“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)
Before you begin any weight loss program or new exercise program, you should consult with your doctor – especially if you have any medical condition that needs special attention. I am not a doctor or nutritional expert of any kind. What follows is my personal experience derived from several hours of research and many years of trial and error. I have found a method to lose weight and keep it off that works for me. I have returned to the weight I was at when I was in the best shape of my life and maintained that weight for over a year now. I only had about 25 pounds to lose but I see no reason why this method cannot work in more extreme cases. This is not a lose weight fast method – this is a lose weight slowly method. Think in terms of months or years not days or weeks. The goal is to change the way you eat permanently over time so that you can easily retain your new physique.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
There is absolutely nothing you can’t eat in this diet. The goal over time is to transform the choices you make and the reason why you eat what you eat. The body God gave you requires proper nutrition; this is really simply a common sense balanced diet that includes vegetables and legumes (beans), fruit, grains and cereals, lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds, milk, cheese, yogurt or alternatives. You may notice that this list does not include pie, cake, ice cream, candy, cookies, beer, wine, whiskey, potato chips, or French fries. You may eat any or all of these things on this diet, but my hope is you will over time decide to make better choices to fuel your God-given body.
“Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” Proverbs 23:20-21 (NIV)
The primary reason you eat is to fuel your body – to give it the necessary ingredients to thrive. You would not pour a gallon of milk into the gas tank of your car because that will likely damage your engine. For that same reason you need to carefully consider what you pour into your body. Calories that have little nutritional value only serve to add extra pounds. If you had a pickup truck that was designed to carry a half ton, would you load it down with 2 tons of bricks? I would hope not, because that is a recipe for disaster. Your body is no different. That excess weight you are carrying around is doing all sorts of damage to your overall health – your heart, your joints, your skin, all your vital organs suffer from the strain. Like the overloaded pickup truck, it’s only a matter of time before you encounter a major breakdown.
We need to start by doing a little math to determine how many calories you need each day to maintain your current weight. This is called your maintenance level of calories. When eating this number of calories, you will not gain weight or lose weight. This will be your starting point.
First multiply your current weight by 14. If you weight 200lbs that would be 200 X 14 = 2800
Next multiply your current weight by 16. If you weight 200lbs that would be 200 X 16 = 3200
These two numbers equal the approximate range in which you will find your maintenance level of calories. In the case of the 200lb person, their maintenance level will be somewhere between 2800 calories and 3200 calories. A very active 200lb person will be closer to 3200 calories and a sedentary person will be closer to 2800 calories. The only way to precisely dial in this number is to pick a place to start based on your activity level, maybe 3000 calories and then spend the next week eating a 3000 calorie diet. Weigh yourself at the beginning of the week and at the end of the week and note the difference. If you gained any weight at all, you are not at your maintenance level and will need to adjust your calories down by 200. If you find you lost weight, it is because you have gone beyond your maintenance level and have already started the weight loss process.
It doesn’t matter what kind of scale you use to check your weight. What matters is you use the exact same scale, wearing the exact same clothes (if any), at the exact same time of day, every time you weigh yourself. The best time to weigh yourself is first thing in the morning before you’ve had anything to eat. In addition, don’t get in the habit of weighing yourself every day. Your weight is going to go up and down throughout the week. It’s far better to simply weigh yourself once a week.
Counting calories is not as tedious and complicated as you might think. There are lots of online resources and smart phone apps that can make this task fairly simple. The resource I use is absolutely free and can be found at myfitnesspal.com. Here you will find an easy-to-use calorie counter that will make it easy to track everything you eat. There are many other resources and I encourage you to do a little research and find the system that works best for you.
If you’re eating packaged food that comes with the calories posted on the side, that makes it easy to do your calculations. You will need a food scale to determine precisely how much of any particular food you are eating. Calories are usually listed by ounces, or grams, and you’ll need to weigh out your portions to determine your calories. I don’t like cooking and tend to eat a lot of frozen meals that have the calories already worked out for me. When you’re cooking your own foods, you will need to find a source online that will give you the per-ounce or per-gram calorie count for the food you are preparing.
