10 Pounds of Sustainable Weight LossSurely if you are interested in this post you know oodles already about weight loss and have probably even tried some form of a lose-10-pounds program before. In fact you likely have tried a very structured lose 10-pounds-program that was very difficult to maintain and very restrictive on your lifestyle and cooking habits.
I’m going to tell you however, that this is the reason why you’ve not been able to lose 10 pounds by whatever your deadline has been and keep it off. Highly structured programs that greatly conflict with your habitual lifestyle will not last. It’s just that simple. How many people do you know that just up and changed their lifestyle completely. Do you know any slothful people who just one day became productive superstars and went on to make a mark on the world? Everyone has heard stories of the people who change their lifestyle and drop hundreds of pounds but how many do you actually know?
Lifestyle changes are hard and its why people binge on them and then crack and retreat to their comfort zone. Dieters routinely lose 10 pounds and then regain it when they relax their program. I’m going to tell you though that you can naturally lose 10 pounds by New Years by not significantly changing your lifestyle. You do not even have to really change your eating habits; you’ll just have to tweak them.
First of all I’m not going to insult intelligence. We all know that calories-in versus calories-out equals either weight gain or weight loss and we all know that eating brings calories in and exercising takes calories out so I suggest developing a deeper understanding of how the body works and capitalizing on it. I run a food pairing series on this blog entitled Optimize Your Diet. This series illustrates perfectly how simple changes can multiply results without doing anything different.
Base Metabolic Rate (BMR)Look at it this way. Just by sitting on a couch for 16 hours straight you will burn calories. You will obviously burn more if you go jogging for 16 hours straight however this is not a reasonable thing to do. In fact some programs to lose 10 pounds will simply tell you to eliminate this or that from your diet completely and go exercising for an hour seven days a week. This in my opinion is an extreme change in lifestyle for most of us. Habits don’t form overnight and thus diving in to the deep end like this will typically fail. You need to sit on the steps of the shallow end and slowly make your way to the other side of the pool for habits to change.
Going back to calories burned while sitting idle, if you were to do this everyday and attempt to remain at a steady weight, unchanging week-to-week you would have to calculate your base metabolic rate (BMR) and hit it with calorie intake consistently. The idea here is to understand how many calories you need to maintain status quo while you do absolutely nothing. You can find this by simply finding a BMR calculator online; they’re very simple to use.
For me my BMR is 1,730 (or 72 calories per hour), meaning I could ingest this many calories and do nothing every day to maintain my weight however this is really just a rule of thumb because everyone is different. Some people have a multiplier to this which is either slightly above or slightly below the number one. For me; I am fortunate and mine is higher than one because I can pretty much eat all I ever want and I never seem to gain a pound. Yes, I am lucky.
If I were to do an hour of light stationary biking I would burn approximately 400 calories in an hour for a net gain over my BMR of ~325 calories. Considering about 3,500 calories equals a pound it would take approximately 10 ¾ days for my 325 calorie net gain to add up to a pound of weight loss or 107 days straight of this to equal ten pounds. Does this seem effective to you? It seems like a major lifestyle change to me and I would guess that most people would fail to follow through for 107 days straight. Even if they did; giving an hour of their lives away to an exercise bike seems like a task that would eventually stop happening. After all, we didn’t develop the habits we have overnight; we bred them over years and decades. They are not broken easily.
I honestly believe the way to burn the extra calories is to use the power of leverage. Let’s say you are battling weight as you probably are if you’ve read this far into this post. If you are a heavier person then your BMR is higher as each pound you weigh burns calories to sustain itself, however the heavier you get the less each pound contributes to your BMR. For instance, I am 6’-1”, 150 pounds at age 29. Each pound I weight contributes ~11.5 to my BMR. If I weighed 200 pounds however each pound would only contribute ~10.2 to my BMR. Essentially this means that the heavier I get the less my BMR helps keep my weight in check. To further compound the problem, BMR is negatively associated with age. Right now my BMR is 1,730 but when I’m 39 my BMR will fall (on average) to 1,662 and then to 1,594 by my 49th birthday. The point being, the older you get the lower your BMR gets, which further compounds the problem of weight control. This is why someone can “spiral out of control”. Weight gain plus advancing age lower BMR, and as a result weight ads on contributing to a further lowering of BMR and encouraging more weight gain.
Leveraging BMR for Weight LossBack to the power of leverage and how it can help you lose 10 pounds by New Years. Did you forget that was the point of this post? I almost did.
Sure you could try to change your lifestyle drastically and hit that bike for an hour a day. Changing nothing else in your life this would probably drop you 10 pounds in about 3 and a half months. Not bad; but can you keep it up? I suggest a different approach. Leverage your BMR to lower you weight and do very little things throughout the day to increase your calories burned rather than putting in an hour of exercise in long stretches.
