Monday, August 31, 2015

Fixating on the Numbers: Nine Strategies for Weight Loss

I'll admit it.  I'm obsessed with numbers.  All numbers related to weight:  the numbers on the scale, the number of calories and protein grams I consume, the number of sets and reps I lift.   I am most obsessed with the bathroom scale.  I weigh myself at least once / week, but usually every day.  If the numbers are higher than the week before, I get very upset.  If the numbers are too low, I am not happy.  I want the numbers to stay right where they are...no adding, no subtracting.

At the beginning of August, I weighed 150.  My weight has been up ever since, to the point that I need to just stay OFF the scale until after I do the Ride to Remember because I need the calories to do the ride successfully.  
For most of my adult life, I completely avoided the scale.  I didn't want to know how much I weighed and whenever I did get on the scale, it was dread and a complete sense of failure that followed.  When you're fat, who wants to get on the scale?  When I FINALLY started to see results, I started getting on the scale because I was excited to see the change.  The physical outward appearance that was changing, as well as the decline in the numbers on the scale.

However, I will be honest, it's become somewhat of an obsession.  One of my close friends keeps threatening to have my husband hide (or smash) our scale.

She added this comment when I posted the link to my, "Shake It Off" blog on Facebook.
She sent this on Friday night when I went shopping for new clothes.
Funny (not funny) thing is that my bathroom scale works fine, but the scale I rely on the most, my food scale.  That is broken and I really need to get a new one!!!
I changed the batteries.  It's broke.  Time for a new one.  Meanwhile, I guesstimate.
If you are trying to lose weight, you need to be concerned with numbers (just not obsessed).  Here are my recommendations for the process...a couple "Must do's" and some practical strategies too.

MUSTs
Number One:  If you don't have one yet, get a good bathroom scale and weigh yourself at the same time of day, once / week.  Keep track of your weight and DO NOT get upset if the numbers go up 1 - 2 lbs. or if the numbers don't go down enough.  (More on this shortly.)  What you REALLY want to see is a downward trend over the course of one month.  It's a good idea to weigh yourself weekly so you know if what you're doing is working or not.

Number Two:  Get a food scale.  You HAVE to weigh and measure your food so you can accurately keep track of your calories and macronutrients.  Guesstimating is not good enough.  I will get a new scale, it's on the top of my "to do" list.

Number Three:  Weight training is critical.  This is what I hear from my friends over and over again:  "I'm only going to do cardio because I want to lose weight first.  Maybe I'll add some weights into the routine later."  "I don't want a muscular body, I just want to lose weight."  and "I just want to be toned."  Throw all that talk out the window.
Fact:  Muscle weighs more than fat.
Fact:  As you increase your muscle mass, your metabolism increases and you burn more fat.
Fact:  If you want to lose weight, adding weight training will help to maximize your efforts.
Fact:  Weight training helps with bone density.
Myth:  Weight training will make you look muscular.  Ummm... yeah, about that.  The only way you will look muscular is if your body fat decreases.  So you can lose weight AND increase your muscle mass at the same time.  Its only healthy.  The only way you'll look "muscular" is if you have an incredibly low body fat, which would take a LONG time.

Number Four:  Cardio is really good for burning fat, especially if you are lifting weights.  I recommend working up to three times per week for about 60 minutes.  Walking on a treadmill or using the elliptical machine are extremely BORING.  Go hiking.  Ride your bike.  Swim.  Ski.  Play basketball.  One hour, three times / week.  Once I started riding my bike all the time, my body fat started to decrease tremendously.  I HATED, I mean really hated the cardio machines at the gym.  But once I got on my bike, I was able to really let loose.

Number Five:  Keep track of EVERYTHING you eat.  Count your calories.  Try to reach your macronutrient goals each day, but don't fixate on that.  Calories first.  Protein - try to get at least 100 grams of protein in each day.

PRACTICAL TIPS:

Number Six:  Figure out what you want to accomplish and set some practical benchmark goals to help you on the journey.  Sounds easy, right?  When I set out, my goals were broad.  Lose weight, not hurt my knee.  When I became more serious, I added more tangible things to work towards.  The Rugged Maniac.  Push-Ups.  Pull-Ups.  Bench pressing.  The Ride To Remember.  You are the ONLY person who can determine what you want your fitness goals to be.  Doing this makes the journey so much more of a pleasure.  Think about it.  Do it.

Number Seven:  Don't allow defeat, discouragement, or set backs keep you from accomplishing your goals.  You WILL experience set backs.  You WILL experience discomfort and pain.  This is part of the process.  Accept it when it comes and KEEP moving forward.  NEVER let defeat conquer you. Turn your goals into your mission.  Make your mission your mantra.  Tell yourself OVER and OVER, "I will do this."  Make it happen.

Right now, Dmitriy wants me to full body-weight tricep dips.  This is the goal he has me working towards.  I can do them on a bench.  I can do them on a stability ball.  I can do assisted dips with only 20 lbs.  But I can't do a full body-weight dip.  On the days when those are part of my routine, I try to do them without the 20 lbs.  And I can't do them.  Sometimes I think to myself, "You're never going to be able to do this.  This is stupid."  And immediately, I take that negative self-talk and I turn it into, "Remember when you said that about push-ups?  Now look at what you can do!"  I turn that negative talk into, "Come on, don't give up.  You CAN do this."

Number Eight:  Keep track of everything.  We do body measurements once / month.  It is incredible to see not only your weight changes, but the change in your body composition.  Additionally, I keep track of my workouts, so I can see my progress.  I want both the reps and the weight I am lifting to increase.  It's both that matter.  So, I log my routines.  I keep my old routines, too.  This is great to help me see how much progress I've made.

Number Nine:  Be patient.  Trust the process.  Be honest with yourself.  Are you trying?  Are you giving it your all?  If you can say, "Yes." to both of these questions, then you need to trust the process.  It will work.  There are no quick fixes.

That's it for the numbers.

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Questions for you:  (Answer in the comment section below.)
What's your FAVORITE way to exercise or workout?
What is keeping you from accomplishing your fitness goals?  If you could change that circumstance, what would hold you back?  (Are you your own worse enemy?)