When you have a lot of fat to lose losing weight at first can seem easy. That was how it went for me with my first Diet Better Transformer. I actually completed this challenge in the first few months, and with a continuous flow of 4% challenges I was able to keep it off and then some by the end of the 6 months. To the left is my final weigh in, at nearly 20kg's lighter than when I began.
6 months is a long time, a lot of things happen, two seasons go by, you are either getting into the active Spring and Summer, or running into the more lethargic Fall and Winter months, or some combination of both. It can be easy to start up the routine in July, but as you hit the holiday season from Halloween through New Year’s it can be tough to stay on track, and motivation for getting out and exercising can dwindle at a time where you need to stay focused.
For me the constant motivation behind the DB4’s helped to push me forward and be mindful of my caloric intake. As I have mentioned before the only diet that will really work is a lifestyle change. You can’t gorge yourself on delicious Thanksgiving lunch, and dinner, and then leftovers the day after and expect to meet your goals. In fact, it will be much harder to get back on track after doing so. Just a small change in the way you approach things can have a huge impact on making it through tough times, and identifying these weaknesses beforehand is a key to success.
I love food, and so do many of us who want to lose weight, and the sentimental memories of feasts in the Fall and Winter with families coming together can cause us to set aside our hard fought for lifestyle. Many may be unaware of this change we have, or they see our progress and may tempt us with just one of this, or one of that. Stay strong, stay focused, you can do it.
What I found best is to go into these events with a plan. If I was all about the pies, I would plan my meal around allowing me to have pie, but perhaps instead of taking that double sized slice with extra whip cream I would take a smaller slice and less whip cream, while reminding myself of the calories and the work it will take to keep myself on track. If I wanted to try everything I would get small servings to start with, and tell myself that I can have a second serving of the dish I liked the most.
Another event I liked going to is the movies. As I started the challenge I swore off soda, that has actually made the movies more enjoyable as I don’t have that pressure building at the climax of the movie. I settle myself in with one thing of popcorn and make it last for the movie. I also plan the calories of the popcorn into my daily intake and will compensate for it earlier as to not go over my goal.
To close friends and significant others it can be a hard transition, especially if they share your love of food, or avoidance of exercise. Setting an example can motivate others to get in shape and join you in your effort, if you can get a couple friends to go along, or even your spouse, then it will be much easier to continue for the full 6 months. Sometimes just knowing that there is a time limit on it can make it easier, but the goal should be that by the end of the 6 months that you have a new lifestyle.
Notice I didn’t say make weight loss your new obsession, hopefully by this point after 6 months you’ve gotten a good amount of weight off, and you did it with a combination of exercise and calorie restriction. As you lose weight it may become a bit harder to reduce the number of calories you ingest, and the returns start to slow down. That’s okay, because our good friend exercise is waiting for us.
Find a hobby or sport that you enjoy and includes working out. It could be dancing, Zumba, football, soccer, running, or my personal favorite, cycling. Use Meetup, or other event finding websites, to find others interested in the same thing. Get together, exercise, have fun.
One thing I commonly hear is that someone has lost weight but are afraid they can’t keep it off, that it takes a lot of effort to stay on top of it. For me I have found that daily weigh ins keeps me on track, which is part of the inspiration for our website, OpenDiet.net.
Another common question comes up which is related, and that is calorie counting. My mantra has been that all diets come down to the same two principles, “Exercise, and Calorie restriction”. I don’t count calories now, per se. What I do is use a website like Opendiet.net to weigh in every day. This lets me see a trend of where my weight is going. Generally during the day I think about what I have ate already, and what I plan to eat the rest of the day. I run a quick calculation based off experience from calorie counting. Usually large round numbers, like:
800 calories were in my lunch
170 calorie yogurt
250 calorie power bar
So that’s around 1220 calories
I may just round up or down, it doesn’t matter that much to me. I then think that I want to hit around 2500 (may be different for you), so I still have about 1200 left (giving myself some rounding errors that would end up in my favor).
If I notice that my weight is trending up after a couple weeks I’ll go back to using something like MyFitnessPal to actually count calories to get me back on track. Sometimes you forget what some things really cost in calories, like for awhile I was miscalculating my bowl of rice as 200 Calories, it was closer to 500 Calories, which is why my lunch is now 800 Calories instead of 500 Calories.
Put an upper limit on your weight fluctuation. Having been at the weight loss game for so long you should know that your weight can fluctuate up to 5 lbs (perhaps more). We also have a way of denying to ourselves that we are on an upwards trend, and can put off doing something about it. Have this weight in mind, and if you ever hit that weight, go back into your calorie restriction and exercise mode, get rid of the garbage you’ve started ingesting again, stop the gluttony, and get yourself back on track with the lifestyle you’ve worked so hard to make. That upper limit gives you the flexibility and worry free life you’ve been striving for, while not letting yourself get too lax in your fitness.
If you still have weight to lose, then keep going. If you need to, take a break, but remember this break isn’t a break from your lifestyle of being fit and controlling your intake, it is a break from being so aggressive with your weight loss. At the end of the journey you should feel that the lifestyle you have is something that you can continue to live with, and ease yourself out as you come in for the landing. You should expect to gain a little bit back as your system adjusts to a bit more nutrition running through it, don’t be alarmed, you’ve set that upper limit, and you now have the tools to take control of your weight.