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Seeking Some Objective Advice for Weight Loss


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Hi there,

First off, I've been hesitant to make a topic like this for a long time, mostly because of the condescending "bro" attitude I've gotten from health and fitness sites in the past.

I'm a 24 year old male who currently weighs about 250 lbs. My weight has gone up and down in the past, but since graduating college and settling into an industrial office-type job that doesn't require any strenuous activity (I'm a controls programmer), I've noticed my weight reaching scary new landmarks that I haven't seen before. I know part of that is age, part of that is the sedentary nature of my work, but I'm seeking some health advice that will be practical for me.

I should note that I'm a very scientifically-inclined person, and I'm extremely skeptical of fad diets and "super-foods". I'm also quite introverted, and I experience a lot of anxiety and discomfort in gym settings. However, I know, at the core, weight management comes down to ingesting the right amount of calories vs. what you can burn, with a few modifiers. I also understand weight loss is not an overnight thing, and I'm very open to any solid advice I can get.

As for my lifestyle - I'm not into physical activity at all. I work long days with a long commute, and I'm very much inclined to come home and sit/lay down - usually picking up fast food or snacks on the way, if I don't have much time to cook. I grew up in a single mother home, and I never really learned how to cook anything that couldn't simply be reheated or tossed in the oven. I suspect this is the crux of my issue, and I totally welcome suggestions on healthy foods that are affordable, easy to prepare, and don't make me want to reach for a bag of cookies after. I'm likely addicted to junk food, and I've been able to kick that addiction in the past... I'm just not sure how I managed to do that. I also don't eat a lot in the way of vegetables, because I can't ever seem to prepare them in a way that makes them at all appetizing. Any tips to help this?

As for fitness, I own a treadmill. I'm not sure if this will be enough to make any significant impact, but as I mentioned, I'm way too intimidated by gyms and fitness culture to go that route. Assuming I just used the treadmill plus various stretches and exercises that don't require (expensive) equipment, what sort of investment, energy-wise, would I need to make to see any impact?

I know that's all extremely wordy, but I'm grateful for any help I receive. A lot of it is probably questions that get asked every day, but I acknowledge my need to make a change - I was recently diagnosed with a severe obstructive sleep apnea that is affecting my abilities at work, and the last blood pressure I took was 156/100, which... Combined with my anxiety problems really makes me fear immediate health problems. Inaction is not an option for me. Thanks.

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I mostly use a treadmill, bodyweight workouts, and stretching.  I've lost 7 pounds ... gradually ..... but am focusing more on changing body fat percentage while managing difficult careers for myself and hubby (I'm a professor who hasn't landed a tenure-track position yet ... anxiety .... oh yea.  We haz it!).   With persistence, yea .... you can get good results without a gym. 

 

Sleep apnea - can you see if your doctor will prescribe a C-PAP?  It's made a huge difference for my husband. 

Some kind of Jedi .....

"We are better than we know, if we can be made to see it, [then] for the rest of our lives, we'll be unwilling to settle for less."  - Kurt Hahn

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I'm glad you are trying to make changes.

 

The number one thing you can do is start building good habits, even if they are simple ones. 

Go for a walk every day.  Start with 10 minutes, or even just around the block.  Whatever it is, have a habit of some kind of physical activity.  Have a habit of at least one vegetable on your plate at every meal, and lettuce, tomatoes, or pickles fail to count.

 

Second, all vegetables taste better when cooked in bacon grease.  Make some bacon.  Scoop out the bacon.  Throw some veggies in the greasy pan (broccoli, spinach, beets, whatever).  Depending on the veggie you may turn down the heat and/or cover the pan.  Add some chopped garlic for extra flavor.

 

While you might be worried about the calories, eating fatty vegetables is better than no vegetables at all.  I promise.

Searching the world for a cure for my wanderlust.

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First off, you already seem in a pretty good place regarding both your perspective and your expectancies so that's a big plus right there. Weight loss is mostly achieved on the nutrition side of things with exercise playing more of a supporting role (mainly increasing the amount of calories burned and in turn making it easier to have an overall deficit) and your lifestyle so far seems very prone to gaining/keeping excess weight with the sedentary job and late hours and convenient but horrible food on the way.

