Diet and Weight LossDiet and Weight Loss Journal

Diet, weight loss, nutrition and lifestyle changes

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Diet and Weight Loss The Healthy Way

A journal documenting progress through a year of diet, exercise and nutritional changes, resulting in effective and permanent weight loss, achieved the natural way.

The following article documents a real-life approach to diet and weight loss, one which we believe to be safe, effective and most importantly – sustainable.

Too many ‘diet plans’ are geared towards producing rapid results, but achieve these results in a manner which cannot be sustained in the long term.

Dieting and weight management is about much more than cutting out carbs. Firstly, you need to focus on the health of your bodily systems to ensure the efforts you expend realize the most benefit. These systems are basically ‘immune’, ‘metabolic’ and ‘digestive’. Added to this list is the most important system of all – ‘cognitive or brain function’. You don’t need to have a high IQ to manage your weight successfully but you do need to adopt a certain attitude or ‘mindset’.

If you think of the human body in bio-mechanical terms it is nothing more than an engine. You need to provide it with basic maintenance and proper fuels and it will reward you with years of efficient service!

Note: If you are considering embarking upon a weight loss regimen, or just looking to get yourself more healthy and active, then we suggest you do so with input from your medical practitioner. A calorie restrictive diet, and/or extreme work-out route is for healthy people only, and should be conducted under close medical supervision.

We’d like to hear from you if you have a weight loss story to share. Please use the form to the right of the page to send us your message/story. We’ll publish (with your permission) your story and share it with our visitors through our blog and newsletter.

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October 2013

I’m a 6′ 4″ male, 51 years old and at the time of starting this journey I weighed 280+ lbs. My ideal body weight given my frame, age etc, is around 190 lbs.

I’ve been through some weight loss/gain cycles in the past. I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my adult life and it’s always taken a supreme effort to try to get things under control. I think the amount of effort I’ve put into my weight loss campaigns in the past has been the main reason for me slipping back into old ways. I’ve just gone about it all wrong, as you’ll see later.

So I’ve decided to start again, but this time I’m going to do things differently, do things in my own way and not get side-tracked into using some short-term fad that happens to be the flavor of the month in a diet magazine. Although I must say that I do have the benefit of a significant amount of experience and research. I’m not starting this as a novice, rather someone who has been through it before and now has a new state of mind.

I’ve also realized that most of the problems with being overweight are NOT self-inflicted, as we’re often lead to believe. In fact they stem from an industry who fills our heads with misinformation. You see, the important aspects relating to weight loss are often counter-intuitive. For example, it makes sense to drastically reduce caloric intake if one needs to shed a lot of weight, doesn’t it? And that’s certainly what the books and magazines tell us. They all have us counting calories, exercising and watching the scales daily. What I’ve discovered is that the approach that’s forced upon as as ‘common sense’, is actually not the right approach at all.

So I’ve decides in the first instance that I will not deprive myself of the things I love to eat. Much of my failure in the past has been down to making the task too difficult by trying to go without the foods I really like. It’s going to be different this time, I’m going to have my cake and eat it, literally, and find other ways in which to compensate.

I should say at this point that I don’t consider myself to be an unhealthy eater, not now and not in the past. Unhealthy yes, in the sense of certain habitual approaches to food, but a good proportion of what I like to eat is healthy – fruit, veg, cereal, fish etc. But I eat too much, and I exercise to little, so these are the primary areas I intend to focus on.

I want to say a little more about what goes on between the ears, when dieting. I’m not going to say it’s ok to continue to eat chocolates and sticky puddings on a perpetual basis. It isn’t, you shouldn’t and I wont. But if one likes those kinds of things, it’s plain foolish to try to give them up entirely. The way to approach it is to manage these foods better – moderate and then compensate.

I’ve used the word ‘compensate’ and it’s an important word. Given the right mental approach, it’s possible in my opinion to eat the cake diet and weight loss with cakethen undo the negative affect of eating the cake by compensating for its effect with exercise. Eventually, and I’m writing this with the benefit of hindsight, if you take yourself to a certain level of fitness you won’t have to compensate or forgo much of anything. You’ll be able to eat what you want and when you want.

