Life. Body. Health.

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It’s All About the Calories (NOT)

A long, long time ago, in the dim ages, calorie counting was pretty much the only way people dieted. Weight Watchers, the premier (and back then pretty much the only) group for losing weight, used mainly calorie counting for its member diet plans. And this wasn’t necessarily a terrible thing. Junk food was fairly new (OK, yeah, the ’40s was when McDonald’s and others began, but it wasn’t until the early ’70s that fast food became a sad staple of the American diet). So most people were eating what we call nutritional calories.

But more to the point, technically speaking, calories are the reason you gain or lose weight.

There’s a great online book to read on the web, called The Hacker’s Diet. It’s free.

You can find the book online at basically describes your body as a bag of water. If you eat more calories than you use each day, the bag expands. If you eat fewer calories than you burn in a day, the bag shrinks. So, all you need to do to lose weight is to restrict your calories.

In reality, it’s not as simple as that, as the book recognizes with its subtitle, How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition. One of the biggest mistakes people make when thinking about diets is thinking too simply about nutrition and digestion. Put clearly, you are not what you eat. Not literally. You don’t get fat from eating fat. You don’t get cholesterol in your arteries from eating cholesterol. Your body is a more complex system than that.

The first inkling I got about this was when Robert Atkins original Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution Book made the point that if eating fat made you fat, then why did babies put on weight from drinking apple juice, which has no fat?

So…in the end, you need to recognize that out bodies are complex systems that take the food we eat and change them in many ways to fuel our bodies. In future posts, I’ll go into exactly what this means, but there are two lessons I learned here. 

First, no matter what diet you use, calories are a major factor of success. Too many kill your diet, but too few can hurt your plan, too (more in another post on this).

Second, all calories are not the same. The calories you eat need to be nutritious calories. To see what happens when the calories you eat are not nutritious, check out this CNN story about the boy who went blind eating nutritionally empty calories.

And come back for more posts that get into what diets are and what they really should be.

And so it begins…

I’ve had weight struggles all of my life. Taken as a whole, you could say my weight has yo-yoed. But it’s not that simple. I’ve been heavy, truly heavy, four times in my life: 2000, 2007, 2010, and 2021. And three of those times, I lost that weight.

As you can guess, the fourth time is now, 2021.

The story each time has been the same. I decided to eat low carb. And become more active. And it’s worked. EVERY time. ALWAYS.

The story each time has been the same. I decided to eat low carb. And become more active. And it’s worked. EVERY time. ALWAYS.

When I’ve stopped eating low carb, I felt crappy. And gained weight, more importantly fat.

So I have no excuse for illusions. When I eat properly, I feel great and stay trim and healthy. When I don’t, I get fat and feel like crap. I can’t blame my health and physical form on anything other than me and my actions and habits.

You’d think this would be depressing. But for me it’s a very empowering thing. If you accept sole responsibility for yourself and your health, it means that you have the sole power to change it.

I’ve let certain factors in my life affect me, and my current weight is the result. I could blame it on COVID, but in truth it’s taken me over three years to get into this shape (or lack thereof). In November, 2017, I was 207 lbs. Not my lowest, but a good weight and fat percentage (22%) for my physique. Over the next two plus years, I slowly rose to 245 lbs, by March, 2020. When COVID hit, my activity dropped to virtually zero. And my weight rose to almost my all time high: 273 lbs.

Yep. Only once in my life, 2007, have I been 273 lbs (275, to be specific). And it was not fun.

So, I have about 75 lbs. to lose, pretty much all fat. I’m putting this here to not only hold me accountable, but to help share with readers the strategies I use that always (ALWAYS) help me get and stay fit. When I use them, that is. So the rubber hits the road, now. This weblog, aside from sharing these strategies, is a living document of my own progress, and if you’re reading, I hope your own progress as well.

Everyone is different, and each person needs to listen to their own body and what it’s telling them about their choices. I’ll point these out. But I’m also asking you to be honest with yourself and not to mistake wants and desires with excuses to stop improving yourself. And I’ll ask you to stick with something when it’s temporarily uncomfortable. For instance, whenever I start low carb, I get a headache a few days in. But I persevere, and a day or two later I wake up and I feel AMAZING.

So try this journey with me, and I promise it’ll be worthwhile. With the potential to be life-changing.

And so it begins.

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