Losing Weight Doesn’t Have to Be Painful

Where's the fries?!

I was introduced as “the fat one” about 2 weeks back, by a friend who is/was the same build as me.  I’ve never been fat, yet as I’ve got older, I’ve grown from a size 28 to a 34 waist.  My shirts don’t look right on me, and I’ve started to walk around in loose-fitting clothes all the time.

After talking to a few people, it seems that the “age spread” is a common thing amongst the 30+.  And why not – most of us are leading sedentary lifestyles, comprising of sitting at a desk in work, sitting in a car to and from work, then sitting at home watching TV or playing a console.  We spend a lot of time on our asses, and yet our appetites don’t reflect this lack of movement, stuffing in crisps, curries, pizzas, anything that tastes good.  I know this because this was EXACTLY how I was living.  For example, I would go to McDonalds 3 times a week and order a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, 6 nuggets and a hamburger, large fries, and a big Sprite.  That was for lunch.  In the night, I would go down the pub and have 6 pints, several cheese rolls, then come back to my flat and eat a Chicago Town Pizza with a bag of McCoys (as an example.  Sometimes it was a Fray Bentos pie – an entire pie – or some microwaveable meal).

So how much was Fat Boy eating on a typical night?  Well, thanks to MyFitnessPal, I can tell you.  The McDonalds pig-outs were (Quarter Pounder = 490 calories, hamburger = 250, large fries = 460, 6 chicken nuggets = 280, Sprite = 310 =) 1,790 calories.  A trip down the pub were ( 6 pints of Kronenbourg = 227 per pint = 1,362 + 2 cheese rolls = 240 calories per roll =) 1,842 calories, and my snacks at the flat were (Chicago Town Pepperoni = 462, McCoys = 165 =) 627.  So, in total, I was taking on board of my 5’7″ frame a staggering 4,259 calories.

To be honest, this was an extreme daily routine, but it did used to happen.  I used to eat whatever I want, whenever I wanted, and not show it.  That was when I was a bit younger than I am now.  I was also a smoker at the time, which does race the metabolism too. Not surprisingly, I had a bit of a funny turn with all this gorging and smoking and drinking.  Although it did start off a couple of years of panic attacks and anxiety, it was for the best.  I am not a smoker now, I drink more moderately and less frequently, and my diet is less-extreme.  That hasn’t resulted in any weight loss though, as my activities have become less too.  So, what to do?

The answer is fairly easy, but not fast.  I found a nice app on the iWhatevers called MyFitnessPal, which logs and maintains everything you do, from snacks and drinks to exercising.  It has an ENORMOUS database of foods – and not just generic foods, but brand-based selections (so it can tell you how much fat a Tesco ham slice has compared with a Marks and Spencer ham slice).  It also asks some fairly basic questions, asks how much you would like to weigh in a certain time period (for me, I want to get down to 10.5 stone before Christmas), how much exercise you plan to do, and then gives you limits per day.  For me, 1,587 calories per day, 55 grams of fat and 17 grams of sats as well as other limits such as carbs, sugars etc.  By giving me the means to see what foods contains what fat, I can make informed decisions about foods – it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to avoid your favourites, it’s just making sure you know that the food you’re eating has a calorie count next to it.  I’ve lost half-a-stone in 10 days, and am starting to shift the rest.  OK, I’m not massively obese – I weighed 11.5 stone when I started – but it was enough to make me start worrying about it.  Oh, and sticking to a diet also does wonders for your blood pressure and pulse too.  I was slightly high, about 136/83 & pulse 84 before the diet.  A couple of days ago, I measured 128/75, with a pulse of 61.

To be honest, the first couple of days meant that I had to actively refuse to snack.  But after that, it becomes almost second nature.  You do find yourself hunting for foods that don’t register on your personal limits.  The first thing you should eradicate is crisps.  There are some that are better, but they are all still too high on the fat content (apart from a cracker snack called Velvet).  Also, if you like fizzy pop, switch to Coke Zero or 7Up’s light lemonade, both of which has 1 calorie in them (as opposed to 200 for normal strength).  You might also want to look for light mayo, cut out milk, and change to bagels instead of bread.

Finally, do some exercise.  Not much, just enough to feel burning in your limbs.  Yoga’s not bad, or do some gardening.  Another thing I’m doing is reducing the time spent sitting down. In work, I’ve procured a stand and have raised my laptop to chest-height – it has made me more spritely too!

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