Supplementation.

I don’t really care to use vitamin supplements as I believe most of them to be a complete waste of time. You’re taking expensive pills which contain micro amounts of this and that, and in these tiny quantities you’re almost certain to be getting these vitamins from the foods you eat – assuming a moderately healthy diet.

But there are some things I like to use, things which I classify more as ‘foods’ than vitamins. In the past I’ve taken bee products alongside my regular foods – bee pollen and honey, mostly. I’ve also used royal jelly and propolis bit without the same regularity as the pollen and honey. It’s easier to incorporate bee pollen and honey into a normal kind of diet than it is royal jelly and propolis.

When I started out on this path, I spent a good deal of time researching ways in which to make the task easier.

What I came to learn was that for most of us, our ‘systems’ are out of balance. Our systems in this context are the key parts of the body, the ones that keep us ticking. The immune system, the digestive system, the metabolic system and then that clump of grey matter between the ears – the brain. You could add to this list of course, but for the purpose of providing myself with the best opportunity for losing weight, and keeping it off, these were the areas of focus.

So after a good deal of research I decided upon some natural assistance, some help from Mother Nature.

I continued with my bee products, but made the use of royal jelly and propolis more regular, with the introduction of the product ‘Total Bee Plus’. I also began using dandelion root on a daily basis. I used it initially as a tea, then as a supplement. Dandelion root helps regulate digestive function and works as a mild diuretic.

I also used Apple Cider Vinegar. At first I bought the liquid product but found it too hard to use it regularly. It tastes, well..it tasted like vinegar! So I researched this and found a pill version that works well. There are many associated health benefits to apple cider vinegar and I believe in them. They include detoxification, digestive support, immune support and more. The product is associated with weight loss, improved cholesterol and lowering triglycerides.

Lastly, I decided to use Green Tea. Again, I first utilized it as a tea drink, but found myself forgetting to take it on some days, so for the sake of convenience I found a powdered product.

Some perspective –

In a nutshell, I know that if I eat 3500 calories more than I need to balance the energy I expend it will result in a one pound gain in weight.

I also know that a 1 hour bicycle ride can eliminate half of that. Which means, in layman’s terms that I can have a 500 calorie treat three times per week and wipe out the affect with a bike ride. Whoopee….can it really be that simple?

Well yes I think it can, to a certain extent.

The body is basically a furnace. You shovel coals into the opening and it burns up the coals and emits heat. The amount of coal you put into the furnace determines the amount of heat it puts out. Less coal in, less heat out.

The body is a little more complex than a furnace, obviously, but it works on a similar principal. We have a metabolism which is essentially the clock that keeps us ticking along. It ticks when we’re at rest and it ticks faster when we’re active. When we’re active on a more regular basis then it ticks a little faster even when we’re at rest. The metabolic rate to a large degree determines the rate at which we burn calories.

Our problem is that when we take in more calories than we expend, we don’t just get more heat, as in the furnace example, we have to do something creative with the extra calories, so we store them away as fat. This is actually an efficient genetic function that all humans have and it dates back to times when food came along irregularly. A 100,000 years ago we might kill a mammoth every couple weeks or so. We’d gorge ourselves for days then it might be days before we got to eat again. Our metabolism, digestive system, the way we store fat and call on fat reserves, the way that proteins metabolize and form muscle etc, is all based on our needs to survive during times of feast or famine.

Knowing the information above is what’s going to make me succeed this time where I’ve failed in the past. It’s much easier when you consider weight loss as a very basic math problem and consider the body as a machine designed to operate during feast or famine. It’s just a case of trying to balance a simple equation…..tilt it down on one side initially to lose the weight, then just keep it somewhat balanced to maintain it. If it goes up on the other side of the equation, the food/calorie input side, then the weight gain will follow and we need to adjust metabolism and/or intake.

