Managing Weight…My Simple Weight Loss Tips
My entire life has been about managing my weight. I’ve tried many weight loss diets and trends over the years. But the only tried and true rules for me to lose weight are simple: (1) Write everything down, (2) Eat similar things each day, and (3) Burn calories. In my case, running works best (and now… with age, I also try to build more muscle).
When I became an endurance athlete and ultra runner, I began to to monitor my weight more frequently.
Lighter = faster!
(1) Write Everything Down
The only way to know whether you’re eating an appropriate number of calories each day relative to your weight loss goals is to track objective data. In other words, you need to know how many calories you’re eating and how many calories you’re burning each and every day.
So, one of my tricks is that I keep a little notebook in the kitchen (or wherever I most frequent a place (e.g., my purse!). When I eat something, I write down the number of calories I ate. I do this almost immediately after I eat so that I don’t forget to write it down. At the end of the day, I total up the number of calories I’ve eaten.
At the end of the day, I also write down how many calories I’ve burned during the day. The number of calories burned calculation can be something that you estimate based on your own resting burn rate plus your calories burned during activities during the day. In my case, I use my iFit VUE, which tracks my resting burn rate and my activities for the entire day.
For example, I know from my iFit Vue that I burn about 1,300 calories a day, not including any calories I burn from exercise or other movement. So, for example, if I run very EASY (12+ min mile) for an hour, I add approximately 300 calories to my daily resting burn rate for a total of 1,600 calories burned during the day.
If I’m trying to lose about a pound a week, here is my math:
First, you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound. How fast you do that is up to you. I usually gauge about a week to safely meet this goal. So I know that I need to consume about 500 calories less per day than I burn to meet this goal for 7 days (1 week) to lose a pound of weight. Mind you, I might initially lose more than that, but typically that’s because I’m losing water weight in addition to body fat.
Example of My Summarized Daily Notes:
Ate - 1,300 calories
Burn - 1,300 (resting) + 500 (exercise burn)
Net Loss - -500 calories (Day 1)
Ate - 1,500 calories
Burn - 1,300 (resting) + 600 (exercise burn)
Net Loss - -400 calories (Day 2) ** short 100 calories from daily net weight loss goal
Ate - 1,800 calories
Burn - 1,300 (resting) + 1,100 (exercise burn)
Net Loss - -600 calories (Day 3) ** made up 100 calories for the day before
(2) Eat Similar Things Each Day
Estimating the number of calories you eat can be a pain. That’s why I find that its easier to develop a repetitive menu and to stick to it.
For example, I buy pre-made salads from the grocery store. I know that each of those salads contains about 400 calories. And I will frequently replace the salad dressing that comes with the salad with a low calorie dressing if I’m looking to cut calories a bit more.
Or, I also eat things in small quantities throughout the day, something like organic pre-made low-sodium soups (200 calories), plain yogurt with fresh berries (200 calories), or a healthy, high fiber cereal with Almond milk (200 calories).
By eating similar things each day, it makes calorie counting less of a chore for me.
Yes, sometimes I go off track for a number of reasons (e.g., dinner out, celebrations, holidays)…in those situations, I just get back on track the next day. That’s just life!
(3) Exercise nearly every day — sometimes twice a day
It’s really challenging to eat less than 1,000 calories per day. For me, it becomes such a big challenge that its tough to maintain that discipline for very long. But the more you exercise, the more calories you burn, the more you get to eat each day. That’s why I try to do at least an hour of exercise each day. But granted, sometimes that just doesn’t work out. And you, again, just get back on track the next day!
But what type of exercise? For me, running and power hiking have provided the best results. Aerobic training (such as running) at particularly high intensity, that is, exercise done at an intensity that makes it difficult to hold a conversation, burns a lot of calories.
And I’ve incorporated more strength training each year of age. Strength training builds muscle — and that muscle burns calories even when you’re at rest. So you get a double whammy if you do both. It’s a delicate balance as to how much strength training to do though — particularly when you’re trying to balance your life and run training. This is why hiring a coach sometimes makes sense.
Biking and swimming are fun, but those sports don’t help me lose weight as quickly as running or power hiking in the mountains. But more power to you if those are your sports. Just remember to make sure to get in some intensity, whatever sport you’re doing.
Supplements and Nutrition
Lastly, when you’re cutting calories, you should always make sure that you’re not shorting yourself on vitamins and minerals. So when I’m trying to lose a bit of weight, I regularly take an all-in-one powdered multi-vitamin supplement that I put in a shake or that I mix with water or a low-calories juice.
Likewise, its critical that since you’re eating a few less calories than is normal, you should focus on only eating foods with high nutritional value. Whole fruits and vegetables, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, quinoa and whole grain rice are some of the staples that I include in my diet. I try to stay away from pastries, candy and ice cream if at all possible.