 

Despite what I just wrote I still think looking to change what you described as "I'm not into physical activity at all" should be one of your major goals. The reason for that is that exercise usually promotes a healthier lifestyle in general and has many other positive effects that will benefit you regardless of your nutrition and I'm pretty sure that it will motivate you to get the nutrition part "fixed" as well. Now I don't believe that there are people who are simply not into physical activity at all, but I rather believe that there are many people who haven't found a physical activity that they enjoy. This is the most important part about your exercise: Pleasure/enjoyment. There is nothing worse than someone forcing themselves to do something every day or every other day because they think they have to do it...and frankly, most people do this with their jobs already anyway. Actually enjoying exercising is a huge key in motivating yourself and sticking with something for the long run, because that is the only way to achieve goals with it: Consistency. Regarding "not being into physical activity": Humans always have been about physically doing stuff, be it hunting and gathering 150.000 years ago or working the crop fields a hundred years ago, it has only been recent times where we have become this often sedentary, almost movement-allergic bunch and it is so not in our nature.

 

So, the two takeaways for you here should be: Find something that you actually enjoy doing and then be consistent about it and do it regularly. It can take a while, some exploring, some experimenting, but I've yet to meet a person who hasn't got that something (or often several things) that they enjoy doing that is a physical activity. For me, after playing soccer, table tennis, basketball, swimming, squash, cycling and running, I eventually ended up really enjoying the shit out of Yoga (DDPYOGA at that) and more recently bodyweight training. It took some time, but now I don't have to force myself to exercise anymore (like I had to with cycling or soccer and running), I actually look forward to it, a lot. So go and find out what it is that you like, become good at it and as a result become much more healthy.

 

In regards to the diet part, I've come from the exact same place where you are right now. Raised by a single mom, absolutely helpless in the kitchen, could never be bothered to spend more than the 30 seconds it takes to unwrap a frozen pizza and throw it into the oven in the kitchen and certainly looked the part, too. My biggest advice here is to make small but impactful changes, creating lasting habits over time. This can be very minor stuff at first, like not having condiment X with some of your foods or regulating soda intake from wherever it is now to 75% of that or half, or 0..whatever you feel capable of. Make it your mission to eat take-out at least one time less per week and instead try to cook something yourself, knowing full well you will need to put in extra time and work for that. Research the most simple recipes you can find of things you are pretty sure that you would like and try to perfect a very select few which can then become your go-to. And so on.

 

You're really at a crossroads here. At 24 you're in the prime of your life. Age, despite you mentioning it, still is firmly on your side and your body will react much better to many changes than it would in 10 or 15 years. Your health predictions seem rather dire and you certainly created this thread for a reason. You also are aware that this is nothing that can happen over night, but something you will need to start to make happen right now. This forum and all its sub-forums are a well of information to guide you, make good use of it and you will achieve success.

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How about a glass of purgatory with a splash of heaven?

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In addition to all the things that have already been said, I'll just add this: all you need to do is start. Do a little bit at a time, and experiment. Remember that the most scientifically proven concept is worthless if it doesn't work for you, and that the most fad-like diet may be the one that works. That is not to say that you should jump from program to program - stick with whatever you choose for at least a month - but don't try to make something work if it doesn't work.

 

As Disil said, it's good that you know that it won't be quick. It's also good that you understand the consequences of inaction. So you must act. The two best things you can do are cutting out sugar, and finding a physical activity you enjoy.

 

The sugar one is easy, at least in theory: if sugar or any of these are on the back of the package, skip it. That list includes artificial sweeteners, which you can consume at your own discretion.  Also, watch for the higher calorie fruit juices, namely orange, grape, and apple.

 

Now for the physical activity. I understand that you aren't particularly social; neither am I. You don't need to do a team sport, or a sport at all. Anything that gets you moving is beneficial. I personally enjoy lifting stuff; Disil likes yoga. Walking has a slew of documented benefits, and perhaps you would like that. One thing that I did is replacing my computer chair with a swiss ball. It allows you to move around all day, and encourages better posture. With a good diet, that may be all you need.

 

For diet, I think the most important thing is finding filling foods. Say that ten times fast. Now go get rid of all the foods that you can munch on mindlessly and that are not vegetables. Speaking of veggies, they are like exercise; you have to find the type that works for you.

