The Secret

Friday, December 07, 2012

Ever since I abandoned my cardio streak a week or so ago, I've thought about whether I wanted to do another. After careful deliberation, I've decided that one was enough. 572 consecutive days was more than I needed to accomplish a butt-load of weight loss (literally) and get back into good shape, including a return to a good rating in the BMI department.

I am, however, continuing the streak of "90 minutes or more" each week. My weekly streak continues at 85 weeks. I see no reason to stop that one since both strength and cardio count toward the 90 minute requirement and actually, I can stagger the days!

Even before the streak came to an end, people have asked how I was able to lose the weight. Basically the questions revolved around how anyone could possibly lose 90+ pounds without trainers or special diets.

Trainers: Use one if you wish, but only to get information. The rest should be up to you. You don't need Bob or Jillian hovering and screaming in your ear for motivation. There are plenty of places to get motivation right here in SP!

Diets: How many diets are on the market right now? Dozens, hundreds, but what do they all seem to have in common? One thing - they want to separate YOU from your money. That's it, that's all, they want your money and they don't want you to lose weight because they want you to buy something else in a month or two.

I believe you don't need to spend very much money to lose weight and get in shape. After all, I did it. Here's the shopping list:

A pair of nice, expensive running shoes (actually a pair every few months because I literally wore them out on the streets and sidewalks);
A few pair of running shorts and sweat pants;
A baseball cap with LED lights for pre-dawn runs;
A FREE app for my smartphone;
A FREE membership to SparkPeople;
A FREE SparkPeople app for my smartphone.

Hmm... not a very expensive list, eh? No pills, lotions, endless magazine subscriptions, books, toys, etc...

Here's the secret:
1) work out at least 20 minutes a day with cardio
2) work out at least three days a week with strength
3) manage calories

Regarding number 3 - drink water instead of sugar drinks or diet sodas. Forget looking for the "low carb / no carb / low fat / high protein / grapefruit diets. Just eat a BALANCED diet within your calorie range every day.

As important as the workouts are, I believe the most important is the calorie management. "You can't out-train a crappy diet" is one of my favorite phrases and it's true... I could not consistently lose weight until I began managing the calorie intake.

And I know there is a lot of confusion about how many calories you're supposed to eat each day. So here's the deal... start with your recommended number of calories each day whether you use SP or some other computer program to determine your calorie needs. Whatever the recommended number is, aim for that number (no more) each and every day. It's critical that you TRACK EVERYTHING you eat and did I say - do not exceed the recommended number? Stay close to it for now.

You're going to watch the scale for two weeks. The recommended calorie intake programs will only get you close, so after two weeks on the program, has there been any weight loss? If not, lower your calorie consumption each day by 500 calories. You should see a weight loss of about a pound a week thereafter.

By the way, I like to weigh daily. I track the trendline and don't sweat the daily fluctuations.

Good luck... develop your streaks and get healthier!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo CD13339186
    Great blog! I am one of those people who has tried numerous diets and only lost money in the process! I have had more success in the last month using sparkpeople and the nutrition and fitness tracker than ever before. The best part is I am not starving! I am not dieting. You hit the nail on the head! Thanks!
    3108 days ago
    I completely and wholeheartedly agree with you! Such sage advice. You have motivated me to start my own fitness streak.

    Best of luck to you!

    emoticon emoticon
    3108 days ago
    Thanks for your post. It was so informative and encouraging. emoticon
    3110 days ago
  • STODD251
    Isn't it amazing how simple weight loss can be? But I think you forgot one of the most important factors: motivation. So many people know what it takes but aren't truly motivated to do it. I know it took me years of hanging around sparkpeople off and on to determine that I really was motivated to do it. I've been taking small steps for the past 6 months or so... I started with working out twice a week, then started working on my nutrition. Now I've got a decent balance of eating right and exercising and I am making progress. I am slowly losing the weight, but I am gaining confidence and strength.
    3117 days ago
  • no profile photo CD988070
    I think you said it all and said it very well, RG_DFW!
    3119 days ago
  • no profile photo CD12934164
    Great blog! You offer a lot good advice! Congratulations on all of your success! emoticon emoticon
    3119 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13337926
    Great blog. I have spent money (too much) on diets, books, equipment, trainers, and it doesn't work at all until one is ready to buckle down and self motivate and track.

    One thing you didn't mention that I feel is a great investment (and very inexpensive) an electronic food scale. I had put off getting one, but it made all the difference when I finally really knew how many grams of things I was eating.

    Your success is great and motivating for everyone to see. Thanks!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

    3120 days ago
    Good points. I spend more on groceries eating healthy than I spent pre-Spark, but that's because I was optimized for low cost pre-Spark. Optimizing for health is probably cheaper than optimizing for convenience.

    I especially like that you mentioned the SP calorie range is an *estimate* that needs to be adjusted based on individual results. While SP claims the major reason for not losing weight is inaccurate tracking, I think an inaccurate target range is right up there as a probable cause.

    I lucked out, because SP gave me fewer calories than I probably should have been eating; but I only stayed on the SP default range for 12 weeks or so before I had to hunt for a maintenance range.
    3120 days ago
    Thanks for the great advice!
    Your success shows it is working,
    and also it is very logical and easy to understand.
    3120 days ago
    3120 days ago
    Absolutely true! It works for me.
    3120 days ago
    I totally agree with everything you've written here. Good points and communicated clearly. Excellent.


    Make it a great day!
    3120 days ago
    Do what works for YOU!
    I know that your plan will get you the desired results.
    3120 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.