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Thread: Losing Weight: Calories vs Excercise 2.0

  1. #1
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    Losing Weight: Calories vs Excercise 2.0

    About five months ago I got the serious kick in the butt I needed to get rid of a bunch of extra weight. I'm 5'10", and was 196 when i graduated high school and went to basic. Life happened, and at almost 34 I was up to a whopping 263. Lifetime of poor eating habits didn't help, yay for parental influences. Even at 260+, I was the skinny one of the family. Both my parents and sister are obese and diabetic, and have the healthy problems to go along with it.

    So when I finally conceded to try on a pair of jeans a size bigger and they still weren't big enough in the waist, I said "eff this, I'm NOT going up two pants sizes", I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app the next and started counting calories. The goal is to get back to that 196 I graduated high school at. That was in May. I wound up after a little toying around with it setting it at 1600 calories/day. Didn't specifically prohibit any food, but when that's your cap, it causes a guy to look an awful lot closer at what goes in. I didn't "work out", I hate the gym, I hate running, I don't even like walking for the sake of walking. If I go to the range and have to walk to the 300 yard mark to check targets, then I don't mind making that extra trip down range now, but just to go walk? Heck no.

    I do work in manual labor. Basically I get paid to strength train every day I go shoe horses, which works out (no pun intended). In that first 90 days I dropped 45 lbs. At 3500 calories per pound, that meant I was burning 17-1800 calories a day under what my body uses. During the summer, I figured out I could go to the pool with my kids and swim laps while they did their thing, get a hella workout that's no impact, and eat a few hundred extra calories because of what I burned off. So say I was consuming 1750/day on average, and losing 1750/day that I didn't eat. I don't feel like I'm that active, even in the summer, but that means I burn somewhere around 3500 a day.

    Around the first of September, my body hit a wall. It was telling me there wasn't enough extra fat to keep up at the pace of well under 2000 cal/day. I've settled in on around 2400/day for now. As of now, I'm down to 210, and with kids in school and fall here, I wonder if this will be more of a maintenance number through the winter than a weight loss number. I've still kept dropping a pound or so a week for the last month and a half, but the cool has started to hit.

    When I was on the 1600 cal program, I was super watchful of what I ate. I'd eat other "not so healthy" stuff, in extreme moderation. Going back up on my intake, that's the struggle I have now. Energy bars and certain kinds of carbs (read: sugar, mostly) have wanted to creep in to bite me. I have done well to keep overall intake down, but could probably use more veggies sometimes, and more meat. Overall, I'm still feeling good about things, but I am not enthusiastic about the holiday season at all. If we could just skip to past Christmas, I'd be good to go.

    When I started out on this, I hadn't had a physical for probably three years, and didn't want one. I spent a lot of years around 240-243, but a couple years ago that old life thing crept up and put that extra 20 on. I just started using the VA for health care this year, and they called in July wanting me to come in for a physical. I was good with that because i was down to around 220 and wanted to see what my numbers were at that point. My BP was down to 118/80, I think. It had been around 160/80. When I was a kid, I always had an insanely low pulse, or so I thought. It was around 80 when I was super fat, but I go in for that appointment and it was around 45. All my blood work came back solid. Doc was impressed, especially after quizzing me on family history. My response to "oh, you're pre programmed for diabetes" was oh hell no.

    So, thus far I've lost 53 lbs, still eating a limited quantity of ice cream, occasional donuts, drinking more diet soda than I should, the usual massive amounts of coffee, and otherwise keeping a cap on overall caloric intake. Generally not feeling depraved. I'm new to this weight loss/healthy eating concept, but that was one thing I realized in the first couple weeks. It's easy to lose weight, but many folks can't keep it off because of lack of planning on keeping it off. At least for the foreseeable future, I'm just going to concede to be a calorie counter.

    I'm open to any other grand suggestions anyone else might have.

  2. #2
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    It sounds like you already know what you need to do. Knock it off with the sugar, fake sugar and simple carbs. Diet soda is probably one of the worst things you can drink. Energy bars are largely complete crap. Eat real food. If it use to be alive, you can eat it. A protein bar didn't grow from a seed and doesn't have a mom.