How do you leverage your BMR? You simply increase your multiplier through diet and activity levels. If a 325 calorie a day difference for 107 days equals a loss of 10 pounds then I can either get it by simply lowering my calorie intake by a little, burning more calories throughout the day through exercise, or by increasing my BMR. Any combination of these three works and all three in unison works the best. The key here is to not change your lifestyle and raising your BMR will allow you to lose weight without altering your lifestyle too much. Do just enough to make a difference but not enough to lose motivation and revert to old ways. How can you raise your BMR? There are a few simple ways; let me explain.
Raise Your BMR to Lose 10 PoundsYou can raise your BMR by dong a few simple things. Yes, you could go gung-ho and do better but the simple things can make habit forming much easier and thus they will work for you over your entire life rather than just through a brief short-term dieting/exercising spurt that fizzles out.
- It is a well known fact that muscle burns more calories than fat, so make sure you carry things around more often. If you go shopping and push a cart, grab a basket instead. This will support your arms and legs because you’re carrying everything around instead of pushing it… this will also have the effect of burning more calories while you shop.
- Park your car in the back of the lot every time. This will add a couple extra minutes of walking to every destination you go to. Remember, for me one minute of walking is an extra 2.7 calories that I otherwise wouldn’t have burned. An errand trip of four stops could add 21.6 calories burned. Along the same lines stairs are much more calorie burning when you climb them rather than ride an elevator.
- Lose your stigma over caffeine. Have a little in the morning as coffee or tea. For the love of all that is holy, drink it straight with no sugar or cream. Really, this is unnecessary and counterproductive. Studies have shown that caffeine can raise metabolic rates up to ten percent. Read that again – 10 percent! A BMR like mine could go from 1,730 to 1,903, an increase of 173 just by having a little caffeine every day. That’s better than the gain I get by walking for an hour! Moderate walking for an hour for me only burns 165 calories per hour above my normal BMR. Remember coffee or tea straight up has virtually no calories and is full of antioxidants too so don't juice it up with sugar and/or cream.
- Do not wage war against yourself. If you want to lose 10 pound by New Years you cannot starve yourself. If you suddenly stop eating food (let’s say cut back by 50 percent) your body will go into starvation made and your BMR will decrease and effectively cancel out the decrease in calorie consumption. This is why elimination diets don’t work. They exhaust the dieter by drastically changing one’s lifestyle and then they don’t lose weight because their BMR just fell and they don’t have the energy to exercise. This is really bad and doesn’t end good.
- Do a little strength training whenever you can. I know this seems like the most half-hearted weight loss tip of all time but it’s true. If you want to raise your BMR your need to work your muscles but you shouldn’t change your lifestyle much otherwise you’re more likely to backslide. Just go do some basic leg presses and free weight exercises the next time your bored and have nothing to do. You don’t even have to do it for very long. A little here and there adds up and the muscle mass will increase your BMR making weight loss even easier. Do not structure your day around weight training.
Leverage Your Weight Loss EffortsNow imagine you are able through the list above to raise your BMR 10-15 percent and then you tweaked your habits to encourage weight loss, the results would be multiplied and would make more of an impact… but how do you start a weight loss program with the goal to lose 10 pounds without changing your lifestyle? Follow along:
Do not change what you eat in any way. If you typically eat dessert, continue to do so; if you typically have seconds, continue to do so, if you typically have ice cream before bed and cook your Brussels sprouts in lard, continue to do so, but do one thing. Do not finish your plate!
If you normally clean your plate make a change by leaving some uneaten. Starving yourself is bad but cutting back on calories in this manner is fine; it’s probably going to cut your calorie intake by 10 percent or so depending on how big your meals are and how much you choose to leave uneaten. But think about this; if you eat 2000 calories a day, no matter what food it is, 10 percent is a reduction of 200 calories a day which is magnified by an increase in BMR above of about 10-15 percent (for me this is about 250 calories) for a total positive change in calories of 450 a day. At that rate you would lose about ten pounds in 77 days, which brings you right to New Years.
The joy about this is that you do not need to starve yourself or workout on a strict regimen to the point where the stress builds up and you lose motivation. You can lose 10 pounds safely in about 2 and a half months by hardly changing your lifestyle a bit. And that means continuing the lifestyle thereafter should be very easy as you don’t really have anywhere to backslide to.
Do me one favor though. If you try this plan and lose 10 pounds by New Years, let me know about your experience and then stop wasting food! By that time you’ll have adjusted to your new food volume and you should be able to just portion yourself less food rather than more than you plan to eat. Eventually, after your weight loss begins, you will be encouraged and will then seek to refine the food you eat and seek better nutrition in addition to weight loss. That is my hope anyway.
If you read this entire dissertation then I thank you. I really believe everything I said here. If you have any comments I’d love to hear them and if you have your own thoughts on how to lose 10 pounds by New Years or if you'd just like to shout to the world that you did lose 10 pounds, then let us know in the comments and I'll follow up your success in a later post.