Friday, May 29, 2015

Losing 35 Pounds - What I've Learned (Part 2)

First a point of clarification from yesterday’s post.  As my wise cousin pointed out, the topic of health, dieting, exercise, and weight loss is not simple.  It's complicated for a variety of factors such as food sensitivities, GMO’s, gut bacteria or lack thereof, and our little to no understanding of nutrition.  For example a person could lose weight and still eat a bunch of junk.  They would accomplish having a smaller body frame but are they actually healthier inside?  No.  What I intended to communicate with the word “simple” was the concept of losing weight (In Vs. Out) is a simple formula.  Certainly its hard to practice and depending on your unique body, personality, and sensitivities things can get all the more convoluted.

With that disclaimer out of the way, today I want to post about Serving Size/Portion Control.  If you are anything like me there are two states of existence:  Starving-Mad-Hungry or Uncomfortably-Unbutton-My-Pants-Full.  I never really knew there was something in-between and I think many people struggle with this.  I personally want that hunger pain to go away.  Not taking into account that food takes a while to travel from my mouth to the stomach I would just shovel it in like there was no tomorrow.  By the time the first ounce of food would make it to my stomach to stop the hunger sensation it was already too late, tons more food was right behind and would be arriving soon to overfill and stretch my stomach.  I used to think portion control equated to eating less and just dealing with the associated hunger.  That ended up not being the case.  When possible I try not to eat much processed food but on the occasion that I do, I read the label to see what they consider one portion to be.  In the example of some crackers that I enjoy, one portion is 16 crackers.  Combine that with some tuna and a granola treat and sure enough…once it hits bottom, I feel no hunger, nor do I feel grossly overstuffed.  I had found it.  That in-between sensation of satisfaction.

The key to portion control is the waiting game.  Let what you have consumed have a chance to send the all clear signal to the brain that you are no longer starving and in jeopardy of death.  This is difficult for me especially since I eat very quickly compared to most.  The waiting game is greatly aided if you can manage to eat slower.  It’s not only better for you overall it causes you to still be eating something when the hunger signal subsides.  This is much better than how I tend to naturally do things.  I will finish my plate rapidly and then fight the urge to go get seconds until the hunger finally subsides.  It makes fighting temptation more difficult and unreasonably so.

Let us know about your portion control experiences in the comments and stay tuned for the next installment on tracking & accountability.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Losing 35 Pounds - What I've Learned (Part 1)

Let me start by saying this.  Weight loss is very simple in concept.  We try to make it complicated, we have products galore marketed to us whether they work or not and everyone tries to cut corners.  But the formula will never change. More calories out than in equal weight loss.  More calories in than out equals weight gain. And equal calories in to equal calories out results in staying level. So the key regardless of what products or diets or exercise programs you want to try is TRACKING the caloric intake and burn (at least for a while). There will come a time after lots of practice where the tracking can taper off because you will get used to how much you can eat compared to how much you are working out.

But let me stop that line of thinking because one of the future posts will be about Accountability and the caloric tracking really belongs there.  For this first installment I simply want to prepare any of you that are looking to lose some weight for what I call the Daily Fluctuation.  Amazingly our bodies can fluctuate by several pounds during the day depending on what you have consumed.  I normally weigh the least first thing in the morning. It makes sense because we burn calories in our sleep and if you are like me, you empty your bladder at least once in the middle of the night.  Also you have not yet eaten breakfast.  Most days my fluctuation was only about two pounds from my lightest to heaviest in any given day.  But there were several times I saw a swing of three to four pounds.

The key is to not let this get you down and to understand most of the gain is due to your body still digesting and dealing with your intake.  Always use the lower number as an indicator of where your really are and let that encourage you.  As long as your lower number continues to go down on a weekly/monthly basis you are doing it right.  A close cousin of the Daily Fluctuation is the Plateau.  Expect several of these as your body adjusts to your new habits.  Since I had 35 pounds to lose I had five or six times in the five month period where I just could not drop another pound.  The week before I might have shed 5 pounds but the next week 0.  Again, don't let this bother you.  As long as you stick with it and continue to see losses when averaging the total progress, the Plateau is not only normal but temporary.

Stay tuned for part 2...and 3...and 4...

Also, please share your thoughts, tips, and success stories in the comments!