Anyone who follows this seeming train-wreck of a low carb blog knows I went on vacation and porked up nicely.
I returned from my vacation and have maintained my porkiness, I suppose because I like to eat.
My vacation did prove that my old flames – cigarettes and alcohol – don’t seem to hold much sway over me anymore. I indulged in both and have little craving toward them now. I had some Champagne for New Year’s and found myself switching to seltzer after a glass and a half.
Food, however, is another thing entirely. I have proven once again (though regular readers might protest that I have proven this repeatedly and have no need to continue proving it) that I am artificially thin, and that my body, once 265 pounds 9 years ago, would very much like me to get back to that place.
I’ve been preventing my body from doing this through low carb dieting for the past 9 years, though I’ve always been erratic: I suppose there has always been an element of self-experimentation in what I do, which explains why there are around 500 postings on this blog. Don’t be put off by that if you’re new to low carb – it isn’t all that complicated. I just over think things.
What I would like to do here is the opposite: make low carb about as simple as possible – throw out all the unnecessary and focus on just what I need to get from point A to point B.
Losing Weight Starts With Realistic Goals
I woke this morning, January 01, 2013, slightly in awe at the amount and types of food I have managed to eat, like millions of other people this morning. Like those same millions, I was impressed, though not in a good way, with the number on my scale.
At 5′ 10″ and 209.5, I am considered obese.
Now, you might not know this, but obesity is not a disease and is not harmful in and of itself. Instead, it is a symptom of other diseases like diabetes, and can play a factor in other diseases like heart disease and cancer, but the relationship isn’t a direct one. Simply put: your weight doesn’t necessarily indicate your health. There are healthy fat people and unhealthy skinny people – which is obvious when you spend even a moment thinking about it. In fact, reckless dieting is more likely to damage your health than staying fat while eating better and getting exercise.
I know this but I want to lose weight anyway. Why? because being fat is just about the only allowable social stigma left. It is politically incorrect to prejudge a person by race, creed, or color, but if they’re fat, they are deserving of ridicule and abuse and to be accused of lacking self-control and being morally inferior. This is all false, mind you – like any prejudice there is a small proportion that fit the stereotypes, but for the majority of us we are unfairly tarred with a brush that calls us weak, immoral, gluttonous, and somehow lacking as people.
And many of us believe it ourselves.
So then, losing weight is almost entirely a desire to conform to society’s ideals about what a person should be, and when I lose weight, people will project positive attributes upon me that I don’t even have. I will be seen as smarter, stronger, and all-around a better person, even if I am a flawed and weak dope.
Losing weight is better than a brain transplant because, let’s face it: people are shallow. And if I am shallow, too, I will also have the pleasure of feeling morally superior to other people simply because I’ve lost weight.
So now that we’ve got that out of the way, how do I lose weight to conform to societal ideals so I, too, can feel morally superior – but do so without damaging my health?
In a nutshell:
- Pick a realistic weight loss target
- Take it slow
- Eat a diet with adequate calories and nutrition
Let’s look at each of these in detail.
Pick a realistic weight loss target
A person’s ideal weight is typically determined by the BMI – the ‘body mass index’ – a ratio of height to weight that was devised by an astronomer in the 1850s. To say that it is flawed and misused is an understatement of monumental proportions. It’s primary misuse lies in that what is called ‘optimal weight’ is too low. It was set like that by people who have a financial interest in selling weight loss products and services – and not because it is healthy. Overweight people have fewer heart attacks than skinny people and being overweight is actually protective in older people.
So what should I weigh? Here’s what I do: pick a weight somewhere in the middle of the ‘overweight’ range where I can comfortably fit into a particular clothing size. I’m not doing this entirely for health – remember? This is about looking good and not damaging my health, so my waist size – chosen so that I can buy clothes ‘off the rack’ that fit me well – is a much more practical number to attain than anything the BMI says.
For me, that’s a BMI of 26.5, which puts me at 185 pounds. The BMI states I should be under 174, which let me tell you, is ridiculous I once got down to that weight and I see those pictures now and look gaunt and sickly, and my family thought I was becoming anorexic, though I quickly gained the weight and proved them wrong.
A size 36 should be ideal for me.
Take it slow
So now that I’ve picked a target weight, I need to pick a target rate: how quickly should I lose the weight? All of you who shouted: “as fast as possible!’ get a failing grade and have to pound erasers after school. Your body fat provides a helpful service in that it stores a lot of toxins that accumulate in your body. Burning fat releases them. The faster you burn fat, the faster you release these toxins. Consequently. it is better for your health to release these toxins as slowly as is reasonable.
Your body is always ingesting toxins – this can’t be helped – they are everywhere, but you can reduce the body burden by taking the weight loss slow and choosing foods that are lower in toxins. Choosing foods lower in toxins is not an easy thing as even the most natural, organic foods can contain natural, organic toxins. For example, the greens from an organic, natural potato will kill you organically from the natural toxins in the greens – that’s why you should never eat green potatoes. A good rule of thumb, however, is to minimize processed foods as much as possible.
You are also more likely to keep weight off when you lose it slower. Permanent weight loss is a life-long habit and the longer it takes the more ingrained the habit. Fast weight loss usually means fast weight gain – and yo-yo dieting is more unhealthy than staying fat in the first place.
For myself, I think an average of about 1.5 pounds a week is a nice, slow, reasonable rate. I calculated that I am 210 now and want to be 185 – that’s 25 pounds. 25 pounds divided by 1.5 pounds per week gives me a date about 17 weeks in the future – I’ll round this to May 1st.
Eat a diet with adequate calories and nutrition
Now that I am armed with a realistic goal and a realistic time-frame to attain it in, I can be sure to get adequate calories and nutrition. Unlike most folks who do low carb, I keep tabs on my calories. Like I said – I like to eat. To find what my caloric intake should approximately be, I use a BMR calculator. BMR stand for ‘basal metabolic rate’ and is a guesstimate of how many calories you would need if you hung out in bed all day. I calculate my BMR for my target weight and my current weight and will try to keep the calories within those 2 numbers.
Here’s a link to the first BMR calculator I came across: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/.
My calorie range, according to this, is between and 1,767 and 1,923. That’s my target. Depending on the day, I might go higher or lower – but I would never allow myself to eat less than 85% of my target BMR of 1,767 calories – that’s about 1,500. Even if I wasn’t hungry, I would make sure to eat that much.
Armed with a very practical, sensible and realistic expectations, I am now much more likely to succeed in my 2013 weight loss goals.
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