 

Now, if any of this seems subjective, remember that that does not make it untrue. Humans do not always follow the rules of logic. We are not all unique snowflakes, nor are we all the same. Some strategies will work for you and some won't. It is your job to find the ones that do work, and to stick with them. Our job is to provide you with new perspectives and possible strategies for your goals. Please, do not reject subjective advice on that alone; explore it, and if it doesn't work for you, then reject it. I hope to see how you do in the next few days.

I translate things into Latin. Send me a pm.

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im in a similar situation overall, and what i do as far as diet, is sit at my computer and watch videos on youtube or something while im chopping up vegetables so it doesnt seem SO tedious. just throw them all in a crockpot with some chicken or something and power it on. thats all. no extra work required.  of course it doesnt help for immediate cravings, but planning ahead will at least prevent the fast food trips.

 

to get over the whole vegetable hatred thing, i personally drench the whole meal in beef broth before cooking so its more like eating stew or soup, rather than "just vegetables". this certainly isnt the best method to get you where you want to go, but it really helps to start getting you in the right direction. baby steps, ya know?

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A lot of people round here aren't fans of calorie counting, but it worked really well for me.  I'd suggest using it for a "diet audit" - eat what you normally eat, and log it on myfitnesspal or some other app.  Once you have that data, look for ways to make low-pain changes... You've a scientific mindset... look for foods that are poor value for fillingness and/or calories and either cut them out, minimise them, or look for better value replacements.  I'd be amazed if there aren't pain-free, low-cost changes you can make to your diet which you'll barely notice, but which will have a substantial impact (taken together) on the amount of calories you're consuming.  This is what I did, and once I started seeing results and built habits, I was able to start looking for further savings.

 

I know exactly what you mean by being intimidated by gyms and gym culture.  But... the Beginners Bodyweight Workout can be done in the privacy of your own home.  And as others have said, walking is a really good form of exercise.  Do you commute by car, or do you have the option of getting off public transport a few stops early?  Walking has been huge for me.... I walk everywhere now.

 Level 4 Human Adventurer / Level 4 Scout, couch to 5k graduate, six time marathon finisher.

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Hi there. My suggestion as far as veggies is to just not cook them whenever possible. It sounds like you've had them cooked and don't like them so why not try them raw? The vast majority can be washed,trimmed, and eaten straight away. Most of the veggies we eat at home are served this way. Even veggies that you normally cook (e.g., green beans) can be eaten raw and you may very well find that they are tastier that way.

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Re: Veggies. You need to eat them with something fatty to make them taste good. My personal go to for easy veggies is a bag of frozen cauliflower & broccoli boiled for just under three minutes and then SMOTHERED in butter. Yum. Also, the fats help you to digest the veg more efficiently.

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Your starting point is pretty similar to where mine was, but 10 years younger.

The treadmill was my starting point exercise-wise before I branched out to adding bodyweight work.

Here's an article I wrote about how to lose weight, basically written for someone like you:

http://strengthunbound.com/how-to-become-a-weight-loss-success-story/

A bit too much to post as a huge wall of text here.

currently cutting

battle log challenges: 19,18,17,16,15,14,13,12,11,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1

don't panic!

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Hi folks, thanks for all the great advice.

 

I started my own fitness thing, although I'm admittedly winging it a bit, which is probably the best way to do it - my weight as of Monday was 275lbs, roundabouts, but I did buy a scale so I could keep an eye on progress (knowing full well that weight will go up and down a bit for almost no reason). I downloaded an app (MyFitnessPal I think?) for my Blackberry so that I could keep track of dietary intake, not just calories. I've also made a goal of doing a very brisk walk (about 4mph according to the display) on the treadmill to start - I was able to handle it for 8 minutes yesterday, and given my poor fitness, that seems like a fine point to gradually work up from.

 

My goal weight is 155lbs, and I hope to get there within 3-4 years of gradual weight loss. I know weight loss gets harder and harder as you lose more, so I've frontloaded it such that I'll lose 50lbs in Year 1, 35 in Year 2, and another 1-2 years to lose that last 25. I don't know how realistic the goal weight is though; while it is ideal given my height and age, I am a naturally stocky male, and my belly was almost flat at 190 lbs. But hey - setting a high benchmark gives more room for error.

