This post represents the entire text of my exceedingly brief diet book.
Successful weight loss isn't complex. It's just difficult, because it requires consistency, which in turn requires a certain amount of self-discipline. There are ways to fake self-discipline, but you must achieve consistency to lose weight.
When I entered college in 1973, I weighed about 135 pounds.
When I got married in 1986, I weighed about 160 pounds.
Working on my last company from 2006 to 2008, I started at 192, and peaked at 211 (a personal best of sorts). The result of many meals out and sitting in front of a terminal for extended periods, coupled with little exercise. I've lost a bit of that since returning to a more normal routine, but I'm still definitely "prosperous," as my daughter refers to it.
To have a BMI that qualifies as "normal," I should weigh 154. I'd be totally ecstatic to weigh 155 pounds on my 55th birthday next year.
Here's everything I know about losing weight.
If your caloric intake is consistently less than your caloric output, you will lose weight over time. It is just that simple. You can eat cardboard, cream cheese, or caviar. You can run, walk, swim, or fornicate. The details are unimportant. The "consistently" part is not.
You can eat calories much faster than you can burn them. Take this fact to heart.
IF (and it's a huge if) you don't change anything about how you eat, burning 500 calories a day, seven days a week, will cause you to lose one pound (3,500 calories) a week. Although simple in concept, managing this is harder than it looks.
You can burn those extra 500 calories with 1 hour of exercise a day. It may take a while to work up to this level. Note, as you lose weight, your exercise must become more intense to achieve the 500 calorie burn.
Losing just one pound a week consistently will lead to success. Obviously, patience is required (and that makes the process harder as well). We all want instant results.
One off-day is not a failure. A motivational technique that appeals to me is a calendar with an X for every day you achieve your 500-calorie goal. Strive to make long runs of Xs.
The hardest time is when you are being consistent (burning 500 calories a day, and holding consumption steady), and results aren't visible (the so-called "plateau").
I think weighing yourself every day is a good thing. Not everyone finds this motivating, but I do.
Did I mention that being consistent is important?
Four weeks and a couple of days into my "155 at 55" program, I'm consistently losing a pound a week. It's satisfying, which reinforces my desire to remain consistent. I'm mentally prepared for the inevitable plateaus, while still hoping they won't happen. I am trying to be very conscious of how much I'm eating. It would be better if I kept a food journal, which I will resort to if I stop making progress.
Alas, at a pound a week, I won't *quite* make my birthday goal (my birthday is 37 weeks away). But if I can keep to my 1-pound-a-week weight loss, I will be giving myself a great birthday present. And I will get to my ideal weight.
Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. Did I mention that?