My daughter Gina, who was trained as a sports medicine professional, has told me on many occasions that the real key to weight loss is not to be found in any gym.
Now, what was that saying? “Eighty percent of weight loss happens in the kitchen.”
After all, it is possible to lose weight without any exercise at all. All you have to do is reduce your calories so that you are taking in fewer calories than you burn on a day to day basis. The sedentary lifestyle is a problem for weight loss because it burns so few calories but it can be done.
Getting into a workout routine does a lot more for you than helping you to lose weight:
- If you have any gastrointestinal difficulties at all (constipation, for example), working out will help get rid of it.
- I used to get boils fairly regularly but they stopped when I started working out.
- Toned muscle looks a lot better than flabby muscle, which you can have even if you are at your target weight of svelteness.
- Working out gets you more energy to work with as you go through your day.
- Working out gets you those endorphins, which are cheaper than heroin and won’t land you in jail or in the hospital.
- Working out is fun (once you have been doing it long enough not to have to worry about form or just being able to execute the moves — it’s important to find a type of working out that you enjoy. Otherwise, you won’t do it).
This is an incomplete list of things I get out of working out and you will note that losing weight is nowhere on the list. So, if we want to talk about losing weight, then let’s talk about food.
I have not been using any of the standard, branded “diets” on my weight loss journey. For one thing, they tend to be expensive and they also tend to use sugar substitutes, which are not good for you and taste like crap besides.
I’m a big fan of cooking and eating real food, as opposed to packaged foods that are usually loaded with sugars and salts as flavor enhancers and preservatives. I find that real food, cooked well and seasoned flavorfully with stuff besides salt and pepper, is not only very tasty but tends to be more filling. Why? Because it’s real food, as opposed to whatever is left after the food producing, agribusiness corporate conglomerates finish processing them to within an inch of their lives.
My general formula for lunches and dinners is: 4 ounces of grilled or baked meat (fish is my favorite but it gets expensive) — poached works too, just avoid frying, and 1 cup of steamed veggies of some sort. When I’m being well-behaved, I skip the carbs. That works for me because it lets me increase my servings of meat or veggies a little on any day that I’m feeling particularly greedy.
You’ve no doubt noticed how often I talk about The FIRM. I don’t know if the company is still going at this point. A few years ago, they were the top selling home fitness workouts available but times and tastes change. Anyway, in addition to those popular videos, you’d often get menus for whole days worth of meals. I still sometimes have some of these meals because as low fat and high fiber as they are, they are delicious. Let me give you an example.
BREAKFAST: Morning Smoothie
1 cup milk (reduced fat or skim)
1 medium banana
1 scoop protein powder (vanilla or chocolate)
1 teaspoon peanut butter
2-5 cubes ice
Toss all that into the blender and blend until thick and smooth. Pour into a tall glass, grab a straw if you have any, and enjoy. These are also nice to have as a booster right after strength work. (The ice is optional; it helps thicken the smoothie when added.)
1 hard boiled egg and 5 whole grain crackers.
LUNCH: Asian Chicken Salad
2 cups mixed dark greens
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup canned mandarin oranges, drained
1 tablespoon slivered almonds
4 ounces grilled or baked chicken, chopped
5 baked tortilla chips, crushed
1 tablespoon Ranch dressing
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Combine greens, cucumber, avocado, mandarin oranges, almonds and chicken. Then combine Ranch dressing and soy sauce; dribble over salad. Top with tortilla chips. This is one of my favorite salads ever. Delicious, filling with a touch of the exotic. Yum!
Half a cup of cottage cheese topped with half a cup of fresh or frozen blueberries and 1 tablespoon slivered almonds.
DINNER: Honey Dijon Salmon
5 ounce salmon fillet
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup steamed spinach
Top salmon with mixed mustard and honey, then bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until baked through (it doesn’t usually take a salmon fillet that long to cook in my stove; your mileage may vary). Serve with steamed spinach, and a tomato onion salad topped with balsamic vinegar. If you’re broke this week — which happens to me fairly often — you can substitute chicken for the salmon. And if you can’t live without your carbs, the serving suggestion is half a cup of couscous.
And there you have it! A day of meals and it comes in at about 1400 calories. This is perfect for you if you weigh 140 pounds. On the other hand, if you weigh 160 pounds, then you need to add another 200 calories to the day’s meals so that you’re not undereating in an unhealthy way. In other words, you need to multiply your weight by 10, and that’s how many calories you should eat in a day. At my last weighing, for example, I was around 166, if memory serves, so I should be eating 1660 calories or so per day in order to lose weight. I would need to add an additional 260 calories to this plan to make it work for me.
In The FIRM materials, they offer a list of 100 and 200 calorie snacks to choose from so that you can adapt their diet to your needs. If there’s any interest, I’ll post the snacks list here in another post.
One other thing. Don’t use your diet as an excuse to emotionally abuse yourself over food. That way lies eating disorders. And beating up on yourself is not the point of this exercise. The point is to get yourself fit and healthy and feeling like a million dollars. Exercise is important because fitness is important. Looking “hawt” is coincidental and unimportant. The occasional bump in the road (let alone the whole year-end holiday eating binge thing) won’t kill you. When you fall off the wagon, don’t waste a single second pondering how much you suck. Just get back up, dust yourself off and get back to work.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you’d like me to share more recipes or meal plans, and I will.
Now, get to work. I have endless faith in you. You’ve got this.