“No matter what I do, I can’t lose weight.” I hear people say this all the time, using it as an excuse to not exercise and continue over eating. Really? No matter what you do? Have you tried exercising daily and eating healthy for more than two weeks? I mean, they put this crap out there, painting themselves as a victim of the cosmos. As though, somehow, the science of burning more calories than you eat doesn’t apply to them. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it.
That said, I recognize there are specific health conditions that cause weight gain or, at the least, make it more difficult to lose weight. If you legitimately have a condition that prevents you from losing weight, then this article doesn’t apply to you. This is aimed at the people creating their own barriers and excusing themselves from the hard work of being healthy. And if my words offend you, then it’s probably because you know you’re guilty. So, it’s time to own it; starting with me.
That’s right, me. I’m overweight, and have been for most of my life now. I wouldn’t call myself obese, but I’m on my way. And I’m not going to disrespect the world by blaming external sources. I’m fat because I made myself fat. My parents taught me healthy eating habits. My wife is a beacon of self-control. My daughter is the most active child I’ve ever seen. All external sources are encouraging me to be healthy, yet I remain tired, sluggish and plump. I am the variable in this equation, and that’s where I need to focus. So I made a list of the reasons I’m fat. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Why I’m Fat
I eat too much
Portion control is a major problem of mine. I love the way food tastes, and if something is really good I just want to keep eating and eating. The large portions make my stomach expand, and it takes more and more food to feel full. Not only that, but it causes me to feel hungry throughout the day, so I snack. And I usually snack on whatever is within reach, and what’s within reach is rarely healthy.
I snack late at night
While there’s a lot of debate about eating late and whether or not it has a negative impact on health, my experience has been that eating after 8:00pm makes me gain weight. This very well may be because the foods I eat late at night are less healthy, or maybe my body doesn’t handle calories the same once I’m asleep – I don’t know. I’m not going to quote any studies, and I’m not going to have a debate. My evidence is purely anecdotal and is based on me just not feeling as good when I eat late. And when I don’t feel good, I’m not motivated to exercise.
I spend my days sitting at a desk. I get tired quickly. My body is in a state where it is physically painful to exercise, and that’s very unpleasant to deal with. I’m just a heavy object that wants to roll down hill because that’s easiest.
I stay up late
Staying up late makes it more difficult to wake up in the mornings. Since our evening schedules are usually full, if I am going to exercise, it has to be done in the morning. Staying up late also makes me tired through my work day and impacts my ability to focus.
I crave unhealthy foods
This is a big one. Certain foods, just like certain drugs, impact the way the brain functions and can alter moods. Though not as intense as drugs, some foods can still be addictive and make it more difficult to choose healthier options. There’s no formula for solving this. No amount of scheduling or preparing will get rid of the cravings – you simply have to power through and get your body used to not indulging so much. Unfortunately, as I learned while working for an addiction recovery clinic earlier this year, will power is a limited resource in the mind and eventually runs out. So in the same way there are drugs that lessen withdrawal symptoms when trying to overcome a cocaine addiction, you can also prepare healthier foods in ways that combat your withdrawals from unhealthy foods. There will still be will power required, but it will be doable.
|2009 – makin’ pizza with my babe. preheat the pizza stone, rookies. psh.|
2012 – just covering up my giant belly with a pillow, nothing to see here. keep it movin’.
So you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about my weight. Well, for me, the problem with diets is the feeling of missing out. If I have to give up sugar or potatoes or whatever, then it discourages me and I end up quitting. So I’m inviting you all to watch a little experiment over the next month. This weekend I’m gonna begin phasing myself into a plan I came up with that I lovingly call the “Duh” diet. I call it that because it’s pretty obvious that I should be doing these things anyway. Here it is:
1. Portion control. I don’t need a full, 12oz chicken breast; I don’t need 3 helpings of rice; I don’t need 2 baked potatoes; and I don’t need a 3rd scoop of ice cream. When eating out, I don’t need an appetizer and an entree. Special occasions will be in play, but they’ll be special because they’ll be rare. I will not have a “splurge” day each week where I engorge myself, because that will make me feel restricted the rest of the time. I’m not going to put strict parameters on this – only that I will stop eating before I feel full, and will turn down offers for additional helpings.
2. Eat a better breakfast. When mid morning comes, I’m usually hungry because I haven’t eaten a good breakfast. So I grab a quick snack like chips or candy or something, which does me no long-term good in the energy department. I have always grabbed something for breakfast on the go, and eaten a massive dinner in the evenings. While I’m not going to force myself to eat salad every night for dinner, I am going to spend more time and preparations on breakfast and making things I want to eat. And I’ll share this all along the way.
