Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The psychology of weight loss!

I think I've now been on enough diets, over the years, to at least qualify myself as a novice in the art of losing weight! Whether it's been hi-carb, lo-carb or no-carb, I've pretty much tried them all. And, losing weight is definitely not rocket science – if you eat fewer calories than you burn you will lose weight! It's basically just that simple. [Of course, a little bit of exercise will work wonders in terms of speeding things up]. In theory, the more you work out the larger your weight loss will be by the end of the day. Plus, if you are consistently hitting your goals as far as to how much you eat, you will be forcing your metabolism to make up the difference by burning off fat. It's amazing how that works..... in theory!

Easy for me to say, but that's not all of what dieting is all about, is it? Very few of us approach a diet in such a purely mechanistic or robotic manner. No, I've found that it's usually an emotionally charged affair that is generally the result of some sort of trauma, (like waking up one morning and seeing your stomach proceed you into the bathroom)! Or, it might be more dangerous issues like heart disease or incipient diabetes! And, sometimes your doctor may inform you that it's all three – a sort of grand slam, thank you ma'am your damned kind of deal! That's because when a person takes on too much body fat, the stage gets set for all sorts of bad things to begin happening over time, none of which are very pleasant!

Let's take a real world example of what I'm talking about. I have this friend who I'll call DanO. He's a middle aged male who stands about 5'10 inches and who supports a medium frame. DanO should ideally weigh in at about 170 pounds, but sadly, he does not. One fateful day, when he happened to weigh himself on a dust covered scale, in his bathroom, he was shocked to find he suddenly weighed in at over 200 pounds! My-o-my, he thought, how did that happen just before heading on out to McDonald's for a Big Mac and then maybe a nap because he was always so damn tired...
OK, I think most of us can see there's something wrong with that picture. You see, DanO's heart was also struggling to carry that extra thirty pounds of weight where ever he went. What's worst is that there is also a 'lifestyle' associated with weight gain and in DanO's case it was all bad news. When he tried to exercise, he found that he quickly tires out. Well, who wouldn't? Try this experiment on yourself to see what I'm talking about. Grab a knapsack (you do own a knapsack don't you)? Then fill it with 30 pounds of whatever is lying around. (Rocks work great)! Once you have your sack filled to the proper weight, go ahead an sling onto your back and then go about your daily routine. I'll bet you a dollar to a creme-filled dough nut that before very long (20 minutes or so) you'll become very tired of carrying that damn thing around! Yet, our boy here has been doing just exactly that for years!
So you see, old DanO has found himself in somewhat of a quandary. His now sedimentary lifestyle encourages allow him plenty of time to overeat and any exercise he would contemplate never materializes. Yes, our fat friend DanO has found himself in a deep hole with no idea of how to climb out! What to do?

OK, so the hole you've found yourself in may be pretty deep, but you can get out of it! Just understand that a some things will have to change before that can even have a chance to occur. First off, on day #1 of your diet effort – Plan to shit can your current lifestyle (it ain't working anyway) and get serious! To accomplish this, you'll need to build yourself some sort of a framework to help get your fat little ass out of that deep hole you made for yourself over the years!

At right, we can see that DanO's diet hole is pretty darn deep! He's down there all by his lonesome with a only pile of numbered blocks for company. After a looking at them for awhile, he begins to arrange the objects in a way that might help him to climb on out.... Let's take a closer look....

Block 1 – The Foundation Block

The bottom most block that DanO selects represents the foundation of the his diet plan. I also like to call this the 'Planning Block' because before anything else can be put in place, you must have a master plan of what the end point or dietary goal will look like. That is to say you have to have a set of milestones, that once in place, will represent a kind of structure that can be followed to a preferred destination.

Block 2 – The Food Block

A core issue to successfully losing weight is gaining a firm handle on just what your unique Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR is. This is the number of calories you'd burn even if you stayed in bed all day long! This site can help you quickly figure out what your BMR is. In DanO's case his was 1,760. Next we need to take that figure and see just what your daily caloric intake requirement is. For this I like to use the Harris Benedict Equation which is a formula that uses your BMR and then applies an activity factor to determine your total daily energy expenditure (calories). DanO figured that he was in the 'lightly active' category (perhaps he's an optimist). Therefore, his caloric calculation would be (1,760 x 1.375) or 2,420. That is to say that if he eats 2,240 calories a day, he would just maintain his weight. DanO wants to lose at least a pound a week, so he figures that since a pound of fat is approximately 3,500 calories, then one seventh of that (or 500 calories) would have to be subtracted for a total net daily intake of (2,420 - 500) or 1,920 calories a day! So now DanO boy has got himself an 'eating goal' he can shoot for!

Block 3 – The Tracking Block

Now that DanO knows what the total calories are that he can eat in a day, he will also need some form of tracking program that will help him relate the foods he likes to eat with what they represent in the form of calories. He browses the Internet and selects a program call Fit Day (although he noted that there were many more good ones out there). This easy to use software program has everything anyone needs to formulate and track a safe and effective weight loss program. It tracks what he eats and how much he exercises and presents easy to understand reports that show how much progress he is making towards achieving his goals. Wow!

Block 4 – The Exercise Block

This block can be a real toughie for many of us. It being the second to the highest block to put into place, and thus will require a lot of effort to get it up there. And, you know what? That's precisely what exercise is all about! It's a prolonged period of hard work that will require lots of commitment and sweat over an extended period of time! It does have a good end-point, however. Once your body adjusts to the new routines, your metabolic rates shifts into a higher gear and as it does so endorphins start to be released. In short, these substances that are produced by the pituitary gland as a result of exercise act like opiates to the body – that is you begin to feel really good!

Block 5 – The Final Piece

OK, the edge of that mean old hole is in sight and DanO has only one more piece to put in place before he can crawl on out! But, this piece is a tricky Dick! If laid flat it won't quite do the job, but soon DanO discovers that if it's angled just right he can shimmy on up and escape. Later on, he realizes that this worked because now he is a lot lighter and more muscular due to all the previous work he has done in order to get to that point on the pile.

Congrats my boy...you've made it out and are now ready to resume your life!

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