    Intermittent fasting is a great approach especially around the holidays. A pretty simple concept really. Consume all of your days calories in a certain window consisting of maybe 6-10 hours. Nothing but water outside of that. In my experience, this is better done earlier in the day. In the very least, it was easier for me to comply with. If you wake up at 6am, the last thing you eat is consumed before 4pm. This leaves a good portion of the fast during the night.

    Most people drastically overestimate their calorie usage and underestimate what they consume. This gets worse with diet soda and the like with all of the fake sugar. You think it doesn't count and don't assign calories to it but it still effects your insulin levels and sensitivity.

    Your 3500 calorie fat math doesn't really work. When you loose weight, its not all from fat. When you gain weight, its not all fat. You can skew the proportions of muscle and fat you gain and loose though. This is why bodybuilders go through a bulk and cut cycle. Its not all magazine covers. That's how they look after the cut.

    One of the better methods I saw for figuring how many calories you should eat was to base it around your current weight. So weight yourself immediately upon waking after using the bathroom. Start about 10 or 11 calories per pound. Protein is 1.25-1.5g per lb of body weight. Carbs is 40-60% of the total calories and fat the remaining balance. So if you weigh in at 200lbs, that would be 2200 calories using 11 per pound. 300g protein, 100g carbs, 67g fat. Carbs are to be consumed immediately post workout/activity or immediately before a workout/activity. Weigh yourself the next week and go for a goal of 2lbs per week. If you're down 3 lbs, go up to 12 calories per pound for the next week. Likewise, if you're down only 1 lb, drop to 10 per pound. You can move the macros around as you see fit. You can go lower on carbs and higher on fat etc. The less active you are the less carbs I would eat. The carbs are more about replenishing glycogen than trying to feel full.

    Get good sleep.

    Just some stuff to think about.

  3. #3
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    Congrats on making some progress. Sounds like you've already got the most important thing: the mindset and commitment to make a change.

    A few random but important learnings I had as I've gone down this road:

    * You cannot outwork/out-exercise your diet. Exercise is totally necessary, but getting your diet squared away is Pri 1.
    * Find a diet/eating style that you like and stick with it for the long haul. Your diet cannot be like the way a wrestler loses to hit a target weight, then after the match return to 'normal' eating. It's much better to adopt a style of eating and think of it as permanent behavior change--rest of your life. For me this was the Mediterranean diet, well vetted by science, people have been eating it for probably 5000+ years, the food is delicious, the diet contains ordinary affordable things you can get at the store, and you don't have to buy into fancy 'weight loss' programs to do it. But the takeaway is find a healthy/balance diet you can stick with permanently.
    * Don't do calorie counting--at all. Instead modify your behavior and follow a healthy diet in a way that satisfies your hunger. If you fill up on good/real food, it's good for your health and inherently lower calorie, you won't have to worry about counting calories. What I do with the Mediterranean diet for example, is load up on produce which is at the base of the food pyramid. Then I eat a ton of healthy fats: fatty fish, nuts and seeds, nut butters like peanut/almond butter, avocados, full-fat cheese and Greek yogurt, eggs, grass-fed butter, healthy oils like olive/coconut/canola. After I eat a bunch of produce, healthy fats throughout the day, and then some quality proteins with my meals, I feel satisfied and don't have a ton of room or cravings for crap carbs, desserts, and other bad stuff.
    * Get reacquainted with beans. I was amazed how healthy beans are both fiber- and nutrient-rich, how affordable, how excellent you can make them taste, and how much they help fill you up so you basically don't have room for poor quality food. We add beans as a side to a lot of our meals now.
    * Eat quality proteins to top off your meals. Good quality fish, poultry, red meat. I think of my proteins now as almost like 'dessert' or the high point of my meals. We get higher quality meats now and better cuts, but smaller quantities to even out the cost.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by maximus83 View Post
    Congrats on making some progress. Sounds like you've already got the most important thing: the mindset and commitment to make a change.

