Part 2: It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change.

Moi, December 2009

It is one thing to decide to make a significant lifestyle change.  It is another thing to actually implement it.  Developing a strategy was in fact so overwhelming that it took me several weeks to do anything at all.  There are literally thousands of programs available to those seeking to lose weight.  The problem is that dieting is a multi-billion dollar industry in a country that demands instant gratification.  Most programs promise quick success but fail to yield long term results.  This is in part due to our short attention spans and partly due to the fact that most plans simply are not sustainable.  There is no magic pill and no substitute for hard work. 

I met with my doctor to get a read on my overall health and to develop a strategy that would yield the results I desired in a healthy, sustainable manner.  Despite my anxiety over the appointment (no one ever likes to be told they are fat), it was quick and relatively painless.  After all, it’s not like my doctor had to say, “You know, you should really lose some weight.”  I was there asking for guidance.  The strategy was simple and so logical, the financial analyst in me couldn’t even argue or find a fault:  reduce calories consumed to a more appropriate level for my age, sex, height, weight and activity level.

The first step was of course a routine physical exam, including blood work and the like.  As always, everything was perfectly normal.  By all accounts, I was a remarkably healthy fat chick.  Next, the calories needed to maintain my current weight were determined followed by determining a healthy calorie deficit that would promote weight loss.  There is a lot of math in this equation, using both my Basal Metabolic Rate and the Harris Benedict Equation, which I find very fascinating but which has been discussed and rehashed so many times on blogs worldwide that I won’t bore you with the details.  But at last, I had a very real perspective on exactly how many calories I needed to survive and to lose.  We discussed the balance of protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates that would likely work best for me and that most individuals find greater success with their weight loss by tracking calories consumed.  Already an active individual, additional exercise wasn’t required but more would certainly not hurt. 

The process would work something like this:  Slowly reduce my calories from the current level to the recommended level for weight loss then continue to consume calories at that level, periodically evaluating needed changes in the calorie level based on the change in my weight and activity level.  My goal would be to lose no more than 1% of my body weight per week.  Upon achieving my goal weight, I would closely increase my calories to the required maintenance level for that weight and activity level.  No crazy meals, powders or pills.  Just good old fashioned healthy eating habits.  Simple and sustainable.

Next up on the agenda…Tracking, or why I have absolutely no excuse not to know what I am consuming.

About this picture:  I hate it.  It is one of my least favorite photos which is why I am sharing it.  Here I am filling out a pair of size 24 jeans.  It is the heaviest I have ever been.  I don’t know exactly how heavy because I wouldn’t weigh myself at the time. 

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