Apr 28, 2011

Getting Started

I got an email from someone today and in answering her questions I learned a lot about ... well what I have learned. This will be a permanent post under the "Getting Started" page.
The person wrote, 
Hi! my name is XXXXX and i have been reading your blog. i cant tell you how inspiring it has been to me. i too am very overweight and know i can do it alone but i dont know where to begin. my family and friends want to to get the gastric bypass surgery but i dont know. i feel like enough is enough, my health and my life are on the line and i want to take charge of it myself. i dont want to take the easy way out, as i feel the surgery would be. if you could possibly tell me what plan you are using. your progress is nothing if not inspiring. i have slowly but surely began walking. there is a park near my house and i never took the time to even walk it and enjoy it. i feel like a failure for not noticing that God had provided me with a place i can go to, a sanctuary of sorts to weight loss success. i guess what i am saying is that, ive begun to move, i just need help learning to eat or to not eat so much and what to eat, etc. i greatly appreciate any help you can give and any information you can share.
thank you and God bless,
I responded,
There are no secrets to weight loss. It is a matter of persistent tracking, hard work and a LOT of self refection. It's impossible to understand all the reasons one lets themselves get to where I was when you are at the beginning. Getting the ball rolling from a dead stop is hard.
Following someone a plan laid out by someone else is a great starting point. It takes the guess work and the trial and error out at first. I suggest, at least at first, NOT using meal supplement plans. Slimfast and the like are not a sustainable way of living in my perspective of things. The following are things that have been critical to my success. I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. I am not selling a diet or a solution.

For starters, You will need to have a few tools:
  • Food scale
  • Measuring Cups and spoons
  • Scale (don't know how much you weigh but I got this scale that measures up to 550lbs off Amazon.com)
  • Body Measuring tape
  • Set up an account at MyFitnessPal. It's free.
I have found that any plan worth following will have the following aspects. Choose a plan you think you can stick with that encompasses the following:
1. Be accountable to someone other than yourself. When you get to a place where you have let yourself go, you have trained yourself to believe lies. I had to tell myself my lifestyle wasn't that bad, that I was eating what a normal person was eating.... Find a person or a group who will help you see when you are not being honest with yourself. I chose the blog world because I needed to hear from people who had to start as far back as I was. No more "you just don't understand" excuses.
2. Get an extensive physical. It makes no sense to beat yourself over the head trying to lose weight without understanding where you are at medically. There are a slew of things that will stunt your weight loss efforts. Get your blood work done! Have your doctor check you thyroid and insulin levels. It sucks to get a physical when you start but some of my most rewarding moments are my doctor's office checkups when I can report to my doctor the progress I am making.
3. Get starting measurements:
  • Food - As much as you may want to start a diet today. Don't. It sounds weird but eat the exact way you have been eating for one more week except measure it. Write down everything you eat. Don't leave out anything. Get a food scale & measuring cups so you can be precise. You will feel reluctant to eat things because you have to write them down but do it anyway. After the week is done, enter everything you have written into MyFitnessPal to get how many calories you used to eat.
  • Body measurements - Weight, height, and body measurements that MyFitnessPal suggests.
  • "Before" pictures - Standing in front of a camera at your fattest is not fun. Looking back at them after you have come a way is priceless though. Keep in mind, while you may be horrified at the thought of letting other people see these pictures, one day you may have come far enough that you do want to share them to inspire others.
  • Evaluate average calories burned - MyFitnessPal does this for you when you set up your Goals
4. Set 1 goal - A Weekly calorie deficit goal is the ONLY goal you need to set. Everything else is an appendage to it. I suggest a daily caloric intake of 1200 calories at first. 1pound = 3500 calories. If you want to lose 2 pounds a week, you will need to have a net deficit of 7000 calories a week. The math:
Calories in - Average Daily Calorie Burn - Exercises Calories = Deficit
Deficit x 7 = Weekly deficit
Weekly deficit / 3500 = Approx Weight Loss Per Week
Food composition will take you a while to get a hold of. A good rule of thumb is a deck of card size protein, a single or half portion of carbs, fruits & Vegetables. Drink a ton of water. Your water bottle should be with you at all times.
Multivitamin is a good idea. I take a Centrum daily.
5. Track, Track, Track - for at least 3 months, track religiously. You will learn more than you could ever expect about yourself, the food you eat and life in general.
  • Track calories in and out daily
  • Write a daily journal about what you have learned, your frustrations, your successes, what motivates you. Share it with someone you trust.
  • Track body measurements weekly
  • Take pictures along the way. I only do it like every 3 months.
I PROMISE IT WILL SUCK SOMETIMES. But I also promise that if you do it, you will lose weight.
Good luck and feel free to contact me.
See Allan's blog as I am in his competition and following his Double Dog Dare Plan.


