Today I’ll talk about behaviors that helped me lose 25 pounds. In my last two posts, I discussed the why and the how for this weight loss. When tackling something significant like weight loss, you need motivation (the why), the tools (the how), and the habits (the behavior) to get on a path and stick with it. Establishing these behaviors and sticking with them turns this into routine.
Behavior Number 1 – Admit There Are No Shortcuts
Really. No diet pill, shot, gadget or other mechanism is going to help. At least not in the long-term. Surgery is an extreme option, but even that requires behavior modification so why not try changing your behaviors first?
Behavior Number 2 – Accountability
I could not have done this alone. My wife and I have both been on this journey together. I needed her full support, and she needed mine. We kept each other on task for both diet and exercise. Accountability also gives you someone who you can share your struggles and your celebrations with. We both have needed that at points along the way.
Behavior Number 3 – Exercise Even When You Don’t Feel Like It
My original goal was to exercise four days per week. There were days when I was tired and many days when it was late in the evening before I went walking or running. But I did it.
Behavior Number 4 – Log Your Exercise
I got a Nike Plus tracker a couple of years into my trek. I’ve loved it. It’s very motivating to see the progress that is tracked on the Nike Plus site. You can also do this manually but there are a whole suite of products in stores like Best Buy that make tracking your activity easier than ever.
Behavior Number 5 – Keep A Food Diary
This has been the most eye-opening experience. I had always heard that if you track your food you’ll eat more sensibly, but the idea of whipping out a notepad at every turn sounded like a lot of work. Enter the calorie-tracking app MyFitnessPal. Available for PC, Mac, Android and iPhone, MyFitnessPal is a free app that lets you track your food AND nutritional intake as well as your workouts and your progress. It took a few days to get in the rhythm, but if your family is like ours you tend to eat the same meals periodically. MyFitnessPal lets you copy foods or meals from one day to another so that you don’t have to enter them every time. And with over a million entries in their database, you are likely to find most grocery products already keyed into the app.
I cannot begin to tell you how this behavior affected my progress. Tracking my food in this app opened my eyes to just how many calories were in the common foods that we eat. As we got better with the app, my wife and I began to plan the next day’s food in advance so that we could see just how many calories we had for each meal. Instead of restricting us, we felt like it gave us more choices to move our food around as we saw fit.
This app also let me set a weight goal and decide how quickly I wanted to reach that goal. Then, automatically, it figured how many calories I should consume per day to reach that goal. This was much better than the low-carb diet because I sure was missing sugar, bread, pasta and more. But once I started using the app, I began to realize how many calories were in most foods. No wonder we’re becoming a nation of fat people. Do you know how easy it is to hit your 2000-calorie needs as an adult? Scary easy. Seeing this in an app helped me realize when to say no to certain foods.
Behavior 6 – Track Your Progress
It is very important to track your progress. Whether you just log your weight or inches lost too, be consistent about it. The times that I slipped backwards in this journey, I wasn’t tracking regularly. It also motivates you to do more when you see progress.
Behavior 7 – Keep At It
Every day on this journey was not in the positive direction. There have been holidays, birthdays, and days where I just blew it on either diet or exercise. There are days or weeks when you plateau and think you can’t lose any more weight. Those can last awhile too, and can really be discouraging. You just have to keep going. If you have a bad day, start again tomorrow.
So, after beginning in March, I have successfully lost 25 pounds. The net total loss over five years was 67 pounds, but since I lost 13 of those pounds twice I can say I’ve lost 80 pounds altogether. Over the last 25 pounds I averaged one pound per week by this one simple formula – eating fewer calories than my body burns each day. One pound equals 3500 calories. The math on that works out very nicely to 500 calories per day to lose one pound per week. And doing this alongside my wife has made this much easier. We both feel a lot better and look better too. Our youngest has gotten in on the act, and in a future post I’ll write more about how this has helped our family as a whole. In the meantime, you just have to get started. You owe it to yourself, to your spouse, and to your kids. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen – just stick with it.