Awareness as a Weight Loss Tool

foodWorking from home, I found I spent most of the day sitting in front of the PC. Sitting all day will kill ya. Combine that with the usual holiday gluttony and the fact I spent a week in Germany where I drank and ate like a pig, and by the end of January I was carrying an extra 15-20 lbs and I didn't like how it felt.

Following one last pig-out at my nephew's birthday party, I knew I had to make a change. I avoided scales like the plague, never counted a calorie or read a food label and was completely unaware of how overeating and exercise affected my weight / BMI. I decided to try using awareness as a weight loss tool.

The first step would be a documented weigh-in every morning. I decided to take advantage of my MarioKart machine a.k.a. the Nintendo Wii and monitor my weight and BMI with Wii Fit. Every morning at about 8:45am I step on the Wii Fit Balance Board and monitor my progress. My goal was to lose 10kg in three months, a healthy amount in a reasonable amount of time and just enough to get me out of the overweight section on my chart.

After a few weeks, I could predict my weight loss or gain based on what I ate and how much I exercised. For me, this was everything. I was completely aware of cause and effect. If I lost control on a pizza, I saw the jump the next morning. If I controlled my portions and made sensible decisions, I saw the drop. It's been awesome.

It's worth noting I haven't drastically increased my work outs. I try to walk more, and I do a little more lifting than I used to (I used to do zero lifting), but the biggest change I've made is dietary. I don't snack, I've drastically reduced my sugar intake, my beverage of choice is now water and I try to eat 50%-75% of what I used to when I do succumb to my carb addiction.

It's the awareness that I credit for the 8.2kg I've lost since I made this change in late January. For me, being aware of what happens when I eat poorly or don't exercise prevents me from repeating those mistakes.


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Wayner

“Awareness” particularly of what you’re eating is a killer. While you are losing weight now by cutting back or moderating your intake of bad foods you’ll eventually plateau. If weight loss is your goal being “aware” that you are eating the right things in the right amounts can in fact sabotage your efforts (why aren’t I losing weight I’m doing the right things?) resulting frustration and yo-yo dieting...Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig etc. have built empires on being aware of what you eat.

Instead, I would concentrate on being aware of your physical exercise/activities...this tends to be more rewarding. And by aware I mean track what you do an where you start and increase its intensity at periodic intervals...If you continue with healthy eating patterns you’ll find that the weight comes off and stays off.

Don’t do it alone though...join a gym or even go to weight watchers. Workouts alone at home are hardly ever successful..

April 19, 2012 @ 11:39 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Wayner

All good points.

If you're a guy like me, you're simply trying to get from 185 lbs to a healthier 165 lbs or so. I've found being aware of what I'm putting in my body (like skipping past the donuts and drinking a glass of water instead of a Coke) has worked these past few months.

But physical activity is also key. And I imagine with someone at 330 lbs trying to get to 280 lbs or so, that plateau would be more evident and obtrusive.

April 19, 2012 @ 11:46 AM

Lorne

Good points, Wayner. You do want to avoid the yo-yo, but that does tend to be more of a product of fad or crash diets-- where you drastically alter your diet/habits for a short period of time, then resume as normal.

You're going about things the right way, Mike. The connection between calories in = mass stored is one too many people I know seem to be completely oblivious to. (500 calories of grain fed, organic bacon is still 500 calories).

Also 100% agree with Wayner about the exercise, especially how it relates to awareness. Just knowing that 1/2 on a treadmill = ~200-300 calories puts a can of coke into perspective. And, in additional to an education, you get a healthier cardiovascular system-- so bonus.

In the end, the awareness becomes second nature. You know a splurge on a hamburger is just fine, because of the balanced food you eat for the rest of the week.

It's a numbers game that all works out in the end. =)

April 19, 2012 @ 1:00 PM

Irvine

Tips on good health, weight CONTROL, etc

- 75% of weight control is diet. Think of calories & fat as money. Saving 10% here and there adds up over time.

- Understand your body type. Are you ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph.

- Exercise is the key. Cardio is not about weight loss as much as it is about strengthening your heart. Weight training builds lean muscle. 1 pound of lean muscle burns 88 calories a day. 10 pounds burns 880 calories or 1 hour on the treadmill.

- While our minds know we're in the modern world, our bodies do not. They have the ability to adapt and they will. This adaptation is why you plateau. Your body adapts to less food & becomes more efficient with what it has. It's trained to "survive". You need to change up your fitness routine & do different types of cardio.

- Always stay hydrated & get a full 8 hours sleep. Sleep is always overlooked in a fitness routine.

- carbs are not the enemy. Learn to understand the glycemic index & what is a good carb & what is a bad carb. There is also good and bad fat.

- Remember that fitness is a lifestyle. Diet is not.

- Wayner is correct. Go to a gym versus working out at home. Being surrounded by healthy focused people will only make you more healthy and focused.

We all take our health for granted. Due to an accident I ended up in a wheel chair in 2009. Took me 7 months to walk without crutches. We all say that our health is important. Not enough of us live it. Live it.

Make fitness and good health your lifestyle. It will take a while but it can be done. You'll start to enjoy the taste of healthy food. You'll start enjoying simple things in life like good food, or the pleasure of a good nights sleep. And where going to the gym was once a pain in the ass it becomes something you look forward too. Nothing beats sweating out your stress on the treadmill or on the weight bench. There is no finish line.

PS. Sports drinks are bullshit too. Drink water. And pay close attention to your salt intake.

April 19, 2012 @ 1:57 PM

McNulty

I could go on for hours about this.

Going from 240 to 175 was a big accomplishment for me. How? Eating the right food and exercise. I do more than cardio. I take classes at the gym. I avoid empty calories. It is t easy but it works.

I've gone from a size 38 to a size 31 pant. That's huge.

Now I have added a tonne of muscle and I look good. But it started small like Mike then as I became healthier, I wanted to become fit. Then I wanted to be in great shape.

April 19, 2012 @ 5:24 PM

Cheryl

Well, I work out at home, but with a personal trainer. That's the way to go. It's not cheap, but it's sure worth it. I have a really good personal trainer. We work out in the gym downstairs or outside if the weather is nice. I'm in a lot better shape with my personal trainer and I wouldn't go any other way. Workouts are boring doing them alone. I tried it but can't get motivated.

April 19, 2012 @ 6:15 PM

Rob

How timely.
I weighed myself just after Christmas, and I was at 245lbs, the most I have ever weighed in my life. And I was angry.
I have a tread mill at home that was gathering dust, so, I broke it out and got going. I 'fast walk' (my knees cant take the run...yet) 6 days a week, sometimes 7. And I have been trying to pay better attention to my diet. A lot the same as you Mike, cut out the pop and chips. More water and veggies.
Today, I am 225lbs, so I'm getting there.
Only problem is, I think I have hit my plateau. My weight hasnt changed much (223-227) in the last few weeks. I know its a BS excuse, but time for me is an issue. I work long days, have 2 kids, play ball, coach my one son in ball, and try to stay on top of my music blog.
I wish there was a little more time in the day...

April 20, 2012 @ 8:49 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

And here's my Wii Fit chart:

May 13, 2012 @ 6:52 PM

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