Friday, May 18, 2012

Things I've Learned From Dieting

Two years ago, I lost 35 pounds in 4 months. After getting my MA, that was the thing I was most proud of being able to do that year, and I still talk about it the way Al Bundy talks about scoring four touchdowns in a single game. However, having to read damn near twenty books for my MA took its toll, and I finally stopped going to the gym and giving a shit about my weight, and worked on my project. I never got back into the workout groove, and gained around 20 of those pounds back since then. Sure, I fiddled with strength training a bit, and made half assed attempts to go back to the gym, but it was never as serious as it was then.

My girlfriend is in a weight loss competition with some coworkers, and both to support her and get rid of my gut, I've decided to get back into the weight loss groove. I'm about two weeks into it and have already lost six pounds, so I figured I'd share some things about dieting that I've experienced.

You have to weigh yourself.

This was the biggest thing that kept me from actually doing something about my weight. At some point, I was afraid to step on a scale and face reality. I knew I was gaining weight, but just couldn't get myself to see exactly how much. When I finally did, I was happy that it wasn't as bad as I was at my fattest, but it was still too much. Right now I weigh myself everyday (every week is probably best, but I don't care) and it's a great way to keep myself in check and prevent myself from gorging.

If you're strictly talking about losing weight, then calorie counting is the only thing that never fails.

I always hear all kinds of bullshit about what you need to do, what you need to check, what foods to cut out, blah blah blah in order to lose weight. It's all crap. People hate doing it, but if you're strictly trying to lose weight rather than having a balanced diet or some shit, just focus on calorie counting. That's it. That's really, truly, all there is to it. Eat fewer calories than you take in. It's the "buy low, sell high" of weight loss. For instance, the first week of my diet I had a spaghetti plate from an Italian restaurant and a bacon cheeseburger from Outback Steakhouse, and because each fell under the calories I was allowed for that day, I was fine. Sign up with MyFitnessPal and it'll set up how many calories you're allowed per day. As long as you're under the allowed calories per day, you will lose weight. To quote George Zimmer, I guarantee it.

The second day is the worst.

I don't know why it is, but the second day of your diet is the most excruciating to go through. Pretty much nothing satisfies your hunger, and you want to gorge on everything in sight. You hate life and you hate your stomach and you hate this stupid fucking diet. Then, the next day...it's gone. I haven't bothered to research this, but I think it's because on the first day of a diet, your body is still unsure about why you're taking in fewer calories than you usually do, and sees it as some kind of odd freak occurrence. The next day, because your body hates change and actively forces you to go back to what was normal, it creates resistance and tries to trick you into cheating. You basically have to tell your body "fuck you, THIS is the new normal" for it to calm that funky shit down. This actually applies to all change, I think, including changing your attitude.

The elliptical machine is the best machine to use to burn the most calories in the shortest amount of time.

Again, this is if you purely want to burn calories and don't give a rat's ass about anything else. I spend 65 minutes on the elliptical machine everyday and burn around 1,000 calories each time. Tell me another machine that gives you those results.

Turkey and chicken are magic meats.

Extremely low in calories and delicious. In fact, one of the more surprising things that you find out when dieting is that meats in general aren't as bad for you calories-wise as you'd think. Steaks are pretty low, too. However, to get the most bang for your buck, you can't beat chicken and turkey.

Servings sizes are typically bullshit.

One of the most frustrating things about calorie counting is when you start discovering all the sneaky-ass tricks that the food industry plays when it comes to calories. If you take a brick of Top Ramen and check the calories on the back, it says 190. Hey, that's not too bad. Then you see the serving size, and it's half a brick. What the fuck? Who the hell eats half a brick of Top Ramen? I remember being horrified when I saw that one of those Mexican fruit pies was 500 calories (nothing slightly bigger than your fist should ever have that many calories), but I actually respect the fact that they weren't bullshitting you about it by saying that it was for "half a pie" or some shit. Hey, assholes at Top Ramen, your brick is 380 calories. Cut the crap and just label it correctly. You'll see this same shit on "fun sized" bags of chips, where it's like 2 servings per bag. Who the hell has ever shared a fun sized bag of chips? No one. Fuck you, food industry.

It's best if you view weight loss as a game you can win.


People are always looking for ways to win at games, and weight loss should be the same. One way that I'll cheat is by working out heavily at the gym, which causes the amount of calories I'm allowed per day to shoot up nearly double. I could get a large-sized fast food meal right now and not even feel guilty about it, because I've worked out enough to where my allowed calories per day is higher than whatever the calorie count of that meal would be. Also, if I'm going to get fast food, I can walk for it and keep a pedometer on hand to count the calories I burn on the way.

You have to be OK with being hungry.

At least for a couple of days. You find out that, at a certain point, the hunger passes. When this starts happening, you also get filled by eating less, which may be your stomach shrinking or some other kind of malarky. Know that this is going to happen, and everything will be fine.

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