You care about the health of your computer, but what about your own body’s health? Remember a few months ago when I reported that I had gained ~30 pounds, pushing my 145-pound frame to somewhere in the 170s? I’m happy to report that all of my excess weight has been lost (or, at least, I’ve met my target weight goal). Back then, I guessed that other geeks in the Lockergnome universe were probably in the same boat as I was – overweight and unhappy about it. I outlined my plans and executed them successfully. Today, I want to share with you a few of the tips that led me from 175 to 145. I’ve published a list of 50 weight loss tips to my personal blog, but will present the first 25 tips online here…

  1. Dietary control and exercise. It’s true what they say – all you need to do is watch what you eat, and expend more energy than you consume. It’s really that simple. You can quit reading this list now, you now know everything you need to know and didn’t need to fork over $500 for the privilege of me telling you the secret of losing weight. You don’t need to read a 4,000 page book, you don’t have to buy a tape series, you don’t need to stay up late at night to watch infomercials to understand this basic premise. It’s 100% true.
  2. Change your lifestyle. If you’re calling this a “diet,” then you’re going to gain all the weight back (and more) within a few months of losing it. Diets do not work. Diets are temporary. When you change your dietary lifestyle, however, you’re changing your habits – and you’re putting yourself on track for long-term / continued success and weight maintenance. Don’t ever tell anybody you’re on a diet – ever. I’m speaking from experience, here – a reformed low-carber. Worked out well for a while, but ultimately failed because my entire lifestyle didn’t change (permanently).
  3. Join an online support group. In my case, I created my own – FatBlasters. It’s essential that you not feel alone, and reaching out to friends (new or old) is typically a smart move. I just heard about PeetTrainer, but didn’t know about it when I began down the road to weight loss. You have to know that others are out there for moral support – they know things that you couldn’t possibly know, and they’ve probably been “in your shoes” at some point in the past (or present). Share stories, laughter, tears, successes, and failures – share them. There are thousands of communities out there, so keep looking until you find the one that fits you.
  4. Take before and after photos. I know it sucks to see yourself as a chunky monkey (sorry, that’s what I called myself – if only to get myself motivated to meet my weight loss goal). However, there’s no easier way to illustrate your progress. The “after” photos are far more fun to capture and share, admittedly. Find yourself on Flickr! It’s good to see yourself how others see you. Do you like how you look? If you really care to look, this snapshot was taken two weeks into it (168 from 175). The worst ones came before I started, like at Seattle Mind Camp or Northern Voice. In many ways, Flickr helped me lose weight.
  5. Hire a substitute teacher. Don’t reach for the brands you know and love immediately – or without thinking first. Eggs are “good” for you, but consider using egg substitutes instead (in fact, many restaurants will let you order lower calorie foods). There are countless “lower” alternatives for you to try. If something different doesn’t taste good, by all means – find a better substitute, or eat less of the original. In some cases, the substitute may be worse for you than the regular version of the product. The good news is, healthier choices are silently replacing their “normal” counterparts – and they taste just as nice.
  6. Start reading labels. I know it sucks, but you have to do it – and there’s no way to avoid this tip. If you don’t know what you’re putting in your mouth, you’re flying blind. Don’t assume, either – triple-check the ingredients list and serving sizes. You must rely on yourself for this; nobody else is going to be able to lose the weight or do the math for you. It’s not that complicated a task, but it will require effort. If nothing else, just pay attention to the calorie count.
  7. What’s so funny about bovines? If you like cheese, you must buy the Laughing Cow brand, and keep several of the suckers in stock at all times. The individually-wrapped wedges make for excellent snacks, and are wonderful when melted over just about anything edible. I’d be careful about straight-up American cheese, though – it’s oil, but not necessarily as good for you as (say) a slice of cheddar would be. I have yet to find something as calorie-light and filling as Laughing Cow (I don’t know how they do it).
