Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Three Months and Still Holding Steady

On September 16th, I decided to do a self-experiment to lose 25 pounds in 3 months without any special foods, worrying about what time of day I ate, or any extra exercise. On December 16th, I achieved the goal using the LoseIt! app for the iPhone.

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 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.
Follow this simple procedure and I guarantee you will lose weight.


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Mark Cancellieri said...

Interesting experiment. I have little doubt that caloric restriction works in losing weight. I have done pretty much exactly what you have done in terms of setting a caloric "budget." I have also found that self-tracking is extremely helpful.

However, it's a mistake to think that all calories are created equal. You might be interested in the different types of results that occur when we get calories from different types of food:

This shouldn't be surprising. Different types of foods have different types of biochemical impacts on our bodies.

Anyway, I'm glad that it is working for you.

luke middleton said...

Lose It has been great for me, as well.

As far not worrying about what time of day you eat at...

I met with some success from not eating after certain times (and had a friend that did, as well) in the past. I don't worry much about it (at least directly related to weight loss) now that I'm using Lose It, which has provided much more substantial results.

However, I suspect for many people, not eating after x:xx pm would still be beneficial. The reason it was somewhat beneficial for me is that what I ate between 6:00 pm and bedtime would often be the calories that would put me over the top of my recommended caloric intake for a day. Cutting out eating a certain time of the day cut down my window of calorie consumption.

luke middleton said...
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