How I lost 65lbs in eight months and you can too | The Hammer Jammer Lifestyle Program Pt 1
Yes folks, on 1 January 2011 I weighed 322 lbs, on 31 August 2011 I weighed 257 lbs, that’s 65 lbs spot on and I am moving forward with more even as I write this in September. This series of Articles will be how I do it. I feel pretty certain that you can too if you apply the principles I will outline, and I would be interested to know by future comments how it works for you if you should decide to undertake this lifestyle. That’s right you read it correctly, this is not a typical diet; it’s a lifestyle. I have seen diets come and go that achieve rapid results that are given back nearly as fast as they are gained. For me, that would be unacceptable since I am determined not to return to a lifestyle that causes too many limitations and physical restrictions on things I like to do.
Set Your Goals
I knew for me that I had to lose at least 80 lbs and in the past I had always felt my best when I weighed 220-225. So I set my goal at 100 lbs of weight loss, before I adjusted my lifestyle to one I could and likely would sustain indefinitely. I know as a Wellness and Fitness professional that the best programs typically generate 1-2 lbs of weight loss per week, so doing the math I set my goal as 100 lbs in one year. I should mention that I consider the 2 lbs per week as aggressive so I will not be disappointed if my total loss for the year is 80 lbs or more. Should that be the case, I will readjust the time element my goal and continue until; the 100 lbs is achieved.
Now for the twist in all this, so far with a couple small exceptions my weight loss has been dietary lifestyle changes on Monday – Friday. I do not count calories on the weekends and seven days a week, I always eat what I like. Since I no longer have a life partner, the only limitation I really have is what I am willing to cook or buy. So here we go.
Step One- Hydration
I quit drinking sodas of any kind and I started hydrating myself properly with water. I also drink between 40-60 oz (6-10 8oz cups) of coffee a day. Neither has caused overly frequent trips to the bathroom but you should know I have been a heavy coffee drinker since I was 18 so the amount of caffeine I drink is a personal norm (and in fact may be less than before since I never counted how many cups of coffee I drank in a day until now). For me, the diet cokes I was drinking would cause a bathroom break generally within 15 minutes of ingestion. The fact is I do like the taste of Diet Coke and that was the only reason I ever drank it. This is the one thing I have not returned to regularly on the weekends. But that has been a conscious choice based in no small part that that one change, all by itself accounted for the first 20 lbs (7% of my total body weight) of weight loss.
I am certain of this because I was still trying to figure out what I could cut or change in my diet as it relates to other foods, I was experimenting with some workouts but at that point could not find something I was motivated to do more than once or twice. I did start wearing a pedometer and recorded my daily footsteps in my journal to determine what my base line was. My step count rolled out at about 7500 per day, which placed me in the high end of a sedentary lifestyle.
Around mid February I ‘plateaued’ right around 300 lbs. This is when I came up with my two exercise elements and they broke the logjam. First, I got two pair of rocker bottom toning shoes. One is a pair of Sketchers SRT and the other New Balance 1645. I alternate them 6 days a week and wear flat bottom shoes on Sundays. The concept behind the toning shoes is they work your large muscle groups (Thighs, Hams, Calves, and Abs) a little extra with each step. If it only adds say 0.1 (its probably less) a calorie for each step then I will use approx 750 extra calories per day; at 3500 calories per pound of body weight that’s 1.1 lb per week. Now there is no way I can measure this except to say that the logjam broke and I continue to use them.
The other exercise element in my lifestyle is the following system; each morning during the first hour of my watching the morning news shows, (before I eat breakfast); I walk in place and do a few upper body stretches (Tai Chi and Qigong based) during the commercial breaks. This gives between 18-20 mins of exercise per day and doing it before breakfast is an age-old concept of Armies throughout the world. Doing so gets all of your body systems transitioned from sleep mode to active mode and accelerates your metabolic processes; the lighter form of exercise focusing on large muscle groups gets your body working on improving muscle density (toning) instead of increasing muscle volume (size).
Now at some point I know I’m going to need to exercise with more intensity than I do at the moment. But for many people that are obese 30 mins of intense cardio 3 time a week is not only just not doable, but begins to set the seeds of failure by providing excuses for giving up. The single biggest mistake in exercise and diet programs is trying to do too much too soon, and causing yourself an injury; or getting frustrated by being hungry and feeling like you are self inflicting abuse.
But you do have to start somewhere and my philosophy is to start with what you can do, do small things and do them every chance you get. Which is why I make the following recommendation.
When you start you journey invest in the following exercise related materials,
2 pr rocker bottom toning shoes
Fit Deck – Office Workout
Fit Deck – Stretching
Fit Deck – Senior Workout
The three Fit Decks above are a way to avoid injury, and the office workout lets you make use of your time to do more of the same thing the toning shoes do, small expenditures many, many times add up.
