September 27th, 2010

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Weight Loss Tip #1

Over the weekend I was at a party and a few people were asking me for weight loss advise. I've learned a lot over the past few months, so I'm thinking why not share some general advice here. Some of this will sound very basic but it also is stuff that will serve you very well.

For a first post:

1. Track Your Calories

On a diet and/or fitness regimen but not losing the weight you expect to be? Use a tracking program -- I strongly recommend's "MyPlate" -- to keep a food and exercise log for several days. This will show you how many calories you are taking in through meals, snacks, beverages, etc. and then subtract off calories burned through walking, running, grocery shopping, etc.

At the end of the time period of tracking, review your log and you will probably find that your calories are a lot higher than you expected.

There are probably several things you're eating and drinking that you think are "healthy," "light," "low cal," etc., but which really aren't. For example if you are drinking non-diet soda, you're adding 100-200 calories with every can. Same thing for fruit juice. Lots of foods also are a lot higher in calories than you think - for example granola bars, many breakfast cereals, cheese, etc. And it's not that you can't eat those things, but you have to have a realistic idea of how many calories they have so you know they matter and aren't "nothing." There's a difference between eating a granola bar and a plum -- about 150 calories, sometimes even more! Also think about portion size on the things you're eating. For example, a common recommendation for protein, i.e. meat, is a portion size no larger than a deck of cards. Think about that pile of lean meat you just ate -- was it a deck of cards or a TV Guide size?

Next up look at your activities. If you're working out or active in your daily life, you're probably OK, burning 300-500 (or more ) calories a day beyond what you would if you just sat around doing nothing. But if you're NOT doing anything, then you're not doing anything to subtract from your calories, so even if you are eating less, if you're still taking in 2000 calories, you're probably not going to lose weight. And if you're going to the gym and not losing, again, consider your intake minus the calories. If you're eating 3000 calories a day and burning 800 working out, that's still over 2000 calories a day and thus you still probably won't lose weight. (You will also gain some weight due to muscle increase, remember.)

Finally, whether it's the eating, drinking or activity level that's the problem -- or if it's all three -- I would say that if you're "net" calories is above 1500 calories/day and you want to lose weight... you probably will be disappointed. If you are interested in just maintaining your weight, higher is fine, but if you want to see the scale move, you need to make some adjustments.

And no, I am not a licensed dietician by any means... but I have lost 42 lbs. and counting and gone to group nutrition/health/weight-loss classes for the past 3 mo. or so.

Writer's Block: Do you remember?

What is your earliest memory?
I remember waking up in my crib and having to throw up... and pulling up the corner of the rubber sheet so I could do so -- and then putting the sheet back. This way I could go back to sleep and not get barf on me. Later Mom came in to get me and smelled something. When she discovered my hidden "treasure" she wasn't too pleased. I must have been between 1 and 2 yrs. old and already learning how to manage laziness?

Another of my earliest, earliest memories is far less yucky, and that's being in Oma's apartment in the Bronx. There were these Venetian blinds and across the street there was a really ugly parking deck, which Oma was complaining about. Again, I was between 1-2 at the time, as I remember being very, very little. Later when Oma moved to Andover I remember building a replica of that parking deck with oversize Legos.

Most of my other earliest childhood memories are terrible nightmares that stuck with me forever. The worst nightmares of my entire life! Most of them involve something really ghastly and so violent I wonder where on earth my brain came up with them. I mean, c'mon, do normally 3-yrs.-olds dream of having to move wheelbarrows of decapitated heads?!