    A few random but important learnings I had as I've gone down this road:

    * You cannot outwork/out-exercise your diet. Exercise is totally necessary, but getting your diet squared away is Pri 1.
    * Find a diet/eating style that you like and stick with it for the long haul. Your diet cannot be like the way a wrestler loses to hit a target weight, then after the match return to 'normal' eating. It's much better to adopt a style of eating and think of it as permanent behavior change--rest of your life. For me this was the Mediterranean diet, well vetted by science, people have been eating it for probably 5000+ years, the food is delicious, the diet contains ordinary affordable things you can get at the store, and you don't have to buy into fancy 'weight loss' programs to do it. But the takeaway is find a healthy/balance diet you can stick with permanently.
    * Don't do calorie counting--at all. Instead modify your behavior and follow a healthy diet in a way that satisfies your hunger. If you fill up on good/real food, it's good for your health and inherently lower calorie, you won't have to worry about counting calories. What I do with the Mediterranean diet for example, is load up on produce which is at the base of the food pyramid. Then I eat a ton of healthy fats: fatty fish, nuts and seeds, nut butters like peanut/almond butter, avocados, full-fat cheese and Greek yogurt, eggs, grass-fed butter, healthy oils like olive/coconut/canola. After I eat a bunch of produce, healthy fats throughout the day, and then some quality proteins with my meals, I feel satisfied and don't have a ton of room or cravings for crap carbs, desserts, and other bad stuff.
    * Get reacquainted with beans. I was amazed how healthy beans are both fiber- and nutrient-rich, how affordable, how excellent you can make them taste, and how much they help fill you up so you basically don't have room for poor quality food. We add beans as a side to a lot of our meals now.
    * Eat quality proteins to top off your meals. Good quality fish, poultry, red meat. I think of my proteins now as almost like 'dessert' or the high point of my meals. We get higher quality meats now and better cuts, but smaller quantities to even out the cost.
    I'm telling you right now that if you don't count calories you won't lose weight. I lost 60 lbs since Feb and have been basically stuck for two months. Why? Because I started eating more quantities of "good" food. It is totally possible to eat too much good food and get fatter. I spent most of my day to day analyzing what was going "wrong". I went back to counting the calories of the previous few days and discovered I was about 500 calories over what I should be to lose the weight. If I didn't count those calories, I would still be sitting here wondering why I haven't lost anything. The good discovery in this whole deal was that I also discovered how many calories I could consume without gaining weight.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by spence View Post
    About five months ago I got the serious kick in the butt I needed to get rid of a bunch of extra weight. I'm 5'10", and was 196 when i graduated high school and went to basic. Life happened, and at almost 34 I was up to a whopping 263. Lifetime of poor eating habits didn't help, yay for parental influences. Even at 260+, I was the skinny one of the family. Both my parents and sister are obese and diabetic, and have the healthy problems to go along with it.

    So when I finally conceded to try on a pair of jeans a size bigger and they still weren't big enough in the waist, I said "eff this, I'm NOT going up two pants sizes", I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app the next and started counting calories. The goal is to get back to that 196 I graduated high school at. That was in May. I wound up after a little toying around with it setting it at 1600 calories/day. Didn't specifically prohibit any food, but when that's your cap, it causes a guy to look an awful lot closer at what goes in. I didn't "work out", I hate the gym, I hate running, I don't even like walking for the sake of walking. If I go to the range and have to walk to the 300 yard mark to check targets, then I don't mind making that extra trip down range now, but just to go walk? Heck no.

    I do work in manual labor. Basically I get paid to strength train every day I go shoe horses, which works out (no pun intended). In that first 90 days I dropped 45 lbs. At 3500 calories per pound, that meant I was burning 17-1800 calories a day under what my body uses. During the summer, I figured out I could go to the pool with my kids and swim laps while they did their thing, get a hella workout that's no impact, and eat a few hundred extra calories because of what I burned off. So say I was consuming 1750/day on average, and losing 1750/day that I didn't eat. I don't feel like I'm that active, even in the summer, but that means I burn somewhere around 3500 a day.

    Around the first of September, my body hit a wall. It was telling me there wasn't enough extra fat to keep up at the pace of well under 2000 cal/day. I've settled in on around 2400/day for now. As of now, I'm down to 210, and with kids in school and fall here, I wonder if this will be more of a maintenance number through the winter than a weight loss number. I've still kept dropping a pound or so a week for the last month and a half, but the cool has started to hit.