Losing Weight – Getting started

At the start I began by giving you my own parameters. Everything I’m going to share with you will work the same for anyone – male/female, 20 years old or 60 years old etc (assuming you’re healthy enough to follow the step).

In my case my weight started out north of 280 lbs in December 1 2013

My target weight was 190 lbs, but that was just a loose target and nothing more. If I got to 220 and felt comfortable there then I would know to stop.

Let’s discuss target weight a little more.

You can start by getting a feel for where your weight should be by using a BMI calculator like this one

They’re not entirely accurate as there isn’t a place to enter your frame size or build. For example, 18 years ago my job was a mix of office and physical work, and I worked out once or twice a week. I was quite muscular, particularly my upper body. I weighed-in at around 210, though that would rise up to 260 when I let things get out of control. At 210 on a muscular frame, aged 32 I was at a comfortable weight. Aged 51, I need to factor for a loss of upper-body muscle mass. My frame is smaller (under all of the fat) and I don’t plan to work hard on weight training to have a muscular physique. So my target weight is going to be lower than it was 18 years ago, around 20lbs lower, at least.

You can decide how that affects you. You may have a target weight in mind, get there, then decide that you need to perhaps drop a couple more pounds. That’s fine, and it really isn’t an issue. If you follow my guidelines you’ll find it very easy to control your weight to whatever place you want it to be.

I’m writing this after the event, so I can tell you with all honesty and sincerity that towards the end of my weight loss period, I actually found myself having to force myself to eat more than I really wanted to eat, to keep my weight stable! How does that sound to you right now?!

Some Weight Loss Tools and Ammunition.

Some weeks after I started my exercise regimen, I treated myself to a new iPhone. Up until that point I’d never owned a smartphone, I had a basic phone without all of the fancy features. I bought the iPhone for work as I needed some internet connectivity whilst traveling, without the hassle of lugging a laptop around.

I hadn’t thought I’d ever use an ‘App’, but it didn’t take me long to get drawn into the whole new world of smartphones and the myriad tools available.

My first great find was an App called CalorieKing. It allowed me to keep a daily track on calories by entering the foods I eat item by item. I didn’t use it daily. Once you’ve used it for a while you quickly get a feel for where you are insofar as intake and staying on target. I won’t dwell on this particular app as it was quickly superseded by an app called ‘MapMyWalk‘. I’ll cover this in more detail later as I feel that it has helped me a lot.

Bee pollen. Yes, those awful looking granules. I’ve used various supplements over the years but I’ve basically traded them all in for a 5000mg dose of daily bee pollen alongside some fresh, unprocessed honey and my 4 capsules daily of Total Bee Plus. More on these things later.

A set of bathroom scales! Funnily enough I didn’t buy a set of scales until I was well along the road to success. The only time I would get weighed would be on visits to the doctor’s office, perhaps 3 or 4 times a year. More on this later.

A bicycle. For the longest time I made do with an old Schwinn that I bought for my wife for $129 from K-Mart. A cheap bike is fine so long as it’s sized properly for you. The old Schwinn was too small for me but I made good with it until I invested in something more appropriate. Use whatever you have available. Don’t let the cost of a bicycle stand in the way. You can pick something up from Craigslist for $25. If you don’t want to pedal outdoors, buy an exercise machine. More on this later.

So those were the basic tools needed. I really invested nothing in terms of hard cash for the first few months. No Weight Watchers memberships or expensive memberships at the gym. No fancy elliptical trainers or any hardware. No expensive supplements (I pay $20 every two months or so for my bee pollen here and my Total Bee Plus is only $19 per month from here)

The Mental Challenge

Everything about what you’re about to do, the success or failure, the emotional implications, the long term affects on your health, etc, is controlled by what goes on between your ears. It isn’t a physical challenge it’s an entirely mental one. If you can prepare and equip yourself adequately mentally, then this journey can be easier than you could ever imagine.

