Greight Loss: getting started

You don’t need me to tell you about all of the diets out there. It seems there’s as many of them as there are calories in a bowl of ice cream.

I’m reminded of an old joke. Husband: Honey, are you losing weight on your banana and coconut diet? Wife: No, but now I sure can climb trees and pick fruit!

I bet you also don’t need me to tell you that extreme diets are not wise. First, to be healthy we need a balance of protein and fiber and fat and the whole shebang of the nutrition plate. Second, we can’t stick with extreme diets. And when we lose our resolve we commonly regain the weight we lost.

Who am I to talk? In my first post, I admitted that I eventually regained a lot of the weight I took off in 2007. The good news is, I didn’t regain it because I had been on a diet that wasn’t sustainable. The bad news is, I got lazy. I just plain ate too much. I enjoyed food more than what I weighed and how I felt.

I had learned much about nutrition, metabolism, calories—that one pound is 3,500 of them!—and everything one should know about food quality and quantity, and what was wise for me. When I stopped my 2007 counting of 1,800 calories per day, I was going to continue to count, but give myself enough calories so that I could maintain my weight. For me, that would be anywhere from 2,300 to 3,000 per day.

To figure out what is ideal for your size, age, and activity level, use this nifty calorie calculator: https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html. These two screen shots show my info.

2,300 calories is about what I need on days when I am not very active, especially on days I don’t run or walk. On days that I run or walk, I burn from 500 to 800 calories. My rule of thumb is 100 calories burned per mile walked and 150 each mile I run, though my running app, and this website: https://caloriesburnedhq.com/calories-burned-running/, are more generous in their calculations.

The larger or smaller a person is, and how fast or slow the pace, affects the calories burned. Don’t think too much about them, because your attitude is not going to be, “I burned an extra 500 calories today, so that means I can have that bowl of ice cream right before bed!”

Those calories burned exercising speed up your weight loss and have so many health benefits. This article from Mayo Clinic hits the key points: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389.

Another key to counting calories and not feeling I am on a diet is my daily eating plan. I eat three meals a day. I rarely snack. I eat consistently: breakfast at 7:30 a.m., lunch at noon, supper at 6:00 p.m. I get full enough at each meal that, while plenty hungry by the time the next one comes, I have enough energy to keep me going.

Also, you need to train your body. If you always eat an evening snack—let’s say at 9:00 p.m.—then when 9:00 nears you are going to feel hungry. You’ve trained yourself to get hungry. Your body knows it’s going to get fed, so it gets ready.

This isn’t to say you have to eat three meals a day. There are intriguing articles where the data argues for two per day, and six per day. The key is to do what works for you, know how many calories you’re consuming, and be consistent.

Oh, and one thing everyone agrees on: evening eating is unhealthy. You’re going to bed, so you aren’t going to be burning those calories. This article provides helpful insights: https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/nutrition/is-it-bad-to-eat-at-night-6-reasons-to-avoid-nighttime-meals-and-snacks/.

You might be thinking, “But I get hungry!” I know you do, but here’s the thing about feeding your evening and between-meals hunger. Just as you trained your body to call for food by eating between meals, you can train those cravings to cease.

I used to be a fierce evening eater. It was so bad, Kim, my first wife, would ask, “Didn’t I feed you well enough at supper?” Now that I am aware of how many calories are in things, those bags of potato chips and bowls of ice cream I was eating amounted to a second supper.

When I decided I needed to stop evening eating, the first few days were a challenge. By mid evening, my stomach was growling. Soon, I found the growls to cease, the desire to desist, and the ability to keep out of the kitchen.

Here’s what works for me to lose weight:

  • three meals a day, at consistent times
  • 1,800 calories per day
  • running and walking at least five days a week

What works for you? How quickly do you want to lose weight? How many calories is healthy for you?

Can’t run? Can you walk? Even a moderate pace is very helpful. Do you prefer a workout? YouTube has lots of videos you can follow for exercising right in your living room. Or go to a gym, or use a machine at home. Ride a bike—outdoors or a stationary one.

Do what you enjoy, so you’ll stick with it. I love running and walking outside. I am not a fan of any other way of exercising. I give up on them very easily. I’ve stuck with running all my adult life.

Do you prefer to eat more meals per day, or don’t want to give up mid morning or mid afternoon snacks? Then do it. Be happy about when you eat.

Do what works for you so that you can stick to it. So that you own it. So that you’re not on a diet, but on a lifestyle. So that you feel great about it!

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Greight Loss: the first month

Greight = Greg + weight. It rhymes with eight, but think of it as great!

The Greight Loss Plan is my method for successfully and wisely shedding pounds.

If you read my first post, you’ll recall that I deliberately put on weight in 2018 because of my now too-large breasts, and that I topped out at 260 pounds early in 2019. When on April 17 I began consuming 1,800 calories per day, I had not weighed myself since February, so disgusted with myself I had become that I couldn’t bear to approach the scale.

I weigh each Monday, first thing in the day, with my regular clothes on. When I resumed hitting the scale, I might already have lost a few pounds as I have been running regularly and had a bit of success consuming fewer calories. Based on my first weigh-in, which was only five days after beginning my Greight Loss Plan, it sure seemed I had to be under 260 because I couldn’t imagine losing eight pounds in five days.

April 22: 252 pounds.

I was elated! This initial success was a huge motivation to remaining steadfast with my 1,800 calories per day.

I had wondered how successful I would be. I’m twelve years older than when I did this in 2007, and now I’m over age sixty. After sixty, we lose muscle. Muscle and metabolism are linked, so the less muscle one has the slower is one’s metabolism. Each pound of muscle burns six calories per day, while each pound of fat only burns two calories. All of this conspires against an older person trying to lose weight.

