Friday, July 6, 2012

Can You Lose Weight Eating Just Fast Food?

Here's more proof the secret to losing what is not what you eat, but how many calories you eat.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Forget Everything You Think You Know

Yes, forget it.  The key to losing weight is not carbs, it's not counting points, it's not boosting metabolism, or replacing hormones.  Everything we need to know about losing weight we once knew but have forgotten.  It's all about the calories.

The simple truth is that when we eat more calories than we use we put on weight.  The processes of gaining or losing weight is slow.  Eat fast food for every meal for a few months and you'll notice your waist has gained an inch or two.  Limit your calorie intake for a few months and those inches disappear.  It's that simple, it's that easy.

To begin creating a calorie based weight loss plan, you first need to calculate what the average daily intake for you to maintain your current weight and physical activity level is.  There are numerous calculators on line, here is one I've used.

So, for this explanation we will calculate the calories I need to eat to maintain my current 264 lb weight.  To do this besides my weight, we will also need to know my height, my age, and my level of physical activity.  These are 5' ll", 36, and I work a desk job, so I will pick the least amount of physical activity.

With this data we discover I need to eat 2,583 calories per day to maintain my weight.  We also find, thanks to our calculators, that if I limit my intake to 2,112 calories per day I will be able to safely lose weight.

When I first began to look into this plan, based on the success of several friends, I was concerned that 2100 calories may leave me hungry or I would have to eat bland food, which was my problem with Slim4Life.  As I began to count calories, I realized nothing could be further from the truth.

I regularly eat out.  I usually opt for places like Subway and Mr. Goodscents, but occasionally I will visit burger joints like Hardee's and McDonald's.  In the past, when going to a sandwich shop I would get the foot long and a drink.  What I realized is that by getting a half sub, a bag of baked lays, and a zero calorie beverage I felt just as full, but with way less calories.  When at a burger joint, I no longer get fries, which is where the bulk of calories comes from at these places and instead opt for a salad if available or no side at all.  Something that also might shock you, the Big Mac, the burger that is the picture of over eating, actually only contains a little over 500 calories, compare this to Hardee's turkey burger at 460 or a Subway cold-cut sub at 360 and suddenly it doesn't seem so bad.

The secret to avoiding feeling hungry to me was a strategy that maximized the calories available to me at dinner time.  Against normal convention I typically do not eat breakfast, when I do, I will have a 100 calorie pack of Hostess cakes or some wheat toast, or maybe a scrambled egg.  When it comes to lunch I typically have a sandwich, serving of baked lays, and some jello or fruit cup.  Sticking to this regimen Monday through Friday leaves me with around 1400 to 1500 calories for dinner.  This means I can eat just about anything I want, leaving me feeling satisfied.  Most of the time I find no need to eat more than 1,000 calories at dinner, which just helps accelerate my weight loss.

I never drink my calories.  One of the quickest ways to get yourself in calorie trouble is by drinking your calories.  Sodas, coffee, juices, etc are all calorie traps.  Most contain 150 or more calories per serving.  However, I really enjoy these kinds of beverages so I am unwilling to live without them.  My solution was to switch to Crystal Light instead of juice, typically just 5 calories per serving.  I've replaced regular soda with the zero calorie alternatives like Coke Zero, Diet 7up, Pepsi Max, etc.  I also drink plenty of water during the day at the office.

Do you need your caffeine?   I've never been a coffee drinker, and usually when I drink pop its brands like Sprite that don't contain caffeine, but I realize many people just can't get through the day without it.  Instead of drinking a cup of coffee, have a can of Coke Zero or a bottle of Crystal Light Energy.  You'll get all the caffeine without any of the calories.

How do you find out how much calories are in things?  The obvious answer to that question is to check the label, but we both know the information isn't always available.  When eating fast food, check the company's website, everyone publishes a nutrition guide which will give you this information.  When cooking at home, you may have to do some addition by checking the calorie counts of the ingredients you use, but its still possible.  If you still have difficulty check the web.  There are great sources from, and others that you can find the calorie counts for just about everything.

