The picture above has nothing to do with the title above that. It’s just a cute picture of my daughter and her doll. To those of you who know me personally, or have seen pictures of me you may have noticed I’m not a hefty fellow. I’ve always been skinny, and never had trouble staying that way. In fact my biggest challenge was gaining weight. The typical response from people when they hear of this is, “I wish I had that problem.” Before you go saying that though, let me walk you through a little history.
When I began trying to gain weight I had one specific goal in mind. To be big enough to wear a size 28 pants without REQUIRING a belt to keep them on. Yes, my biggest problem was that I was too small to actually wear the smallest size of pants available to men. It took me almost two years and a lot of intense training but I did get there. In fact I now wear a size 30. I realize for many of you, you’re working your way down to that, so it may be annoying that I was working my way up. Trust me, it’s the same frustration for me.
On a normal day back then I was eating roughly 1200-1400 calories per day and those were made up of whatever the hell I wanted them to be. Fast forward through several diet and workout revisions and I ended up on a diet of just over 3000 calories per day consisting of mostly protein and carbs, and about 20% fat. I also did weight training for 30 mins per day 5 days a week, and 5 minutes of cardio per day. For a few months I did Insanity from Beach Body as well which helped lean me out but also cost me a few pounds. After it was all said and done I had gained around 25 pounds and had shed 2% of my body fat.
Now when my wife came to me and said she really wanted to lose weight, I figured I could help. Basically do the opposite of what I did and it should work, right? Eat way fewer calories than normal, do way more cardio, and it will all work out. I’ve noticed with most people trying to lose weight the problem seems to be self control and will power. They tend to get off track on their diets or workout regiments and then stop completely. With my wife that was never an issue. She dropped her calorie intake to around 1100-1200 per day, ate extremely healthy, rarely if ever indulging in anything that had processed ingredients or was anything close to what I considered delicious. Vegetables, fresh juice, whole grains, lean proteins, low-sugar, etc, etc. She was also working out religiously every day, sometimes multiple times per day. All of this and after a full year she had yet to lose any weight.
The interesting thing was that her body was changing. It was like the weight was shifting around, and changing form, but not going anywhere. One thing worth noting was that during this year I was fairly uninvolved. I had told her to eat little, workout lots, and that was about it. She was doing it all on her own and monitoring things all on her own. Finally after she was getting frustrated with her lack of results I told her I would become more involved in the process and start monitoring and directing her. This is a risky endeavor for a husband. You’re taking on the role of a coach, but that means that you’ll have to give constructive, but still possibly hurtful observations. I set forth a disclaimer at the beginning that I thought she looked amazing (totally true) and if she never lost a pound I would still be totally happy (also true). But I knew that she wasn’t happy and if her goal was to lose weight I would help her do so. But she had to agree that if I helped to guide her by possibly reminding her to work out, recommending that she didn’t eat a certain snack, and so on that she couldn’t get mad. If she did, we were done. She agreed and on we went.
I decided to start with some calculations. I’d read several books that suggested that you subtract 500 calories from your recommended daily intake determined by a few equations. I did that and landed on a certain number of calories. I then determined a meal plan based on those calories and a rough estimate of macronutrients needed. The number of calories she would be eating would be roughly 800-900 more per day than she had been eating. While at first this seemed strange, and counter productive; after talking to a couple of nutrition minded friends, they suggested that she was eating far too little previously. She was starving the body which made it hold onto the few calories she was giving it and store them as fat. It was retaining anything she fed it out of fear that it wouldn’t be fed again.
With her new diet in hand I also decided to start doing daily weigh ins. Previously we had avoided any such thing as body weight can fluctuate daily but I wanted something that was easily trackable. She began sending me her daily weigh in amount every morning and also sending me exact logs of what she was eating, including water in take. A gallon of water per day was the goal. Almost immediately she began shedding pounds. The new diet was working and it would seem that the starvation theory was spot on. We stuck with it and begin making the diet a bit looser, adhering more to nutrient ratios and calorie intake than specific meals and foods.
We are now a little over 3 months into this experiment and I’m happy to report she has lost exactly 25 pounds during that time, averaging 1.75 pounds lost per week on most weeks. Her diet now consists of some staples like chicken breasts, egg whites, brown rice, and vegetables, but she does branch out occasionally making sure to adhere to a strict scheduling of meals and again, the nutrient ratio. What have I learned during this period that could help others? A few things have been key. The first obviously is eating enough! The second is water intake. While fluctuating calorie intake per day has no direct affect on her body weight, water intake does. If she drinks less than 1 gallon per day she immediately gains almost 2 pounds that day. If she drinks above 1 gallon she either maintains or loses a small amount of weight.
Also crucial is the timing of meals. If she gets off of her 6 meals per day or the timing of those meals, then the weight stays on. If she sticks to it, the pounds fall off. The last thing that I have learned and that is so crucial is that everyone retains weight in different areas than other people. My wife almost immediately began losing weight in her arms, face, chest, and legs. Then it started to SLOWLY come off of her butt and thighs, and now almost every last bit of excess (in her mind) weight remains on her thighs and hips. It’s obvious they’ll be the last to go, and they were also the first places she showed weight gain during pregnancy. I assume as this process wears on we will have to make adjustments to her diet again to coincide with her shrinking body weight but this is what we’ve done so far, and what we’ve learned from it. I hope it can be helpful to others who may have had the same frustrations as my wife.
Until Next Time