Losing Weight (and Not Starving Yourself in the Process)
July 15, 2012
Let me start by saying I've tried pretty much every diet out there. I've limited my fat intake. I've limited my carbs. I've limited my sugar consumption. And, it never worked. Not really. Maybe it would have if I played by the rules, but I always felt too helplessly deprived for that to ever be a real possibility. I'd eat my allotted portion and go to bed hungry. In a week, I'd return to my old ways and push the cardio so that I could indulge my sweet tooth.
I think I've finally found a plan that's going to work for me though. When I discovered that Jillian Michaels of Biggest Loser fame had a fitness plan, I was intrigued. It sounded a little gimmicky at first, but I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did! The plan works off a very basic concept; you must burn more calories than you consume. A simple food and exercise journal, water and vitamin tracker, and a recipe index make it easy to adjust to feeding and working your body right.
I've been surprised at how delicious the recipes are too! I don't really feel like I'm depriving my body of anything. I can have French toast and graham crackers on this diet. Even ice cream isn't off limits. I find myself hesitating before indulging in a particularly calorie-packed meal however, knowing that this cuts into my daily budget. Check out the image above to get an idea about what constitutes a portion size. Look at all the broccoli you can have! Consider how hungry you'll be if you forego all that calcium and Vitamin A and go with the measly handful of M&Ms. I think knowing that the calories in processed foods add up fast is helping me to make smarter choices overall.
Jillian's plan pushes circuit training. Paired with cardio, it's one of the quickest ways to lose weight. You do several types of exercises, but don't complete all sets of each exercise at the same time. Instead, you complete, say, 1 set of 15 repetitions of one exercise, move on to complete 15 reps of the next move, and so on. You then circle back around to begin another circuit. The program pushes you to do three circuits of around 15 different exercises with little rest in between reps and sets. It's intensive, but very effective! Each exercise on the site is also accompanied by a quick video in which Jillian demonstrates the move properly. This is important! It's essential to protect your joints.
So far, I've been doing the program for a little less than a week, and I've lost 5 pounds! I'm still not convinced I'm doing all of the exercises completely right, but I don't doubt that I'll improve with time. If I can make this kind of progress in less than a week, I know I can reach my goal of 25 pounds lost. It's not a lot, and it's vanity weight to be sure, but if it encourages me to adapt a healthier lifestyle, then I'm all for it! I'm not telling you to go out and buy a membership in the program. I am, however, urging you to track your calorie intake and the number of calories you burn. It really is simple math! There are a wide range of calorie-tracking programs out there, and they can make the task a lot easier. Incorporate counting into your daily routine, educate yourself about the caloric contents of the foods you eat, make a few changes, and prepare to be amazed at the results!
Why not look into circuit training while you're at it? It really works--I'm telling you! Doing circuit training and cardio together will maximize your results. Start simple and work your way up.
You can also lower your caloric intake and improve your health by using lower-calorie versions of products or by using certain products over others. Switch to skim milk. Melt honey and use it in place of sugar. Turn to fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth. Try whole wheat crackers instead of chips.They tend to have less fat and be more filling. The most important thing: positive energy. Believe in yourself. Surround yourself with people who support your goals. One of the greatest things about the program I'm doing is the great community. I like sharing my successes and failures because it keeps me honest. I also make an effort to offer feedback to others. What other great resources have you discovered for encouraging and monitoring your own weight loss progress?
North Independence Branch