Exercise is a plus, not a necessity.  As I stated in earlier, I don't get a whole lot of time to exercise, my schedule is just too hectic right now.  But, on occasions when I do get to exercise, it only helps.  For example, if I spend just 30 minutes walking around a shopping center, mowing the yard, or riding a bike I burn between 300 and 500 calories.  That burn adds to my calorie deficit or helps overcome the rare instance I may have eaten too many calories.

Fluctuate the total calories you eat each day.  It's important to not always eat the exact same calorie amounts everyday.  You want to keep your body guessing so your weight loss doesn't get a chance to plateau.  While I may spend several days during the week eating the same 1500 to 2000 calories, on the weekend I may splurge one day and go over.  This one day a week splurge doesn't hurt me because the average calories I eat per day still is below my 2112 goal and is a bit of a reward for sticking to the plan.

After a few months, you'll notice things become very easy.  You get to know how much calories are in the things you eat and you can estimate things with quickly.  You'll notice the clothes getting baggy, the need for moving to the next hole in your belt, and so on.  Eventually, the plan stops being a plan and becomes a way of life.

There is some things you need to watch out for.  It may not be as obvious as it seems, but you will need to periodically check your weight and recalculate your calorie limits.  The daily calorie intake when you weigh 250 is going to be different than when you weigh 200.  I would suggest re-calibrating every 3 months or so based on your weight loss.

Don't worry about weighing yourself every day.  In fact, you probably shouldn't do it.  Your weight will fluctuate daily with water weight and other factors.  When you do way yourself, do it under the same circumstances, ie same level of clothes on, same time of day, same day of the week, etc.  This will give you a nice baseline to compare against.  At most, I would only suggest weighing yourself once a week.  If you can do it every other or once a month, you may want to do that.

I will explain in a future post why using your weight to measure your success may not be the best idea.  Here's a hint, muscle weighs more than fat and more and more physicians are realizing that BMI isn't nearly as representative of one's level of fitness as much as waist measurement.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Slim4Life 4 Years Later

You guessed it, my lack of updating signifies my failure to adhere to the Slim4Life plan.  For me, Slim4Life did not work.  This is not to say it may not work for you.  When it comes to weight loss, Slim4Life delivered.

Why I Slim4Life did not work for me.

While I was losing weight on Slim4Life, it became harder and harder for me to stick to the plan.  My biggest obstacle was flavor.  The Slim4Life diet is devoid of all flavor and spices.  Forget salt, forget spices, with Slim4Life you are stuck eating bland food.  My Slim4Life consultant suggested using Mrs. Dash, this was useless because their seasonings don't really add any flavor.  I even tried making my own tomato sauce using their nutritional guidelines.  In the end, it got so difficult for me to eat bland food that I would literally gag while trying to eat.

On top of that, I am a very picky eater.  I completely dislike the taste of vegetables other than corn.  Unfortunately, on the Slim4Life plan corn is a bit of a no no.  This means the only vegetable I could really stomach was the occasional slice of tomato and lettuce.

Even though Slim4Life quite cheerful proclaims you can eat what you want, you can't.  Forget fast food, and for a guy like me, who is a single father of three, works full time, and goes to school full time there just isn't enough hours in the day to cook every single meal.  Cooking multiple meals at one time was becoming a more difficult thing to do as my motivation waned.

Time and cost were also issues.  I already told you about all the time you have to invest to prepare your own meals.  Beyond that, you also have to go twice a week to counseling sessions that are supposed to help you stay motivated and on plan, to help you over the humps.  In reality these sessions are nothing more than a constant shakedown to buy more supplements.

So, here I am 4 years later.  In that time I put the weight back on.  Went up and down on various plans, spending money to meet with failure after failure.  The only thing that has ever really effective for me was Metabolife, but the pharmaceutical companies were able to use the FDA to ban that.

That is until now.  Watching a couple friends take on the same plan I now am more than two months into showed me what can and does work.  I am proud to say I have reached the exact same weight I was at the time of my last posting, so for me that seemed like a perfect time to jump back in.

