Wanting to lose weight, but lacking the motivation? Motivation is the first step and one of the hardest parts of weight loss. Well I came up with a trick to help motivate you to lose weight and keep your focus on what you want to accomplish.
Want to learn how to lose weight? Most people trying to lose weight ignore one of my five steps to weight loss. To prevent your weight loss efforts from failing, check out my five steps to see where you might be lacking.
I recently launched my new YouTube channel, and I’m starting with a series about healthy weight loss! Check out my first video to learn what a healthy weight is and if you like it please subscribe to my YouTube channel to see more videos! Please help me make my dream of becoming a YouTube star a reality 🙂
Weight Loss Step 2: Education (you may want to read this first)
Holy crap, I’ve lost a lot of weight so far. It was more than I expected, but it makes sense once I break it down later in this post. Let me back up a little bit.
In case you haven’t read part 1 or 2,
While I have the education step covered seeing as I will probably be a registered dietitian within the next five months or so, there is always more to learn and more strategies to develop for teaching others. I can also work on finding and making more healthy recipes, so there may be a couple of those in the future J For many of you out there, whether you have already started your weight loss plan or not, Education is a vital step in your weight loss journey that should always be ongoing. Research is hard to do, especially when you are a normal person without training on how to read scientific literature. It truly is confusing. Misinterpretations of science have filled the internet with hundreds of misconceptions about weight loss and healthy eating and many people are out for your money without a concern for you as a person. Basically, what I’m trying to say is to be wary when reading or listening to nutrition advice from people that aren’t dietitians because they don’t see the whole picture!
The biggest educational piece I’m currently working on for myself is a Quick Weight Loss Kickstart diet that will help people safely lose 2-4 lbs* of fat per week for several weeks, in as healthy of a way as possible, before transitioning into a more balanced weight loss approach that you can sustain long term (.5-2 lbs per week). People with obesity may be able to stay on the program for more than several weeks. My inspiration for developing a faster weight loss diet was my girlfriend who worked at a medical weight loss center that put patients on diets as low as 420 Calories per day. Although I’m not a member of the primary targeted population for this diet I’m developing, I do think this diet does have some application to the more athletic, leaner population in the right context. I will be working out the kinks to this diet for the first 2-4 weeks of my diet and documenting my progress. Then, I will demonstrate a slower, more flexible diet plan for several weeks after that.
*Total weight loss will be greater than this due to a decrease in fluid, glycogen, and intestinal content.
My results so far after one week:
Day 1 (2/24/14) Weight: 207.6 lbs
Day 8 (3/3/14) Weight: 196.2
- I’m moving towards my goal of a healthier body fat percentage.
- I look leaner.
- My squat hasn’t been affected much, if at all. I did two sets of 335lbs for 3 reps today.
- My acid reflux has improved. I had a little today before working out, but it has been way less frequent recently.
- My 32” waist jeans are fitting better.
- I’ve not been feeling bloated and lethargic when I wake up in the morning.
- Hunger hasn’t been that big of an issue despite a restrictive diet!
Talk about being motivated by progress! A large part of you exercising fiends that are really concerned with muscle loss are probably thinking that this is a ridiculous weight loss pace and I must have lost a lot of muscle. I almost didn’t put this weight in up here for that reason and because I thought it would look fake and gimmicky, but please let me explain. A huge portion of that weight loss is fluid. When switching to a lower carbohydrate diet, you lose your stored carbohydrates in the form of muscle and liver glycogen. Carbohydrates are hydrophilic, meaning that they like water and hold on to it in the body. For every gram of stored glycogen, we store about 3 grams of water. Basically, my body had a lot of stored glycogen because I went straight from eating a ton of carbohydrates (>500 g/day) to a lower carbohydrate intake. I burned a lot of my glycogen and the water had to come out with it. Most people won’t see weight loss at this fast of a rate, even on this quick weight loss plan. I probably lost about 3-3.5 lbs of fat and 7.9-8.4 lbs of fluid, glycogen, and intestinal content. I suspect minimal muscle loss at this point because:
- My strength has been surprisingly good in the gym for a much lower Carb intake.
- I don’t visibly look like I’ve lost much muscle.
- I had been gaining weight for the previous 2 years so my hormones are primed for muscle retention.
- I have only been dieting for a week so far.
According to my estimations, I have lost the weight of about 1 gallon of water (~8.3 lbs!) from glycogen, fluid, and intestinal contents in just one week!
*This weight changing phenomenon is a large part of the reason many dieters experience a large weight gain after only one or two “cheat” days. They consume more carbohydrates and sodium than usual during the “cheat” and then the body begins to hold on to more water. But I digress.*
I expect my next weight in will be about 193 lbs because I shouldn’t have much more water weight to lose. Stay tuned for my progress and more posts! Some big articles will also be coming out within the next 7-10 days, including the next part of this series and hopefully the next installment in my weight loss steps series – Weight Loss Step 3: Preparation.