This can be a little tedious to begin with, but after a couple of weeks you will have many of the foods you eat on a regular basis figured out and the time spent calculating will be greatly reduced. Counting calories is the magic that makes this weight loss program work and you need to be dedicated to getting this right. Find an easy way to keep track of it all online, on your smart phone, or using pen and paper, and over time it will become effortless.
Losing weight is about burning calories and you burn calories by moving your body. In addition, your body needs physical exercise to function. If you leave your car in the garage for too long it will become hard to start. If you leave it there for years, it may not start at all. Your car needs to be running to keep all the components properly lubricated. Your body is no different. You need to get up and move your body to keep it properly lubricated. In my view, the absolute minimum is 30 minutes of sustained exercise every single day. You can do your 30 minutes walking, swimming, playing tennis, dancing, hiking, bike riding, etc. This can’t be 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there totaling 30 minutes – it needs to be 30 minutes of sustained exercise.
The good news is many of you go well beyond the 30 minutes of sustained exercise working your daily job. Keep in mind that is the absolute minimum. A complete fitness package will include some kind of muscle training that will work most, if not all, the muscles in the body at least 3 times a week. Weight training, calisthenics, yoga, pilates are all good ways to keep your muscles moving and stimulate weight loss. In addition to weight loss, your 30 minutes of sustained exercise along with some time spent developing your muscles, will improve the overall function of your body which will greatly improve your quality of life.
If you haven’t done much exercise lately, you absolutely must start gradually. Start with a 10 minute walk. If you feel fine the next day, try a 15 minute walk. No matter what you are doing, a slow progression is always the best practice. This will help prevent injury and allow your body time to adapt to the new level of activity.
Most people will lose a lot of weight in the first week of any diet. Don’t let this fool you into believing you will lose that much weight every week – you won’t. Your weight loss in the second and third week is a much better indicator of your possible weekly weight loss. On this diet, you will likely lose between a half pound and three pounds a week. As I mentioned earlier, this is a slow diet. Slow diets are the best kind of diet because you are far more likely to keep the weight off if you take it off gradually. Slow diets give you time to adjust your eating habits and grow into a completely different, more-healthy lifestyle, that includes eating a balanced diet and participating in regular exercise.
After you have established your caloric maintenance level and developed a reliable way to count your calories and keep an accurate record of your progress, your next step is to reduce your calories per day by 200. If you started with a maintenance level of 3000 calories, you will now begin eating only 2800 calories per day. In all cases, try to get as close to this number as possible. Try to eat right up to 2800 calories and not beyond and don’t eat a great deal less than 2800 calories either. The only way to successfully gauge the effectiveness of the diet is to maintain a fairly precise calorie level every day. If you are eating precisely the same amount of calories each day, you will have a very accurate indication of what needs to be done to continue your weight loss.
In my experience, fasting for long periods is not a good way to lose weight. Fasting can trigger the body to store fat rather than burn fat. For this reason, eating smaller meals several times a day can be more conducive to weight loss than three meals a day. By constantly keeping the body fed it has no reason to store fat and can constantly burn fat. For this reason I recommend eating about every two hours. You will need to divide your calories up accordingly. For a 3000 calorie diet, your daily meal plan will look something like the following:
Breakfast = 600 calories
Snack = 400 calories
Lunch = 600 calories
Snack = 400 calories
Dinner = 600 calories
Snack = 400 calories
You don’t need to divide your calories up this precisely. It’s fine to have a 700 calorie breakfast and then have a 300 calorie snack; if you want your lunch to be the larger meal of the day that’s fine as well. However you want to adjust the numbers is okay as long as they come out to your target calorie number at the end of the day.
How you divide your calories between these six meals is not important. What’s important is that you don’t go long periods of time without eating. The goal is to keep your body’s fat burning machine working by convincing it there is no need to store fat – more food is on the way.
