Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How I lose Fat

First and foremost, it’s important to note that this is not a diet, this is a lifestyle change. I say that because diets are meant to make you lose weight, but it inevitably always comes back when you stop dieting, however by changing your lifestyle (from here on out, when I say diet, it will refer to what I eat, as a part of the lifestyle change), you won’t see the weight return unless you revert back to the old lifestyle.

This change in lifestyle isn’t as difficult as it may seem, really. If you include all the steps I have taken so far, its been about a month. I have lost an inch off my waist, and about 13lbs.

So here it is: The first thing I realized I needed to do: control my portion size. We eat way too much. Did you know that eleven French fries is one serving? Did you know a Big Mac has 930 calories? That’s almost half a woman’s daily calorie intake, in one sandwich.

I spent a week just learning to eat less. I took an extreme approach, which I am sure isn’t the healthiest way to do it, but when I swim, I jump in. If you don’t know what portions are, you need to learn them. At this point, I am not counting calories; I wasn’t ready to do that.

Second, get a notebook. Create daily logs of all your eating habits, exercise habits, and weigh-ins. This is another must do, it’s hard work, at first, but has huge payoffs. First, it will become a track record of your progress. Second, it shows how much you eat, and third, how much exercise you do. So when you have a week where you don’t lose weight, you can go back and figure out why. Or when you get depressed and want to quit, you can go back and see where you have made improvements.

Okay, so now you’re eating small portions, time to figure out what your body needs. This is a little different for every person, based on your body style, there are three main kinds. Most likely, you will fall into a mixture of two; however you want to focus on your primary body type.

The three body types are: Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph. In short, Ectomorphs are the “super skinny” types; they can eat just about anything, and never gain weight. Endomorphs are the polar opposite of Ectomorphs. Endomorphs have to carefully watch what they eat because it always seems to turn into fat. Lastly, a Mesomorph is the “ideal body”. They appear fit, are never too skinny, but don’t put on a lot of weight either. Chances are you are a mix of Ecto-Meso, Meso-Ecto, Endo-Meso, or Meso Endo.

Personally, I am an Endo-Meso. It is really hard for me to lose weight, it is very difficult for me to lose weight, and I have generally been overweight my entire life.

Figuring out your body type is very important. Of note: Mesomorphs can be overweight, and Endomorphs can be fit, look at your overall fitness, even from early ages. If you are unsure, you can find quizzes online to help you.

After reading up on my body type, I have also learned better ways to improve exercise, and what to and not to eat (just as important is when to eat).

While I initially hated my body type, because it requires so much work to get fit, I have also learned that it does something super cool. Endomorphs can generally heal faster after a workout, which means we can work harder (yay…). Sounds like of supernatural, like Wolverine or something, but it is true. I can run a few miles, break for 30 minutes, and could go run again. I have learned to love it.

Now I know my body type, I am learning other things about the body. For example, we all know calcium is important, it gives us strong bones, but did you know it fights fat? Specifically fat around the abdominal area, so make sure you get your daily calcium intake. Now as far as that goes, your body can only consume 50% of your daily calcium at a time, so if you get a supplement, you don’t need 120% or 230%, because its just going to get wasted. I went to Meijer and found a calcium supplement that gives 50% of your daily need, in one tablet (Made by “True basics”, 250 tablets was $6.00; I take two a day).

Another important note about calcium, caffeine prevents your body from absorbing it. So if you take a vitamin in the morning, say, with a cup of coffee, it will be wasted.

Speaking of drinks, I drink 8 glasses of water a day. Its not hard. In fact, most often when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually thirsty, so drink your water. I could give you dozens of reasons to drink water, but more than likely, you already know them.

I eat more now, than I ate before. I eat 5 or 6 meals every day, but they are portion and calorie controlled. In the book “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle” Tom Venuto talks about calories, and what you should know. First off, how many calories should you eat in a day? A male trying to lose weight (me) should have between 2200-2700 a day (2700-2900 a day to maintain my weight). Women’s numbers are 2000-2100 to maintain your weight and 1400-1800 to lose weight.

It is also good to know what your body burns up on its own (called the BMR or Basal Metabolic rate).

Here is the formula for that:

BMR= 66+ (13.7 x your weight in kg.) + (5 x your height in cm) – (6.8 x age in years)

BMR= 655+ (9.6 x your weight in kg.) + (1.8 x your height in cm) – (4.7 x age)

Again, your BMR is what you burn without exercising, walking, or doing your day to day tasks. My BMR is about 2100 calories/day.

This is a good number to know, when you are trying to lose weight. The other important number to know, is what you intake; which brings us back to that daily log. I started my log on May 1st, and haven’t missed a day yet. While I am currently not recording my caloric intake, I have a pretty good idea of my per meal intake. I do record how many calories I burn while exercising.

