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July 15, 2004

Fat Blogging « Stuff Important to Me »

A while back, after getting in a minor dispute about weight loss, I posted this article describing the best weight loss regimen/program I could think of, based on the full extent of my understanding of the issue.

I've never followed it. To tell the truth, I've never had to.

I've usually been a little pudgy, though. I tend to be right at the upper limit of what the military allows for weight standards. Even with constant exercise and trying to control my eating, I added 1-2 pounds a year from 1994 to 2002. When my maximum allowable weight went up, my weight went up to match it. Sure, metabolism slowdowns contributed to that...I changed my diet, reducing and then eliminating full-sugar soft drinks and candy bars and french fries....

I always lost 5-10 pounds in the various schools I attended in the military, but usually put the weight back on within a few weeks.

The final straw came when I went on three short business trips in three months. Eating out for every meal and satisfying some food urges, I put on 10 pounds that proved nearly impossible to shed. You might remember late last summer (if you were reading me then) I admitted I was up to 216 pounds. I lost 3-4 pounds, then kinda stayed there and stopped talking about it. I managed to get down to about 208, stayed there a little bit, then back up to 216.

In January of this year I finally decided to try Atkins. But I was too cheap to buy the book, so I just cut out a lot of carbs and ate a lot more vegetables, keeping my protein and fat intake about the same (medium to low). I lost 5 pounds in a week while on vacation. I was so impressed, I relaxed and began experimenting until I found the level that I could lose 2 pounds/month but still enjoy eating.

I still eat an occasional Peanut M&Ms. I have pizza once a week. I have french fries sometimes. But I am now 199 pounds and have lost (do the math) 17 pounds over the last 6 months. And I did it without going too far into The Brainfertilizer Plan for Weight Loss. All I did to change my diet was cut back on carbs by eating less of the carbs I don't really crave, and switching to high fiber carbs for the carbs I did like to eat, like toast and nuts. All I did activity-wise was increase my walking and standing and decrease my sitting-and-doing-nothing. I didn't even do any vigorous exercise in the two months I was deployed, and still lost 6-8 pounds.

I have plenty of energy, and significantly less heartburn. I also never feel uncomfortably stuffed or achingly hungry like I used to.

With this experimentation, and a 3 pound/month loss by only weakly implementing the Brain Fertilizer Plan for Weight Loss, I think I can fully recommend the plan to anyone who really wants to lose lots of weight. (usual caveat: check with your doctor to see if the plan is appropriate for you)

In the final analysis, I'd say the most successful weight loss programs all include the following four elements:
1) Commitment
2) Persistence
3) reduce/eliminate refined carbs
4) increase your baseline (non-exercise) activity

I intend to lose another 7-10 pounds. I promise to make an announcement and maybe post a pic when I get there.

Posted by Nathan at 03:10 PM | Comments (3)

I have a question. Have you actually decreased your total caloric intake doing this or are you eating about the same or more?

I know a lot of people that swear they are actually eating more calories on low-carb and still losing weight. My sister lost 40lbs and she swears she was taking in about 400 calories more a day than when she was doing Weight Watchers with no real result.

Posted by: Rosemary the Queen of All Evil at July 16, 2004 01:14 PM

Actually, I think I'm consuming slightly less calories, since I eat a lot of salads.
To tell the truth, it's just the difference of focus that let's me enjoy eating more:
I can eat a salad with bacon bits, sunflower seeds, diced egg, tomatoes, red onions, cucumber, and top it off with a generous dollop of, say, ranch dressing, because I'm not worried about fat and calories. But that's probably still less calories than a big bowl of white rice, two pieces of baked chicken, and a bowl of mixed vegetables. So I what I do eat, I can make sure is nice and tasty: everything I eat these days looks like a restaurant advertisement, because I don't skimp on those little extras. My attitude before was: if I'm trying to lose weight, skimping those extras will make a difference...

The other thing that I think has made the biggest difference is raising my overall baseline activity, but NOT engaging in vigorous exercise. I never feel so tired that I have to plop down on the couch for two hours. Instead, I take walks with my wife, go exploring with my kids, play tag with them, push them in the swing, walk with them to let them throw rocks in the river, walk around the mall. I admit, doing stuff like that is easier with toddlers than teens! [grin]
Oh, and forgoing the carbs seems to keep my bloodsugar in check, so I over-eat less (which is why I feel stuffed far less and have less heartburn), and never feel starving.

The best final result is that I finally feel like I'm in control of my weight, like I know what I did that made me gain weight, and what I need to do to lose it whenever I want. So I can take a light day off, but don't have to go crazy because I'd been denying myself.

I hope that helps.

Posted by: Nathan at July 16, 2004 01:22 PM

Generally, in the earlier stages of a low-carb diet, you can consume more calories than in a strictly calorie-counting, lowfat diet. That's because by cutting your sugar (carbohydrate) intake down tremendously, you're essentially retraining your body to burn fat stores and protein for energy rather than simple sugars. Your body, despite the overall caloric intake, goes into ketosis (it thinks you're starving), and burns fat at a significantly higher rate. Net result, within a few wekks, the weight starts falling off in spite of larger meals.

Therefore, early on, most people "pig out" on meat, cheese, eggs, bacon, and other stuff they can't usually have on a diet, and they still manage to lose weight. Remeber, the average lowcal/lowfat "diet" calls for about 1500-1700 calories per day with minimal fat intake. A low-carb diet can allow for easily 2000+ calories in the first stages, and you'll still lose weight.

However, as Nathan noted, once your blood sugar gets under control, you'll find you are less hungry than before, and the end result will probably be fewer calories overall. That's a good thing, because, eventually, it does all come back to calories. And calories in must equal calories out, or you put the weight back on.

I've been on a low-carb diet for about 6 months now, and my total caloric intake per day is generally between 1700-1900 calories per day, with a total of about 50-60 grams of total carbs, and almost no processed sugar (I use Splenda as a substitute; it's excellent). Early on, I lost a ton of weight; now it's equalized to about a pound or two a month. And like Nathan, every now and then I cheat with pizza, or some similar treat.

It works though; I can promise that. I've lost about 50 pounds so far...

Posted by: Dalin at July 16, 2004 02:35 PM
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