Understand what is at stake. I can’t emphasize this simple point strongly enough. I don’t want to get too deep into spiritual or religious considerations here, but regardless of your beliefs on the afterlife or karma or any other otherworldly designs which you may feel are going to apply to you beyond your time here on earth, it should still make sense to get the most out of your time here, no?

It makes no rational sense to be overweight and to live with the risk of a diminished old age due to weight-related chronic illness. It makes no sense to be missing out on much of what’s going on around you because you’re overweight. It makes no sense to hide behind the facade of ‘I’m fat but I’m comfortable in my own skin’, when you could be of normal weight and getting so much more from life. So think long and hard about these simple observations and please, for your own sake, realize that now is the time to do something about it.

Give up one thing you like, that’s important to you, as a mental statement of intent.

This is entirely optional but it worked well for me.

When I sat down at the end of the year (2013) and thought about my situation, I knew I needed to create a blueprint for the next 12 months. I was 280 lbs and I felt like crap. I knew it was going to take many months to get myself into shape from the moment I started, and that for 6 months or so beyond hitting my target weight I would be at risk of sliding backwards. I knew if I never started, it wouldn’t happen on its own. I reflected on the times over the years when I’d lost weight, following a fad diet, only to regain it a few months later, and then some. Something about this time had to be different.

I decided I was going to do this my way, with what I felt was going to be a common sense approach, but I felt that something was needed to seal the pact I was making with myself. Some kind of sacrifice, some large statement of intent.

Without thinking about it for more than 48 hours I gave up drinking alcohol. I’d always been quite a heavy drinker. I never became visibly drunk, nor did my personality turn into something else when drinking alcohol, so there’d never been any external social pressure driving me to moderate or quit alcohol. I wasn’t a drunk, it didn’t effect my work too much, though as I got older it was always a little harder to shake off those morning after feelings.

To give you some perspective, I was perhaps drinking 4 or 5 alcoholic drinks per night 3 or 4 nights per week. I’d have a couple beers before dinner, a glass of wine or two with dinner, then perhaps a tumbler of bourbon after dinner. It wasn’t enough to make me drunk, but it became a part of my daily routine to the extent where it was undoubtedly harmful to my health. But I enjoyed it, and it was for this primary reason that I decided to give it up. I needed to make a statement and a commitment.

For you, pick something you like which contains calories. If you have a donut every day, consider sacrificing it for the greater good! It doesn’t need to be anything strategic in the sense of calorie-count, it’s just a statement of intent.

I took my last drink on New Year’s Day 2014.

I’m not suggesting that you should quit drinking entirely, if you enjoy the occasional social drink. But I am suggesting that you should find something that you enjoy, something that’s linked to your problem, and quit consuming it entirely. Then refer back to it continually as a sign of your commitment to succeed. That may seem odd, but it’s arming you with the mental ammunition you need to see this through.

January 2014

So the story begins in earnest January 1, 2014.

After a typical Holiday period of inactivity and over-indulgence, I settled into New Year’s Day with the traditional roast dinner meal, a few beers and a follow-up bourbon or two. I knew this would be my last drink for quite some time. How long still remains to be seen.

Over the next few days I never once felt the desire to drink alcohol. My body felt nothing different, no urges, no cravings, no withdrawals – nothing.

After about a week I started to miss the sugar. Yeah, alcohol is laden with sugar and my body was asking ‘where did it go?’. Chocolate became the bridge away from alcohol, there was no way I was going to deprive myself of something that I was craving.

January is particularly cold in my part of the world, as is February and early March. During these three months I can’t honestly say that weight loss was not on my mind much at all. Despite the lack of effort I did roll back a few LBS, due I presume to the removal of the alcohol related calories.

I’m not sure how many pounds exactly as at this point I didn’t own a set of bathroom scales! My last weigh-in at the doctor’s office was late November, at 280. I felt perhaps I’d lost around 5 lbs, though that was purely a guesstimate and perhaps an optimistic one. Wow. Weight loss without really doing much.

