Weight loss: By the Numbers

Making a chart of the changes you make to get to a better, healthier weight has two distinct advantages. One advantage is purely psychological, a physical reference that can be referred to providing positive reinforcement and proof of a desire to change. In addition, capturing quality data on a daily basis will give direction to our efforts by correlating our actions to actual results. Of course, the more data that we have, the better job we can do.

My weekly chart

If you look at the first column, each row marked ‘Week’ shows the distance that I walked first thing in the morning on the day at the top of the column. The first two weeks I was only concerned with that particular data as I was tracking the increase in distance to my 3 mile a day goal, just in case my intended gains were too ambitious. For Week 3 I decided to also track my morning weight and start logging my calorie intake during the day, mostly as a guide to help me learn better food choices.

As I have said before the weight number is initially going to be used as a tool to examine how my body is handling hydration and it looks like that is working well. Notice that all of the weight numbers are very close together and vary by 5 pounds throughout the week. My hydration is just under 1 gallon of water a day, I am drinking mostly water, no milk yet and only an occasional diet coke, no judging. These numbers do not show any significant weight loss but it does show that my hydration is were it needs to be. Always check the color of your urine at least once a day, yellow is good, lighter yellow to clear means you are getting too much water, brown or red, go to the hospital.

Having all but eliminated bread of any kind from the food I eat, I did have some french fries last week and tortillas for breakfast once, but the rest of the time I stuck to fiber, fat and protein without any difficulty. Bacon was my new best friend the third week, 4 eggs, 4 bacon is 420 calories and very filling. When you consider that my basic breakfast runs around $2.50 and the lunch salad of spinach, zucchini, onion and tuna about $3 a day, changing eating habits are also saving considerable amounts of money as well.

At the extreme right of the table I use columns for weekly totals, distance, calories burned and calculated fat loss from diet and exercise. These will not correlate directly and that is OK, they are references only, as I have said before, your weight will vary with water before fat. The chart will make more sense as more data is added to it, by the time we get into week 7 the weekly numbers will begin to show where the results are headed and changes can be made if necessary. We are changing things and everyone responds differently to stimulus, even if the stimulus is the same.

Making Weightloss Habitforming

When developing new habits there are times that for whatever reason I cannot continue, my daily walk was interrupted the other day by torrential rain. No big deal, until the rain stopped. Getting back on the horse was a very big deal. Motivation can be pretty illusive, the brain can almost instantly conjure many excuses to not continue on course, really the only way through is to put my head down and get on with it, get workout clothes out and put them on one piece at a time, put socks on then shoes, stand up and walk outside. It is harder to not start something once I have already begun doing it.

One of the advantages of keeping a journal containing all of my diet and fitness numbers is the ability to make good decisions when something unexpected happens. Losing a day of walking would impact my weekly numbers but I still end up with more miles this week than last and that is perfectly OK. Progress not perfection as they say.

By logging all of my calories each day I can track whether I am eating too much or not enough. Eventually, with steady hydration, the calories in/out will roughly follow the daily weigh in. This is why it is important to get on the scale first thing in the morning before I eat or drink anything.

Net calories = Calorie intake – (Basic Metabolic Rate + Calories from Work) -1417 = 1280 – (2397 + 300)

Using the equation above I can evaluate where my weight should be week to week and eliminate some confusion caused by water weight variations. It is still not perfect but it will enable me to ignore incorrect assumptions from daily weight numbers.

Just to be clear, I am not writing this blog to tell my readers how to lose weight, I am leading by example, all of the charts that I post and the numbers for workouts, etc. are mine. I am your example, if I am writing about it, rest assured, I am doing it. Any one can write about ‘you can’, I write about ‘I did and you can to, here’s how’. Now, I used to be a real workout junkie, Crossfit addict, Oly lifting geek, but life and work and everything else sort of jammed itself in there and I stopped working out entirely about 4 years ago. And now it is time to get back on that horse and ride like there is no tomorrow, because if I just laze around the house all of the time, there isn’t. The thing is, I can’t motivate you. Only you can do that, it has to be a conscious choice, heck, I can’t even motivate me. When I get up late, or didn’t get really good sleep, or just don’t feel like it, I just have to do it, or it doesn’t get done. Sorry if I said that already but there it is.

I am planning to go up to 3 miles a day every other day next week and every day the week after. This is snail slow progress but it has to be this way to prevent injuries that would bring progress to a grinding halt. Once I get to 3 miles a day I will add cycling to the work mix, I really like it and it will be a new way to burn off some of the padding.