  8. Tell your family. You’re not going to lose the weight alone, even if you ARE alone in losing the weight. If you’ve got a family at home, talk to them about it – initially, not incessantly. Let them know what you’re going to do, and that you want (and need) their support. If you don’t let them know, you’re running the risk of them inadvertently sabotaging your efforts. You want them to help you get to your goal(s). You want them to share in your happiness when you’ve made it past a certain mark. Who knows? Maybe some of your new habits will rub off on them and they’ll become healthier people, too?
  9. Go public. I didn’t want to admit that I had screwed up, but admitting the problem in public was the first step on the path to eventual success. I was now accountable for my actions, and all my friends knew what I was doing. There was no turning back, otherwise I’d be risk damaging my integrity. I didn’t want to disappoint the people who read me on a regular (or semi-regular) basis. Plus, it’s an easy way to find out which of your friends have gone through the process before – and glean tips from their own experiences. Then, other friends might become inspired to do the same thing you’re doing once they see that you’ve taken the first step.
  10. Identify your exercise. No exercise was created equal. You might like running, so run. You might like jogging, so jog. You might like stationary bikes, so bike stationarily. Find the one that works best for you – that isn’t too much of a chore for you to do regularly throughout the week. Don’t pick a routine that you don’t like – or you won’t want to do it, and you certainly won’t stick with it for long. I also wouldn’t recommend buying into that whole “no pain, no gain” mantra. I’ve lost weight without hurting myself, and you probably can, too.
  11. Become a Gazelle. You’ve probably seen Tony Little on TV, selling his Gazelle glider – a low impact exercise machine. I can tell you: it works. It’s easy on my legs, and really gives me a workout when I apply myself on it. Some people say it’s awkward to use, but I love mine – and would consider recommending no other home exercise equipment at this point. Then again, I’m a wimpy geek who only wants to burn calories.
  12. Zone out. There’s a reason why people exercise to their favorite music – listening to external stimulus takes your mind off of the physical activity. That’s the secret to making “exercise time” fly. If you’re concentrating on what your body is doing, the session is going to drag on for what will seem like days. Buy a portable music player, or situate yourself in front of a television.
  13. Never count on live programming. It’s important to stimulate your mind while your body is exerting itself in other ways. However, never rely on “what’s on TV or the radio” at the time. Instead of zoning out, you’ll find yourself flipping between channels – and that’s going to make the time drag as much as it would if you weren’t keeping your mind busy in the first place. “Live” is a very bad idea. Go with pre-recorded programming or go without.
  14. Video games helped me lose weight. I can keep my balance on the Gazelle (which some might find difficult to do). As such, I plugged an Xbox 360 into the TV and started to play it while I was working out. Immediately, I found that I was sweating more than I was when I was only watching TV passively! The reason boils down to a single word: adrenalin. Now, the only way I’m able to work up a sweat is when I play a fast-paced game on the game console. Yes, even game genre is important; avoid any diversions that require long pauses between tasks. Racing games (like Burnout) have worked very well for me. The more mindless the game, the better your burn, the faster the exercise session will go.
  15. Set realistic goals. You can lose 50 pounds in a week if you work out 12 hours a day and eat nothing but celery – but not if you’re human. Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t bite off more than you can chew – literally. Make small goals on your way to the bigger goal(s). In the end, you’ll have achieved more (and more frequently, might I add).
  16. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. I offer this suggestion for a few reasons. First, they’re not good for you anyway. Second, you’ll eliminate a lot of the “bad foods” outright – no questions asked. You’ll have to become more selective in what you eat by avoiding these two nasty ingredients – which are in more foods than you probably care to know.
  17. Don’t always listen to your mate. I’ve already suggested that you tell your family – but sometimes members of your family will try to dissuade you from trying to lose weight. It’s simple: they might not want you to succeed where they may have already failed, whether consciously or inadvertently. Your loss is not always their gain. Watch out for statements like: “You’ve lost enough weight.” or “I like you just the way you are.” Fact of the matter is, if YOU don’t like the way that YOU are – then YOU are going to have to do something about it, no matter what anybody says. They still love you, though (in theory).