At every opportunity choose to stand instead of sit, stand up when you answer your office phone, stand up when you’re waiting for a meeting to start, you get the idea.
If you are less than 40lbs overweight and are physically able to undertake a more advanced exercise program then I would recommend substituting the Fit Deck – Bodyweight Deck for the 3 Fit Decks mentioned above. If you do you are likely to see even better results than I have.
A note – I do think a consistent exercise plan that is done for 30 mins 3 or 4 X per week is a good idea, what I have outlined above is a place to start that even hyper obese folks should be able to accomplish with minimum stress on joints, muscle, breathing, and circulatory systems. I stress here that no matter what your shape before you undertake a new diet and exercise program you should consult with your doctor, this is particularly true for folks over the age of 40, and mandatory for anyone no matter their age if they are more than 20lbs overweight, and/or have medical issues that include but are not limited to Diabetes, Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), Cardio or Pulmonary issues.
The fundamentals of weight loss/control are so simple that a lot of folks, most particularly those who are trying to sell you something, unnecessarily complicate the process. Weight Loss, Weight Gain, and Weight Control all are predicated on one simple truth – Calories In vs Calories Expended. If you take in less calories than you expend you will lose weight. If you take in more calories than you expend you will gain weight. If you take in the same number of calories you expend your weight will stay the same.
If you are not being fed by a tube, then in the words of Billy Banks, “You are where you are because you put yourself there.”
If you are looking for an excuse or blame for your current weight then you have no further to look than in your mirror; and I would suggest you take a minute or two to do so now, Go ahead take your clothes off and look at yourself. Do you like what you see? If you do keep reading ‘cause you might still learn something for later. If you don’t, look in the eyes of the person you see there and say, “We can fix this.” The truth is that simple and that clear and yes it may be that brutal. But it is the truth.
I have come up with my eating lifestyle over the last 6 months or so and it is still evolving. For the purposes of this article (I will write more about all this later.) and simplification my diet is built on the following principles. Increase complex carbohydrates, cutout simple carbohydrates, design meals with only the things that you already know you like, and keep meals simple and for me, between 500-800 calories.
The way I arrived at this was by using the calorie calculator I’ve identified below to figure out how many calories I could eat in a day and maintain my current weight. Then I reduced that number by 1000 calories (that equals 5000 Cals per dieting week [5 days]) or about 1.5 lbs (3500 Cals per pound). The variance in my work activities, and the days I manage to eat less generally account for the other .5 lbs.
I can already hear you thinking even at 800 cals X 3 meals = only 2400 cals, well I have to tell you most days I eat four meals. Due to my shift work, my last meal of the day is usually at 9:30 PM. Now that flies in the face of most fitness and weight loss tips to not eat after 7 or 8 PM. So with that ‘disadvantage’ I set my target caloric intake to 3200 calories per day. That is still 250 calories less than my maintenance number of 3450 for a weight of 200 lbs (20 less lbs than my goal of 220). Given all that, if I had a daytime schedule I believe my weight loss would been more rapid than it is. That all aside, it is what it is. I have used up 23.7% of my starting weight in eight months.
In the effort to design my meals with my target in mind I started looking carefully at calories when I shopped, and gave careful consideration to things I know I liked. I also looked hard at things I liked that I might have to cut. I knew I had a propensity to eat more starch and fat than I should so the two big things I cut from my M-F diet were Macaroni Cheese and Spam. Hot Dogs, and Pop-Tarts were next, and White Bread and pastas in general rounded it out. The common elements in cutting them out were too much fat and too many simple carbs (Bad Carbs) or sugar.
I considered going vegan for about three minutes but I will not give up meat and in my view red meat gets a bad rap at the moment, and for dietary guidelines to say cut it down to 3 servings of 4 oz a week is to me ridiculous. That is something that is just not going to happen. I like my steaks to weigh in at about 1lb pre-cooked and I like them well done. I also like my veggies, but I like them cooked and with meat. The good news is that with veggies, cooking them or eating them raw, or cooking them only enough to be crunchy doesn’t change their caloric value in the slightest. The point I’m making is cook it the way you like it. The other good news is that veggies are full of complex carbs (Good Carbs), as are whole grain products like Whole Grain Wheat Bread, Cheerios, Oatmeal, Sweet Potatoes, and Brown Rice.
Your body uses protein, and glucose to provide energy and repair damaged muscle and build new muscle fibers (think toning again). It converts complex carbs to glucose and either uses it or stores it as fat. Your body uses whatever protein it needs and sends the rest along in the waste stream. If you give it simple carbs like sugar or high fructose corn syrup etc it uses that first and stores what it can’t use as fat. So whether your carbs are simple or complex your body does the same things with them though it will prioritize and use the easiest one to process first, storing the rest as fat. If you significantly reduce the simple carbs your body is going to work a bit harder for the glucose it gets, and likely store less of it. The really good news is that the more complex carbs you use the more stuff like vitamins and minerals you get as well. I know that is a simplification of the process but it is the fundamental building block of my dietary lifestyle.