Over the next days, weeks, and months I will tell you what I am doing now, how well it is working, and just how affordable it is.  Here is a hint, you won't have to buy anything and you can actually eat the foods you want.  More than words or some advertising gimmick, it's a reality.

I hope you'll join me on this journey and can learn from my experiences.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Day 18: First Minor Setback

As you may have already noticed, I stopped posting what I ate each day. I think you get the idea by now, so no need to waste time posting the same basic thing over and over. Rest assured, I am still tracking this data, just not posting it.

I have also been charting my progress. Above you will notice my weight is trending downward each day since I began the Slim4Life program.

The most recent exception to this trend was today's weigh in which saw a 1/4 pound increase from Monday's. While not alarming, this is the first backwards move since beginning the weight loss phase.

The most likely reason for this is an increase in my salt intake that occurred on Monday due to having to eat a piece of grilled chicken from Arby's as opposed to preparing my own. I have been informed that drinking an extra 8oz glass of water can help reduce the affect of too much salt. I will keep that in mind for a future mistake.

I have also begun walking 20 minutes a day in hopes of increasing my weight loss. It's not much, but if I exceed 6 hours of exercises in a week it will have an impact on my calorie intake and a change in diet would need to occur. So at this point, I am trying to avoid that.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Day Five, Six, and Seven

Food for April 25, 2008

  • Breakfast: Pill Cocktail (30 min prior), 1 sm Apple, 4oz Skim Milk, 8oz Thermoboost, 16oz Water
  • Lunch: Pill Cocktail (30 min prior), 8oz Peach-Mango Drink Supplement, 2 cups Lettuce with 1 tablespoon Kraft Fat Free Italian Dressing, 6oz Chicken Breast on 1 slice Sara Lee Delightful Bread w/ 1 tbsp Mustard, 1 sm Apple, 16oz Water.
  • Snack: 8oz Thermoboost, 16oz Water, Toffee Nutrition Bar Supplement.
  • Dinner: Pill Cocktail (30 min prior), 6 oz Chicken Breast seasoned with 1/4 teaspoon Morton's Light Salt and Pepper, 1 slice of Light Bread with teaspoon light margarine ea., 2 cups Lettuce with 1 tablespoon Kraft Fat Free Italian Dressing, 16oz Water.
  • Late: 16oz Water
Food for April 26, 2008

  • Breakfast: Pill Cocktail (30 min prior), 1 sm Orange, 4oz Skim Milk, 8oz Thermoboost, 16oz Water
  • Lunch: Pill Cocktail (30 min prior), 8oz Strawberry-Kiwi Drink Supplement, 2 lg Eggs, 2 cups Lettuce with 1 tablespoon Kraft Fat Free Italian Dressing, 1 slice Sara lee Delightful Bread w/ 1 tsp Light Margarine, 1 sm Apple, 16oz Water.
  • Snack: 16oz Water, Chocolate Peanut Crunch Nutrition Bar Supplement.
  • Dinner: Pill Cocktail (30 min prior), 4oz Ground Beef with 1/4 teaspoon Morton's Light Salt and Mrs. Dash Extra Spicey, 1 slices of Light Bread with 1/2 tbsp Mustard, 2 cups Lettuce with 1 tablespoon Kraft Fat Free Italian Dressing, 16oz Water.
  • Late: 16oz Water
Food for April 27, 2008
  • Breakfast: Pill Cocktail (30 min prior), 1 sm Apple, 2 lg Eggs, 1 slice Sara lee Delightful bread w/ 1 tbsp Light Margarine, 4oz Skim Milk, 16oz Water
  • Lunch: Pill Cocktail (30 min prior), 8oz Strawberry Kiwi Drink Supplement, 2 cups Lettuce with 1 tablespoon Kraft Fat Free Italian Dressing, 1 sm Apple, 16oz Water.
  • Snack: 16oz Water, Peanut Crunch Nutrition Bar Supplement.
  • Dinner: Pill Cocktail (30 min prior), 5 oz Ground Turkey (breast) with 1/4 teaspoon Morton's Light Salt and Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb, 1 slice of Light Bread with 1/2 teaspoon light margarine ea., 1 cup Tomato/Green Onion sauce (homemade), 16oz Water.
Made it through the weekend and honestly I almost quit. I felt nautious most of the day Sunday and the blandness of the entrees, i.e. meats, is really getting to me.