3. Prepare better snacking options. For me, when I want a snack, I want something crunchy and salty. I’m not huge on sweets, but enjoy the occasional handful of candy. A bag of carrots might hold me over for a day, but long term I’ll feel like I’m missing out and I’ll cave. A big part of this plan will be coming up with snacks that aren’t boring. The trick will be finding things that satisfy cravings and curb my appetite, but don’t make me feel gross and aren’t loaded with unhealthy extra stuff. I’m actually excited for the challenge.
4. No eating after 8pm during the week. This is one thing where I’m going to relax a bit on the weekends, because we sometimes have movie nights. And if I want to eat some caramel corn on those nights, by golly I’m gonna eat caramel corn. During the rest of the week, if I feel like I’m gonna explode if I don’t get a treat, I’ll make a a slush out of ice, water, lemon juice and stevia. Treats like that are essentially like drinking a glass of water, so I won’t get down on myself for it. If you’re leery of zero calorie sweeteners, that’s fine. For me, I’ve done my research and I have zero problems consuming Stevia in small amounts, (not using it to completely replace sugar in my diet) because it’s a natural sweetener. This will also require me to plan meals ahead of time so I can have them cooked and eaten by 8.
5. In bed by 10:30pm during the week. This is another one where I might stay up a little later on some weekend nights. But I’m the kind of person that needs a lot of sleep, especially in my current physical condition. If this plan works and I can maintain it long term, I’m hoping my body won’t be so tired all the time. But for now, if I go to bed later than 10:30, there’s no way I’ll be able to wake up early enough to exercise.
6. Wake up every morning by 6:30am. Again, this is probably something that a lot of people look at and say, “Hah, that’s not early. I’m up at 5:00 every morning blah blah blah, me me me.” Well guess what. I’m not you. I already said I’m out of shape and in poor health, so you don’t have to rub it in. Right now I wake up at about 7:15 in the mornings and rush through my routine to get to work by 8. Waking up at 6:30 will allow me to spend more time on a proper morning routine.
7. Exercise 30 minutes every day. Most days this exercise might be taking Charly for a walk. I may even count digging aspen bulbs out of the lawn as exercise on some Saturdays. But at least 3 times a week, my exercise needs to be more formal. IE – P90X or 3 rounds of 10 Minute Trainer. Yes, we have them both. Yes, I’m gonna use them.
8. Reduce intake of salt and refined sugars. Now, I know myself, and I know that I need flavor. I will not be satisfied with a bag of cauliflower for lunch. That means I’m gonna have to get better at creating lots of flavor, without piling on the sugar and salt. I’m still going to use salt. I’m still going to use sugar. The key here will be reducing those levels, and learning better to manipulate and enhance natural flavors already present. I love a good culinary challenge, so this one gets me excited.
9. Use better fats. Fats are a necessary part of our diets, but some are more beneficial than others. I already try to use olive oil exclusively for cooking, but I’m going to spend a little more money to get some quality, fresh olive oils. I’m also going to use other healthy oils, such as coconut and modest amounts of butter. Did I blow your mind there? Butter? What? Yes, butter. I’ll go over this in another post, but there are both good and bad things about butter. Everyone focuses on the bad, but in very modest amounts, butter is actual a good part of a healthy diet.
10. Involve people who can hold me accountable. That’s why I’m writing this post. I’m involving all of you, so you can hold me accountable. I’ve always been pretty lackadaisical about instagram, but I’m going to instagram all throughout the day. I’ll post about my workouts, I’ll post about my snacks, I’ll post about my meals. Every morning I’ll post a pic of what the scale reads, and I’d love for you to join me for the ride. I also remembered that I started a Twitter account like, 5 years ago. I’ll probably use Twitter to vent, because I’m sure I’ll be moody as my body eases into its new normal. Follow me on instagram and/or Twitter if you want. Give some words of encouragement or call me out on my laziness. Either way, now that this is out there, there’s no turning back for me. I’m doin’ it!
Some of you may be reading this thinking, “How is this a diet?” Well that’s my point. It’s not a diet! I hate diets, and I always fail at them. This is simply a plan for me taking responsibility. This is me realizing what’s wrong, and what I need to do to fix it. And since food is such a big part of my life, I’m hoping that I can achieve a healthier me, without feeling like I’m punishing myself. For those of you who already live this way, I envy you. I want to be where you are, so any advice you can give is definitely welcome.
I’m starting this thing full bore on Monday, and am aiming to be 200 lbs by my birthday next month. I haven’t been 200 for 9 years. I think right now I’m around 220, so that’s about 5 lbs a week. My blog posts will still be food and recipes, because I actually believe that, for the most part, I cook very healthy food. It’s the other parts of my lifestyle – the laziness and lack of self control – that have gotten me to where I am. I have to believe that I can eat good food while losing weight, and it doesn’t have to be straight salads and blueberries. By reducing the amount of food I eat and increasing my level of physical activity, I know I can get to 200 by mid October. So follow me on instagram and Twitter, and keep your eye open for my first weigh in, bright and early Monday morning. Peace out, internet friends!