This is the story of my journey trying to lose over 70 pounds, regain my life, and hopefully help others have success doing the same thing.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Long Run

Kind of a double meaning this week.  First of all, yes, I'm incorporating a bit of running into my daily walk.  I have a three-mile loop in the neighborhood where the wife and I do our fitness walking.  When she's not with me, I will sometimes add some running.  So far it's only been on the downhills and flats, but it's a start.  At the moment running amounts to about 30-40% of the loop--not too shabby for now!

As for the other meaning... one of the biggest obstacles in weight loss is motivation. It's easy to forget that if it took years to gain the weight, it's not going to come off in a hurry--at least not if you expect to keep it off. Success requires you to look at the long view.  Here's what I mean.

From the time I graduated college just over 25 years ago, I had gained one hundred pounds! (I know--even I can't believe it when I see it in print...).  Now, in order to gain one pound, you have to take in 3500 more calories than you burn.  That means that those 100 pounds equates to 350,000 calories. That's 497 Big Macs.  That's 1,458 Hershey bars.  That's 301 pints of Chunky Monkey ice cream.

You know what else it is?  If you divide it out by day, that's half an apple, each and every day.

That's right--25 years, 365 days per year is 9,125 days. Do the math--it's 38 calories a day.  That means that if I eat half an apple each day more than I burn, I gain the weight.  It's frightfully easy to do.  That's why being diligent in your health is essential.  If you're not aware of what you are eating and how much you are exercising, you likely will fall into the same trap I did.

The good news, though, is that it doesn't take a huge change to your lifestyle to lose the weight--if you take the long view.  Don't try to lose 50 pounds in six months.  It can be done, but it will require such a radical change to your life that you aren't likely to maintain it. And if you go back to old habits, it's right back to the weight gain. (That's what got you there the first time--why would it be different this time?)

That's why I feel good about my current plan, as opposed to my multiple previous attempts.  This time, rather than going on the Atkins/South Beach/Grapefruit/Garth Brooks Juice diet, I'm changing how I live.  First of all, I'm actually paying attention to what I eat.  Every day, every meal, every snack.  Also, I'm paying attention to my activity level.  I'm building a habit of getting some exercise every single day.  And each and every day I try to make sure that the calories burn are greater than the calories taken in.  Yes, it's that simple.

I know people like to say, "I hate counting calories."  But that's like trying to balance your checkbook without keeping up with income or spending--it can't be done.  Calories are the (only) reason you gain or lose weight.  If you want to change your weight, you have to change your calorie intake/output balance.  If you want to do that, you have to be aware of what your intake/output levels are. And the only way to do that is to count them.  Sorry...

But on the bright side, it doesn't require draconian cuts to have a positive impact.  Just like how you gain it, it will come off just as steadily if you flip that balance.  And you CAN flip it--and if you make a habit of it, you'll lose the weight.

In the long run...