How I am Losing Weight

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On January 29, I made a personal goal to lose 30 pounds by May 1. I told some of my friends about my goal at that time. If you subscribe to my email newsletter, you saw me reaffirm my commitment to this goal in the February 22 issue. At that point, I had lost 5 pounds. Today, a week later, I’m down a total of 7 pounds (you can see the tracking widget in the sidebar). Writing about my personal weight loss goal caused a flood of email from subscribers asking me what I’m doing to lose the weight – this post is the mass reply to those questions.
So how am I losing weight? I like the way one subscriber demystified his own weight loss of 65 pounds, so I’m going to borrow it. I’m losing weight by burning more calories than I consume.
I realize that’s a cop out – it doesn’t provide you any action steps you could take in your own quest to lose weight, so I’ll break it down with what I’m actually doing. There are basically three parts to my weight loss equation: Exercise, Eating, and Sleep.
My Exercise Program
My exercise program is incredibly simple and it may be that as I approach the end of my goal I’ll need to increase it, but so far it’s working. There are two key components to my exercise:
Walking 30 minutes 5-6 days per week
15 minutes of body weight exercises
One of the things that makes my exercise most successful is doing it first thing in the morning. I wake up, get dressed, drink some water, and head out the door for my walk. When I get back I do 15 minutes of additional exercise, then hit the shower and eat breakfast. I got the idea for doing exercise first thing in the morning from two places – Bill Phillips’ Body For Life, which suggests you get more out of exercise by doing it before you’ve had anything to eat and Eben Pagan’s Wake Up Productive which encourages you to create a morning routine to launch yourself into a more productive day.
What exercises am I doing:
Upper Body
Push Ups
Triceps extension with a chair
Abdominal / Lower Back
Crunches
Side Plank on a Box
“Supermans”
Legs
Single-Leg Squats
Box Jump
Lateral Bound
Squat Jump
Walking Lunge
Jumping Lunge
Calf Raises on a step
I’m definitely not an expert on fitness, so consult someone who is before coming up with your own exercise program. My primary motivation for doing body weight exercises is to pick things I can do anywhere. I can’t make the excuse of not being able to exercise if the only required equipment is me.
My Eating Program
For the most part I eat nutritious foods, but I tend to eat too much and too late at night. I have two eating strategies for weight loss. Strategy one is to eat smaller amounts of food more times throughout the day, which helps maintain energy levels and keeps me from ever feeling really hungry. Going back to Body For Life, Bill Phillips recommends 6 small meals. My target is 4-5. Eating 6 times a day became frustrating when I tried it about 10 years ago. Strategy two is to not eat after 8pm.
My breakfast following my morning workout is a smoothie comprised of blueberries, a banana, hemp protein, and flax oil (which tastes better than it might sound). The rest of the day the meals vary depending on my schedule, but the goal is to not over eat. I have flexibility to eat when I want now because I don’t have a boss to report to, but I used a similar strategy 10 years ago when I worked in a cubicle. By making meals the night before it is easy to stay on track throughout the day.
My Sleep Program
In doing a bunch of reading about metabolism, I’m inclined to believe there is a strong correlation between not getting enough sleep and gaining weight. One thing I’m doing is making more time for sleep. For my personal schedule, this means being in bed by 11pm most nights (which is about 2 hours earlier than my typical schedule). I’m awake by 7am to get started walking. The side benefit to getting more sleep is I actually accomplish more in less time because I’m less likely to become mentally fatigued during the day.
Fourth Key to Success – Day of Rest
I said there were three primary keys to meeting my weight loss goal. There are actually four. The fourth key to making my goals successful is to allow one day per week to break all the rules. I make Sunday that day. I don’t worry about getting exercise (although I occasionally still go for a walk). I eat whatever I want. And I generally don’t try to stick to a schedule of any kind. Taking a break one day a week won’t derail your weight loss goals because it has a great psychological benefit the rest of the week. When you feel inclined to cheat on meals during the week, you can easily remind yourself there’s a reward coming at the end of the week. Giving your body a day off makes it that much easier to pick back up exercising when you start your next 6-day cycle.

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7 comments

  1. If you’re using a BlendTec or a Vitamix to make your smoothies, try adding kale or spinach or some kind of dark leafy green to it. You won’t taste, and now you’re getting some good vegetables.

  2. BBC just had a special on regarding biological clocks, etc. It advised that scientific studies in this field show that doing exercise first thing in the morning is the most dangerous time to exercise due to your body rhythms – this may be something you might want to read more about. Also, it is interesting to note that your metabolism does not click into gear until after you have had something to eat. Consequently it may be more beneficial to exercise after your breakfast, as you would burn more calories. Makes this dieting thing all the more confusing, no?

  3. Good on ya Jake! Keep it up. Sounds like you’re doing a no-nonsense approach to weight loss. I need to get back in the habit and loose about 30lbs too. Keep us posted. You may just motivate me.

  4. Good job thus far, and good plan! I just have one minor sticking point:
    “For the most part I eat nutritious foods, but I tend to eat too much and too late at night… Strategy two is to not eat after 8pm.”
    I think your strategy is a good idea if it gets you into a habit of consuming less calories overall or gets you into a rhythm that works for you, but it’s a myth that the calories you consume before bed are any more fattening than calories you consume at any other time of the day.
    For example: http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/2225.html

  5. I have had much success with Dr. Maxwell Stillman’s protien diet and 5 years ago…, the Catabolic Diet. The Catabolic Diet is the way to go for heavy eaters. You can eat whatever amount you want, as long as it is “catabolic food”. By catabolic, I mean that the food requires more energy to digest, ten its content. By example, your bady has the ability to turn fat back into carbohydrates. So, if you eat a meal that has say, 800 calories and it is catabolic food, then it will require more then 800 calories to digest, thus removing fat from your body.
    The problem with that kind of diet is that, while it works well, you can not stay on that kind of diet. I just never found a good middle ground since I had a daughter who use to like to bake brownies. I am a weak when it comes to fresh baked goods. But if one sticks to it, I am sure you could find a middle ground to maintain a certain weight. I am reconsidering it now that I am 54.
    Also, Jake, I read that it is good to mix up your exercises. Different ones every other day because your body adjusts to that particular exercise if you don’t.

  6. Dangerous to exercise first thing in the morning? Someone tell the U.S. government. Military Basic Training starts every weekday with one hour of strenuous exercise, alternating running one day and strength training the next, and yes before breakfast.

  7. Way to go jake…….all great ways to stay on target…now tell me……..how is that workin for ya with a new baby girl in the house??? lol!! congratszzz on the baby………and your mind set to loose the weight.

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