“Easy weight loss; there’s an app for that. Each time you click on it, you instantly lose five pounds.”
I thought it was the greatest idea ever until my girlfriend had her phone stolen. The thief pressed the app repeatedly. Within moments and right before my eyes, my girlfriend vanished into thin air.
In this world where the pace in which we live is becoming ever more frantic, people are looking for the quick fix to just about everything. Bullet points are fast becoming the exclusive means through which information is transmitted.
- Walk just 30 minutes a day and all your health problems are solved
- Make sure you eat breakfast every day and all your health problems are solved
- Pace around the office instead of sitting at your desk when you talk on the phone and all your health problems are solved
- Eat berries every day and all your health problems are solved
As much as we might like them to be, bullet points are not the solution to any real problem in the real world. It’s beyond naïve to believe that good health can be simplified to the point where it can be summarized by a single bullet-pointed sentence. These, then, are the facts.
1) 3500 kcals. = 1 lb.
So, if you want to lose 1 lb. per week, you need to cut our about 500 calories of intake a day. Well, if you’re a middle-aged female whose daily calorie requirements are around 1500 calories per day, that’s a 33% reduction in food consumption! How realistic is that, and even if you manage to have that kind of discipline for a short period of time, how long is it sustainable?
Regardless, the abc’s of diet is short and sweet. The key to diet is lean protein, high dietary fiber carbohydrates, a protein/carbohydrate/fat ratio of around 20/50/30, and vegetables with diuretic properties, i.e, squashes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes. Snacks of watermelon, grapes, pineapples, and cranberries are also good diuretics. Keep yourself hydrated with sufficient water. There are countless articles that explain why those components make up a good diet; for our purposes, the why’s are less important than the what’s.
2) If you add exercise to your regimen, you’re doing better.
i) If you walk at a moderately brisk pace for 30 minutes a day and weigh somewhere in the vicinity of 150 lbs, you’ll burn off around 150 calories, give or take 25 calories.
ii) If you set up a stationary bike and ride it moderately with moderate resistance for 30 minutes, you’ll burn 250 calories.
So, in order to lose that one pound per week goal, using 30 minutes a day of walking as your exercise plan, you’re still going to have to reduce your food consumption by 350 calories a day, or 23%. If biking is your answer, then you need to reduce your food consumption by 250 calories or 16%.
Okay, sounds great. Get the bike, eat a little less, and off fly the pounds. Well, yeah… sure. But don’t underestimate the strain that 30 minutes on that bike creates. As an owner of a stationary bike and as someone who will allow nothing to stand in the way of his weight loss and exercise program, I will tell you that the average person will get on the bike for about 15 minutes – especially at first – and call it a day.
So, what’s the answer? Lowered expectations. Don’t expect to lose a pound a week, particularly at the onset of the diet, expect to lose a pound every two weeks. That’s still 24 lbs. a year. And as your body gets healthier, as your weight starts to come down, and as your resolve hardens, you’ll be able to pick up the pace – say in six months? – and get closer to that 1 lb. per week goal. Just stay true to yourself, the person that is overweight, the one who hasn’t really done a whole lot of exercise in recent memory, and just start somewhere. That’s the important part. The goal is in sight.