  1. As a gastric bypass patient, I would comment that there is no easy way out of obesity and that includes surgery. Surgery is only successful if you follow the plan afterward. A plan very much like Allan's. Surgery is a personal choice but it requires just as much effort to lose weight and keep the weight off as doing it on your own. What is the advantage? It cured my diabetes and that was worth it to me.

  2. Thank you, I would agree to the n'th degree. Thanks for commenting Karen because I think it you make a very important point. Anyone considering bypass that thinks that it is an easy way out needs more information. Like anything else, it is a tool. It is not an answer. The answer comes from you and what you put into it.

    Thanks again

  3. You are welcome, Mike. I'm so glad to see you doing so well. I know that you can do this and Allan knows his stuff. Keep up the hard work, Mike. :)

  4. I have to comment too on the gastric bypass surgery. I had it done in June of 2010, for anyone that thinks that it is the easy way out I have to totally disagree. Just as Karen stated it's a tool to help you. If you neglect the tool you will fail. If you embrace the tool and learn it can be a life saver. It's not been easy at all, in fact its been very challenging. I have had to learn to eat all over again. Whether I had surgery or not a plan must be followed for food and exercise. I tried to lose the weight on my own before choosing surgery and had no success, my body had given up on me, many medical issues and things the doctors couldn't figure out why my body wouldn't lose puzzled them, even they were strongly for me having surgery. I felt like I had no other choice but to choose surgery to save my life and I don't regret it for a second. It's saved my life in many many ways and taught me more about myself that I ever imagined learning. Losing the weight actually taught me and saved my life not the surgery itself, guess I should clarify. 10 months later, 93 lbs down, my health has improved, almost all of my medical issues are gone and I for once care about myself and what I put in my body and do with my body, when before I never truly cared. Just had to put my two cents in there.

  5. I think that everyone is different in terms of gastric bypass or no bypass. I think that people who do get a gastric bypass came to that decision after a lot of though, reflection, planning, and trying other methods of weight loss. I often though about getting one, but to me and for me it seemed like an easy fix (that is just my opinion for myself not everyone else). I've known people that have had a gastric bypass and they have done great and made many changes. The bypass was just a tool for them to get what they wanted. I've also seen people get a bypass as a quick fix and they have not been successful.

    Anyway, that is off topic! I love this post. I wish anyone good luck who is working to lose weight. It can be a difficult process, with rewarding results. I think one last key to weight loss is a strong support system!


  6. More power to anyone in their journey to loose weight. It is SOOOOOO freakin worth it! I needed this post for my reboot. I'm excited for tomorrow now. Start TODAY!!! And NEVER look back.

  7. A great post. A great learning tool. It's hard, it's challenging, it's rewarding, it is so worth all of that and more.
    Take care Mike and God Bless!!

  8. Love the post...may use it as a cheat sheet for my own when I have people asking me for that kind of advice...or just forward them to you.

  9. Also a gastric bypass patient here. I have often heard people say it's the easy way out. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. I'm still just 6 months out. My surgeon has a specific diet. Vegetables and protein. No simple carbs ie rice, corn or potatoes. 2 ounces per meal 3 meals a day. I work out an hour to an hour and a half each day. There is no way to lose weight if you don't cut calories and exercise. Surgery just makes you not focus on your hunger. I eat 400-500 calories per day. I've been really successful. I've lost 115 pounds in 6 months. But---surgery isn't for everyone.