Weight Loss Step 1: Motivation (please read this article before beginning)
I have said this before – motivation is the first step to weight loss. If you don’t have it, you won’t be successful for long. It’s something that needs to be addressed before anyone starts to make changes to his or her diet and I am no exception to this rule. My motivation is very high right now – about a 9 out of 10. The biggest demotivators that I addressed in the article I linked to above aren’t an issue for me. I love myself, I know I can lose this weight, and I’ve never failed at it before. However, a demotivator for me is comparing myself to other weight lifters. I don’t get too caught up in it because I don’t have body image issues, but every once in a while it can be discouraging for me to see others that are more successful than me at something that I put time and effort in to. Another thing that can be demotivating is that sometimes I don’t have the full support of others – specifically my parents and other older people. I look healthy, so therefore some people that don’t understand why or how I’m losing the weight are worried that I’m starving myself or being unhealthy. I know what I’m doing though. In reality, I’m at about 19% body fat and would be healthier in the 10-15% body fat range.
I’m also keeping a motivation “journal” as mentioned in the above article and here is what I have in it:
All the things motivating me to lose weight
- I want to be at a healthier body fat percentage.
- I want to look better and leaner – maybe even get my 6 pack to come back.
- I want to lift the same weights on the squat and deadlift that I do now at a lower weight of 180-185 lbs.
- I want my acid-reflux to go away (started once I passed 200 lbs).
- I want my jeans, dress pants, and slim-fit dress shirts to fit me comfortably again.
- I want to wake up not feeling lethargic and “full.”
I’ll be looking at this list every day for the first couple weeks to remind myself why I’m doing this.
Here is who I have told about my plan to lose weight and who I plan to keep in contact with to keep me accountable while I lose weight.
- You and my other blog followers
- Girlfriend, girlfriend’s sister, my brother, a couple other friends.
- Fitocracy (Fitness website, click to sign up so you can follow me and my workouts)
Using Progress to Motivate Me
As I notice progress, I will be blogging about it and writing it down to remind myself of the results I’m getting from following my weight loss plan. I’m also going to reward myself for meeting my weight loss goals – in fact, I made a bet that I could lose weight on dietbetter.com. I joined two “diet bet” games on this website that I could lose 4% of my bodyweight (about 8.3 lbs) in the next 28 days. I bet $60 worth of money and people that win usually make at least 1.5x of what they bet, so losing means losing at least $90 which is enough of a reward for a cheapo like me 🙂
For the scale to motivate me, I’m limiting myself to weekly weigh-ins. In fact, I’m hiding my scale where I won’t see it every day – out of sight, out of mind. Why? If I weigh myself every day, I will get discouraged on days that I don’t lose weight or even gain weight. Water weight fluctuates several pounds day to day so it’s pointless for most people to measure themselves daily anyway. If you think you have this problem too, please read my article Watching the Scale Could Be the Reason You Don’t See that Number Go Down.
Finally, I took before pictures and will take after pictures to motivate me. I won’t be posting the shirtless ones because that’s not exactly the most professional thing to do in my line of work, but I will offer some before and after pictures of the scale and pictures where I have a shirt on.
Want to see how a pro loses weight? Many of you may be wondering why a real “pro” even needs to lose weight. Good question. You may have read my “About Me” and saw that I lift weights. Although I don’t consider myself as a bodybuilder or powerlifter, I’m still interested in gaining muscle, being lean, and lifting more weight (being stronger) at a lower body weight. For this reason, I go through cycles where I gain weight (usually about .5 lbs per week or less) with the goal of gaining muscle and then I lose weight with the goal of losing fat and keeping the muscle that I gained in the previous cycle. Before you quit reading because you think this doesn’t apply to you, please hear me out – I think most people will learn some things while following my weight loss journey that can help you out regardless of if you ever plan to gain or lose weight in cycles like I do. Many of you are probably thinking “I thought lifting weights meant gaining muscle all of the time. Can’t you just lose weight and gain muscle at the same time.” Not exactly. When losing weight, your body is in a catabolic state which basically means you’re your body is breaking down tissue (fat and muscle) for energy to fuel your body because you aren’t giving it enough energy from food. Because building muscle takes a lot of energy from the body, muscle building gets put on the back burner of your body’s priority list. In fact, for someone like me that has been lifting for some time, some muscle loss will likely occur even if I continue to lift and eat correctly. However, you may be luckier than me. There are four types of people that can lose fat while gaining muscle:
- Beginners to weight lifting (if you haven’t been lifting properly, this may apply to you too)
- Obese (BMI>30) people
- People who have “muscle memory” from lifting weights in the past, but quit lifting for an extended period of time
- People taking steroids
I, unfortunately, don’t fit in to one of those categories so I must do my muscle gaining and fat loss in separate cycles. Currently (2/24/14), I’m at the end of almost a 2 year long weight gaining cycle that started in May of 2012. I’m 6’2” tall. I started at about 165 lbs (likely 10% bodyfat) and ended at 207.6 lbs (likely 19% bodyfat). A 40 lb gain in about 21 months with about half of it being muscle – exactly the pace I was shooting for. However, even when doing most things right, I have packed on both fat and muscle and it’s time for the fat to come off.
