Monday, May 18, 2009

Diet and Exercise - Part I

Today's weight loss update: I have slightly under 10 pounds to go. Total weight loss to date since January 14: 51.2 pounds. Before and after pics to come when I hit the goal.

A lot of people have been asking me how I have managed to lose so much weight. I invariably reply, "diet and exercise," mostly because that is an absolutely infuriating answer, true though it is. I then leave people to ponder on what precise secrets of diet and exercise I have stumbled upon that they have not.

Just for fun (and to chronicle my own efforts, I suppose), I'll give you my secret here, but only if you agree that [legal disclaimer] I am not a doctor and you should consult one and I can't be held liable for anything ever [/legal disclaimer].

Here's the secret: if you burn more calories than you take in, you lose weight. Really, it's that simple. 3500 calories = one pound, more or less.

Turns out most diets are just ways of tricking you into doing that. My own inflated sense of self has me believing that I'm too smart to be tricked into anything, so I decided to just count the blasted calories I was eating. There are many programs online that will help you do this. I used and a nifty iPhone app I got for free.

A few surprises ensued. First, I was eating a TON. And by a TON, I mean that I had 6000 calorie days sometimes. A usual day was around 4000 or better - and my daily requirement for days I didn't exercise was something like 2800. You do the math.

Second, it turns out that counting calories was a bit more complicated than I thought, only because I now had to watch where food was coming from. To my complete non-surprise, stuff like candy bars had a lot of calories for the amount of fullness I got. And I know enough about nutrition (as augmented by the Witch, who has actually studied this stuff) to know that getting all of your calories from, say, a jar of peanut butter every day is not a good thing.

Third, I started to realize that my portion sizes were pretty big, like most Americans, and I insisted on eating everything on my plate. I blame this directly on my saintly mother (sorry, Mom!) and millions more just like her who tirelessly convinced us that if we didn't finish the last morsels on our plates that a child in Ethopia would die. Or something like that.

Fourth - and this was the biggest revelation - I realized that exercise alone was not going to cut it. I was playing basketball for 2.5 hours every Tuesday and football for 2 hours every Saturday and still gaining weight. I was burning an extra 2000 calories or so playing basketball but eating an extra 3000 or more. Again, you do the math.

This all evolved into my diet rules, which I'll detail in Part II.


Amberly said...

I'm loving this documentary of sorts. Keep it coming.

Prudence said...

That website it pretty nice. Great job. Looking forward to your before and after pics!