The next thing I can think of is meal timing. As I stated, I eat 5-6 meals a day. It was actually difficult at first to do, because that’s a lot of eating. Here is the reason why its important to eat so many times. The simple answer is it keeps your metabolism up. The reason it does that is what’s actually important.

It takes your body 3 hours to digest protein, which I haven’t talked about, but it’s what you be the majority of your diet. By maintaining a high metabolism, your body is constantly burning calories. This is important for an Endomorph, because we generally have a low metabolism rate, which is why it doesn’t take much to get fat.

Eating every 3 hours kick starts your metabolism, forcing your body to burn calories. Now that being said, protein is important. ANY time you eat a carb (including vegetables), you should eat some sort of protein, and it helps your metabolism do its thing.

Lastly, I practice the Zig-Zag method of eating. This truly impressed me; God has really designed our bodies to be smart. When you are on the losing weight calorie schedule, it takes 3 days for your body to realize what you’re doing before it goes into “starvation” mode. That is, when your body starts fighting back.

When you change your diet and start eating fewer calories, you will succeed until your body figures out what you’re doing and starts to correct itself. Using a “zig-zag diet will prevent this. How it works is like this: for three days you limit your calorie intake to the “weight loss” amount. On the fourth day, you increase your calories to the normal amount. This will psyche out your body, and prevent it from harming itself, while maximizing weight loss.

All in all, this has worked for me; you will surely want to personalize your eating habits based on your body type. When you start eating 5+ meals a day, you will see an almost immediate gain in energy.

If you have any questions feel free to ask, I will try and help however I can.
Most of the information I have learned from reading online or in books.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Unexpected Suprise

I was recently able to take a few weeks off of school due to the fact that I ended up not needing to take one of the classes I was enrolled in. This worked out really well since it not only gave me a break but also left a credit on my school account for this next semester. School for this next semester started on May 3rd.

When I signed up for this coming semester, back in March, I was notified that my payments would be about $400 a month for four months. Payments were to start this month so my husband and I have been budgeting accordingly in anticipation of this expense. I tend to be a conscientious person so I logged into my account last Friday just to make sure everything was all set to go for this week. What I found shocked me. There it was staring back at me, a screen stating that our payments were $757.50 per month for four months. WHAT?!?!

After I started breathing again I tried to look at the situation logically to figure out what on earth happened. I went back through my school's email account (the account they're supposed to email if any changed are made) to see if I had possibly missed something. The last email I had from them stated that my payment plan was the $400 amount. So I started going through the last bill, which they only send out quarterly. There was a charge of $1500 from my scholarships to our account which erased the negative balance and left a positive balance of around $800. Added on to this was the already ridiculous cost of tuition. I mean seriously, why should they get to charge $100 for my "registration" when I do it all online myself anyway? But I digress...

So there I was on the Friday before classes start and I had to figure out by the close of business what was going on, if it can get it fixed, and if I can't, what needs to happen. As my husband knows, I can be quite tenacious when it comes to circumventing the mess of automatic phone systems and I put my skills to work immediately. It took me a few calls but I finally got the direct line of a supervisor for the accounting department, who explained what happened.

Last semester, when I dropped that class, it evidently nullified all scholarships for the semester. This is something my adviser really should have told me but failed to mention. That means that my payments from last semester were calculated based on the fact that I had received my scholarships which now meant that we owed money.

To make a long story short I brought my case before the financial aid office both by phone and email and never received a response, I also contacted my adviser and didn't receive a response until Monday. Since classes started on Sunday that wasn't all that helpful. The other issue is that if I waited until Monday to cancel my classes they would charge me 10% of the class fee because it was after the start of class. Ugh!! What to do?

If I dropped the classes that meant that I wouldn't graduate this year after all, which I was really looking forward to. If I didn't drop my classes I would be stuck with a payment we couldn't pay. If I dropped just one class I would lose my scholarship for this semester as well and have a $600 payment we couldn't pay.

Well... I decided to drop my classes. I'm not willing to have us go into debt for school. We will still have about a $250 payment this semester even though I'm not taking classes, to take care of paying the scholarship back. I will have to graduate next year instead which bums me out.

On the plus side though, we had been budgeting for around $400 payment so we have a little extra room in our budget for this month. I also get an extended break which is nice. I'm hoping to use some of the extra time to get more involved in our new church.

Although it might not sound like it, I am thankful for the fact that I can go to school and that we don't have school loan debt. I'm thankful that I am close to graduating after all these years and the end is in sight. Maybe this is just God's way to telling me to slow down and reprioritize for a little while.

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