Lots of interest in weight loss each January. I had some success shedding a few pounds last year, and I don’t think there is really anything new under the sun about losing weight. So I thought I might share some of the things we’ve all probably heard that I found to be useful, and some that are not.
Creating Calorie Deficit
Working Out Every Day
Seems like there is always someone around to say something like, “really, you only have to work out three times a week to maintain fitness.” Well, maybe, but see Calorie Deficit above.
I have always had the desire to work out and be in shape, but the world always seems to interfere. I really dislike trying to workout after work, and the job I have now does not lend itself to working out at lunch, which I have done a lot in my life. So I reasoned that the only way it was going to get done was if I got up early and got it done first thing. For me, that is 5 a.m.
Yes, it is dark then, except for a couple of weeks in June. Yes, it can be very cold then. But here are a few things that really help:
- You start the day with a success.
- The workout settles your mind. I knew a psychiatrist who said that a working out was more valuable than any medicine he could prescribe.
- It gives you control over at least one aspect of your life. Which is valuable, because sometimes, it’s the only thing.
- “If you can tie your shoes, you can go.” This maxim came to me from a colleague who ran track for William & Mary.
- It’s only a half an hour. See below.
- If you bag it and try to sleep in, it won’t work. You won’t get back to sleep, your mind will race, and you will feel guilty or bad about not going.
- You never mess with a streak. See below. Crash Davis was right.
“It’s Only a Half an Hour”
When I got started, I told myself I would go out for 15 minutes, then turn around and come back. It works if you are run/walking (as I was), or if you are running really well. On those difficult early days, and sometimes still, I would talk myself through the first five minutes, the second five (only four to go!), third five (you’re almost halfway!), fourth third (headed back now!), and so on. I go a lot further than I used to, and I get a kick out of that.
“You Never Mess with a Streak”
One thing about running at 5 a.m. is that you will very rarely have a conflict. So if you use those bullets above, pretty soon you will have gone 3 days in a row. Or 7 days in a row. Or 11 days in a row. For me, there is a powerful motivation to keep it going. I guess it’s just the way I’m wired, especially when you have positive feedback from your data.
I don’t go out if it is actively raining. You would be surprised at how infrequently you get a rain-out. (Then I do try to walk after work).
I cycle both weekend days, and vacation days, usually a pretty long way.
Keeping A Lot of Data
I am a data jock, so this comes naturally to me. If you have the data, you can track your progress. I track the distance I went, time, pace, weight, calories burned, temperature, and humidity. I track the number of miles for the year, and the number on my shoes. I keep mine on Google Docs, so I can access it anywhere. I use MapMyRide (or Run, I guess. They have MapMy… all sorts of stuff, but it is all the same site, and it’s free free free) to plot out the mileage and calculate the calories. I use WunderMap for temperatures in my neighborhood.
My only work of caution and encouragement is to hang in there the first month. There might not be anything to look at for a while.
I will send you my tracking jig if it will help you.
I think there is something to the idea of testosterone loss being related to belly gain. So I have availed myself of an OTC testosterone booster to good effect. Also, I have used a mild thermogenic during the day. I also take a daily multi-vitamin, as well as glucosamin and controitin.
Bringing Your Lunch from Home
The food you make at home is going to better for you than anything you can get out, most likely. You will almost certainly eat less than you would if you went out. You also get the added benefit of time and hassle savings, and money savings, from not going out.
Do make sure you get a break rather than just blasting through your lunch at your desk while you work. But that’s another essay.
“Don’t Drink Calories”
I follow this guideline, but I don’t have any hard evidence to support it.
What Didn’t Work
“Always Have Breakfast, it starts your metabolism”
The theory is that if you don’t eat breakfast, your body goes into starvation preservation mode, and doesn’t burn calories. You aren’t hungry for lunch, and then when you get home, you eat everything that’s not nailed down.
“Have 5 smaller meals a day.” Or, “Graze Throughout the day”
These approaches have not been effective for me.
“Don’t eat anything after 8, or before bed.”
I sleep better on a full belly, so I generally snack right before bed. Sorry.