Weight Control Made Easy

A simple spreadsheet to keep track of my morning workouts helps me stay on track and gives me an idea about how I am progressing and where I can fine tune things. I have modified this to include daily weight and daily food intake in calories to get a better idea of how I am progressing. There will be additions to the table once I start to include additional workouts.

As I have said before, the daily weight figure is there for reference only, there is no reason to obsess over that number, the numbers to pay attention to are the daily workout numbers and the daily calorie number. Being consistent is how we control this and get to the goals we have set for ourselves.

As we get older it becomes more important to find ways of staying active that are not as demanding on our bodies and I really enjoy cycling, it is nearly zero impact and I never get tired of putting miles on my road bike. Most larger cities these days have incorporated bike trails into their municipal parks and it is a great way to burn serious calories if you just budget some time for it. Sunup to sundown, except for days with rain or severe wind is perfect for a bike ride. Once you get comfortable putting in a few miles a day, contact your local bike club and see if you can get together with some of their members for a morning coffee ride or an evening no-drop spin. Club dues are very reasonable and can come with some very nice perks. Our local club gets hefty discounts at all of the local bike shops and they sponsor picnics and a yearly swap meet. Believe me when I say this, fresh air is very addictive.

I use a tool from the WebMD website to calculate calories in the food I eat, the address is https://www.webmd.com/diet/healthtool-food-calorie-counter. I try to do this at home and if I am away from the house I have a notebook to keep track of anything I eat out. Keeping a strict log of every thing that I eat helps me train my eating habits and helps me stay away from things that just don’t belong in my body. It also lets me know when a small treat is in order, it is very important to maintain your BMR calorie intake to keep from getting so hungry that we might be tempted to undo the work we have begun.

A word about fat loss. Being happy in our skin is the goal here. Looking for results can be frustrating and here is why. Fat is stored in the body relative to blood flow, as the level of sugar in the blood climbs, insulin is released to signal fat storage is needed. The areas of increased blood flow also receive the most insulin, so more fat is stored there. The reverse is also true, when your body starts to burn fat, it burns it from the areas that have the most circulation. By walking in the morning we increase the circulation in the legs and torso, a large percentage of the body’s mass, when fat burning occurs as a result of this it is going to be very generalized, only when the fat stored in these areas is reduced substantially will fat start to be burned in other areas. This is why patience is so important to good long term habits, you have to KNOW that what you are doing is working, your eyes cannot see the differences as the changes that occur happen over a very long period, but they are working. Over time you will see the correlation between your caloric intake, the work you do and your weight, that is what the chart will tell you. And in time you will see the results. Best of luck, keep trying to be the best you, every day.

Bit by Bit We Get Better and Better

This morning as I was getting ready for the morning walk, I noticed a little muscle soreness in my backside, no doubt due to the daily walks. I was half expecting this, it has to happen as muscles that haven’t been used in a while are called back to work. This is easy to fix and here is how. Since there is some discomfort I only did one mile and afterward I used airsquats to stretch the muscles involved to keep the blood flowing and allow healing. Your quads and glutes, the backs of your legs and your ‘sitter’ are some of the largest and strongest in your body and they also recover faster than most. To do an air squat you stand erect with your feet a bit more than shoulder level apart, arms forward and parallel to the ground, tighten your abs and push your butt back while sitting down and then stand back up. If this is too hard then simply bend at the waist and try to touch your toes, ten times will do it, your done.

If you have been weighing yourself every day you may have noticed that there is a substantial difference during the week. This swing has nothing to do with fat loss, it is all about water weight. Once you get really regular with your hydration, that will settle down. Remember, if my calorie intake matches my BMR and I walk 1 mile a day it will take me 8 months to lose 10 pounds, this is a long game, changing bad habits and developing life-long good habits. Once I get to my goal of walking 3 miles a day, doing just that while maintaining my BMR will burn off 30 pounds in 8 months and keep it off because I have made positive changes in the way I eat to manage my weight. The best motto I have for that is, “Well begun is half done.”

All of that may seem a like a bit of a wet blanket but that is because you are looking at a number on a page. To get an idea of what weightloss really looks like lets take for example an 8 pound fat loss. What does 8 pounds of fat look like? Look closely at a 1 gallon milk container, that’s the size of 8 pounds of fat, almost exactly. Now losing a pound or so a week begins to look much better.

