How I Did It

A friend of mine asked me to share my diet and exercise plan that helped me to “lose weight”. What follows are the tools, resources, dietary, and exercise principles that helped me to accomplish my health and fitness goals.

Number One: Your Why

You need to figure out your why. What is the motivating force behind why you want to do this. It has to be so compelling that you won’t give up like all the other times that you’ve tried to do this. My why is my family. I want to live longer so I can have more time with them.

Overarching Goals

First of all, my journey is not about losing weight. Excess weight and obesity are simply visible results of an unhealthy cycle of overeating and a sedentary lifestyle. When I started my journey, I wanted to not just lose weight, but also shed excess fat as well as be physically fit. These goals cannot be achieved by diet alone. I believe diet without exercise is simply a waste of time.

Tools

  1. Suunto t3c heart rate monitor
    * Tracks calorie burn during exercise
    * Helps monitor heart rate during exercise
    * More practical than Polar heart rate monitors because the batteries are self-replaceable
  2. MyFoodDiary.com
    * Food database
    * Calorie counter
    * Assists you in determining how many calories you can eat with a given amount of exercise
    * See my review of this great tool
  3. Gym membership
    * LA Fitness
    * 24HR Fitness
  4. Personal Trainer
    * Personal training membership at LA Fitness is a monthly financial commitment for one year
    * Personal training at 24HR Fitness is purchased in groups of sessions, no monthly commitment
    * Costco and costco.com sell a 2-year 24HR Fitness membership at a great price, equals about $12/month

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Review: MyFoodDiary.com – Features

Background:
Back in March 2008, I had been in a weight-loss plateau for three months, weighing in at 193 pounds and having a body fat percentage of 15%. Despite my intense exercise routine, I was not able to lose the desired remaining weight consistently; however, my body fat percentage was also decreasing slowly. I suspected that I had been eating too many calories for weight loss, and was simply maintaining my weight. I knew that if I wanted to go below 10% body fat, I could lose about 20 more pounds.

Results Summary:
I started using MyFoodDiary.com (MFD) on March 31, 2008 and reached my goal of 175 pounds and under 10% body fat on August 6, 2008.

What is it?:
MyFoodDiary.com is a web-based calorie counter and exercise log designed to be used as part of a weight management program. Most users of this online service use it to assist with weight loss. The site tracks calorie intake (diet) and calorie expenditure (exercise). Then based on the user’s physical statistics and goals, it calculates how many calories must be consumed and/or burned to either lose one to two pounds per week, maintain weight, or gain weight. Users can monitor on a daily basis two factors involved in weight management: food intake vs exercise. MyFoodDiary.com supports the basic weight loss premise that one must consume less calories than the calories expended. For example, in order to lose one pound per week, one should create a calorie deficit of 500 calories/day. Over the course of seven days, the deficit would be 3,500 calories, which is approximately equal to one pound of weight loss. You can watch a video overview here.

Target audience (Who is it for?):
MyFoodDiary.com is best suited for the disciplined person. Ideal users are those who are willing to record what they eat on a daily basis (using the site’s online database of over 50,000 food items), record nutritional information for the foods not in the database, and record calories burned through activity and exercise. Users should be goal-oriented, motivated, determined, and persistent. The service is best applied by those who want to change to a healthy, active lifestyle. I would not recommend this service to people looking for a quick fix to their weight problems or those who just want to change their diet without exercise because losing weight in a healthy way is not just about food or “starving yourself”. Additionally, I believe the service works best in conjunction with the use of a heart rate monitor during exercise to monitor the exact number of calories burned.

Overview of how it works:

  1. Set goals.
  2. Record food intake daily.
  3. Record exercise activities daily.
  4. Generate daily summary and/or reports on personal progress.
  5. Adjust food intake and/or exercise activity levels to reach goals.

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From Fat to Freedom

***** Adapted from “About Me” originally posted on October 11, 2008 in the IntoFitness section of whatsbruin.net *****

In the summer of 2007 I decided to step on a scale just for the heck of it. The number I saw shocked me out of my sedentary life of obesity that was leading me down the road of cardiovascular disease and an early death. On August 30, 2007 I purchased a personal training membership at LA|FITNESS and have never looked back.

About 14 months into fitness

About 14 months into fitness

Before - circa June 2006

Before - circa June 2006

My name is Gerry, and I have been overweight most of my life, except for maybe 16 years (ages 0-6, 14-24). Those years were when I was a young child and when I was a competitive tennis player. But even during those lean years, food and overeating, as well as a yo-yo pattern of gaining and losing weight, were the physical issues that plagued me for as far back as I can remember.

At the age of 34 in May of 2000, I was denied a lower premium on my life insurance policy so I decided to get a physical to find out why. The routine physical showed no sign of disease; however, the blood work forecasted a grim future:

  • Glucose = 92 {normal 70-110}
  • Triglycerides = 1084 {normal < 200}
  • Cholesterol = 257 {normal 100-200}
  • HDL = 21 {normal = 35-60}
  • Other cholesterol ratios were too high to be calculated.

My doctor said:

Gerry, if you don’t make a change in your life, you will contract Type II diabetes, and will most likely have to be on high blood pressure medication for the rest of your life. This will lead to cardiovascular disease and wide array of medications. You will die of either a heart attack, stroke, or complications from diabetes.

The fear of that conversation produced a change in my diet and exercise for about a month. My subsequent blood work improved over the next five months. But eventually the fear wore off, and I went back to my old habits of overeating and not being active. My doctor suggested follow up blood work and regular physicals, and had scheduled another round of blood tests for me, but after seven years, I still had not gone back for those tests or physicals.

Before - circa July 2007

Before - circa July 2007

In July of 2007 at the age of 41, my father-in-law underwent heart surgery. While we were visiting him in the hospital I noticed that the other cardiac patients were of varying ages. One in particular was in his 30s and extremely obese. Upon my return from that visit, I vowed never to end up in the cardiac ward. I was tired of that nagging pain in my knees as I walked up the stairs. I was weary of the pain in my ankles as I walked the short distance from my bed to the bathroom every morning.

So that’s when I decided to weigh myself.

My stats that summer were:

  • Weight = 250+ pounds
  • BMI = 37
  • Body fat = 33.4%
  • Waist = 44 inches
  • Pants = size 44 (tight)

The brand new LA|FITNESS gym in my neighborhood was having its Grand Opening event. I wanted to get a free t-shirt, which was the only reason I planned on going on August 30, 2007. But during the evening ofAugust 29th, I had a very vivid dream that I was working with a personal trainer, and I was really fit and buff. I took the dream to be an omen, and the next day I listened to a sales pitch about the benefits of personal training. I bought a membership because I knew I needed to lose almost 80 pounds… and yes, I did get my free XL t-shirt, which barely fit.

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