Well, it’s time for a weight loss update since my cholesterol results four months ago. I am now down to 149 pounds, and have been since May 1. That’s 61 pounds shed. And 8 inches off my waist: 38 down to 30. I’ll just let some pictures speak for themselves:

The picture on the left was taken September 22, 2002 at about 210 pounds. The picture on the right was taken May 18, 2004 at 149 pounds. I started my diet in February, 2003. Yes, I cut my hair, too.

The picture on the left was taken February 28, 2003 at 206 pounds. I had already lost 4 pounds by that point. The picture on the right was taken May 18, 2004.

Here’s one final picture wearing my old 38 inch waist jeans:

Everyone always asks which diet I’ve been on, and the answer I give is “eat less, exercise more”. That sounds cliché, but it’s true. I am not on, and never was on, a big-name diet. I don’t know why, but I’m extra proud of that. I don’t want to preach my routine, as everyone is different and it may not work for you, but I want to describe it anyway. The basic principle I’ve been following stems from reduced caloric intake. It takes 3,500 calories to burn 1 pound of fat. It’s really only healthy to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. So, to lose 1 pound of fat per week, you need a 500 calorie deficit per day (i.e. you need to burn 500 more calories than you consume). Rather than do that all by diet, I’ve been trying do half by diet and half by exercise.

Of course to have a 250 calorie diet deficit, you need to know how many calories you burn to maintain your weight. I got a little help here. When I originally started dieting, I used eDiets to get me going since I really had no idea how to change my diet. They put me on a well balanced, low fat diet of 1,800 to 1,900 calories per day, which pegged me at 2,200 calories to maintain my weight. That’s just sorta the average, and you may need to tweak those numbers. But I’m an average sort of guy, so I stuck with 1,800 to 1,900 calories. Those calories are split among 3 meals and a 200 calorie snack, which leaves about 530 to 550 calories per meal. I have not really used eDiets for the last 6 months or so, but I’ve been following the same caloric intake guidelines with excellent results.

As far as exercise goes, I started out just lifting weights, 3 times per week on my Bow Flex. Weight lifting not only burns calories, but it increases muscle mass, which will increase your quiescent calorie burn. The more muscle you have, the more calories you need to fuel it. I wish I had done body fat measuremeants, but it’s clear from the pictures of my body that I’ve gained some muscle mass. Just doing weight training was working well, but by the end of last summer, I was not seeing the results I wanted. I figured that weight training itself does not burn a whole lot of calories, and it takes a lot of time to put on muscle. Plus, I wasn’t in any better shape. Even though I had lost about 20 pounds, I would still be woefully out of breath after running just two blocks.

I decided to add a cardio routine back in September, 2003. Of course, being the lazy person that I am, I wanted to pick an activity that would burn the most calories in as short a time as possible. At the top of this list is running, swimming, and biking, all burning about 500 calories per hour. So a half hour of activity would perfectly give me my 250 calorie deficit. Swimming would not be an option, since I didn’t want to join a gym. Biking just seemed like too much hassle. To run, you basically just have to put on some shoes and step out the door. And running seems to be a better workout for your lungs and heart. So even though I have despised running since childhood, I decided to start running last September. Of course, you can’t just step out the door and run for a half hour after being sedentary for 15 years. I wrote up a whole entry back in January describing my running journey. And since January, I’ve run an 8k and a 5k, and I’m planning on running a few other 5k’s this summer. I’m up to 3 miles per day, 3 times per week for my training which takes me somewhere between 27 and 30 minutes depending on how hard I run.

So that’s it. I hope this may provide encouragement for those also wanting to lose weight. I can tell you first hand that the hard work will absolutely be worth it.