How To Lose Weight - The Logical Way
Weight Loss And Calories
I looked at the photos of myself at my daughter's wedding, 4 years ago.
Although I have seen the pictures many times since then, this was the first time I had looked closely and properly at the pictures of myself.
I think that previously I had just looked at the photos in a 'general' sort of way. Remembering the day and the occasion and paying more attention to my daughter and her husband and the pictures of other people.
This was the first time, though, that I had looked closely at me.
Suddenly, I was horrified at what I saw. I had looked closely and noticed how stretched the suit was across the middle.
Maybe it was just a bad picture.
I brought up other pictures of me that day and they all showed the same thing.
There was a definite bulge around the waist and the suit material was definitely stretched and creased where the buttons were holding the jacket together.
I called my wife to the laptop.
"Is this how I looked at Jenny's wedding?"
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Well . . the suit. In the pictures it looks tight and creased around the middle. Is that REALLY how I looked?"
She then confirmed my fears and told me that yes, I looked awful that day. The suit WAS too tight around the middle and that she had tried to tell me but I just wouldn't listen.
My youngest son's wedding is only 8 months away and it is time for me to start thinking about a suit for the wedding. The bride's father, my son, the best man (my other son) and me are all due to have fittings for suits about 4 months before the wedding. We are all having the same suit, you see.
So, that gave me 4 months to do something about this round, fat tummy I have developed.
I am 6 feet tall and for most of my adult life I weighted about 175lbs or twelve and a half stone, which was fine.
Over the past two to three years, however, my weight has crept up to around 190lbs or thirteen stone eight, which is about a stone heavier than I used to be.
And I was sure I knew the reason.
Not only was my level of exercise less now than it used to be (laziness) but I had also started to have snacks in the evenings.
I decided that within three months or so I wanted to lose 14lbs, at least, and get back to the weight I used to be in the time before I had that 'middle aged spread'.
As a mathematician, I am used to approaching life and problems in a logical, reasoning way and so I did the same as far as weight loss was concerned.
Then I researched some more and I kept on researching until I was sure I had enough information.
I learned about calories and fat and discovered that 1lb of fat is derived from approximately 3500 calories.
I then discovered, from a range of sites, that it is generally considered that a man of my age and height should have a diet of about 1900 calories per day (this varies according to which source you use for reference, but 1900 calories was a sort of modal value out there.)
Then I analysed what my daily calorie intake was.
That was when the shock came!
My lunch and main meals were fine. I was consuming roughly 1800 - 2000 calories per day.
However, it was the snacks that were the problem.
This is the point where (if you haven't already reached this conclusion) that you find out I am a complete idiot!
you see, I knew that calories were in just about everything we eat but I never knew how many or what the cumulative effect of those calories is.
For example, in a typical evening, while reading a book before bed, over a 2 hour period, I would eat half a tub of Pringles (they are a crispy snack). I would also eat a bag of wine gums and sometimes munch through a third of a pack of butter popcorn.
Now, a tub of Pringles is about 950 calories. A bag of wine gums around 660 calories and a third of a bag of popcorn is about 250 calories.
That meant I was taking in about 1800 - 1900 calories per day over and above my physical need!
Then, on top of that was about 10 cups of tea each day, with two spoons of sugar in each, which amounted to another 350 calories per day.
So, I needed 1900 calories and I was consuming at least 4000 calories.
NO WONDER I WAS GETTING FAT!!
A large part of my research and my initial success centred around a site called Nutracheck:
I found that I was able to use their free checker for 5 days, which helped me to record what I was eating, plus how much exercise I was doing, to arrive at my net daily figure. The site also helped me to confirm what my target calorie input per day should be.
To lose 1lb per week for the next 13 weeks, I needed to lose 3500 calories per week, or 500 calories per day.
I cut the sugar in half. There was 150 - 200 calories per day.
Then I abandoned the crispy snacks, the sweets and the popcorn and in the process away went another 13000 calories per week.
I replaced those snacks with nuts and raisins and a bit of liquorice to snack on in the evenings. I also started to have a cereal bar for breakfast.
In short, I suddenly became educated about the foods I eat and what the consequence is for my weight.
At the end of week 1 I weighed myself.
Down, from 190lbs to 187lbs. Brilliant. It was working.
Mind you, it could just be a fluke.
End of week 2. Down again to 185lbs.
End of week 3. Down to 181lbs
I now weigh 12st 13lbs!!
It is working.
So, I didn't need a fancy diet or a dietician or a personal trainer. I just used maths plus a dose of common sense and a lot of self education.
Ok, I have lost more than I wanted to, really. 9lbs in three weeks, at an average of 3lbs per week is possibly too much, too quickly.
But, I am now confident that I will hit twelve and a half stone in around 3 weeks time.
Then, I will work at keeping my weight at that level. At the moment I reckon I am consuming about 1700 calories each day and once I hit my target weight I will allow it to go up to 1900 again.
And the key to the whole thing lay not in one of the many fancy, clever diets out there but in simple logic, maths and a massive dose of food education.
Already the tummy is looking better. Still a little too rounded right now but nowhere near as much as it was just 3 weeks ago and I am optimistic that, by the time we all go to have those suits measured and fitted, I will be looking a lot better than I was.
You see the thing is, when I looked at those pictures of myself and I saw the way that suit stretched, I was simply embarrassed. I felt for my daughter. Her Dad's appearance wasn't up to scratch on her most special day.
I cannot have the same for my son. When I attend his wedding, as a proud father yet again, I want to be sure that I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I look my best in every respect.
I have to say, though, this 'weight loss journey, has been an amazing experience and, as someone who teaches maths for a living, it has given me a real life use of my skills and abilities and it has brought home to me just how important education is.
Because that was the simple issue as far as my weight gain was concerned. A lack of education.
Every day, I was shoving food in my mouth without knowing anything about what I was eating and what it was doing to me.
I am a lot wiser now and I hope that this article may give those of you who would like to lose weight a little educational food for thought.
So far, it seems to me to be ridiculously simple. If a person wants to lose weight then how many calories we consume has to be the crucial element.
I know that there are so many different weight loss sites on the internet and so many weight loss ideas and fads but I have learned that the simple fact is, if we eat more calories in a day than our body needs, we will gain weight.
If, however, we reduce our calorie intake, we will lose weight.
Sure, you need that thing we all call 'willpower' but willpower is just another way of saying 'I want to do something about this problem'.
You don't need a special diet plan. You just need to do three things:
1. Check how many calories you eat each day
2. Work out your target weight and calculate how many pounds you want to lose
3. On the basis of 3500 calories equalling 1lb, work out how much you need to reduce your calorie intake by, per day and then, stick to the number of calories you are allowed.
You don't have to starve or go hungry but you DO have to be intelligent about snacks, as these are unquestionably the enemy of anyone wanting to lose weight.