Sunday, March 4, 2012

"Dieting Secrets" I've Learned So Far

When I wrote my last post, I didn't think I'd be gone from writing for quite this long. Boy things have changed in such a relatively short time!

January 1st was a big day for me. Not only did I start back going to school (for my Bachelors in IT Business Management), but I also decided to make a change in my health. I wasn't actually planning to start trying to lose weight at the beginning of the year, but it just sort of happened like that. I found a website called MyFitnessPal, and I've been tracking my calorie intake religiously ever since. To date, I've lost 27.5lbs, but I still have a long way to go. I never knew how easy losing weight could be with the right tools. I highly recommend checking MFP out. 

I've also implemented the Spike Diet lifestyle, and find it to be awesome! In a nutshell, you eat at a calorie deficit for six days, then the seventh day, you can pretty much eat whatever you want. The book is definitely worth reading. The best part of the book is that there is no filler thrown in - it is short, to the point, and easy for anyone to understand. I read it in one sitting.

I'm definitely no expert by any means, and as I said before, I definitely have a long way to go before I'm at an ideal weight, however in the past few months, I've really learned a few things about "dieting" that I think is key to success.

1. Don't diet. Dieting is a term that I really don't use in my normal day-to-day life. This thing I'm doing, watching my calories and Spiking once a week, is something I am able and going to do for the rest of my life. It's cliche, but it's a lifestyle change, plain and simple. The problem with going on a diet, is you can go off a diet, too.

2. Drink enough fluids. I almost put, "Drink enough water", but that's misleading. Any fluid contributes to your water intake. Yes, even coffee. "But it's a diuretic!" Yep, and so is water. 

The definition of diuretic is: "Causing increased passing of urine." We can all agree that drinking lots of water makes you pee more. The amount of caffeine in coffee is trivial when it comes to increasing the diuretic effects of it. The whole "drink a cup of water for each cup of coffee" is great, because it makes you drink twice as much fluids, but it isn't necessary as long as your meet your fluid intakes. What is necessary is drinking enough water for your weight. The recommended 64 ounces a day is fine for someone who is 120-130lbs, but the general rule is to drink half your body weight in ounces. Again, any fluids counts. Tea, coffee, juice, pure water, milk, broth, and even soda will hydrate you - the only thing that makes pure water superior is lack of calories, sugar, sodium, etc. in it.

I could go on and on about the benefits of having enough fluids, but the two biggest reasons you want to make sure you get enough is so you don't retain water weight and because it helps keep false hunger pangs away. Sometimes hunger pangs are really just your body letting you know you are thirsty. When you feel hungry, drink a glass of water (or whatever). If the pangs don't go away after a few minutes, then get something to eat. I use the Water Your Body app to help remind me to drink fluids, and also to track how much I get. It's very handy because you input your weight and it tells you how much you need. 

3. There are a lot of dieting myths. Don't eat after 7pm, breakfast jump starts your metabolism, carbs are evil, eating fat makes you fat, sugar makes you fat, soda makes you fat, diary makes you fat, eat 6 small meals to keep your metabolism running, and so on. These are all Big. Fat. Myths.

Your metabolism doesn't stop running when you sleep, and it doesn't need breakfast to "jump start" it. The only thing that boosts your metabolism is exercise or increased muscle mass, not eating more often. Nothing makes you gain fat except for a surplus of calories. You can lose weight eating nothing but Twinkies if you maintain a calorie deficit. Likewise, you would gain weight eating nothing but broccoli if you could eat enough of it. "They" recommend you don't eat at night, because you usually have already eaten your allotted calories for the day and therefore are more likely to overeat. Your body can't tell time, and it doesn't just stop functioning when you sleep. Most diet myths stem from well intentioned advice, but really, they are still just myths.

4. You don't have to feel hungry or deprived. This was a big ah-ha moment for me. The moment I realized that I was eating less calories and losing weight, but not starving or even hungry all the time, was the moment I knew this was a lifestyle change and not something I'd eventually fail. The key is making sure to eat a healthy calorie deficit and then filling it with the right foods. For most people losing 1 pound a week is healthy, if you are heavier, 2-3 pounds can still be considered healthy. More than that is generally not healthy, and is more prone to come back. It is important to know your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure), then create a weekly calorie deficit that is healthy for you (3500 a week for 1 pound). I get about 1500 calories a day that I'm able to eat and lose weight at a healthy rate for me. If I were to eat 1500 calories worth of soda and junk food, I'd be starving, however, I make sure to eat a lot of lean meats, vegetables, and other filling low calorie foods, and often time I feel stuffed rather than hungry. That's not to say I don't indulge on treats. On a daily basis, I make room for my Popsicles or low calorie ice cream bars, and I use my Spike Day to eat whatever high calorie treats I craved during the week.

5. Support is important. Losing weight is hard, but it's even harder to do it alone. Besides the calorie and exercise tracking tools MyFitnessPal provides, it also provides a huge community complete with a facebook-like wall, discussion forums, and groups (and did I mention it's free?). The people I've met on MFP are incredible - most are very helpful, and very willing to offer up their support. If joining an online community isn't your thing, then start a group at work, or make it a friend or family adventure.

6. Move more. While exercise isn't required to lose weight, it does make you feel incredible, and it helps. I used to hate exercise, but now my body craves it. The awesome thing about MyFitnessPal is it calculates your daily calories based on your lifestyle with NO exercise and you add any daily exercise in manually. Then, it gives you more calories you are allowed to eat for the day. So if I go outside and burn 1000 calories working in the yard (like I did a few days ago), then I'm able to eat 2500 calories that day instead of my normal 1500. Some people don't eat all their exercise calories, but I just go on how I feel - some days I eat them all, some days I don't. There are other obvious benefits to exercise, such as building muscle, toning, and helping skin elasticity, but there are plenty of people who've lost weight without it as well.

As I said before, I'm definitely not an expert on weight loss. These few things are just things I've realized since starting on my journey to a healthier lifestyle.

In other news, B is a year old now. She turned 1 in February. She's running around, jabbering (though mostly gibberish still), climbing, and getting into absolutely everything, and I'm loving it. She keeps me VERY busy, but I wouldn't change a thing for the world. Here's a couple recent pictures of her. <3

1 comment:

  1. Your diet tips makes perfect sense because the more we think about diet, the more we eat and eat and gain more weight. My Long Island nutritionist also helped me to pick diet foods that I enjoy. I'm glad because I don't starve myself and yet I'm still following a diet plan.