Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Two of my Weight Loss Secrets


Depending on what my "frame size" is - that is, whether I'm big-boned, small-boned, or in the middle - the supposed ideal weight for a man of my height is 155, 165, or 175 pounds. When I was at my peak weight of 260 pounds - not really all that fat compared to a lot of people, especially most truckers - I said to myself that I needed to lose 100 pounds, mostly because it was a nice round number which was close enough to the truth. I dropped 56 pounds the first year without any serious effort, but then the weight held steady, and what's worse, I decided to stop driving, mostly because I was tired of getting ripped off by my company, but also because I wanted to put the finishing touches on my novel and then get it sold. I'd need a lot of time to study up on how to do all that, and driving (especially without getting paid for it) was wasting that time.

So consequently, I started regaining some of the weight I'd lost. I knew what the problem was: I was starting to over eat and my activity level had gone down. Finally, I managed to get it under control by making some minor changes to my diet and my behavior and the weight started falling off again. Then we took a trip out west and I stopped the diet, thinking we'd be extra active to make up for it.

Tip: Don't take trips with people who can't walk more than 2 miles in a day and who want to start the day at 9:00 and give up on the day at 4:00. You won't see much and you won't lose much weight from activity. I expected the guy twice my age and weight to cause a problem, but not the guy half my age and weight.

But anyway, I regained about 15 pounds in just those 3 weeks, so I had to drop them again.

The morning of Christmas Eve was a Saturday, and was the day I allow myself to eat anything. And I do. I really need to employ a little more self-restraint, especially since I'm so good at it the rest of the week, but so far I haven't been able to do it very much. But anyway, Saturday mornings, before I pig out, are the time of the week I weigh the least. I've had all week to eat right and get in my exercise and such, and hopefully take care of my bathroom business before the weigh-in and before the eating contest.

My weight was down to 190, which means I was down a total of 70 pounds from my peak at 260. Sure, I'd lost about half of those pounds several times, but at least it was easy to do once I got back into my routine. A few weeks ago I bought some new pants at size 34, a size I haven't worn since high school - about 20 years. Everyone who hasn't seen me in a while says I'm skinny and don't need to lose more weight. I look at myself in the mirror and I look a lot better, but I still need to knock several more pounds off. I still haven't fully committed to a real body-building workout yet, but at least my walking levels have held steady or increased.At least I know that if I can find a way to make a habit of working out the way I've made a habit of eating right and walking, then I'll be able to do it just as easily.

Ok, so you're caught up on that particular soap opera of my life, and it's high time I tell you about those secrets I promised.

On Saturday, I typically eat a lot of chocolate and cookies and other stuff. I can put on anywhere from 5 to 10 pounds over the course of the day, but it's almost all water because I'm drinking a lot of extra water to keep myself hydrated. During the week I drink about half a gallon a day, maybe a little more, but on Saturday I typically drink about a full gallon. A gallon of water is 8 pounds. During the week, I - pardon any crudity - pee a lot. I seem to get rid of as much water as I bring in. But on Saturday, although I'm drinking more water, I'm in the bathroom less, and when I am in there, my pee isn't as mildly yellow as it is during the week. Mild yellow means it's mostly water, which means I'm drinking the right amount of water. Faint yellow or nearly clear means too much water, and deeper yellow means not enough water. If it's REALLY yellow, you REALLY need to drink some water!

I also noticed, while I was scarfing down some of those Reese's Christmas trees that I was not just drinking a lot of extra water as I lost nearly all self-control, but I was actually feeling VERY thirsty as I did so. It was then I realized, this was NOT the first time that had happened. I'm almost always thirsty on Saturday, particularly after eating a lot of sugar.

Well, the ingredients list has a lot of sugar, of course, but there's also a lot of sodium, which is essentially salt. Salt in your body retains water, which means the rest of your body isn't getting enough water, even if you drink a lot of it. It also means you're gaining weight. Every glass of water is a pound, and if you're not peeing it out, you're getting heavy and bloated. For a guy my size, it's not noticeable, but if you're a hot chick, or even a mostly in shape gal, you don't want to be holding on to all that water because it will make your slinky dresses a lot tighter and your face pudgier. And if you're in the military or you work at Hooters and have to do regular weigh-ins, all that water you're retaining will count against you.

The simple solution is to LAY OFF THE SODIUM! And the sugar, too, as I'm convinced it's a large part of the problem.

I've also noticed that on Sunday I don't lose the weight; it's not until my long walk Monday that I start to lose it, and that's because I'm sweating it out. Salt apparently doesn't leave your body through your bladder, it leaves through your sweat glands, so if you never work up a good sweat, you'll be holding on to that water for a few days.

So Secret #1 is: sugar and salt make you gain weight by making you retain water. And if you think you can be clever and drink something else, like pop or Gatorade, it's WATER your body needs, and those things don't contain enough of it, so you have to drink MORE, which means you're also adding a LOT of CALORIES. Water has no calories. Water helps you burn calories, if you have enough of it in you. Therefore avoid sugar and salt.

And Secret #2 is: once you eat salt, you can't get rid of it except by sweating it out, and this takes a bit of time and a lot of people don't enjoy the process of sweating unless the opposite sex is involved. But sweating IS a good way to get rid of the other salt your other food contains and which you can't avoid. Walking for a couple hours twice a week should do it, and I don't mean casually strolling. Sweat! Obviously you'll sweat more in warm weather than cold, but you don't want to sweat too much in the cold and then get sick, so practice and find what's best for you.

I guess I'm lucky in that my weekly diet is very low salt and low calorie. Even though I'm walking only 15-20 miles a week every other day, I'm still losing a pound or two every week... well, 6-12 pounds a week, but measured on Saturday mornings it's a pound or two. If you're not doing that, you'll have to be a lot more careful about the junk you're eating. Don't be especially surprised if dropping the pounds from that cake is hard; you're probably not drinking enough water and active enough to sweat it out, and you're probably eating a lot of other crap that's clogging things up too.

But hey, that's what you wanted to do. I've given you solid advice in the past, including the book which helped me finally get myself mostly under control, and I've also shown you that it works, so don't blame me. It's not too late. You can still do what I'm doing. Heck, you'll probably be better at it than me!

But you have to try it first.


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