    When I was on the 1600 cal program, I was super watchful of what I ate. I'd eat other "not so healthy" stuff, in extreme moderation. Going back up on my intake, that's the struggle I have now. Energy bars and certain kinds of carbs (read: sugar, mostly) have wanted to creep in to bite me. I have done well to keep overall intake down, but could probably use more veggies sometimes, and more meat. Overall, I'm still feeling good about things, but I am not enthusiastic about the holiday season at all. If we could just skip to past Christmas, I'd be good to go.

    When I started out on this, I hadn't had a physical for probably three years, and didn't want one. I spent a lot of years around 240-243, but a couple years ago that old life thing crept up and put that extra 20 on. I just started using the VA for health care this year, and they called in July wanting me to come in for a physical. I was good with that because i was down to around 220 and wanted to see what my numbers were at that point. My BP was down to 118/80, I think. It had been around 160/80. When I was a kid, I always had an insanely low pulse, or so I thought. It was around 80 when I was super fat, but I go in for that appointment and it was around 45. All my blood work came back solid. Doc was impressed, especially after quizzing me on family history. My response to "oh, you're pre programmed for diabetes" was oh hell no.

    So, thus far I've lost 53 lbs, still eating a limited quantity of ice cream, occasional donuts, drinking more diet soda than I should, the usual massive amounts of coffee, and otherwise keeping a cap on overall caloric intake. Generally not feeling depraved. I'm new to this weight loss/healthy eating concept, but that was one thing I realized in the first couple weeks. It's easy to lose weight, but many folks can't keep it off because of lack of planning on keeping it off. At least for the foreseeable future, I'm just going to concede to be a calorie counter.

    I'm open to any other grand suggestions anyone else might have.
    You and I are on very similar paths. My greatest regret as a parent is realizing my poor eating habits were killing me after my kids became adults. You have a chance now to set an example for the kids and teach them how to eat properly as well. Life is much easier for healthy eating if the whole family is onboard. My wife and I are partners in this journey, but I missed my opportunity with my kids.

    My only tips are to eat natural foods and embrace becoming a good cook. We don't eat boxed or ready made snacks. Nor do we eat food from boxes or cans. 90% of breakfast foods are crap and you don't need them. I skip breakfast now, just coffee, because it's just another group of calories I don't need.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    You and I are on very similar paths. My greatest regret as a parent is realizing my poor eating habits were killing me after my kids became adults. You have a chance now to set an example for the kids and teach them how to eat properly as well. Life is much easier for healthy eating if the whole family is onboard. My wife and I are partners in this journey, but I missed my opportunity with my kids.

    My only tips are to eat natural foods and embrace becoming a good cook. We don't eat boxed or ready made snacks. Nor do we eat food from boxes or cans. 90% of breakfast foods are crap and you don't need them. I skip breakfast now, just coffee, because it's just another group of calories I don't need.
    Thanks for the replies guys, there's some good info here I need to study on some.

    It's great, my kids are 6 and 7. My wife hasn't lived with me the last couple of years, and she's a stout woman. My daughter made it a mission a while back to try and convince her mama she needs to lose some weight, too. I almost found it comical. My biggest problem, and I did really well with it when I was on 16-1700 calories a day, is I travel so much day to day with work in every direction, is finding decent food to eat while gone, and even having time to GET to the grocery store. Sucks when it's a half hour plus to a decent store, and the best place to go is an hour away. It's all about making myself set the sturdy boundaries to get it done the right way.

    I already am a pretty dang good cook, can thank my dad for that one. Yet, when I'm gone a lot and kids are only here half the time, it's really tough to make yourself want to cook. However, our kids love fruit and vegetables, and are NOT picky. They typically do not complain about what's made, and they've gotten to the place where they ask for good stuff. Again comes back to making that time to keep the right food in the house.

