I have a personal goal right now… and that is to be a very lean and mean 190 lbs. I started around 203 lbs several weeks back, and now I’m at around 195. Little bit yet to go… and it has NOT been easy.
Why It’s Hard
When you get to “in pretty good shape” levels of fitness, the body just does all it can to keep things right where they’re at. If you’re a huge obese person, a change in diet and exercise can result in 10+ lbs of fat falling off week after week. If you are at 15% bodyfat and workout regularly (like me), then your body says, “Nah… I think I need to hold on to this fat. Good try, though.” It’s tough.
How I’m Doing It
For me, diet wise, it’s a two-fold process:
- I’m eating less. For you gym rats, yes… It’s okay to feel a little hungry before bedtime. Guys who lift weights and work out regularly tend to WAY overestimate the amount of calories they need to take in on a daily basis. You don’t NEED that much food to function and recuperate. You’re not going to waste away. You’re also not a steroid-abusing professional bodybuilder. There are a ton of people out there that are experimenting with Intermittent Fasting (extended periods of no food… like skipping breakfast or just eating one meal a day). The commonality in all of the IF eating programs is that you, in the end, are eating fewer calories overall. It really is a simple math game. You eat less, you lose weight. Cut your portions down. Eliminate the junk food that is so densely packed with calories.
- I’m still eating mostly protein, fruits and greens. It’s not technically a Ketogenic diet (I eat more carbs on workout days), but it’s close to it. Why? Are carbs evil? No, but for me and my body, I just can’t eat a carby diet without a huge hunger response. In other words, if I eat some crackers … I want more. Like, now. Right away. If I eat a fat steak and some salad, I have to remind myself to eat six hours later. My body just remains satiated for much longer. No blood sugar spikes and crashes. No craving for the crunchy/salty/sweet stuff. No bloat and water retention.
I use the RENPHO scale that measures my weight as well as bodyfat, water, etc. How accurate is it? I’m sure it’s not 100% accurate for just $30, but it seems to be PRETTY close. The numbers are close enough to use as a helpful tool for me to use to gauge my progress. It sends the data to my phone for me to track in a free app. Here’s a look at my progress:
Notice how I seem to have a spike before a drop in weight? Happens every time for me. I don’t know the science behind it, but that’s how my body works. It gives one little gasp of a protest, and then the weight comes off overnight. I have learned not to be frustrated with sudden spikes in weight.
You’re Going to Need Extra Help
There are a few extra things (above eating less) that you’re going to need to do to loose those extra few pounds:
- Drink a ton of water. All day. Every day. No, soda doesn’t count. Just plain ol’ water. It fills you up. Keeps your muscles hydrated. Keeps the system functioning properly. Drink more water.
- Have a little coffee in the morning. This always helps me before working out. Gives me that extra little oomph I need. I don’t do the pre-workout powder supplements I see so many kids using in the gym. Those have the equivalent of several cups of coffee and a bunch of other crap in them. I just like plain ‘ol coffee. There are known health benefits that go beyond just the stimulant effect. There is evidence that it also helps to boost the immune system and supresses appetite.
- Eat plenty of fiber. Salad greens. Broccoli. Metamucil fiber is an excellent supplement to your diet that keeps things moving through your gut and has positive effects on heart health. It also helps keep you feeling full. That’s important for those nights when you just want to eat several spoons of peanut butter.
- Do your cardio. Yes, I know it sucks. Mix it up a bit. Do the more “traditional” cardio but kick it up a notch. Get on the treadmill, but set the incline to 10%. Get on the stair master and kick up the speed a notch or two and sweat it out for 30 minutes. Throw in the rowing machine. Try more “high intensity” things like battle ropes and kettle bell swings. Try box jumps if your knees and ankles can take it. The cardio is great for your heart health (hence it being called “cardio”) and it will help burn off more calories and be good for your overall sense of wellbeing.
This stuff takes time. You HAVE to measure your progress and make adjustments. You’re going to have to be strict with your diet and exercise plan. It’s okay to give yourself a little treat now and then, but be honest with yourself if you notice the scale numbers not moving for a couple of weeks. Even though you did all those hours of cardio and lifting and had 5 days of strict eating, you could’ve very well wiped out all that progress with one Saturday afternoon of beer and chips at the football game. Remember, you can’t out-work a bad diet. Abs start in the kitchen.
Get good sleep.
A lot of you are chronically sleep-deprived. This has HUGE effects on your overall health, including your ability to lose weight. To keep it short, if you get a full night sleep every night and wake up well-rested, you will have a MUCH easier time losing those last few pounds. The whole physical body system works in harmony when you are well-rested. The whole machine starts breaking down when you are sleep-deprived.