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. I know; I did it.
Here’s a picture of me from September of 2010, just 15 months ago. I was 220 pounds, prediabetic, taking medication for high blood pressure and had chronic (occasionally debilitating) back pain. In other words, an average American woman at 45 years of age. OK maybe not average — studies show only 2/3 of Americans are obese or pre-obese.
That was me, for sure. My diet and my sedentary lifestyle were the culprits. I ate a diet heavy with processed foods. On a given night we might have a veggie burger with fries and soda or pasta or frozen pizza. Over the course of a month, we might have two salads, a few servings of corn or peas and a few pieces of fruit. Otherwise it was a starch fest: bread; pasta; rice and potatoes. In an average meal I consumed between 700 to 900 calories and I would eat three of those meals a day. So on the low side, I’d eat 2100 calories and on the high end, I’d eat almost 3000 calories. Oh, but don’t forget the snacking! I know for a fact that some days I’d eat a good 1000 calories worth of candy.
That is not a recipe for weight loss. To lose weight you have to eat fewer calories. There are a million ways to do it. We went with a fast track method and used a medically designed way called Medifast. What I really liked about the program was that it gave us 6 months of weight loss and the chance to reset our taste buds, eating habits and cooking methods. It might not be for everyone, but it was a miracle for us. At first vegetables didn’t taste that great and we couldn’t even eat the “good” vegetables like potatoes and corn. They are too high in calories. Along with serious caloric intake reduction, we started low impact exercise. Any time you can move your body is a bonus — you burn extra calories. 3500 calories equals one pound of fat. That’s a big number so you break into small pieces and over time, you shed pounds.
I have never been one to exercise. I hated it, in fact. I would do it — sporadically. But when I had lost only about 20 pounds I felt so much better and had so much more energy that I began to walk a few blocks at lunch to burn off some of that excess energy. Soon I bought a pedometer so I could see what effect the walks were having on my daily calories. Now, I’m a regular exerciser.
It’s hard to tell from this picture (yes, July in Oregon sometimes means a jacket), but I’ve lost over 60 pounds and 8 inches from my waist. The picture above, I was a size 20. Now I’m an 8. And it was as easy as paying attention to what goes in my mouth. Weight loss is just like saving money. You need to know how much money you spend before you can figure out how to save money and build wealth. And you need to know how many calories you expend just by being alive, how many calories you eat and how many you burn in your daily activities. There are tons of apps for smart phones, and tons of websites to help you calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). The next step is figuring out what kind of activities you like and how many calories you burn doing them.
Just take a few minutes to think about your daily life: what do you eat? How much do you move your body? Now imagine a small change you can make that will help you eat less and move more. Small changes will reap big rewards.