The Economy of Weight Loss

scaleOne day I want to write a book.  I’m still about 60-70 pounds away from my goal weight, but I’m more than half way there.  I have lost over 100 pounds so far (put a few of those back on over the holidays) and even though it has been just over three years, I’m glad that I did it.  I also learned a good bit about diet and exercise before I started and along the way.  I’m not the person to turn to if you only have five, ten or even twenty pounds to lose.  If you have fifty or more to lose, though, I have been there (and am still there) and I think my experience can help.

The trope of my book, as the title of this blog post indicates, is “economy”.  Most of us are intimately familiar with how our bank accounts work.  We get paid and money goes in, then we pay bills and money goes out.  If we focus on the balance of the account, we want more going in that coming out.  Unfortunately, for most of us, we see the opposite, more is going out than comes in.  I’d love to rant about the economy and the woes we are forced to deal with, but that’s not my focus.  Rather, the simple concept of a bank account balance makes a great analogy to our bodies and our weight.

Our weight is like the balance.  The calories we ingest and expend are like the money from deposits and bills that we apply to the account.  Just like with our money, when we take in more calories than we spend, the balance (our weight) goes up.  Conversely, when we expend more calories than we take in, the balance (our weight) goes down.  We need to make our bodies more like the disturbing trends with out checkbooks, more out and less in.  The results will take care of themselves.

Of course, while it is that ease, there is so much more to the equation.  The most important issue that effects the equation is our mental attitude.  It isn’t easy to lose weight, no matter what method you use.  We need to be disciplined in order to follow the plan accurately.  If we aren’t disciplined enough, we will cheat and that is disastrous for our weight loss.  There are quite a few strategies that we can employ to counter this.  That’s what I will cover in part of my book.

When it comes to diet and exercise, the single most important issue is intimately tied to the mental aspect.  Whatever you choose to do for diet and exercise must be something you an be consistent with… for life.  There are no quick solutions for weight loss (apart from drastic surgery).  Whatever you choose to do in order to limit you calorie intake and increase your calorie expenditure must be something that you are comfortable with doing for the rest of your life.  Does that mean you will never take a break?  No, of course not.  It simply means that if you can’t be comfortable with the changes as your new normal, the chances are great that once you reach your goal you will simply go back to bad habits and gain back the weight you lost.

I have high hopes for this book being helpful for people who are serious.  I also have lots more research to do and lots more weight to lose before I feel comfortable writing it.  Until then, if you have any questions, feel free to ask.  I’m always willing to answer any questions.



2 Responses to “The Economy of Weight Loss”

  1. Kathryn Paton Says:

    Hi Paul, I hope you do write a book, enjoying your writing, and reach your weight loss goals as well. I’m struggling with my “economy” this year, but trying to turn that around! Almost 50 years putting weight on, I will now spend the next 50 trying to take it off (50 weeks would be nicer) Help me begin my journey? Goal 75 lbs to healthy BMI, plus a little extra for good measure. I feel like the first 20 is key to get the ball rolling was that your experience? Any good eating tips?

    • Paul Says:

      Hey. First, thanks for reading and I’m glad you enjoy.

      Wow, big questions. Not knowing anything about your lifestyle or habits, just absolute basic starting place is to start recording every calorie religiously. I mean discipline like an old school marine drill sergeant. When I first started, it shocked me to realize the actual size of portions. Of course, if the world opinion is anything to go on, that’s probably just an Americanism that I was vastly guilty of. I use Lose It and Runkeeper. I think both have free versions. Once you have accurate numbers (not guess work) you can use an online calorie calculator to see what your allowed calories are and budget food accordingly (I think Lose It does this based on your weight). Accurate counting also allows you to set realistic goals. One of my biggest mistakes was losing sight of sustainability. I preached it to myself with diet and exercise, but failed to preach it to myself in goal setting. So I succeeded in losing almost two pounds a week for the first year, but when I was done with that year, my body was burned out and needed to recover from the drastic loss. That combined with several other factors to keep me roughly static at “65 pounds to go” for almost two years. I think my body is almost ready to finish this now, and I’m almost psychologically ready to get done as well. Sustainability and discipline go hand in hand. It speaks to your thoughts about getting the ball rolling. Discipline to get that first little bit, then sustain, keep doing what is working.

      The second thing is really two. Break your calories into small groups that you can “spend” throughout the day, and use water to fill the interim. Water is a secret weapon of weight loss. Initially you will see a small weight gain as your body hydrates to where it should be. The water helps your body flush through the waste that you are burning and will, in the long run, help you burn more calories. If nothing else, the added trips to the facilities burn extra calories. 🙂

      Final starter tip – All the research I covered when I started pointed to the absolute best combination for losing weight to be lower calories in and more calories out. But with the calories out, the most optimal combination was both aerobic and anaerobic. I can attest from personal experience that when I’ve combined the two, I tend to burn calories more.

      As for eating tips, if you enjoy salad, that’s a great place to get full without too many calories. Avoid iceburg lettuce. Shun it for the little tease it is. It promises a lot, but only delivers a void. 🙂 I opt for spring mix, or in a pinch, spinach leaves. Even with more than a serving of dressing, you generally can have a very nice salad for far fewer calories than most any meal. I do a lot of microwave meals (Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, etc). While they probably aren’t the most healthy meals I could do, they fit my schedule as the father of teenagers and they fit my calorie budget well. Before I write a book, I’ll need to learn more about nutrition as that is one of my weaker points. But for straight out diet, there are a lot of grocery options available now that I didn’t even have as options four years ago when I started. For example, I usually do a Progresso light soup for lunch (~200 calories per can) and to “thicken” it I’ll add a bag of Kellog’s cracker chips (90 calories per bag) and crush them. That’s a decent lunch for under 300 calories, and it is relatively well balanced (depending on the soup it may be a little light on protein).

      Good luck. My best piece of advice (after you discipline yourself to record everything) is to not expect too much right off and just experiment with what works for you. Once you find something that works, stick with it and experiment occasionally with other stuff. Don’t beat yourself up if an experiment doesn’t work, just note it and move on to what does work. 🙂

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