To compensate, on Sunday, I tried to do a different vegetable. Since I hate veggies, I went with a homemade tomato sauce. Substituting Splenda for sugar and Light Salt for Salt and finally, leaving out the olive oil. Results, not good. It was very expensive and the tomatoes were just too sweat. I mixed the sauce with the ground turkey breast to get it down. I won't be doing that again, I assure you.

I have also come to the conclusion that Mrs. Dash sucks. I have now four different flavors in my cupboard and all of them suck. No flavor at all. The extra spicy, gives you that burning sensation you get after eating hot wings, but with absolutely zero flavor. So if you are just into having a tingly mouth, you could try it, but I would steer clear.

Thankfully, as of weigh in this morning I have dropped seven and a quarter pounds in just over a week. It's enough to make me want to stick to it... until I have to eat more of this bland poultry, that is.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Food List: What You Can Eat & How Much

Below is a list of the categories of food you must eat each day. which foods fall into these categories, and how much of that food constitutes a serving.
  • Proteins: 2 Servings/day
    Beefs (only twice a week/never 2 days in a row)
    - Arm Roast... 4oz
    - Chuck Roast... 4oz
    - Rump Roast... 4oz
    - Ground Sirloin... 4oz
    - Club Steak... 4oz
    - Flank Steak... 4oz
    - Round Steak... 4oz
    - Sirloin Steak... 4oz
    - T-Bone Steak... 4oz
    - Lamb Loin... 4oz
    - Ground Turkey... 4oz

    - Cutlet... 5oz
    - Rump... 5oz
    - Chop... 5oz

    - Chicken Breast... 6oz
    - Turkey Breast... 5oz
    - Ground Turkey Breast... 5oz

    - Beef Liver... 4oz
    - Calf Liver... 4oz
    - Chicken Liver... 3oz

    - Striped Bass... 5oz
    - Cod... 6oz
    - Flounder... 6oz
    - Haddock... 6oz
    - Halibut (steamed)... 5oz
    - Lake Perch... 5oz
    - Fresh Tuna... 5oz
    - Mahi-mahi... 5oz
    - Lobster... 5oz
    - Shrimp (fresh)... 5oz
    - Sole... 5oz
    - Whitefish... 5oz
    - Orange Roughy... 6oz
    - Scrod... 6oz
    - Red Snapper... 5oz
    - Grouper... 5oz
    - Yellow Tail... 5oz
    - Bluefish... 6oz
    - 2 x wk *Swordfish... 5oz
    - 2 x wk *Crab (steamed)... 5oz
    - 2 x wk *Salmon Steak... 4oz
    - 2 x wk *Scallops... 4oz
    - 1 x wk *Tuna (water packed)... 4oz