Having changed my second meal of the day to a salad, a bowl of greens doesn’t sound too attractive after 3 or 4 days of the same. I get creative, use 3 or 4 ounces of chicken or tuna, add a spiral cut zucchini, avocado, cottage cheese, plain yogurt, etc. Spicy Italian dressing is my go to, only 60 calories per serving, 2 Tbsps doesn’t sound like much but you would be surprised. Spinach, onion, Zucchini, a can of tuna, sunflower seeds and dressing runs about 400 calories, can’t go wrong. Starting next week I will be starting a food journal to keep track of the calories I eat, showing changes that I make to vary my energy intake.

Fight the urge to do too much at once. Every change you make should be in a positive direction, things that get started and then left by the wayside are distractions from the direction that you are trying to go towards. Small steps repeated over and over are the key to good habits that will serve you well going forwards. The first week I planned to walk a mile a day and I did exactly that, 7 miles for the week, total calories 1050. My second week I was tempted to just double it and I didn’t because I wanted to keep my goal small and achieveable, as a result I walked about 2 miles only half of the time but never less that 1 mile a day, the result, 1600 calories burned in the second week. I believe that continuing success is much better in the long run than trying to exceed your current capacity and risk injury or frustration in the beginning of the process.

Monday is the start of Week 3, I will outline the whole journal process and things will start to take shape.

Diet and Exercise

If you did the groundwork from the last post you have a calorie intake target, a general idea of good carbs and bad carbs and starting point for getting more fit and less fat. Lets start right in on fitness, that morning walk I took every day for the first week was good. Got up, cranked up the circulation and did something for 20 minutes first thing putting up 150 calories on the work side of the fit/fat equation. Monday of the second week I wanted to know what my walking speed was so I could increase my walk a bit without spending all day at it. I use an app called MapMyRide, been using it for about 10 years and it works like a charm for stuff like this. Here’s how it works:

  1. Open the app and click on add workout
  2. From the dropdown menu choose walk
  3. When you are ready hit the start button and it does the rest
  4. After you have finished hit stop and Bob’s your uncle.

For the second week I did a 2 mile walk in 40 minutes, that works out just fine. Now the second day, Tuesday, my knee was feeling a little weird so I only went a single mile, didn’t want to start any issues and Wednesday’s walk was fine, no more knee problems, logged about 1.75 miles, different route. I will listen to my body and alternate 1 and 2 mile walks for the time being. Sometimes less is more. The point of the morning walk every day is good habit building, nothing more. I will show you why here.

I am trying to work off fat, with diet and exercise. One pound of fat is about 3500 calories. The one mile walk every day will burn off one pound of fat in 24 days if I stay below my BMR of 2400 calories a day. But, as I become more active, my BMR will go up and fat will be metabolized faster, but only if I keep doing what I am doing every single day. I should be able to move to 2 miles a day by the start of next week, barring injuries, etc. My goal is to get to 3 miles every morning, walking, not running, there are too many negatives to a running program and frankly the extra calories burned by running instead of walking just aren’t worth it.

We fixed breakfast last time so now lets get with lunch. You want your second meal of the day to be a salad, get that good fiber and some tasty add ons and get to munching. Iceberg lettuce is useless, there, I said it. No taste, no nothing. Enough said. Spinach. Fresh spinach in a 10 oz. bag, about $2.50 and good for 4-5 salads, easy. Put a big handful into a bowl, chop some onions, olives, pickled okra(you knew I was from Texas, right?) green peppers, throw on sunflower seeds, chop up some raw peanuts or cashews and drown the thing in Ranch dressing, or whatever your favorite is. Do not buy Light, or fat free dressings, they have lots of crap that you don’t want in our body in there to replace the calories they take out. Cut down calories from dressing by using less dressing, simple. Get creative, leftovers can be a great change of pace ingredient in a salad.

Hydration is essential to good health and something that a lot of people take for granted. Don’t be one of them. I keep a clear gallon pitcher of plain water in my refrigerator. Not that I am going to drink the whole thing in one day but I fill it every night before I go to bed and at any time during the day I can look at the pitcher and tell if I am getting enough water or not. Again, simple.

There it is, walking a little farther, salad for lunch and hydrate. Next time we’ll dig a little deeper but this should be plenty for now.

Stretch Shortening Cycle

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box-jumps

The fundamental elements of human power production are: high-speed strength, low-speed strength, speed of force production, strength-shortening cycle and muscle memory or skill. The first three elements are trained in the gym, the fourth is a gift of nature and the fifth means that you could be the most perfect physical specimen ever to walk the earth and you wouldn’t be able to chew gum and walk, unless you practiced chewing gum and walking, of course. Let’s talk for a moment about number 4.