 

If my logic is flawed at all, let me know. I'm thinking of also getting some dumbbells to lift while I watch TV or Netflix, just for the sake of it. I also find that that fitness tracker is incredible for nutritional education - I had no idea that a muffin from Tim Hortons was 400 calories, or that a chicken sandwich at Burger King was 800 calories! I used to eat two of those things per meal! The app has me at 1780 calories daily, and it's actually surprising just how easy that is to work within without sacrificing good food... I had Wendy's chili for dinner and some banana chips for dessert!

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Without giving you too bright of a hope, I feel that your weight loss will be a lot quicker than you predict, at least with the right mindset and the right adjustments. There's people who have made very strict changes both in diet and exercise and gone from 297 to 157 in the span of 10 months. Now that is the exception, but 3-4 years also is. Within your first year you will probably be able to get to 190, although it's really hard to predict such things from afar - just know that it won't be as grueling and long as you pictured it in your previous post, maybe that gives a little added motivation. :)

How about a glass of purgatory with a splash of heaven?

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We'll see. I have really bad genes for metabolism on my mom's side, so I'm giving myself a wide gap so that it's all achieveable. But with that said, I was eating probably upwards of 4000 calories on a daily basis. Cutting that in half on its own is sure to make a big change. My blood pressure is already down significantly, somehow - from 156/100 to 134/70. I don't know if such a fluctuation happens naturally, but this is Saturday and Wednesday, respectively. I lost 3 pounds since I got the scale on Monday night, but I'm willing to attribute that to error on the scale's behalf. I also just finished 10 straight minutes on the treadmill, which is an improvement over yesterday. As long as I keep tracking all this, it should be easy-peasy.

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Your metabolism would only influence where your TDEE lies and how many calories you need to cut to lose weight, but not how fast you would lose weight. Blood pressure probably is recovering from the tons of salt that got dumped into your body with those 4k calories. The amount of sodium found in processed food is absolutely ludicrous, at times with one medium pizza or one can of soup already exceeding the recommended daily intake.

 

But, to get back to things in general: Just try to make small, meaningful changes and try to be consistent. Don't worry too much about things out of your control (genes are a good example) and just take it one step at a time and you'll find success.

How about a glass of purgatory with a splash of heaven?

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My goal weight is 155lbs, and I hope to get there within 3-4 years of gradual weight loss. I know weight loss gets harder and harder as you lose more, so I've frontloaded it such that I'll lose 50lbs in Year 1, 35 in Year 2, and another 1-2 years to lose that last 25. I don't know how realistic the goal weight is though; while it is ideal given my height and age, I am a naturally stocky male, and my belly was almost flat at 190 lbs. But hey - setting a high benchmark gives more room for error.

Big time overestimate.

I lost 75 lbs initially (262 to 187); the first 40 took me 3 months, the next 25 took 3 months, the last 10 took me 2 months. All in all 8.5 months (with a 2 week break after the first 40; Christmas).

We'll see. I have really bad genes for metabolism on my mom's side, so I'm giving myself a wide gap so that it's all achieveable. But with that said, I was eating probably upwards of 4000 calories on a daily basis. Cutting that in half on its own is sure to make a big change. My blood pressure is already down significantly, somehow - from 156/100 to 134/70. I don't know if such a fluctuation happens naturally, but this is Saturday and Wednesday, respectively. I lost 3 pounds since I got the scale on Monday night, but I'm willing to attribute that to error on the scale's behalf. I also just finished 10 straight minutes on the treadmill, which is an improvement over yesterday. As long as I keep tracking all this, it should be easy-peasy.

I lost my first 10ish lbs in the first 2 weeks. Running down your glycogen stores will cause a massive quick weight drop. Enjoy it; it won't last long.

currently cutting

battle log challenges: 19,18,17,16,15,14,13,12,11,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1

don't panic!

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at your current weight you'll see weight shed like nothing by making small changes. start slow.

but be careful with myfitnesspal. its really a HUGE eye opener when it comes to diet, but with exercise its extremely forgiving. and ironically enough, goal calorie intake is a bit too harsh. 1300 calories was my goal, and pretty much everyone and their dog says that was FAR too little (yes, thats for weight loss). 

