Weigh-ins, Diets & BMI, Oh My!

This is the obligatory ‘weight and how I lost it’ post. It’s what seems to work for me. It probably won’t work for you. In fact I forbid you to try. Your mileage may vary, consult a doctor, please don’t try this at home. I have no idea what I’m talking about.

In the past twenty years I gained twenty pounds. Since I am what Wife calls a “computer nerd” (I do Internet design and RF engineering, I’ll cop to the nerd part, but I’m not a programmer) I sit a lot. I also have an aversion to exercise for exercise’s sake. My ancestors didn’t invent labor saving tech so I could spend a couple of hours a day strapped to a torture machine. That said, there are minimums needed to maintain health. If you can’t do a pull up, or a sit up, or move your own body weight around then you might want to lift a weight or two.

About six months ago, I committed to loosing that twenty pounds and keeping it off. Since I took twenty years to add 20 pounds I didn’t expect to loose it all in a week. I’m down eleven pounds now and have nine more to go.

In no particular order here’s what I did.

* Forget BMI. You know it’s not right when a person who looks good and has good muscle tone is “overweight” according to BMI tables. Just pick a realistic goal. Ten or twenty pounds is doable. If you’re more than twenty pounds over weight I’d see a doctor because you may have other issues.

* Forget Dieting. You will not loose weight and keep it off by dieting. NEVER NEVER NEVER. Permanent weight loss takes a permanent change in how you eat. If you take the weight off fast, you’ll put it back on fast. I realized that I had to loose weight the same way it went on: slowly.

*I don’t exercise. By that I mean I don’t go to a gym, lift weights or “do cardio”. On the other hand I like to walk while I read. I take the stairs if I’m not carrying anything heavy. I stretch in the morning, do a few sit ups and push ups to get the blood flowing and that’s about it. I’ve always been able to lift my own weight, so maybe I’m genetically blessed with good muscle tone. I’m just philosophically opposed to the concept of “working out”. I suppose if my living depended on being in great shape and having a flat stomach I’d think differently. Fortunately it doesn’t.

*DO count calories, at least for the first few months. I know, it seems a bit old fashioned but a calorie is a calorie. It doesn’t matter what “kind” of calorie. If you eat more calories than you burn in a day, then you will gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than you burn you will loose weight. It’s that simple. Calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate and then make sure you eat that many calories or less every day. I counted every calorie I ate for the first three months, after that I didn’t have to because I had acquired the habit of eating the right amounts. The BMR is how many calories you would burn just to stay alive while lying in bed all day. Since I get up and move around during the day, I burn more, but I used the BMR as my limit because I’m trying to loose weight.

*Get a scale and weigh yourself every day just after you get up and write it down. (I call this my empty weight) At first it will be depressing because if you’re doing it right you won’t see much of a change for a few weeks. A pound is 3500 calories. (Food calories or kilocalories for you pedantic twits out there. – I’m one too so you can’t fool me.) That’s a lot more than most people’s BMR, so even if you don’t eat a thing, you still won’t loose a pound in a day. (If your weight does fluctuate by more than a pound in a day it’s water loss/gain)

So lets say my BMR is 2000 calories, but I’m used to eating 3000 to 4000 calories in a day. By only eating 2000 calories in a day I not only stop adding weight, but I start loosing weight. Every calorie I burn over 2000 comes from fat I’ve stored up over the years. Still it’s slow. It can take a week or more to loose a pound. That’s a good thing. The slower it goes off the better chance you have of keeping it off.

*I changed my eating habits. I used to skip breakfast, eat a big lunch and an even bigger supper. With snacks in the middle. Now I spread my calorie intake evenly across the day. I started off by dividing my BMR by six. (2000/6=333) Then I arranged to be able to eat 333 calories every two hours, six times a day. 333 calories is actually a lot, and by spreading it out over the day I also trained my stomach to be smaller and send full signals with smaller proportions. I now eat four or five times a day with the calories evenly spread out. I’ve found that if I do over eat, I don’t like it (feels bloaty) so smaller proportions are self reinforcing at this point. I still have the occasional junk food gorge fest but it’s an exception. Besides I’m not a monk. I like good food, I just don’t eat as much as I used to.

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