Another key element needed to make this diet work is plenty of water. Between meals, drink lots of water. You can’t drink too much water. Also, if you have trouble getting used to the smaller portions and fewer calories, a good trick to help you curb your appetite between meals is to snack on sugar-free, no-calorie or very low calorie mints. You will also benefit from taking smaller bites when eating and slowing down to enjoy your food more.
If you’ve found your calorie maintenance level and reduced it by 200 for one week while spending at least 30 minutes a day in sustained exercise, you should have lost weight. Chances are, if you do that exact same thing next week you will lose even more weight. This pattern will continue for a few weeks, but your calorie maintenance level is a moving target. As you lose weight, that number goes lower and you will need to once again reduce your daily calories by 200. If you are losing less than 1 pound a week, it is time to reduce your daily calories. Calorie reduction is always a gradual process – only reduce your calories by 200 calories a week never more. This is a slow process. Don’t try to push your weight loss any faster than 3 pounds a week. You want to give your body time to adapt. You don’t want to shock your system. Plus you want to give yourself time to adapt to your new eating habits.
Vegetables and legumes (beans), fruit, grains and cereals, lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds, milk, cheese, yogurt or alternatives.
The above list contains the foods you need to fuel your body. This is why we eat. Within this list there are many foods that you absolutely love. As you lose weight, your per day calorie number will go lower and lower. How you select your calories is going to become extremely important. You can eat anything you want on this diet as long as you remain within your daily calorie range. In the long term, your best choices will be foods from the above list that you absolutely love.
If you’re eating foods that you absolutely love, you will find it easy to maintain your diet. If you’re eating healthy foods that you absolutely love, you will find it easy to maintain your good health. In many cases, proportion is the key to success. I like ice cream. Before my weight loss, eating a full pint of ice cream would not be unusual. Now I’m quite satisfied with only a few ounces of ice cream. This did not happen overnight. As I gradually changed the way I eat by gradually reducing my calories, my appetite was gradually reduced as well. I simply do not crave as much food as I used to. I am completely happy with much smaller portions.
In addition, my food choices have changed over time. As my daily calorie allotment went lower and lower I found acquiring a healthy balanced diet required me to eliminate most of my empty calorie snacks. If your goal is to fuel your body, you need healthy calories not empty calories. I still eat ice cream, is still eat French fries, I still eat candy – the difference is I eat much smaller portions and far less frequently.
To truly be successful in your endeavor to build a healthy body, you don’t need to go on a diet – you need to change your diet. You need to develop a completely different way of looking at what you eat and why you are eating any particular food. Are you eating to fuel your body or make yourself feel good? There’s nothing wrong with finding pleasure in empty calories as long as you do so in moderation.
By continuing this process of reducing your calories by 200 every time your weight loss stalls, you will continue to lose weight as long as you follow all the other steps prescribed above. Eating fewer calories than your maintenance level is called a caloric-deficit. It is not recommended you stay in a caloric-deficit for more than 10 weeks at a time. If you still have more weight to lose after 10 weeks, the best course of action is to go back to your maintenance level and maintain your current weight for a couple of months before continuing your weight loss in a caloric-deficit for another 10 weeks if needed. Keep in mind your maintenance level has now changed as a result of your weight loss. Chances are it’s only about 400 – 600 calories beyond what you are currently eating. Work your way back slowly adding 100 calories every other day. After adding 400 calories, wait a week to see if you’ve gained any weight then add or subtract calories as needed until you’ve stabilized your weight.
Slow and steady progress is the key. Gradual changes are far more sustainable than quick fixes. By taking your time and allowing your body to slowly adapt, you will also be giving yourself time to incrementally work your way into a completely new lifestyle that includes healthy eating habits.
I want to encourage you to lean on the power of prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit as you seek to take control of your body and begin to maintain it in a way that will make your Creator proud. You can do this! With God’s help, absolutely anything is possible! By following these simple steps, at this time next year, you will be a completely different person – more-healthy, more-happy, more-satisfied, and more in control of your body. My prayer is that I have provided you with a tool that will make your life easier and more full of joy as we await for our totally new bodies at the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
“For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:18-21 (NIV)
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