Article excerpt on progressive weight loss [my comments in brackets]
Saturday, December 16, 2017
[Article on progressive diet and exercise change]
What 5 months of consistent, healthy weight loss looks like
By Daniel J. Green [excerpt]
MONTHS 1 AND 2 [you will need to reduce calories further when you lose weight]
I started by focusing only on my total calories and the amount of fat, carbohydrates and protein I consumed each day. I did my best to be mindful and evaluate each meal and snack I ate. After hearing about my project, friends and family members started asking me how they can get started on the path to lifestyle change.
My advice is twofold:
1. Count. Take the time to count your calories. There are a lot of free apps available that will help you track your daily intake. You might be surprised at how much you’re really eating. Not only that, you will likely identify patterns and habits that you had never noticed before.
2. Cut. Every time you eat, try to eliminate some fat and add some protein to your plate. If you’re anything like me — and most Americans are — your diet is too high in fat. Making small changes like swapping higher-fat proteins for lean chicken or fish and cooking with less oil or eating less salad dressing will add up over time.
Lifestyle change is about making the best choice you can, as often as you can.
It’s important to remember that lifestyle change is not just about weight loss. If it were, cutting calories would be the only requirement. My goal is to improve my overall health, which means looking at the types of calories and nutrients I’m eating. That’s why, two months into my lifestyle change, I decided it was time to incorporate some additional rules from the Dietary Guidelines:
Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fat. For me, that equals 250 calories, or 28 grams (250 calories/9 grams of fat per calorie).
Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugar. For me, that equals 250 calories, or 63 grams (250 calories/4 grams of carbohydrate per calorie).
Consume less than 2300 mg per day of sodium.
Limit the intake of trans fats to as low as possible.
There are reasons why these four nutrients — saturated fat, added sugar, sodium and trans fat—are highlighted in the Dietary Guidelines. Saturated and trans fats are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular-related deaths. Consuming high amounts of added sugar (note that this does not include naturally occurring sugars like those in fruits and milk) makes it extremely difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits. High levels of sodium consumption can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROGRESSIVE WORKOUTS
My weekly goals at the outset were as follows:
150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise, usually on the treadmill, elliptical machine or hiking trails
Two full-body resistance training sessions, which in the early stages consisted primarily of functional training movements, flexibility training, and core strengthening
I learned pretty quickly that building up the duration of my cardio workouts was going to be key, so my goal in these early months was to increase duration rather than intensity. The longer I could sustain a cardio workout, the fewer sessions I’d have to try to fit into a week. To reach 150 minutes, I could do five 30-minute workouts, four 40-minute workouts or three 50-minute workouts. For some context, when I first joined the gym about 18 months before beginning this project, I could only perform eight minutes of exercise on the elliptical machine at a time.
When it came to resistance training, I finally felt comfortable (after years of starts and stops) with adding more intensity and lifting heavier weights. I kept my focus on proper function and good form, but decided that it was time to push myself a bit by slowly and steadily progressing these workouts.
CHANGE UP YOUR WORKOUTS TO AVOID BOREDOM
After five months I’d grown a little bored with my gym-based workouts, as 40 or 50 minutes of churning away on the elliptical machine performing a steady-state workout was getting less and less inspiring.
In an effort to reinvigorate my cardio workouts, I decided to introduce interval training to my routine. Interval training involves performing periods of vigorous-intensity exercise, alternated with periods of moderate-intensity recovery. Adding interval training to the mix also means that I’m moving into the vigorous portion of the Physical Activity Guidelines.
Similarly, my resistance-training workouts now feature [add] some power training and light plyometric movements in addition to some traditional strength-training exercises.
HOW DO YOU LOSE WEIGHT? TAKE IT ONE STEP AT A TIME
The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my quest for lifestyle change, is that sweeping changes are not the solution. Instead, it’s about making small adjustments to your routine and sticking with them until they become habits.
I challenge you — as I challenge myself every day — to find small ways to make positive changes to your lifestyle. Can you add five minutes to your cardio routine? Can you modify a strength-training exercise to incorporate the need for balance or core strength? Can you eat a new vegetable or re-try one you’ve shunned in the past? Can you add some protein to your afternoon snack?
Small changes add up over time, but that’s true whether the changes are moving you in a positive or negative direction. It’s up to you to make sure you’re on path to better health.