The PTFSD (Put That Freakin’ Sandwich Down) project starts today in earnest. I have decided that rather than posting my weight every day, I’ll post it every weekend with a summary of how well I followed my restrictions for the week.
I’m starting slow. Right now I’m just getting off caffeinated drinks. My goal this week is to drink only water. I have a good supply of Jolt Gum I can chew when I need a caffeine boost. Jolt Gum is actually excellent for getting off caffeine…the last time I dieted, I found that if I just naturally chewed a piece whenever I felt my energy level dipping, I ended up chewing less and less until finally I started going whole days without any caffeine at all. The people at Jolt would be appalled to see their gum used in this manner, I’m sure.
Here’s basically what I learned from the last time I dieted:
1. Everybody knows how to lose weight. Everybody. You lose weight when you take in fewer calories than you burn. It doesn’t matter if those calories are fat or carbs or textured vegetable protein, if you eat fewer than you burn, you will lose weight. If you eat more than you burn, you will gain weight. It is that simple. This means that no, Atkins and South Beach do not work (and if you have lost weight on those diets, it’s not because you restricted your carbohydrate intake, it’s because you ended up eating less than you burned). Heck, there’s good evidence that Atkins is actually harmful. Everybody knows this, but calorie counting, eating balanced meals and exercising is such a PITA that lots of people are willing to believe in these fad diets, at least in the short term.
2. Exercise doesn’t burn nearly as many calories as you think it does. An hour of strenuous exercise (say, playing tennis or soccer) only burns about 600 calories. That’s as much as one Big Mac. So if you are eating considerably more than you burn (and if you’re overweight, then you are), you cannot simply exercise your fat away. You must change your eating habits.
2A. This is not to say that exercise isn’t a good thing and won’t help you lose weight. Quite the opposite. Exercise and diet will provide much better weight loss than diet alone. But you must diet; you can’t simply exercise your weight off (unless you’re willing to spend just about every moment you’re not eating playing racquetball).
3. When the weight starts to come off, the stomach goes last. When I lost weight last time, my legs firmed up and started looking really nice, the weight came off my arms and under my chin, but I still had this enormous gut. This was disappointing. I just need to be prepared for that this time.
4. Calorie counting is annoying, but eventually you start to get a sense for how many calories foods have and you don’t have to count quite as rigorously any more.
5. The best source of protein is seafood. Seafood tends to have very little or no fat and has lots of yummy Omega-3 fatty acids. The next best sources are chicken and turkey, which are fattier but are still within acceptable boundaries. (Ground turkey is also very cheap.) Pork is next, and it’s okay since American pork tends to be very lean. Beef is the worst source of protein there is – it’s fatty and difficult to digest.
6. The best, most balanced meal consists of two parts carbohydrates, one part vegetables and one part protein. This means that a properly constructed sandwich is good for you. So is pizza. So are properly-constructed casseroles and pasta dishes.
7. Pickles are the dieter’s friend. They taste good. (Unless you hate pickles, in which case…um…well, I feel sorry for you.) And they only have about 10-15 calories each, so you can satisfy your munchies with them without blowing your diet.
I have recently (few months), decided that I needed to change my eating habits. I wasn’t eating unhealthily but I wasn’t eating healthy either. In order to accomplish this, I started asking myself why I was eating certain foods. Was it the taste or convenience or something else? I than started trying to find healthy alternatives to replace these things. For instance I love chips. These aren’t exactly too healthy. But I have somehat replaced them with Hummus and raw carrots or various crackers. Having healthy food like fruits (apples, grapes, etc.) in an easy to access place also has helped me a lot.
Now I just need to get on to regular exercise.
Good luck, Anthony! I can try to let you know what I’ve been doing if you’d like, although it sounds like you’ve got your head around everything just fine. 🙂
1) Water, water, and more water.
2) Beef – bad. Turkey, chicken, and red fish – good!
3) I don’t cut the carbs, but I do limit them. I don’t eat pasta, beans, or rice for the most part, but that’s actually more to do with me living alone than anything. If I fix a whole box of pasta… I’ll just eat it all. If I had a family or something it might make it easier to eat proper portions of that kind of thing.
4) Make smart decisions when eating out – half bird at Freebirds (with no beans and rice!), half turkey sandwich/Salad combo at Freddies… etc.
Not to mention a daily 30-45 min workout, alternating days between cardio and weights.
And yeah, posting your weight daily will only discourage you. I have always fluctuated in my weight on a daily basis. One day I’d be 290, the next 295, the next 293, etc, but it would start fluctuating downward. 🙂
Thanks for the words of encouragement, Mike…I’m really hoping to get it done this time.
Vir – Sounds like you did your homework. You’re right about the burning calories, it’s really the only way.
I really don’t care too much for people who hate beef and say it’s all bad and such. I love beef, I don’t care if it’s not as good for you as other foods, I would never give beef up. Secondly carrots to me aren’t a good substitute for crunchy salty snacks. My advice about those would be to limit them because yes beef isn’t as good of a protein as fish, and yes chips are generally not very good for you.
Personally when I diet I tend to starve myself. No I don’t mean go without eating, I mean, I basically stay away from chips (unless I can count a serving in my calories for the day), stay away from sweets and sugared pops. Still I love my sugared pops, and splenda (although in my opinion the most superior low/no-calorie sweetner) is no substitute for real sugar. All the sweetners tend to make the pop taste weird. In any case I simply choose splenda over sugar because i’m dieting, and not for taste. (a side note if you get any fruit flavored pops with a sweetener particularly citrus ie orange, lemon lime, they usually taste the best).
All-in-all I say if it fits into your calorie requirements I say you can go ahead and eat just about anything. (Yes sometimes after eating nothing but rabbit food for days, I might prefer to exchange my calories for the evening for a single big-mac because I love big macs and if you don’t, well who cares. You eat what you love).
Also again as far as checking calories everyday, I guess if you’re one of those people that are easily influenced by that, then don’t look at it every day because it does fluctuate, but as the guy above said, it tends to start fluctuating downwards. I checked calories every day for a while, and although to me it was not discouraging it was also not really encouraging either.
That’s true, limiting the beef and red meat from my diet has more to do with my family’s history of cholesterol, high blood pressure, and the like as opposed to simply for weight loss purposes. 🙂