Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How I'm Doing It: An Introduction

Note (written on August 6, 2011): Looking back over my plan, I regard certain aspects of it as quite flawed. Namely, I wouldn't have introduced such severe calorie restriction at the start had I known then what I know now. I would have still introduced counting, but I would have started with one day at 500 calories below my BMR (basal metabolic rate) rather than at 1200. I believe in retrospect that I made things far more difficult than necessary. I'm not going to modify those posts, as they stand as a record of what I actually did and what worked for me. However, I don't necessarily recommend others follow the same plan nor would I follow it as laid out if I had to do it all again.

I also recommend reading the "conditioning" posts before looking at these stages.

I'm going to write down the processes I've followed in a sequence of posts because I'd like to have an overview for myself at this point in time. Also, anyone who wants to know what I've done, why I do it, and how effective it is can more easily access the details from links I'll be placing on the sidebar. Note that I did not find this plan anywhere. I felt my way through the process and it has worked well for me. It may or may not work for anyone else. I'm not advocating it, just offering it for anyone who is interested.

This plan is designed for long-term weight loss and to help you learn to live a lifestyle where you will not overeat in the future and gain back weight. It is not designed for rapid weight loss. There are no tricks or special techniques. It’s a plan to “normalize” your eating and adjust your relationship with food both physiologically and psychologically. Because you’re attempting to correct something which may have been a life-long problem, it takes time. For the record, it took me about three months to reach the final stage of this plan, and I am not perfect at following it, but rarely eat more than 2000 calories per day (and never eat more than 2200).

I did not weigh myself at the start of this process. I used what are called “NSVs” in the dieting world. That means “non-scale victory”. These include things like noticing the fit of your clothes, the look of your body, and your relationship to your environment. In terms of environment, you can see how easily you negotiate narrow spaces, fit in chairs, etc. I found that not weighing myself made it easier to get started because I didn’t have the sense that the numbers on the scale were going to be a “watched pot” that wasn’t boiling. I also was not alarmed by my initial weight and overwhelmed at how far I would need to go since I didn't weigh myself at the start. For the record, I am certain that I started at a weight near 400 lbs. My best guess is 380 lbs.

Since weight loss is rarely linear (that is, you don’t lose consistently according to your calorie reduction), it can be very de-motivating for some people to watch the scale. Also, frankly, the scale is an arbitrary measuring device and really has no relationship to your ability to lose weight or gain results from changing your lifestyle. You must have confidence that the behavioral changes you make will achieve the desired result. Watching your numbers might send you on an emotional roller coaster as you get happy with losses and unhappy with gains or a lack of changes.

That being said, if you feel that weighing yourself will motivate rather than hinder your progress, by all means do it. I did weigh myself about 6-7 months into the process, and then about another month later. I did this mainly as a gauge so that I could speak more objectively about my progress, and get a sense of whether the pacing I felt I was experiencing was correct. It turned out that my estimations of how much I weighed and how much I lost were spot-on. I don’t really need the scale, and I don’t plan on weighing myself again for 3 more months (or longer). Mainly, I’m interested in how decreasing my weight will affect the pacing of loss as I approach 250 then 200 lbs. At the time that I write this, I weigh about 280 lbs.

Before weighing myself, I was careful to consider the implications of doing so in terms of the emotional impact on me, the effect on my motivation, and the consequences. If you have any sense at all that you expect a certain number and will be upset if that number is higher, then I encourage you not to weigh yourself. Don’t give the scale emotional power over you. You already have enough trouble with food influencing your emotions. There’s no need to give that power to something else beyond your control.