The diet started on 2/24/14 and has been successful so far. Stats at the beginning of the diet:
Weight: 207.6 lbs
Estimated Body Fat Percentage By Sight: ~19%
Lean Body Weight (Muscle+Everything That’s Not Fat): 168,2 lbs
Fat Weight: 39.4 lbs
Not only will the fat be coming off, it will be coming off fast. My girlfriend, who is also in school to become a dietitian, has been working at a weight loss clinic for the past couple months and has got me thinking about a scientific approach to rapid fat loss while maintaining muscle and being as healthy as possible. Over the next couple weeks, I will be sharing my experience with losing weight quickly and then for several weeks after that I will show you a more moderate and flexible approach to weight loss. My future posts on this will break it down into my 5 Steps of Weight Loss, give you bits and pieces of my experience, and then show you the real results! Stay tuned 🙂
Step 1: Motivation
Step 2: Education
Step 3: Preparation
Step 4: Initiation
Step 5: Evaluation and Perfection
What makes you feel like you’ve eaten enough at a meal? Is it the Calories? Unless you have a magical stomach, then it’s probably not that. If we felt full after a certain amount of Calories, then we wouldn’t struggle as much with our weight! Well what is it then? One of the answers to this question is simply the amount or volume of the food we eat. Think of it as the space the food takes up in our stomach. You are probably thinking “Well duh David” we eat until we are full. But maybe you haven’t thought about this: we can eat the same amount or even more food (by volume), but lose weight by paying attention to the energy density of the foods that we eat! You may have had a time in the past when you ate healthy foods, but still don’t lose weight. It may have been because the healthy foods that you were eating were energy dense foods.
Energy density is the amount of Calories per weight (mass) of food. This would be written as ____ Calories per oz of food. Knowing the concept of energy density can help you choose foods that will fill you up and prevent hunger while staying in your Calorie goal to lose weight. If you choose foods that are very energy dense, then it will be difficult to lose weight because you won’t be able to eat very much food or feel full before reaching your Calorie goal. If you don’t know already, eating fewer Calories than we burn is what causes us to lose weight. See my article How Many Calories Do You Need? to find out how many Calories you need to lose weight.
What Foods Are Energy Dense?
Foods that are high in fat usually have the highest energy density because fat has 9 Calories per gram, while protein and carbohydrates have about 4 Calories per gram. However, the water content of the food is an important factor in energy density too. For example, fruits and vegetables have a high water content which increases the weight of the food, but not the Calories. Another example is whole milk, which is typically thought of as having a lot of fat and Calories. It should be really energy dense then right? Actually, whole milk is six times less energy dense than most cereals. Because water content affects energy density substantially, processed foods that are dried and/or packed with a lot of flour or sugar can be extremely energy dense too. Even dried whole grain foods can be very energy dense. Dried fruit, whole grain dry cereal, and whole grain crackers are perfectly healthy foods, but they are energy dense when compared to fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low fat dairy, and grains cooked in water (oatmeal, rice, ect.).
The difference in energy density between foods can be absolutely huge. For example, 3 oz of broccoli has about ~25 Calories, 3 oz apple* has 43 Calories, 3 oz of Light Yogurt* has ~40-50 Calories, 3 oz lean chicken has ~120 Calories, 3 oz of whole wheat bread* has ~240 Calories, 3 oz of nuts* have ~490-560 Calories, and 3 oz oil* has 700+ Calories. You would have to eat 60 oz of broccoli (almost 4 lbs!) to get as many Calories as you get from eating 3 oz of nuts. Imagine how much food 4 pounds of broccoli is and how much space it would take up in your stomach! This is why eating your fruits and vegetables is so important when trying to lose weight – they provide a lot of volume and few Calories (and they have fiber, potassium, and tons of vitamins and minerals).