In 2007, at age 50, I averaged 2.5 pounds lost per week. And was it ever consistent. I rarely lost under two pounds a week or more than three.

Besides eating the same number of calories per day, I’m running about the same amount as in 2007. I can’t run as fast as then—and I now have to mix in walking some days, and take break days where I speed walk five miles because it serves as a bit of a rest for my muscles—but being retired allows me to run more often, usually one or two more days a week than when I was working. Thus, the calories I burn from running are comparable enough to 2007.

Holding onto my pleasant surprise from April 22, I was curious how weigh-in number two would go.

April 29: 249.

There it was: three pounds lost. Right where I want to be.

I had a third successful week of eating 1,800 calories per day—I had not yet given myself a break day, where I ate as many calories as I wanted. I even kept to my calories on pizza day!—so I hoped for another two or three pounds lost.

May 6: 244.

Yahoo!

I now was on a roll. After another seven straight days of 1,800-calorie-diligence, and plenty of running, I eagerly got onto the scale for weigh-in number four.

May 13: 249.

What??? I gained five pounds???

This was not the first time I experienced such a horror. In 2007, I weighed myself every day. Sometimes, I weighed three to five pounds more than the day before. Complaining about it to Julie, she had surmised that it likely was water, that perhaps what I had eaten had me holding onto excess liquid baggage. She assured me that I soon would be pleased with the number I saw on the scale. Indeed, within a day or two the blip had blopped.

With that in mind, I didn’t let that 249 get me down. I knew I had not gained weight. My belt told me so. The day before, getting dressed for church, I found myself nearly ready to move to the next notch. I remained in good spirits.

I weighed myself only four days later, because May 17 marked one month on the Greight Loss Plan. Whew, the extra weight was gone. Onto my next regular weigh-in.

May 20: 240.

Woo hoo! Fewer than five weeks into counting calories I was down twenty pounds from my winter weight!

I can’t predict that I will continue to lose weight at my 2007 pace, but the good start has me optimistic. What I’m doing works, so I’ll keep at it.

Losing weight is way more than eating less. To succeed, one needs a wise strategy. Mine works for me. Next time, I’ll share it with you.

The Greight Loss Plan

That big, red 1,800 represents how many calories per day I have been eating since April 17. I am pleased to report that the weight is falling off me as leaves drop from trees on windy October days.

In 2007, after receiving stents to open two blockages in my heart, I needed to lose weight. Though I was a runner, I gradually added a few pounds a year. Having reached age fifty, I didn’t burn calories as efficiently. I ate too much. You know how it goes.

I decided I would count my daily calorie intake and keep it at 1,800, which would be well under what I would burn in a day even without jogging. I love statistics, keeping track of things, and competition. By counting every calorie, I hoped the three things—statistics, keeping track, and competing with myself—would result in success.

Boy, did it.

I ate 1,800 calories a day, usually six days a week. I gave myself a rest day mostly each Friday. Yes, that’s pizza day at our house. I jogged four to six times a week, usually five miles per run.

I lost an average of 2.5 pounds a week, ten per month, for seven months. From June to January, I went from 268 pounds to 198. It was the first time I was under 200 pounds since I was in my early twenties.

(If you’re curious, at my 6’2″ height, the government says I should have weighed no more than 190. Now, I’m 6’1″, so…)

I didn’t maintain the 198. I stopped counting calories. Until last year, my weight fluctuated between the 210s and 240s.

When I decided to transition, I wanted to look my best as a woman. I worked on losing weight. I did okay with it, but couldn’t hold it. I didn’t return to counting calories.

Last year, when I resumed living as a guy, I had to deal with a holdover from my transition: breasts that are too large for a man. That created a unique challenge.

So that I could be in public without feeling that folks were noticing my too-large breasts, I did something I had never done: I deliberately put on weight. I wanted to be fat, so that it appeared I had man boobs. In 2018, I gained twenty-five pounds.

The man-boob part of the plan worked pretty well. The other part didn’t. I hated being fat. When I had my yearly visit with my cardiologist in December, he noted my bulk. I explained it. He wasn’t pleased, but thankfully my blood pressure and cholesterol were good, and he was impressed with how much I run, so he didn’t press me to lose weight.

But I got tired of being fat. I longed to be in good shape. I want to be healthy for myself and for my family. I want to be here for Julie, and for my kids and grandchildren. It’s long been my goal to keep jogging to my eightieth birthday, and that won’t happen if I’m carrying bulk. I don’t want to have a heart attack. Or get diabetes. Or have high blood pressure.

This spring, I tried to use portion control to harness my calorie intake. I did okay, but was not consistent. Thankfully, I’m not a snacker—I rarely have anything outside of breakfast, lunch, and supper—but, when I do eat, I keep going till I’ve had plenty. And I love sweets, so I was eating too much dessert.

Finally, in mid-April, I found the resolve to count my calories, and to return to the 1,800 per day of 2007’s successful run.

May 17 marked one month on the plan. I am pleased to report that my efforts have exceeded my expectations. I’d like to tell you exactly how many pounds I’ve lost, but I made a mistake at the beginning: I didn’t weigh myself!

I had been so disgusted with my weight that I stopped my Monday get-on-the-scale routine in February. The last couple of times I dared to check, I clocked in around 260, the most I have weighed since 2007’s peak. Thus, I don’t know what I weighed the day I began this plan.

Next time, I’ll tell you what my weigh-ins have been since I resumed mounting the scale on April 22. And I’ll begin telling you my approach to consuming 1,800 calories per day.

Since this is my plan to lose pounds—Greg’s weight loss plan—a mash-up of the first two words provides a nifty name: Greight.

Greg + weight.

Rhymes with great

Thus, you have the Greight Loss Plan!