South Africa 2008: NewsFlash - Turns out eating less and moving more causes weight loss
When I left for South Africa I was 193lbs/87kg, my heaviest ever on a 6 foot/1.8 meter medium frame. This was shocking to me because I could totally see 200lbs coming. It was right there ahead of me. As a Type 1 Diabetic getting fat(ter) is deeply uncool. You can literally be a Type 1 (insulin dependant) and Type 2 (insulin resistant) diabetic at the same time. This would mean I'd need to take MORE insulin to do the SAME amount of work. I'd already started seeing this recently as my total daily insulin dosage, usually under 30U (Units) was creeping up to 40U.
Then we headed to Africa for our semi-yearly sojourn. Fast forward roughly a month and I'm 176lbs/79.8kg. That's 17 pounds, or as a newly svelt person me likes to say "I lost, like, 20 pounds!" The trick will be to keep it off, but here's what I think worked (as I lose nearly 20 pounds on EVERY trip to Africa, and nearly every trip overseas. The tragedy here is the re-gaining and re-losing of that same 20 pounds.)
These are totally obvious observations/tips, but I'm a little dense, so I'm writing them down.
That picture to the right is me when I was thinner. I'm also the short one in the picture.
Don't Eat a Serving Larger than Your Fist
I didn't consciously do this, it just happened. As my wife and I discussed in our recent podcast, folks just show up to visit and food is divided appropriately. This is not to say that I wanted for food in any way. I didn't. It's that my hosts in South Africa gave us a reasonable amount of food, not an American Amount of Food.
This just happened to be about the size of one's fist. Kind of unrelated, I mentioned this to the boy's doctor since the older boy wasn't eating that much and he said that most kids will naturally eat what they need to, no more and no less, and that amount was often about the size of his fist. We'd been wasting a lot of food as I was giving him a plate full of food as big as his head! So, it's a fist-sized serving for me.
I am notorious for eating one giant 1pm meal, ahem, then a giant 6pm meal, then a small (read: almost giant) midnight meal. This didn't fly in South Africa, as there was a lovely light breakfast at 7am, lunch at 1pm, and a dinner around 6pm. Each was appropriately proportioned, especially lunch which went on the assumption that you ate breakfast.
I realized that I've been eaten Epic Lunches to stave off death by starvation from skipping breakfast entirely. While eating breakfast does make my diabetes a little more tricky to manage as it adds a new variable, breakfast does support the next tip...
Eat Only Enough to Get You To the Next Meal
You Will Eat Again, In Your Life, You Know
My brother, the Ironman competitor and firefighter, taught me this not-obvious-to-me tip. He says that folks who aren't eating often enough eat like it's the last time they will ever eat. Rather, try eating with the knowledge that you will eat again in a few hours. If you realize that this meal only needs to get you to the next meal. This is the single most powerful dieting tip I've got.
Reset Your Full Indicator
My wife calls overeating "Pushing Through" as in "Oh, I pushed through with that last bite." Not recognizing what full feels like is a big problem for me. Basically you can reset your internal gas tank indicator by just thinking about it. "Am I full?" "Do I really need that next bite?" This has caused me to eat about 1/3 less without actually feeling any less full. Actually, I feel less bloated after meals.
Aside: I actually have personal data (and charts!) that reflects this - while I was in South Africa my daily insulin usage (and hence, carb intake) went from 30-40U a day to 20U. Basically I used 33% to 50% less insulin per day.
I didn't visit the South Africa that a lot of people do. In my South Africa not everyone has a car. In mine you can easily fit 9 people into a VW Golf. Either way, I walked a lot. If there's no car available and you want to go to the mall that's 3km away, you walk. This, along with sweltering heat and a lot of water, is another nice way to lose weight.
This year I've started working out, six days a week, for eat least an hour. I'm alternating cardio and anaerobic exercise. I'm finding that if I time my workouts with the length of certain television shows, I can make it through without going insane. That means, 40 minutes of cardio while I watch, say, Heroes. Then 22 minutes of weights as I watch Arrested Development. I'm actually watching more TV (and enjoying it) but I don't have to feel bad since I'm moving.
Yes I know if you drink WAY too much water you can mess up your salt/electrolyte balance, but a few liters a day are what I've found is the right amount for me to lose weight. I can't overstate how water intake directly affects weight loss. It's really amazing. Everyone I know with 6-pack abs carries a water bottle around with them. While I was in Africa I really upped my water intake because of the heat, to the point where drinking water at every turn was second nature.