    As to not counting calories? Man, I'm a bottomless pit. I could eat the healthiest foods and I'd gain it all right back. I had a situation where I went on a fast for essentially two months (had nothing to do with weight loss, but that was a byproduct). Fruit, vegetables, no added fat or sugar, very limited salt, and limited whole grains. I figured out whole wheat tortillas fit into the parameters of what I had going on, and finally succumbed to eating peanut butter. I could have gained it all right back there on those two things because I'd start in on it and just couldn't put them down. While that wasn't about weight loss, and that time ended, I totally carb crashed and put it all back on within about six months.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    I'm telling you right now that if you don't count calories you won't lose weight. I lost 60 lbs since Feb and have been basically stuck for two months. Why? Because I started eating more quantities of "good" food. It is totally possible to eat too much good food and get fatter. I spent most of my day to day analyzing what was going "wrong". I went back to counting the calories of the previous few days and discovered I was about 500 calories over what I should be to lose the weight. If I didn't count those calories, I would still be sitting here wondering why I haven't lost anything. The good discovery in this whole deal was that I also discovered how many calories I could consume without gaining weight.
    I believe you, and that other approaches can work. But not counting calories and instead taking a 'eat the right food' approach definitely worked for me as well, lost 35 lbs. It's become common to recommend approaches other than counting calories. Basically eat the right food types, and exercise portion control, as here.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by maximus83 View Post
    I believe you, and that other approaches can work. But not counting calories and instead taking a 'eat the right food' approach definitely worked for me as well, lost 35 lbs. It's become common to recommend approaches other than counting calories. Basically eat the right food types, and exercise portion control, as here.
    That's another thing for me. I need to study more on what I actually eat, although I have certainly observed that lots of fruit, vegetables, and proteins keep me far more full. The first few months were difficult because I was never anywhere close to satiated. I had a continuous gnawing, but it wasn't excessive, and the scale's movement couldn't be argued with. When my body finally hit the point where it needed more calories, that was the first thing I noticed. Increasing my caloric intake gave me much more energy.

    So, I "count" calories. However, a lot of my numbers are a lot of educated guesswork. The "experts" say you have to weigh every. single. thing. With a digital scale. I don't have a digital scale. I have an analog scale, and I weigh things, but it's more an approximation, I always round up rather than down, and I'm good to go.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by spence View Post
    That's another thing for me. I need to study more on what I actually eat, although I have certainly observed that lots of fruit, vegetables, and proteins keep me far more full. The first few months were difficult because I was never anywhere close to satiated. I had a continuous gnawing, but it wasn't excessive, and the scale's movement couldn't be argued with. When my body finally hit the point where it needed more calories, that was the first thing I noticed. Increasing my caloric intake gave me much more energy.

    So, I "count" calories. However, a lot of my numbers are a lot of educated guesswork. The "experts" say you have to weigh every. single. thing. With a digital scale. I don't have a digital scale. I have an analog scale, and I weigh things, but it's more an approximation, I always round up rather than down, and I'm good to go.
    Yeah do some research and find what works for YOU, as the above thread is living color demo that different approaches can work when trying to lose weight and KEEP it off. I don't see any harm in testing a couple of different approach over 4 to 8 weeks, see what happens and what works best.

    The other thing, to deal with the issue of not being satiated: eat more 'good fat' regardless of which approach you're on. This is counter-intuitive, I know, I used to think the same way. "Eating stuff with fat will only make you MORE fat", right? Well, it depends. If you eat GOOD fat, ironically, it's good for you, and satiates you better, which helps to lose weight because you'll be less hungry and eating stuff you shouldn't. So do some research on that, but if you refer to my earlier post, I load up on 'good fat' items in my diet, also a lot dishes with beans, and that really was what solved the problem of feeling hungry all the time.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by maximus83 View Post
    Yeah do some research and find what works for YOU, as the above thread is living color demo that different approaches can work when trying to lose weight and KEEP it off. I don't see any harm in testing a couple of different approach over 4 to 8 weeks, see what happens and what works best.

    The other thing, to deal with the issue of not being satiated: eat more 'good fat' regardless of which approach you're on. This is counter-intuitive, I know, I used to think the same way. "Eating stuff with fat will only make you MORE fat", right? Well, it depends. If you eat GOOD fat, ironically, it's good for you, and satiates you better, which helps to lose weight because you'll be less hungry and eating stuff you shouldn't. So do some research on that, but if you refer to my earlier post, I load up on 'good fat' items in my diet, also a lot dishes with beans, and that really was what solved the problem of feeling hungry all the time.
    Fat isn't what makes us fat, it's over processed carbs. I had 13 oz of sirloin last night, and it was wonderful. Ate the leftover piece for lunch today, and will grill the pork steaks I got yesterday tonight. Getting enough protein and fat were definitely an issue for a while. When a customer said something about protein, it started to click. 1600 cal/day really probably was not quite enough, and that's why I was half hangry for a couple months solid.

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