Sunday, 10 February 2008

Weight Loss Through Vigilance

In 2006, from January 1 to December 31, I lost a little over 30kg, going from 107kg to 76.5kg. I relaxed a little in 2007 and stablised at 82kg, but then since I've been travelling my routine went completely out the window. Since I've been in Canada I've put on perhaps 8-10kg. It's time to lose it again.

I worked out a decent system for losing weight which evolved gradually to suit me. Eating is 70% of weight loss, exercise 20%, pills and other tricks about 10%. It's clearly driven by what I'm not putting into my mouth, but my sanity and happiness depends on selecting quality, filling foods to eat; 300 calories of jellybeans for breakfast delivers a different day than 300 calories of bran. <300-calorie>

The main thing I learned was that diet and exercise are results-driven, not enjoyment-driven. Its success comes from following a clear routine, not from seeking variety and novelty like recreational activities do. Thus, meals like breakfast or general snacks could be standardised -- not always the same, but always consistent in terms of calories and major components: bran+banana/bran+NutraSweet/bran+honey/bran+cinnamon. My progress came from being vigilant and consistent, and the loss happened effortlessly.

The times where routine was thrown off were when I mistook dieting for recreation (variety=fun). I eventually realised that certain flashpoints -- supermarket shopping, lunch breaks, unusual bedtimes -- were decision crucibles that had major downstream effects. By controlling these short periods, I could forget about food choices at other times because it was already done; the stuff in the fridge was all fine to eat. I removed ambiguity at other times by making a greenlight menu list for McDonalds and Wendys which I carried in my wallet. I had choices, but they were all confirmed to be good ones. Also for Starbucks, where a Tall Americano is 10 calories, a Venti Latte 290 and the most calorific coffee 760 calories (to compare, a Big Mac is 540).

My exercise routine ran to an hour of weightlifting 2-3 times a week. I adjusted it by lifting high weights and lifting slowly, plus using protein and dextrose before, during and after to maximize my strength and benefit most from the exertion. I integrated as much walking as was reasonable into my everyday activities, and that was all the exercise I did that year.

Almost all weight-loss products are worthless without diet/exercise, as even if they are effective they only add benefits if you are currently losing weight in other ways. The exception to this is the ECA stack which I wrote about in an earlier post, which reduces appetite and heats up your body. These effects both cause weight loss (or limit weight gain) in clinical trials. ECA = Ephedrine, which is illegal in most countries; caffeine, which is an appetite suppressant by itself; and aspirin, which you only really need to add if you're obese and you have a tough time losing weight normally. I'm getting back on the food-control bandwagon for three months. By mid-March my pants will fit properly, and by mid-May I will be back down to 82kg.

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