A word about fat is due here as well. If you are eating protein then you need a bit of fat for your body to process it. Even the most concentrated proteins found in nature, legumes (like Lentil Beans), also have a bit of fat included. Which is why I don’t like the idea of protein supplements. They have their place for those who for one reason or another can’t get their daily requirement through diet (think high stress elite athletes or say someone with Alzheimer’s that forgets to eat or just loses interest in eating), but for most of us the best source is through a good diet.
One more mention about a food I’ve pretty well dropped and that is corn. Some call it a veggie but actually it is a starchy grain. It is loaded with simple carbs and to me ranks right up there with white bread and white rice. Once in a great while I’ll eat it on the weekend but not during my diet week. Think about it, for most of their lives cows eat grass and develop muscles that are pretty dense and lean, they have a digestive system that consists of seven stomachs and intestines the length of a football field so they can get all the nutrition they need from grass. Then 4-6 months before the rancher takes them to market he puts them in a Feed Lot where they feed them corn since it is the most efficient way to fatten them up. Have you ever read a food label that said High Fructose Carrot syrup? Need I say more?
So the simple menu process I have is thus:
Daily 1 ea Mens over 50 Multi Vitamin, 1 ea 750 mg Fish Oil Capulet. I’m not a big fish eater so I take the fish oil to ensure I get enough Omega -3 fatty acids.
High Fiber Breakfast, My three favorites are 2 cups of Honey Nut Cheerios (300 Cals), or 4 slices of whole grain wheat toast w butter (550 cals), or 3 pkgs of Instant Oatmeal (330 cals). Others I do enjoy are 3 egg scramble w diced ham n cheese (460 cals), or two McDonalds Sausage, Egg and Cheese McMuffin ™ (600 cals). I drink coffee in the morning and I eat my cereal and oatmeal plain.
Easy Lunch, 2 ea ‘Hammer Jammer Deuces Sandwich’ this consists of 2 pieces of wheat bread, (or whole grain sandwich thins – they are half as many cals as the bread) 2 pieces of cheese, 2 pieces of lunch meat. Calories will vary from 550 – 800 depending on the lunchmeat used. I like salami, or liver sausage, I do like bologna but I don’t eat it often enough to keep a pack in the fridge without it spoiling, since it makes the meal on the high side of the cal count. If you want to add lettuce it’s a freebie.
My late lunch at work, - This is an article all by itself so to keep it short here I look for microwave foods that are 500-800 cals per tub (not serving as they are ridiculously small) one of my favorite easy meals is pretzels. It’s the one you can get a whole lot of pretzels for 500 cals, lots of fiber and no fat. I’m considering adding a Peanut Butter Sandwich and a cup of soup to this but haven’t yet evaluated this.
Dinner after work – 3-4 servings of a veggie I like plus a 2-3 servings of meat, desert is Fruit on the Bottom Cherrie Yogurt. Below is a picture of one of my Dinner Meals this one is Turkey and Broccoli. I used a pouch of frozen Broccoli (100 cals), Hormel Sliced Roasted Turkey Breast 1 pkg (390 cals) Water (0 cals), Cherry Yogurt for Dessert (170 cals) Total Cals 660.
A couple of final things you should know and consider. I do not use salt, pepper or any other garnishes on any of my food. No Ketchup, Mustard, or Mayo. I do sometimes add a spice or two to the veggies when they are cooking but not enough to count calories on. The packaged foods, like canned veggies may be high in sodium for some folks. So you should consider that in your meal planning. Frozen Veggies have less sodium and fresh have the least.
I wrote this up this way because folks at work have been asking me how I have done it, and I think its best to keep it simple and give you all the tools you need in one article. But I should caution you that making lifestyle changes can be difficult. Long-term weight loss is full of ups and downs; I have reached plateaus 4 times so far in this process and they tend to come at 6-9 week intervals. I will be writing more weight loss tips in the future and publishing my recipes, so check-in now and again.
During The Battle of Belleau Wood in WWI a US Marine Corps First Sergeant was given the order to charge the woods with his Company of men. Under heavy fire he looked his troops over, stood up and shouted “What, you think you’re gonna live forever?! Follow Me!” There was a guy who knew how to live and he lead from the front. This lifestyle is about quality of life, not death prevention. It may help accomplish both but this plan comes from an old soldier, a widower, a surviving father, and recreation and fitness professional who is past the point of fearing death, and in fact would embrace it as a welcome rest when it is my time (not my call). But what I do fear is not having quality of life in every single day the lord gives me. It’s not how many days you have left the question is how you choose to live them. God Bless you all and Follow Me! We Be Jammin’!
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