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If I can do it, anyone can!


About Weight Loss

Cautions

Before you begin ANY weight loss program, please make sure you consider the following:

Eating Right

There is so much controversy and confusion regarding "eating right"; and fad diets come and go. Right now, we are led to believe that we are not eating right unless we buy food that has little or no carbohydrates and an approval stamp with the letter "A" (as in Atkins) or "P" (as in Paleo).

The fact is, no diet written by a complete stranger (including Atkins) will work for everybody. If you need help with your nutrition, I recommend that you invest in sessions with a Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN). A RDN will look at your total picture: diet, exercise, behavior and the emotional component of your nutrition. The RDN will help you design a program (not a diet!) that will help you achieve better health. RDN's not only have training in nutrition, but also are required to work in a hospital clinical environment. A RDN understands related health issues such as hypertension, hypothyroid and diabetes.

To find a RDN near you, visit: eatright.org (Click the "Find An Expert" button and enter your zip code in the "Find a Nutrition Professional" box).

I will give you a quick tip that will help you immediately:

Keep a log of how much you eat and drink. Do this religiously for at least a week. Whatever you put into your mouth, write down what it was, the quantity (ounces) and what you were doing at the time. You may find what I call "leaks" in your nutrition and behavioral patterns that contribute to overeating.

What is a "leak"? A leak is a pattern of consuming a large amount of non-essential empty calories. For example, let's say that you consume one or more 12-ounce beers or soft drinks on a daily basis. If you reduce your beer or soda consumption by 12 ounces per day, you will lose 10 pounds per year!

Your log may tell you that you consume these beverages while watching TV. I would be willing to bet that you might not even miss the 12 fewer ounces as your mind is occupied elsewhere.

This information will provide you with a lot of insight into your behavior and will be especially useful if you decide to hire a RDN. (A RDN will ask you to log your nutrition intake). There are some excellent free apps that will help you with this task:

Exercising

To be successful at weight loss/weight management, you need to make exercise a part of your everyday life. Exercise needs to become a part of your daily hygiene, the same as showering and brushing and flossing your teeth! It does not need to take over your life, but it definitely needs to be a part of your life!

I divide exercise into aerobic and strength. Let's talk about each form of exercise:

AEROBIC

Aerobic exercise is defined as a rhythmic, continuous, large-muscle activity that promotes a simultaneous increase in heart rate and a return of blood to the heart. "Rhythmic" and "continuous" refer to an evenly paced activity such as walking, running, or cycling. Playing tennis or basketball would not be a good aerobic exercise, as those activities involve sudden bursts of speed and stops.

I recommend exercising aerobically for at least one half-hour, five to six days per week. Regular aerobic exercise will strengthen your heart and burn calories. If you walk one half-hour, five days per week for one year you will lose at least 7.5 pounds! Running and bicycling will burn even more calories and promote further weight loss.

STRENGTH

Strength training is an extremely critical part of the weight management process. Regular strength training helps increase and maintain lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass burns more calories than fat mass, the higher your lean muscle mass the higher your metabolism. Strength training will help us stave off the estimated loss of 2 per cent of our lean muscle mass for each decade we age after age 20. Strength training will help us maintain the weight that we have worked so hard to achieve.

There are many forms of strength training: weight machines, barbells and dumbbells, rubber tubing and Pilates to name just a few. You should do at least two strength training sessions per week. You want to make sure that you are using proper form and doing exercises that are appropriate for your goals and your health history.

I recommend investing in a few Personal Fitness Training sessions to get started. (Please visit my section on Finding A Personal Fitness Trainer).

Motivation

You are just starting to eat right and exercise. How do you stay motivated to keep going?

DON'T

  • Depend only on the scale.
  • The scale can set you up for failure, as it may not always reflect the long-term changes that you are making.
  • I believe that anything we do for 21 consecutive days becomes a habit. Record your weight and measurement data (such as your waist and hips) and then forget about it. Now go ahead and follow your nutrition and exercise program during the next 21 days.

DO

  • Congratulate yourself after each workout
  • Note that the workouts seem to be getting easier and that you are able to lift more weight with each session
  • Get acquainted with the other people in your gym or exercise class
  • Try to find workout partners who share and support your goals

All of these things will encourage you to enjoy life and be in the moment and not focus on how many pounds you need to lose.

If you conscientiously follow your plan for 21 days, you will not only lose pounds, but also will gain the healthy habits and support that will stay with you the rest of your life. You may then decide to focus on other goals such as trying a triathlon (see my About Triathlons section for further information).

XBigMan Testimonial

"Dear Mark,

I have often found that in life people don't say thanks to the people who have helped them. You have no idea that you have helped me and gave me encouragement to keep going. I made a choice in July of last year to make a change toward a healthier life style and was just starting this journey when I ran across the "Escape from Alcatraz Tri". As I watched on T.V., the network started following you and I noticed your shirt with your web address. Later that evening, I went to your Web site and started to read about your story and immediately I felt a bond with you because at that time, I weighed 368 lbs. I could relate to your story in many ways. The only difference was that I did not have any health problems and hoped to make a life change before I had any.

Over the past year, I have lost 54 lbs and have completed 6 sprint triathlons. I don't know if I would have even dreamed of doing the first triathlon if I had not received motivation from you and reading your weekly enlightenments. I am almost positive that there are others out there just like me that you may never hear from, but rest assured, you are making a huge difference in lives of many. Your openness and honesty in telling your story makes the difference. It is my firm belief that because you have not tried to hide the reality of where you started from, others are able to find much-needed motivation and inspiration along with being able to relate to your situation.

My goal is to be an X-Bigman one day.

thanks again"

Michael Pate

(Alexandria, Louisiana)

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