What are your weight loss tips, Dear Reader?
Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
I think your other advice was great, especially hydration.
Good luck Scott and everyone :)
Another tip I have is to eat smaller portions still but eat them more frequently. Almost a constant grazing. This kicks your metabolism up a gear, so you end up burning your food more efficiently.
I've always eaten lots of small meals, thought I used to overeat a lot, especially at restaurants... or when I had a new sack of chips and jar of salsa!
However, I've lost 40-45 pounds in the past 6 months. My tips? Not very fun ones...
First, get some sort of weird problem swallowing things, so anything you eat makes you burp excessively, and you feel like you can't really swallow food all the way. If you don't burp, you'll have headaches, shoulder aches and fatigue. Also, get some food allergies so eating soy, sunflower or nuts makes your throat itchy and/or makes you feel all weird and tired.
Then, also be a vegetarian. Spend the summer biking every day and drinking coffee excessively. The weight will pour right off!
Whoah, this love comment preview is pretty cool.
No Snacks, No Sweets, No Seconds, Except (sometimes) on days that start with "S"."No Seconds" here mean that you should eat only one plate. After a few weeks I did not need more, and have now lost around 13kg/25lbs.
The notion of "going on a diet" implies that is for a limited time only. If you really wants to lose some weight and maintain your weight loss you have to change your food and exercise habits on a permanent basis. This way of thinking has the downside that it will take you longer to lose the same weight opposed to going on a "real" diet, but the only way to a sustained weight loss is to permanently change the way to think about food and exercise. The upside of course is that you for the rest of your life eat and exercise the way you actually want to live.
This of course doesn't mean that you at some periods put in an extra effort in the gym or you focus on eating fewer sweets and more vegetables. But the key part is that you in the back of your mind always remember that a diet is not something that you endure for a limited time only - a healthy diet and good exercise habits is a permanent state.
Everyday I run about 6km and go to the gym for an hour (for 5 days in the week). I'm just under 6ft and weight about 83kg. I have found that my natural bodyweight is around 83kg. The only way I drop below that is if I don't go to the gym for a week or so and I can drop a few kg's by doing that.
Sure, eat sensibly but I'd just join a gym and run a bit every week. With that said the meals I tend to cook for my dinner could easily feed two people.
A good tip I've read on being full is to wait 20 minutes after you've eaten your meal. It takes that long for your body and mind to sort themselves out and agree on whether you're full or not. So before going for the second helping, wait 20 minutes. Still hungry? OK, have some more.
I've done this and I never go back for seconds.
1. Avoid liquid sugar (you probably do this already)
2. If having a bad snack (i.e. chocolate) keep it away from a proper meal
3. When eating chew, chew and chew some more
I know #3 sounds stupid but slowing down means the "not hungry" feeling hits with less food :)
Somehow, it puzzles people why i eat less. As though I am training for a marathon or bodybuilding....
2) Don't eat when you are not hungry. Don't eat just because you are bored.
3) Remove food temptations. Don't stay in the kitchen for too long. Don't tease yourself with the food if possible.
4) Move to the place with warmer climate.
That would help you to exercise more and eat less.
I recently ordered an EatSmart Nutrition Scale to help speed up the measurement when I am making stuff from scratch. There are still times that I need a simple method of tracking to make informed choices when I haven't pre-packed a lunch, or made a home cooked meal. If I can't access the caloric data right away I can still record the meal and look up information on it later on various calorie database sites. The awareness of portion sizes is another benefit as I can see what types of things are not so good in large quantities.
Avoid High Fructrose Corn Syrup
Like the plague.
Out of curiosity, as a diabetic, how do you get away with skipping breakfast at all? Congrats on your newfound healthier self and I hope it lasts.
p.s. minor typo "for eat least an hour".
I'm recovering well. I've lost over 10 lbs. since my surgery, and I don't even have any restriction in my band yet. After my first "fill," I should be able to lose 1-2 lbs. a week.
If anyone has any interest, I've been blogging about it.
And as a side-effect, you'll lose weight (eventually)
Barry Groves 2nd opinion
Can't say enough about the thought to "eat just enough to get to the next meal". Great mindset.