 

i do use it once in a while though... i've gotten accustomed to filling with veggies and getting just enough of everything else to hit my macros, so i only use it with new foods. but id definitely recommend it when first starting, mainly just for the shock factor of what you typically eat comfortably. 

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You're definitely on the right track! There's nothing wrong with going slow when it comes to weight loss but you'll probably be surprised how quickly it comes off, especially to start with.

 

Experiment with food. Try different veggies, eat them with different fats/seasonings, spend hours looking at delicious veg dishes on Pinterest. It helps.

 

Addiction to junk food sucks but those cravings go away if you don't eat it. I had a similar problem but I had to deprive myself completely and now I'm not craving pizza in the middle of the day.

 

It's also possible to find healthier alternatives to those processed foods. Paleo muffins, home made kebabs on wholemeal pitta bread, curries. Yes, they take some effort but you might enjoy cooking. If you're too tired after work, make big batches of food (stews, curries, chilli etc.) at the weekend. Then you can use these for lunch/dinner during the week too.

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I ate absolutely no veggies at ALL until I was about 21-22.  I just couldn't stomach them. And then I met garlic. Garlic-roasted, garlic-baked, garlic sauteed with olive oil veggies are AWESOME. The flavor was strong enough to overcome the 'veggie' taste at first and eventually I phased it out entirely and enjoy most vegetables (though I STILL cannot choke down cauliflower/broccoli). The issue for me was texture a lot of times, not sure if you have the same issue, but if so start with things like grilled portabello mushrooms- they have an almost meaty texture, and anything grilled has that smokey flavor that helps (Thinly sliced grilled zucchini or eggplant with olive oil and salt/pepper are amazing!)

 

As for mustering the energy to cook on weekdays it's understandable, it's rough after a commute and long work day. What I do for quick meals is spend an hour or so on the weekend grilling up a couple pounds of chicken and fish and then portion it out for the week (or just have some extra cooked meals) I put what I think I'll eat that week in the fridge and freeze the rest. That way in a pinch you have a quick meal ready to pop into the microwave at a moments notice on those weekdays that's healthy and precooked. Also, when you start liking veggies a little more check out mason jar salads. They're another option to make on the weekend and store in the fridge for a ready-made meal. Side note, I HATE lettuce. With a passion. Even on burgers or tacos I cannot stand shredded/iceberg lettuce. I found that leafier greens with more taste appeal to me more in salads such as baby spinach or arugula, so see if you can sample those with some dressings to see if they appeal to you. 

 

 

If you need extra support or have more questions from someone who transitioned from hating all veggies to having some be my absolute favorite foods now pm me, I'd love to share more tips :)

Spaz Ranger

BATTLE LOG

You can have results or excuses. Not both

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One thing you can start with is getting your hands on a pedometer and counting your steps. Some say 10'000 steps per day is a good amount. You could even watch some TV while walking on your treadmill to catch up on your daily steps; it's better than just watching TV seated.

My old roommate had a problem with veggies and a sweet tooth that continually causes him to get tested for diabetes. For the veggies, the best thing I could get him to do was start drinking V8s. Hardly as much vegetables as you need, but it's better than nothing. For the sweet tooth, we started experimenting with tasty and filling recipes for blended protein shakes. Also we invested in some Atkin's Bars, which contained quite a bit of protein and fiber, and tasted like a candy bar without the sugar. He proceeded to drop 25 lbs. playing Skyrim for 4 weeks.

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Aloha, Apologies if I'm repeating what other's have said. Although good comments it took me ages to read...

 

With regards to vegetables; in my opinion the easiest way to make these green things taste good is through a 'stir fry'. Get your veg (just about anything), meat, chicken, beef, turkey and try different seasonings until you find a few you like. Quick, very simple, healthy and it does taste good...

 

As to exercise, the most obvious way is the gym or go for a run but the best way to get exercise is to find something you enjoy doing. This way you'll be much more motivated to keep it up. One of the most important thing with exercise, regardless of what you do is consistency. you're much more likely to keep at it if you're doing something you like; bowling, sports, walking whilst viewing some scenery. Anything!  Best of luck bud!

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"If you do what you've always done you'll get what you've always got"...

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