My next goal was to hold my weight steady (i.e., keep the weight off) for 3-months, again without any special foods, timing my eating, or any extra exercise. My target was to stay at 168 pounds. Today (3/16) is three months to the day, so it's time to check in and see how I am did:
Not bad if I say so myself!
During this last three-month period, I traveled for 2-1/2 weeks, ate a moderate amount of fast food, had hernia surgery (off my feet for about a week), spent lots of time with family and friends, went through the holiday season (Christmas and New Year's), celebrated my birthday, and attended quite a few social gatherings and parties (including a weekly happy hour with my department). The key is not avoiding food but instead eating in moderation, keeping track of what you eat, and make up for it over the next few days any time you overdo it. (I found the strategy that worked well for me was to give myself permission to go over on individual days, but commit to coming under budget each week. Over the past six months, there were plenty of days but never a week I went over my caloric limit.)
More than ever, this self-experiment has convinced me that losing weight is simply a matter of burning more calories than you consume. Maintaining weight is simply a matter of burning the same amount of calories you consume. Nothing more and nothing less. (Fitness and nutrition are related, but orthogonal issues.)
Keep track of your calories and you can master your weight. I found it to be far easier than I ever expected and cannot recommend the LoseIt! app highly enough. (If you don't have an iPhone, you can set-up a free LoseIt! account online.) The beauty of the process I used is that anyone should be able to replicate it with, expecting similar results.
My next 3-month goal? Focusing on fitness for the next three months. Stay tuned...
P.S. -- Here are more details about how I used LoseIt! to lose weight and keep it off:
- Download the free iPhone app LoseIt! If you don't have an iPhone/iPod, go to LoseIt.com and set-up a free account.
- Set your target weight loss goal. I recommend one pound a week to start off. That's been my goal all along and was very achievable. It was also a much smaller change to my eating habits than a larger goal would have been. (I often ate less than this, but never felt guilty eating up to my daily limit.)
- Record every meal and snack you eat, without exception. (When in doubt, make your best guess at what you're eating and err on guessing too high rather than too low.)
- Record every exercise you do. This includes any five-minute walk or 15-minutes of housework.
- Unless traveling, record your weight every day.
- Try your best to stay in the caloric boundaries the LoseIt app give you.
- Recognize you will go over your budget on some days. This is okay. Make up for it over the next day or two.
- Commit to coming under your caloric budget on a weekly basis. Even 5 calories under counts. If you go over one week, that's okay. Make up for it over the next week.