First of all, if you don’t really need to lose weight, then don’t bother! I can tell you right off that while putting the pounds on was effortless, getting them off has felt like scraping barnacles off the hull of a wrinkled ship. (I’m sure that keeping them off will also be even more fun and games)!
The problem is an having an active metabolism. At my age, my body just doesn’t want to start in the morning and even the mere thought of exercise is enough to instill a deep and lasting fear. I discovered that the hard way after working out for just a few days via walking and digging around my garden. The sore muscles that resulted almost kept me in bed for days afterward. However, I will grudgingly admit to some progress, as over the last week as I’ve apparently built up some tolerance to the pain. Liberal doses of aspirin help out a lot too.
Stiff muscles aside, I’ve also had to watch my eating habits like the proverbial hawk. It’s amazing how easily I find myself wanting to slip back into those bad old habits. Increasingly, I find myself planning meals out far in advance. I also find myself cheating as in thinking that a whole cup of pasta is really only half a cup. It’s not. Yes, my friends, you must measure every morsel you consume whether it is via a measuring cup or scale that weighs in grams (usually both). You must also find a good food tracking program like Fit Day or Calorie Count (both free on the Internet) and use these religiously until you reach your set goal.
Speaking of goals, I found that losing anything over five pounds needs to be measured in months, not weeks. (While anyone can go on a crash diet for a week or so, it’s neigh impossible to keep it up for very long). I know, because I’ve tried. A sensible weight loss should be about one pound a week, and even that can be a real challenge if you love food as I do. Figure it this way. A pound of fat equals somewhere around 3,500 calories. If you’re going to lose just that much per week, you need to consume (3,500 divided by 7 = 500) fewer calories per day than what your body burns either to just stay alive (Base Metabolic Rate) or through exercise (another good idea). Now, for an older man such as myself who has a somewhat sluggish metabolism, I may only burn about 1,700 calories on a good day. So, subtracting 500 from 1,700 gives me about 1,200 calories that I would be allowed to eat on any given day. Now, in case you’re wondering, 1,200 calories is not all that much food (at least to me it isn’t). Here’s a sample day’s menu that illustrates this point:
Oatmeal 40 123 Half a cup
Milk 2% 117 61 Half a cup
Green beans 68 40
Corn 68 33
Bologna SW xxx 255 Sandwich w mayo
Orange juice 117 57
Salad w Catalina 162 73 1 c. low fat dressing
Banquet Pork Rib 283 320 TV dinner
Salad w Catalina 162 73 1 c. low fat dressing
Glass of wine 200 71
Peanuts 20 116
Total Calories 1,221
Wow! That wasn’t all that much food, but it was sure amazing to see the calories pile up. Keep this up for a week and you might just lose a pound! Wanna lose ten pounds. Well then, you’d have to keep this ‘starvation diet’ going for another nine weeks! Looking at the total nutrition for the day (panel at right), you can see that I might also want to consider taking some multiple vitamins while I’m losing weight.
Now while dieting is difficult, it can be done! And the good news is that there are a couple of ways you can sort of ‘cheat’. Here are a few suggestions:
Drink lots of water!
By drinking a lot of fluids (not beer unfortunately), you will at least feel full. Doing this especially before eating really helps you to keep the total amount of food you eat down while not feeling so empty afterwards.
Learn to love those tossed salads!
A good tossed salad provides lots of nutrients for only a few calories. If you mix the components up with the additions of fruits and other assorted veggies you can make the salad a center feature of you’re eating regime. They will keep your tummy full while allowing you to meat your daily caloric goal.
Exercise a whole bunch!
This is one of the few ways you can ‘cheat’ on your diet. For every calorie you expend on exercise, you are building up ‘credits’ in your food allowance bank. This means you can either burn them by eating more or saving them for that trip to McDonald’s. Finding an activity that you enjoy and that burns calories is the Holy Grail of dieting. It can make all the difference in not only losing weight, but in helping to keep it off once you have attained your goal.
I hope this post might be of some small help to others out there that are facing the prospect of a diet that may seem to stretch on into eternity. Just remember that every time you get up off the couch, you’re going to burn additional calories. So find an activity like walking, gardening or biking to help you make it without breaking it!