I have a cousin who got a high cholesterol count at the Dr. and decided to start working out. He went from a "not exactly fat but kinda doughy" guy to looking almost exactly like Daniel Craig in Casina Royal. Very buffed. His plan was to go to the gym 6 days a week, even on days he didn't want to (which he said was every day)! He also lifted high reps of weights but not the "max" weight. Just enough so he could do several sets of 20 or so reps, not the usual 8 - 12 at high weight. Surprisingly little cardio he said because he was breathing hard during his whole workout with his heart in his target zone.
This is the biggy. His trainer reminded him that you don't build any muscles or burn any fat whatsoever in the gym. You do it during sleep. So plenty of sleep is very important. All you do in the gym is tear down the muscle and send a message to your body that "this guys gonna be using this muscle, so I better build it up".
End result. Pulse: 60, Cholesterol: scary low, Blood pressure: 110/70. Went from needing about 9 hours of sleep to not being able to sleep more than 6 or 7.
Glad I bumped into him over the break. I'm starting my program now...
I settled on the free sparkpeople.com because of its flexible food entry functionality, but there are many others out there.
So try this.....when you feel hungry, drink a bunch of water and wait 15mins. If you are still hungry after the 15mins go eat.
I'm usually not a fan of dieting sites, but www.thedailyplate.com (and the extremely handy iPhone app) has a great calorie/exercise/weight tracker that gives lots of instant feedback about food choices and your progress throughout a day. For me, it's nice to be able to see in real-time how long I'm going to have to ride the Bike To Nowhere if I indulge in that second helping or snack.
Someone should invent a glucometer that is wired to stimulate the vagus nerve and cause you to feel full when you have hit a blood glucose ceiling. Hopefully they would steer clear of the Freescale Semiconductor RTC implementation :)
A travel/diabetes question for Scott: how do you keep your insulin cool for the 26+ hours of travel from SA back to the PNW?
First of all.
You have to eat and a regular interval and you have to eat enough. Too many people try to drastically reduce calories and generally eat too little when they are trying to lose weight. You also need to buy smaller plates and eat more slowly. The plates we use typically in this country are huge and that makes us want to put more on them. Smaller plates equal smaller portions combine that with slower eating and you will feel more full.
You need to eat 6 times a day and eat the right amount at each meal.
Lets say you are 250 pounds and 6 feet tall.
You need approx 2300 calories to maintain that weight at a basic level of activity.
You should eat about 1300 calories by 1 pm then they other 1000 between 1 and approx 30 minutes before you go to bed. Spread the calories out over 6 meals with the last meal being around 150 calories to keep your body working as you sleep.
Secondly you have to move. Most of use spend the vast majority of our time infront of our computers and that makes moving hard.
Ironically, podcasts and audio books keep me going (so thanks). The truth is, I spend most of my day sitting in front a screen and reading stuff. Listening to a book instead of reading is actually quite refreshing. Lots of time with little ear-buds can be annoying though, so if you're working out at home an iPod dock (actual computer and speakers) is also a lot easier on the senses.
During this time I've learned the following lessons:
* Crash diets don't work. You need to change the way you think about food.
* Don't do it alone. You need someone to check your progress on a weekly (or better, daily) basis.
* Cut out alcohol. It's much more satisfying to eat your calories than to drink them.
* You need to exercise. Again, it helps a lot if you have a gym buddy. It makes it easier to get up early and drag yourself to the gym.
* If you can, use a heart rate monitor when you exercise to ensure that you're not taking it too easy.
* Start reading food labels to check the fat content and calories.
* Even if you need to buy take-aways, you can make good choices. When I buy from steers, I order a chicken burger with an extra fillet and no sauce. It's not ideal, but it's much better than the default items on the menu.
* Water helps your body to burn fat, so the more, the better.
If you live in South Africa, Weigh-Less is a great program (I'm not sure if they are in other countries). They teach you to make healthy choices and you don't starve to death
"Scientists say there's no clear health benefit to chugging or even sipping water all day."
"Drink when you're thirsty. That's the way the body is designed."
I find that when you feel like snacking come bed time - eat fruit - and the more watery the fruit the better.
As noted, remaining well hydrated is important to help the digestive system to speed things along.
If you dont do much physical exercise then eating less carbs is good.
Or, if you want it to be a bit more light-weight (No pun Intended), Jeremy Zawodny had a blog post series about his Diet as well.
It's not really low-maintenance, but it's geeky juggling with an Excel sheet, fancy graphs and stuff :-)
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