April 2014

The trails at the local State Park were still snow-laden through April but around the middle of the month I decided to start doing some light walking in the afternoons. Boy did it feel good to be outdoors after a long harsh Winter, even though the highs were still barely above zero at times!

The more I walked the more I felt inclined to make an extra effort to watch my food intake. It seemed preposterous to take the time and effort to walk for 3 miles in the cold, then to negate all of the benefits by coming home and eating junk.

At this point I’d gotten my sugar craving under control, though I did in fact gorge myself on chocolates over the Easter period!

But generally I was just being a little more careful with what I ate. I cut back on bread and cut back on fried foods for breakfast. The fried foods had always been a weakness, fried eggs, bacon etc. I came to realize that the absence of alcohol really removed the craving for fried foods. I know now, though I didn’t realize it at the time, that a mild hangover is alleviated and soothed by the ingress of starch and fats. You just feel better after a fried breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast and butter after a few drinks the night before. Now, suddenly, it didn’t really taste as good.

I made no special efforts during April. I was reacting to what my body was telling me in the most natural sense. If my body was saying ‘hey, I really don’t need to eat this stuff right now’, then I didn’t eat it. I made a small effort to watch my portion sizes. I tried to serve myself a little less and actually stop eating when I felt satiated. No great effort here, just doing what felt right.

Of course I was also dining out less having quit alcohol. Gone were the days when we’d go for a few drinks after work then stay out for a burger and fries, or whatever.

May 2014.

I suppose the Eureka moment happened on May 1, 2014, the date of a routine doctor’s appointment.

I hate going to the doctor’s and the only reason I went on this occasion was that I needed him to authorize a repeat prescription for my blood-pressure medication.

I’d been on Lysinoprol for around 5 years or so, with a diuretic thrown in for good measure. At my last appointment in November, my BP was high and the doctor wanted to increase my meds or try me on something else. He also wanted to get me on cholesterol medication as my bloodwork was pretty bad. My triglycerides were through the roof at 400+. I said no back in November to increasing or adding to the meds, and it was now May and time for a reassessment.

Remember, the last time I’d been weighed was at the clinic in November 2013, and I’d weighed-in at 280. I didn’t own scales so I hadn’t weighed myself since then. I knew I’d lost some weight, I could feel it a little in my clothes. Imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scales at 242 lbs.

So somewhere, somehow, I’d lost 38 lbs in around 6 months, with hardly any exceptional effort.

Naturally my doctor was complimentary and supportive. He said if I could get down to 230 I could try coming off my blood pressure meds.

Wow. I never thought I’d be able to stop taking those, ever. Of course that was still a long way off.

From that point onwards I became not only more encouraged, but more highly motivated. I’d accomplished the weight loss with minimal effort and sacrifice, I now wanted to take full control and get serious.

Over the next few weeks I was a regular at the Park trail, walking, and trying to jog a little too. The jogging was excruciating. I walked 100′ then tried to run 100′, walk then run. It was impossible. My joints hurt and I became thoroughly breathless within a few seconds of trying to jog.

One day during the middle of the month whilst making dinner at home, my left side hip gave way. It was the strangest thing. I’d felt it becoming quite sore on and off for many, many months. Then one day it felt as though someone had pushed a knife into my side and I collapsed on the floor!

Some days later my left knee went out!

I guess I was compensating somehow for the bad hip and putting undue pressure on my knee. So with a sore knee and hip, my trail walks/jogs hit a brick wall. I could barely walk around the house and had to quit the trails.

This was a major hurdle. Spring was upon us and I wanted to be outdoors and to keep up the exercise.

So I shifted gears (excuse the pun) and resurrected my wife’s old mountain bike.

June 2014

June is about the sun being out and warm days spent relaxing and grilling outdoors. Before I move on I want to share some valuable nutrition and food information.

In this next stage you can start to learn some of the specifics of what I’d been doing and apply them to your own diet and weight loss program.

Click Here to Continue.

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