How I am Losing Weight

On January 29, I made a personal goal to lose 30 pounds by May 1. I told some of my friends about my goal at that time. If you subscribe to my email newsletter, you saw me reaffirm my commitment to this goal in the February 22 issue. At that point, I had lost 5 pounds. Today, a week later, I'm down a total of 7 pounds (you can see the tracking widget in the sidebar). Writing about my personal weight loss goal caused a flood of email from subscribers asking me what I'm doing to lose the weight - this post is the mass reply to those questions.

So how am I losing weight? I like the way one subscriber demystified his own weight loss of 65 pounds, so I'm going to borrow it. I'm losing weight by burning more calories than I consume.

I realize that's a cop out - it doesn't provide you any action steps you could take in your own quest to lose weight, so I'll break it down with what I'm actually doing. There are basically three parts to my weight loss equation: Exercise, Eating, and Sleep.

My Exercise Program

My exercise program is incredibly simple and it may be that as I approach the end of my goal I'll need to increase it, but so far it's working. There are two key components to my exercise:

Walking 30 minutes 5-6 days per week

15 minutes of body weight exercises

One of the things that makes my exercise most successful is doing it first thing in the morning. I wake up, get dressed, drink some water, and head out the door for my walk. When I get back I do 15 minutes of additional exercise, then hit the shower and eat breakfast. I got the idea for doing exercise first thing in the morning from two places - Bill Phillips' Body For Life, which suggests you get more out of exercise by doing it before you've had anything to eat and Eben Pagan's Wake Up Productive which encourages you to create a morning routine to launch yourself into a more productive day.

What exercises am I doing:
Upper Body
Push Ups
Triceps extension with a chair
Abdominal / Lower Back
Side Plank on a Box
Single-Leg Squats
Box Jump
Lateral Bound
Squat Jump
Walking Lunge
Jumping Lunge
Calf Raises on a step

I'm definitely not an expert on fitness, so consult someone who is before coming up with your own exercise program. My primary motivation for doing body weight exercises is to pick things I can do anywhere. I can't make the excuse of not being able to exercise if the only required equipment is me.

My Eating Program

For the most part I eat nutritious foods, but I tend to eat too much and too late at night. I have two eating strategies for weight loss. Strategy one is to eat smaller amounts of food more times throughout the day, which helps maintain energy levels and keeps me from ever feeling really hungry. Going back to Body For Life, Bill Phillips recommends 6 small meals. My target is 4-5. Eating 6 times a day became frustrating when I tried it about 10 years ago. Strategy two is to not eat after 8pm.

My breakfast following my morning workout is a smoothie comprised of blueberries, a banana, hemp protein, and flax oil (which tastes better than it might sound). The rest of the day the meals vary depending on my schedule, but the goal is to not over eat. I have flexibility to eat when I want now because I don't have a boss to report to, but I used a similar strategy 10 years ago when I worked in a cubicle. By making meals the night before it is easy to stay on track throughout the day.

My Sleep Program

In doing a bunch of reading about metabolism, I'm inclined to believe there is a strong correlation between not getting enough sleep and gaining weight. One thing I'm doing is making more time for sleep. For my personal schedule, this means being in bed by 11pm most nights (which is about 2 hours earlier than my typical schedule). I'm awake by 7am to get started walking. The side benefit to getting more sleep is I actually accomplish more in less time because I'm less likely to become mentally fatigued during the day.

Fourth Key to Success - Day of Rest

I said there were three primary keys to meeting my weight loss goal. There are actually four. The fourth key to making my goals successful is to allow one day per week to break all the rules. I make Sunday that day. I don't worry about getting exercise (although I occasionally still go for a walk). I eat whatever I want. And I generally don't try to stick to a schedule of any kind. Taking a break one day a week won't derail your weight loss goals because it has a great psychological benefit the rest of the week. When you feel inclined to cheat on meals during the week, you can easily remind yourself there's a reward coming at the end of the week. Giving your body a day off makes it that much easier to pick back up exercising when you start your next 6-day cycle.