Interested in how energy dense different foods are? Here is a complete table comparing the Calories in 3 oz of these foods:
|Food||Calories per 3 oz of this food|
|Non-Starchy Vegetables (Broccoli, Green Beans, Tomato, Onion, Pumpkin, Squash, Carrot, Snow Peas, Peppers, Collard Greens, Spinach, Romaine Lettuce)||25-35 Calories|
|Starchy Vegetables (Corn, Potatoes, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Lima Beans)||60-75 Calories|
|Fruits (Apples, Oranges, Apricots, Peaches, Nectarines, Pears, Mango, Pineapple, Plums, Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Grapes)||40-60 CaloriesExceptions: Banana ~75 CaloriesAvocado ~135 CaloriesDry Fruit~240-360 Calories|
|Whole Wheat Bread, White Bread, Other Varieties of Bread||210-250 Calories**Exception: Low Calories Bread ~135 Calories|
|Dry Cereals, Granola Bars, Granola, and Crackers||300-380 Calories (Higher fat, higher sugar products will be higher end of this range)|
|Hot Cooked Cereals (Oatmeal, Oat Bran, Cream of Wheat) (already cooked)||45-60 Calories plain, no sugar or fat added70-100 Calories for sugar-sweetened|
|Other Cooked Grains (Rice, Quinoa, Noodles, Spaghetti) (already cooked)||80-130 Calories*|
|Lean Meats (already cooked) (Chicken Breast, Chicken Tenderloin, Deli Turkey or Lean Ham, Pork Tenderloin, Tuna, Lean Fish, egg whites, Ground Turkey/Beef that is 95% lean/5% fat or better)||90-140 Calories|
|High Fat Meats (Sausage, Bacon, Bologna, Salami, Pepperoni, Fried Chicken with the Skin, Ground Turkey/Beef that is 80% lean/20% fat or more)||230-280 Calories400-450 Calories for Bacon|
|Legumes (All beans, lentils)||~70 Calories for beans~100 Calories for Lentils|
|Nuts and Seeds (Peanuts, Walnuts, Cashews, Pistachios, Almonds, Pecans, Sunflower Seeds, Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Nut Butters)||490-560 Calories|
|Oils (Vegetable, Sunflower, Soybean, Safflower, Canola, Olive, Flax, Fish, Coconut, Shortening, ect)||700+ Calories|
|Low Fat, No-Sugar Added Dairy** (skim and 1% milk, fat-free sugar free plain yogurt, fat-free sugar free plain Greek Yogurt, fat free yogurts sweetened with artificial sweetener, 1% or skim cottage cheese Fat-Free Cheese)||30-60 Calories120 Calories for Fat Free Cheese|
|Higher Fat and/or Sugar Added Dairy*** (whole and 2% milk, Chocolate Milk, Yogurts and Greek Yogurts made with higher fat milk and/or added sugars, high fat cottage Cheese, All other cheeses)||45-55 Calories for 2%/Whole Milk60-80 Calories for Chocolate Milk60-80 Calories Yogurts~90 Calories Cottage Cheese~280 Calories Full Fat Cheeses|
|Sweets (Cake, Brownies, Cookies, Pies, Chocolate Bars, Candy ect)||~280-450 Calories|
*3 oz is not the serving size for some of these foods, but comparing equal weights of foods better illustrates the differences in energy density.
**Very little Calorie difference for White vs Whole Wheat
***Dairy foods, except for cheese, have a high water content, which makes them less energy dense.
As you can see from the chart above, the least energy dense foods are vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy, cooked whole grains (in water), beans, and lean meats. Also, you may have noticed that some foods that have healthy nutrients can also be very energy dense like dry fruit, whole grain breads, whole grain dry cereals, whole grain granola bars, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. These foods are perfectly healthy, but if you are dieting you should choose less energy dense healthy foods instead. Replacing these foods with other healthy foods that are less energy dense may prevent you from overeating and help you stay full. On the occasions that you do eat energy denser foods, always measure them because a measurement error can result in a large amount of Calories.
|Energy Dense Healthy Food||Less Energy Dense Substitution|
|Dry Fruit||Whole fruits|
|Whole Grain Bread/Dry Cereals/Granola Bars||Cooked Grains and Cereals (Oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, Oat Bran, Brown Rice, Quinoa, Whole Grain Noodles or Spaghetti) – Measure your portions|
|Nuts/Seeds||Beans, Lean Meats, Low-fat Dairy|
|Oils (Olive or Canola)||Replace with Applesauce when Baking, Use Cooking Spray Instead or Measure Out Very Small Portions|
What Matters in this Blog Post:
1. We usually eat the same volume of food at each meal regardless of the foods that we eat. Because of this, the energy density of the foods we eat is important for weight loss.
2. You may have had a time in the past when you ate healthy foods, but still don’t lose weight. It may have been because the healthy foods that you were eating were energy dense foods.
3. Foods that are high in fat, sugar, and/or carbohydrates with a low water content are the most energy dense foods.
4. The least energy dense foods are vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy, cooked whole grains (in water), beans, and lean meats.
5. Some foods that have healthy nutrients can also be very energy dense like dry fruit, whole grain breads, whole grain dry cereals, whole grain granola bars, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. These foods are perfectly healthy, but if you are dieting you should choose other healthy foods (listed in #4 above) instead to help prevent overeating.