What have you got to lose?

Posted on: January 17, 2013

This blog is here for many things.  I plan on writing on a wide variety of topics, including food and recipes, DIY projects, parenting and activities for kids, and weight loss. 

This post is about that last one.  It is January, after all, with the time for fattening holidays behind us and New Year’s resolutions here.

I didn’t specifically resolve to work on losing weight, because I make that resolution almost every day.  Or I resolve to make that resolution.  Sometimes I resolve to work on it in a week or a few days or whenever I’m not tired, which is never.

People seem to think weight loss is some big secret.  I am no medical expert, but I have been on various diets since I was 12, and I’ve learned a few things.  

“How do I lose weight?” is not the right question.  The questions are, “How do I consume fewer calories?” and “How do I burn more?”  Other good questions are, “Why should I lose weight?” and “How should I measure my weight/loss/fitness?”

First of all, I think the main question to address is why, because this will guide you through what you wish to do.  I think the main emphasis with weight loss should be improving our health, but every person is different… some just want to look good in their wedding or on the beach (note that this can apply to any gender, it is not just women).  Being healthy, then, would place a lot of emphasis on exercise to burn fat, not muscle, and eating a balanced diet, preferably low in processed foods.  

Measurement should rely on how you feel.  Right now, my jeans are so tight that I am uncomfortable in them, even if I leave them unbuttoned and unzipped.  I could buy larger ones, but wearing them tight is a constant reminder of how badly I’ve been eating.  Some people monitor the scale daily to check their progress… others do it weekly, or monthly, or don’t even own a scale and prefer to go by how they feel and how their clothes fit, especially since some people find they can lose inches without losing weight.  

As far as the big questions, well, there are some easy answers.  Eat fewer calories.  Exercise.  But is that it, and how?  

Consuming fewer calories is generally easier to understand.  Eat foods containing fewer calories, and/or eat less of them.  Eating foods that keep you full longer will help you eat less often.  Being a little hungry now and then is okay.  

Burning calories is a bit tougher.  Exercise is the obvious, including both cardio and weights — not only does cardio burn calories but it is good for your health, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn all the time.  Some of us have an easier time burning calories than others for genetic or other biological reasons.  My body seems like it could gain weight on nothing but veggies, even with working out…  There are little things you can do — I’ve heard that drinking ice water burns more calories than room-temperature water, because your body has to expend energy warming the water, which makes sense.  Probably not a big difference, but every little bit can help.  

And I’ve heard a ton of other things too… there’s a lot of confusing information out there.  Eat before you work out.  Don’t eat before you work out.  Eat this magic food after you work out and nothing else.  Sugar substitutes are great.  Sugar substitutes are garbage.  I think there are so many conflicting ideas out there because either they don’t make that much of a difference, or they work differently for different people, or both.  

And, there are a few ways to eat food but not get the calories from it.  Three that come to mind are the weight loss supplement Alli, which blocks the absorption of some of the fat you eat so your body doesn’t consume the calories, laxative abuse, and purging — as in bulimia.  The last two are definitely not healthy choices.  

The bottom line, I think, is to aim for a healthy lifestyle.  Fads and crash diets are not only generally unhealthy but hard to maintain, because you go crazy feeling deprived… the best diet is one that you can maintain, which may involve a “cheat day” or meal every week so that you don’t feel like you can’t enjoy life too.  Generally, eat healthy foods and eat them sparingly, make time to exercise, work in little ways that you can burn a few extra calories, and watch what happens.  

I’m starting today.  I’ve got quite a bit to lose, actually.  And if I give up?  I have to start again.  And again, and again.  

Right now, I have to get off the couch… which is a little challenging right now because I worked my legs pretty good this morning!


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