  18. Don’t compare yourself to others. Every body is different. It stands to reason that everybody will lose weight differently. Even if you do the exact same things that I do, you won’t lose weight at the same rate. The key is in finding your triggers. Keep your goal in sight, and do whatever you have to do to meet that goal. When you start looking at someone else’s habits, you’re only going to become discouraged and quit without even realizing that it’s physically impossible to be anybody but yourself.
  19. Women aren’t men. It’s been proven that men can lose weight more rapidly than women can, which is likely due to our physiological makeup (women are supposed to have more fat than men, because they’re the birthing gender). This isn’t a sexist statement to make – it’s pretty much the truth. As such, females should expect to set separate goals than males – especially if you’re working on losing weight together, side by side.
  20. Take a magic pill. Nonsense! There is no such thing as a magic pill. Don’t fall victim to the hype of the latest fat-burning drug commercial. If you listen or read closely, you’ll see that every single one of these things is effective when combined with proper diet and exercise (which they even state in their advertisements). The side-effects for these drugs are usually worse than your additional weight, anyway.
  21. Vitamins are good for you. If you’re going to take any pills, let them be natural supplements (like Essential Fatty Acids or multivitamins). Be careful about overdoing it, though – especially with herbal remedies. Too much of anything is a bad thing. You can consult a nutritionist, but always buy on your own – and keep these supplements to a minimum. Remember, too, that specific vitamins are no good without specific minerals.
  22. Deck your desktop. In the beginning, some of my friends sent me complicated spreadsheets to help chart progress. Uh, no – not for me; I’m the kind of guy who likes taking the easy route. As such, I scoured the Web for the best desktop tool and remembered CalorieKing. You won’t find anything easier to use. Trust me, this is the one; I can keep track of everything I eat and expend (without hassle). While the statistic-addicts will love CalorieKing for its thoroughness, the utility was truly designed with non-geeks in mind. The CalorieKing Web site and service are fine on their own, but the downloadable client is what you really want to get. Pay the registration fee, man – how much is your health worth to you?
  23. Identify your ideal weight. If you’re 5’5″ with a certain build, there’s an ideal weight that matches your body type. Find it – and make that your goal. And if you don’t know what that might be, try searching the Web for a calculator (though results and calculations will vary by a small margin). Now you have a weight goal to shoot for.
  24. Consider the source. I’m going to make a gross generalization here, but… why would I trust an overweight doctor or nutritionist to give me proper advice on weight loss? “Do as I say and not as I do” is not a maxim I’m willing to accept from anybody who would be qualified to tell me how to do something. Talk to people who are doing it, or who have done it and been successful. You don’t have to mirror their regimen, but at least you’re getting help from someone who’s really been there. Or, as they said in the Christmas episode of “Two and a Half Men,” people who live in fat asses shouldn’t throw waffles.
  25. Ignore Ronald McDonald. You don’t have to eliminate fast food completely, but you should avoid it at all costs. Most of it is nasty, bad stuff anyway – if you’d even go as far as to call it food. If you’re looking for convenience, find a more convenient meal source. Besides, most of what they serve would be considered “food product,” not food. There’s a gigantic difference as far as your body is concerned. Your bloodstream does not have taste buds, need I remind you?

Remember, the entire list of 50 weight loss tips is already online. Yes, I have 25 more points to share with all you knowledge-seeking geeks. If you don’t need to worry about weight loss, perhaps you know someone who does? Spread the word, and our world might very well become a healthier place.

[tags]food,diet,health,weight loss,meal,fat,dietary,dietary control,diets,eat,fat loss,losing weight,weight loss goals,weight loss tips,weight maintenance[/tags]