Do you remember the classic scene in the doctor’s office where the patient is sitting on the exam table and the dr. hits his knee with a rubber hammer and the patient’s leg kicks out? That is a demonstration of the stretch shortening cycle. A perfect example of the body’s defense mechanism against overstretching, when the hammer hits the tendon over the knee and quickly shortens the quadricep muscle, the brain immediately tells the quad to contract and simultaneously keeps the opposing muscle, the hamstring, relaxed so that there is no opposition to the leg’s movement, preventing overstretching. The same phenomenon can be seen in weight training, called ‘bouncing out of the squat’, the athlete lowers the weight under control until, at the very bottom of the squat the pre-stretched muscles rebound to start the weight up again.

The stretch shortening cycle is a built in part of the human machine but knowing what it is and what it does can help us in getting to know our bodies better. Plyometrics is a subject that really embraces the stretch shortening cycle, many of the movements rely on it for their effectiveness. One of my favorite exercises is platform jumping or box jumping. Many people do this in their workouts, but there are two ways to do this and two very different results.

The basic box jump starts with the athlete standing in front of a wooden platform and jumping from the floor to the top of the box, fully extending the hips each time and jumping back down to the floor. If you can do this, awesome. Now think about this, start on top of the box, jump to the floor and spring back onto the box without pausing at the bottom. This is where the stretch shortening cycle lives. Try this ten times with a small box or snatch block, 6 to 8 inches tall to begin with. Rest at the top instead of the bottom if you need to and try to keep your heels from touching the ground when you land at the bottom, this leaves all of the stretch in your legs. The first several times be careful as there is a component of skill and balance involved in getting back to the same spot you started each time. Think unicycle, don’t hurt yourself trying to help yourself.

workout: run 1 mile, no stops

Cardio-Like it Or Not

bann1305#

As I have mentioned before, respiration is the primary mechanism for removing fat from the body. Cardio training is the best way of elevating respiration to a level that will effect this removal.

The best method I have come upon is HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training. The acronym may be new but the general principles remain the same, small sessions of extreme effort broken up by short rest periods. How does this work? A story to illustrate…

In 1954 Roger Bannister had decided to break the 4 minute mile. To do this he broke the race down into laps, 4 quarter mile segments. Each day that he trained he ran 10 quarter mile laps at a pace just under 1 minute each. By doing this he, in effect, ran two sub-4 minute miles every day for a month or more. His purpose in doing this was to engrain in his muscle memory the pace that he needed to maintain in order to achieve his goal. At a track in Oxford on May 6, 1954 he finished the mile in 3:59.4.

HIIT works by elevating resting metabolism beyond the amount of time that you actually exercise. If your workout is 30 minutes long you don’t have to workout at maximum intensity for the whole 30 minutes, the work/rest cycle follows the formula ‘2x’ on/’x’ off, typically 30 seconds work followed by 15 seconds rest repeated 10 times without stopping or some variation. Movements that lend themselves to this model are sprints(run a distance and walk back), burpees, box jumps, jump rope, bear crawls, tire flipping, you get the picture.

My workout today was a 1 mile run, in 15:38. Before you average guys(5’10”, 150#) start talking smack, think about this, I weigh in at 305, if you think you can run a quarter of that with a 155# barbell on your back then good on you. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was my ‘ab’ but I’m working on it.

Day 58- You Get What You Pay For

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impossible
Sounds too good to be true? That’s because it is. The model used in this photograph does not work out 4 minutes a day, she more than likely puts in at least an hour just in spin class or running to keep her bodyfat down. Add weight training/resistance training, HIIT, gymnastics/bodyweight and there is a significant investment in time involved in looking that fit. No one looks like a fitness model by accident, it can’t happen.

I look at the time I spend just to look not-fat, and I have to respect people that can do this. There is a secret, hard work. No way around it, it takes what it takes and if I don’t want to put in the work I will not get the results.

my food-
total=2700 cal.

Day 44- Healthy At Every Size?

286.2

xfit

Absolutely not.  This is a movement that could not be more wrong.  I have friends that battle type 2 diabetes every day and are way too big, they are not healthy.  I myself, could be in better shape, I am not at a healthy weight yet.  Diet and exercise are not the enemy, they are the answer.

 

No  food tracking today, I’ve been a bad boy

 

Workout-Active rest day