Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Secret to weight loss? Diet and Exercise

Face it, there is no miracle pill that will save you from the simple fact of weight loss. You have to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. Different foods will impact you different ways, carbs vs fat, fat vs protein, etc. but if you eat it, you still have to burn it off.

In general, we Americans are fat, bordering on obese. Nothing will ever underscore this more than my experience returning from a summer in Asia and Europe, and having it hit me between the eyes when I saw all the fat people waddling around the airport and the city. The saddest thing is that was over 10 years ago, and everything I read says we're getting even worse. Of course, it's easy to be fat in America. Fast food everywhere you look. Massive portions served at restaurants. Super Big Gulps. Super Size Me. Etc. There's a reason gluttony is considered a deadly sin - it kills you, just like it's killing America. Most people have no idea how little food you need to get through the day. When I travel, I often get by on a protein bar for breakfast, and just water until I have a "regular" meal at the end of the day. Not the best way to fuel your body say the proponents of the "5-6 small meals per day" camp, but that combined with walking all day got me in the leanest shape of my life (before my current school-induced waistline disaster). It also showed me clearly that diet is the most important part of taking care of your health. Not dieting in the sense of starvation or limiting your calories, but diet in the sense of "performance vehicles need performance fuel".

So I've stated my goals - what am I doing to get there? Weight loss is my priority now, so the diet is more important than the exercise for now. I'm an avid reader of Men's Health magazine and use the foods they mention in their Abs Diet Plan as a guideline when making my food choices. However, you can still eat poorly or eat too much of a good thing. To keep things simple to start, I've done the following:
  1. No soda
    • drink green tea instead
  2. No fast food
    • eat a Balance Bar Gold or LaraBar (yum!) when I need fuel fast
  3. No junk food
    • 7-11 is evil. Avoid it.
  4. Eat lots of vegetables
    • This means salads as well as broccoli, corn, beans.
    • They take up room so you feel full, with few calories.
    • They're good for you. You don't need me to tell you that.
  5. Eat lots of fruit
    • See above
  6. Make sure you get enough protein
    • It makes you feel full longer
    • You need it for muscle growth
  7. Stop eating before you feel full
  8. Cheat!
    1. One day a week, eat however much I want, of whatever I want
It's that simple. Although I'm sure I'll continue to tweak it as I hit plateaus in my weight loss. So what exactly do I eat? Lots of oatmeal, protein/fruit smoothies, yoghurt, chicken, cottage chesse, broccoli, almonds. And how about that cheating? More on this later, but I've found that my tastebuds have changed since I've cut out the junk food and fast foods, so they don't taste as good as they used to, and I don't crave them any more.

Now stop reading. Get out there and do something. Drop and give me 20. Whatever it takes.

Move it before you lose it.

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