The journey wasn’t really planned out or purposeful. I was traveling a lot at the time and had access to three hearty meals a day so I was maintaining a lot of weight. Going along with the common misconception, I thought I could just work it off and not worry about what I was consuming.
I started throwing around dumbbells but that had an adverse effect on my joints and it started to feel uncomfortable. From there, I moved on to walking. I started out doing about a mile and a half and eventually stretched that out to four miles, which I still maintain when I get out and hit the trail. I walked at least every other day for a month but the needle on the scale didn’t budge. The feeling was discouraging but I kept at it. Eventually, I added push ups and mountain climbers to my routine but I still maintained, and sometimes increased, my level of food consumption.
I decided to get scientific and inject some math into the equation to figure out how many calories I was burning during my ‘workouts’. I calculated that I was burning between 300 – 400 calories each workout. You have to create a 3,500 calorie deficit to lose a pound so at that rate I was fighting a losing battle.
Something else had to change in order for me to see the results I wanted. Going back to science, I used some Google-Fu to figure out how many calories I was consuming that caused me to maintain my current weight. To determine how many calories it takes to maintain your current weight with a lightly active lifestyle, the calculation is – current weight x 12. At the time I was 180 pounds so I was consuming more than 2,100 calories. My goal was to get down to somewhere between 160 – 165 pounds. To create a calorie deficit, I multiplied my current weight times 10 giving me a target of 1,800 calories.
With this knowledge I put together a plan of action. I took a look at what I was consuming and why. I had eliminated sugary drinks (pop, kool aid, fruit juice, etc.) and pork and beef from my diet years ago, so those already weren’t part of the equation. I was consuming alcohol, chips, wings, pizza, fast food and other quick access foods. My friends, these foods are calorie bombs, meaning they contain a lot of calories with very little nutritional value and leave you hungry. This also means that you end up eating more to make you feel full.
Let’s look at an example of a typical quick access meal:
At McDonald’s, this is a typical breakfast meal weighing in at 430 calories. Since I don’t eat pork, eliminating the Canadian bacon saves about 20 calories. This meal isn’t too bad if it was my major meal and very few calories were consumed throughout the rest of the day. The problem? This was only just the start of my consumption.
Another quick access meal for lunch:
For lunch, a Burrito Bowl at Chipotle with rice, chicken, beans, fajita veggies, salsa, sour cream, cheese, and lettuce easily weighs in at 780 calories. Again, not too bad considering the amount of fairly nutritious ingredients in the meal. At this point, I was looking at 1,210 in total. If I stopped here, I’d be losing weight faster than the Cleveland Browns.
After work, I’d hit up the Metroparks for my four mile walk and would grab a snack afterwards. My snack would be something like a bag of chips which would cost me another 150 calories.
This put my caloric intake at 1,350.
For dinner, I would do something I could throw in the oven, quick and easy, like frozen wings and fries.
Six wings and a handful of fries are about 700 calories. So, now I’m looking at 2,050 calories and I’m well within the range of maintaining my current weight. If I throw a couple brews into the mix, I’m looking at 2,450 calories for the day. I repeated this cycle for a couple years. My intake would go up and down, but I consistently consumed enough calories to maintain my weight of 180 pounds.
I needed to break this cycle if I wanted to even sniff the possibility of losing weight. In Part 2, I’ll take a deeper look into my weight loss journey and share the strategy that helped me lose the weight.