    Dairy and Eggs
    - 3 x wk Cottage Cheese 1 % Fat... 5oz
    - 1 Lg Egg & Cottage Cheese... 4oz
    - Eggs... 2 Lg.
  • Liquids:
    Fresh Water... 10 8oz/day (required)
    Tea of Coffee... 2 cups daily
    Diet Pop (no colas)... 2 12oz cans
    Crystal Light... 2 glasses
    Herb Tea... no limit
    Parsley Tea... as needed
    Decaffeinated Coffee... no limit
    Thermoboost... 2 8oz glasses per day
  • Vegetables: 4 servings/day (1 cup raw - 1/2 cup cooked)
    Asparagus... 1 cup
    Bean Sprouts... 1 cup
    Broccoli... 1 cup
    Cabbage... 1 cup
    Cauliflower... 1 cup
    Celery... 1 cup
    Chard... 1 cup
    Cucumbers... 1/2 med
    Egg Plant... 1 cup
    Green Onions... 5 small
    Lettuce or Endive... 1 cup
    Mushrooms... 1 cup
    Mustard Greens... 1 cup
    Okra... 1 cup
    Peppers (green, red)... 1/2 med
    Radishes... 10 med
    Rhubarb... 1 stalk
    Spinach or Kale... 1 cup
    Squash (summer)... 1 cup
    String Beans (was, green or yellow)... 1 cup
    Tomatoes... 1 small
    Turnip Sprouts/Greens... 1 cup
    Zucchini... 1 cup
  • Fruits: 2 servings/day (do not eat after 6 pm/fresh or frozen fruit, not canned)
    Grapes (green)... 10 reg
    Apple... 1 small
    Apricot... 3 med
    Blueberries... 1/4 cup
    Cantaloupe... 1/8 lg
    Cherries... 9 med
    Grapefruit... 1/2 small
    Lemon... 1 small
    Orange... 1 small
    Peach... 1 small
    Pineapple... 3/4 cup
    Prunes... 2 med
    Raspberries... 1/4 cup
    Strawberries... 12 small
    Tangerine... 1 small
    Watermelon... 1 cup diced
  • Starches: 2 servings/day
    Diet Bread 940 calories)... 1 slice
    Melba Toast (unseasoned)... 2 slices
    Bread Stick (Diet Stella D 'Oro)... 1 lg stick
    Akmak Cracker... 1/2 sheet
    Rice Cake (unsalted)... 1 cake per day
    Millers Bran... 2 tbsp
    Kavli Crispy Bread, thin... 1 wafer
    Corn Tortillas (6" dia.)... 1/2 tortilla
    Ryvta Cracker... 1/2 of 1 pack (3 x per week combined)
    Baked Potato... 1/2 small (3 x per week combined)
    Brown Rice... 1/4 cup cooked (3 x per week combined)
  • Fats: 1 serving per day (apply after cooking)
    Diet Margarine... 1 tsp
    Promise Lite... 1 tsp
    Promise Ultra... 1 tsp
    Fleishman's Lite or diet mayonnaise... 1 tsp

Portions listed a raw weights unless stated.

You must also have 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of Morton's Lite Salt per day. You may also use 1 tbsp of mustard as a condiment per day.

You may prepare all foods by steaming, boiling, roasting, broiling, baking, pan frying, microwaving, or grilling. Do not use fat, lard, etc. Pam original, no butter, is allowed.

Limit artificial sweeteners (Equal, Sweet N' Low, Splenda) to 2 to 3 packs per day.

Allowed seasonings: Morton's Light Salt (1/4 to 1/2 tsp), pepper, garlic, fresh herbs and spices, apple cider vinegar and tarragon vinegar, Mrs. Dash, juice of one lemon per day. No regular salt or condiments.

Salad Dressings: 2 tbsp daily of Fat Free salad dressing.

Day Five

Food for April 24, 2008

  • Breakfast: Pill Cocktail (30 min prior), 1 sm Apple, 4oz Skim Milk, 8oz Thermoboost, 16oz Water
  • Mid-morning: 8oz Peach Mango Drink Supplement, 16oz Water.
  • Lunch: Pill Cocktail (30 min prior), 2 cups Lettuce with 1 tablespoon Kraft Fat Free Italian Dressing, 1 slice of Sara Lee Delightful white bread, 1 sm Apple, 16oz Water.
  • Snack: 8oz Thermoboost, Toffe Nutrition Bar Supplement.
  • Dinner: Pill Cocktail (30 min prior), 2 - 6oz chicken breast seasoned with 1/4 teaspoon Morton's Light Salt, Pepper, garlic powder, and 1 tsp light margarine, 1 slice of Sara Lee Delightful white bread, 2 cups Lettuce with 1 tablespoon Kraft Fat Free Catalina Dressing, 16oz Water.
  • Late: 16oz Water
Favorite quote of today's weigh in, "Huh, you're not losing much weight." That's the motivation I was looking for...

I did notice a couple of things I was doing incorrectly. First, I was taking the vitamin in all three pill cocktails. This should not be done. Only take the vitamin in the morning, just one a day. Second, I was doubling up my protein servings because I can't cook at work. So, I cooked extra last night to correct for today's food.