Some of you know I have recently lost five pounds and have told me that’s great and I must have found a strategy that works for me. Yes and no. Those five pounds were lost due to grief over the death of a dear friend. I simply couldn’t eat. This is not a good plan and I do not recommend it. Keep as many of your friends alive as possible.
But I figure as long as the scale is moving in the right direction, I should take advantage of that. At this time last year, I was feeling very pleased with myself for having lost 23 pounds. I maintained that weight loss for a long time. But inner slugs being what they are (and mine is incredibly successful, not to mention sneaky as hell), I have now gained back roughly half that amount.
Inattention + Inactivity + Indulgence = Smug Sedentary Slug
So here’s the real plan, in case anyone is interested. I have no credentials whatsoever to give this advice and you should probably disregard all of it and talk to your doctor instead. It’s pretty basic stuff, but this is what seems to work for me. When I follow it. And that’s the hard part, isn’t it?
- No alcohol. No brainer, right? But I’m always surprised by people who are trying to lose weight, yet continue to drink alcohol. I pretty much don’t drink at all anymore, though I will on occasion have a glass of wine. It just doesn’t agree with me. But I am convinced that, in addition to the calories it packs, alcohol somehow changes a person’s body chemistry and makes it darn near impossible to lose weight. No facts at all to back that up, just experience.
- No food after dinner. None. Well, duh. But this is the one that is hard for me. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to have just a handful of crackers? Maybe some cheese? And popcorn would taste so good right about now. Stop. Don’t do it. You ate dinner, right? You are not hungry, you are bored. Do something else. Drink a big glass of water. Or go to bed early for a change, you probably don’t get enough sleep.
- Drink more water. You already do? Drink more than that. Ice cold water. Your body has to heat up the cold things you ingest and that takes energy. Besides, all that water flushes out the bad things. Yes, that is the highly technical scientific description of the process.
- Exercise more. For me, right now, any exercise at all is more. For you, it may mean something else. Whatever you’re doing, do more. Change the balance. A cardiologist once told me (after saying my heart was in terrific shape and I had simply pulled a muscle and to stop worrying my way to a heart attack) that if you want to maximize weight loss, you should exercise an hour or two before bedtime. He said if you raise your metabolism at a time of day when you are not likely to be eating anything for several hours, your body burns stored fat instead. Makes sense to me. But it’s really hard to do. Do it anyway.
- Eat less, more often. I know, another no brainer. Eat smaller portions, but eat several times a day. It works. But it also requires advance planning and that is where my plan suffers. Make the time to buy, prepare and pack up healthy snacks to bring with you to work. Don’t eat chips or sweets. Eat yogurt. Eat fruits and vegetables. Don’t ever get stuck with nothing (good) to eat. Because then you will head to the vending machine or the fast food place or be ever so grateful your co-worker brought in a dozen doughnuts to share because you are absolutely starving and your common sense has left the building. You can prevent that, you know. Plan ahead.
- A word about cravings: If you have a craving for something you know you shouldn’t eat — I’m making a huge assumption here that everyone knows what is and is not fattening — it might be a good idea to go ahead and indulge. I know, that sounds contrary to losing weight. I disagree. In my experience, what most people do is wait until the craving is so strong they can’t resist it any longer and are prepared to commit several felonies if anyone tries to stop them, and then indulge to excess. They eat the entire bag of chips instead of just a few, the entire carton of ice cream instead of three spoonfuls. They order everything off the menu at Taco Bell, when if they had just given in last week, one chicken taco would have satisfied them. Be sensible. Don’t kid yourself by making up excuses to indulge (and really, if you keep ice cream in the freezer or cookies in the pantry and tell yourself you are not going to eat them, they’re just for company, you are not being honest), but if you absolutely have to satisfy a craving, do it while you still have some control and can be moderate.
And that’s it. Pretty much just plain old, long-winded common sense. It may not work for you at all, but I’m going to do my best to follow my own advice. It has worked for me in the past. We’ll see what happens this time. I won’t be blogging about this on a regular basis, but you can follow my so-called progress by checking out those ticker things over on the side. I tried to set easily (HA!) obtainable goals on those things, but once I’ve walked 50 miles, I’ll re-set it for 50 more. And after I lose the first 20 pounds, I’ll start to work on the next 20. Oh, believe me, there are at least 20 more. The weight ticker won’t change as often, since I refuse to weigh myself more than twice a week, but the exercise one should change daily.
Well, that’s the plan. It’s good to have a plan. You want to tell me about yours?