This web site was born out of my desire to reach out to other people who might be in a similar circumstance to me. I want to be able to help others in their journey, and to get ideas from others that might help me in mine.
For my own situation, see My Journey. That page will give you more details than you will ever want to know, and will help you to understand my context.
Please understand also that I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or fitness professional. Everything I present on this web site is simply based on my own understanding of my experiences, my interpretation of advice I have been given from professionals, and things I think I have learned from my own research.
One thing that I learned quickly is that there are a lot of variables to consider, and a lot of confusion about nutrition, even among professionals. And, that every person’s body and lifestyle needs are different, so that there is no one-size-fits all diet.
Briefly, however, here is the lifestyle perspective that the web site will express:
Calorie reduction. While I do not count calories at this point, I do focus on reducing portions. I was eating too much food before. Less food means more weight loss, less money spent at the grocery store, less sodium, less carbohydrate, and more enjoyment of the food itself. It also allows me to buy higher quality foods and ingredients for the same amount of money as I was spending before. I am probably eating 1/3 or less of what I used to eat, yet I am perfectly satisfied. As a nutritionist told me, I don’t need to count every calorie, because if I can train myself to choose the right foods and the right portions out of habit, then the calories will take care of themselves.
Low carb eating. Not Atkins, Keto, or Paleo in particular, but simply limiting carbohydrates, especially refined carbs like white flour and white sugar. My goal is generally to consume less than 100 carbs in a day, though I really strive for 60 or less.
Low sodium eating. We do eat a lot more sodium than we realize, mostly because of convenience foods and highly-processed foods from the store. Factory foods often include large amounts of salt as a substitute for flavor and quality. In fact, we choose our foods based on quality and wholesomeness, we probably would not have to count sodium at all. But, since more sodium causes my blood pressure to rise and less sodium causes my blood pressure to go down, it is important at least for me. The recommended daily amount for sodium is 2300mg or less. A low sodium diet means 1500mg per day, or less.
I also discovered that salt acts as an appetite stimulant for me. As I reduced sodium intake, I found that I had fewer “cravings” and ate less food over all. When I eat something “salty,” I want to eat more.
High protein diet. When attempting to lose weight, many people lose critical muscle mass because they do not eat enough protein. More muscle mass means more calorie burn, even when you are at rest. Less muscle mass means less calorie burn.
More exercise. Our bodies were designed to work and move. If we don’t do that, some things just do not function right. Right now I am working on low-impact exercise simply because I don’t want to destroy my joints by pounding on them at my current weight level. As I progress, so will my exercise program. My current exercise consists mainly of walking.
My goal in all of this is to build habits that will create a lifestyle that is healthy and enjoyable. By paying attention to all of these details right now, I hope to build habits to the point that I can make good decisions on-the-fly without having to measure every portion and track every carb.
More about calories
The topic of calories deserves a few extra words.
A lot of things began to make more sense when I learned fairly recently that not all calories are created equal. For most of my life, I have been influenced by those who say that weight loss is simply a matter of “calories in vs. calories out.” Some very educated and well-trained people believe this. You have probably seen this attitude prevalent in your own journey.
I even had a cardiologist tell me that weight control had “nothing to do with exercise,” (her exact words) but was purely a function of the amount of calories being consumed.
However, I have learned more recently from a dietician that not all calories are created equal. Some calories are not as accessible to our body as others. Some foods burn more calories in their consumption and digestion than what they contain for calories. Some foods provoke an insulin reaction in the body that causes your body to not burn fat and to convert carbs to fat for storage.
So, it all comes back to our food choices.
And, of course, exercise is incredibly important to our health, although your exact rate of calorie burn depends on a lot of variables.
The “(calories in – calories out) / 3500 = pounds lost” formula is a gross oversimplification and is only true under strict laboratory conditions. Every food is different. Every person’s body is different. If we train ourselves to make better food choices and to have good portion control and to increase the amount of exercise we get, then our weight issues will work themselves out in the long term.
The key is in developing those habits and striking the right balance. And, that balance can change. For instance, our food choices and portion sizes may be slightly different during our weight loss phase than they will be during our “maintenance” phase.
So, as a dietician recently told me, “Don’t obsess over the calories. Focus on the food choices and portion sizes.” This is probably the best health advice I have ever been given in my whole life.