Day 01: The Day of The Diet!

Ahhhh day one.  Congratulations.  You’re about to take a major step towards improving your health and well-being.

This is the hardest bit.  Getting started.  It takes a considerable amount of willpower to get to today, so well done.  Sometimes, no matter how much you look in the mirror or how unhappy you are with your health or appearance you just can’t motivate yourself to lose weight.  This single step is the key.  You have made the decision through sheer willpower to give it all you’ve got.

There are a few basics that people often forget at this point and I’m going to try and highlight those now.

First, the word ‘diet’ itself carries so much stigma that many people are afraid to say it out loud.  And if you do say it, people regard it in lots of peculiar ways.  In your mind, you need to let go of that stigma to be able to progress.

The difference between ‘a diet’ and ‘your diet’ is considered in significantly diverse ways.

‘A diet’ presents the concept of food avoidance and calorie restriction, getting up in the morning to sweat it out through unpleasant exercise and being miserable because you are depriving yourself of treats and all the little pleasures in life.

Whereas ‘YOUR diet’ is simply what you put into your body.  ‘Your diet’ is everything you consume.  It doesn’t give people the idea that you are restricting yourself, but it does leave them with a lasting impression that you care about your well being and that you consciously adjusting what you put into your body and that in turn means you have respect for yourself.

So let’s focus on ‘your diet’!

First of all it takes 3500 calories to create 1 pound of body fat.

3500 = 1lb body fat.  So if you want to lose 1 pound of fat you need to reduce your intake by 3500 calories.  And that is the golden rule.

There are nuances of course.  Our bodies are managed by science but are really works of art.  And at this moment in our lives it still baffles everybody as to exactly how our bodies manage the nutrients we put into ourselves.  Some claim evolution plays a huge part.  Others say it is extremely precise and calorie based and there is no way to make it change.  And others say different foods, different times of day, combined with different types of exercise will produce different results.  And if you try and absorb all of that information…  your will power will be defeated on day one and you will never lose that first pound.

So let it all go and remember that 3500 calories equals 1 pound of body fat.

Now let’s see how we use this information.  If you want to lose one pound of bodyweight then you choose your timeframe and during that timeframe, you simply consume 3500 calories less than you otherwise would.  And that is it.  If you want to lose 1 pound a week, you exclude 3500 calories worth of food and drink during that week.  The same rule applies to a month or a year.  You just scale it up.  So let’s try and get a gauge on a few yardsticks.  Fix these in your mind as units of measure and you will learn as you go on how to gauge the calorie content of food as you look at it.

1 medium Costa Americano black coffee has approx 8 calories

200ml (a tall slim glass) of 1% milk contains approx. 100 calories.

200ml (a tall slim glass) of orange juice contains approx. 100 calories.

1 500ml bottle of Coke has approximately 200 calories.

1 medium thick slice of white or brown bread has approximately 100 calories.

A slice of cheddar cheese has approximately 100 calories.

A juicy 8 ounce steak has approximately 400 calories.

What does all this tell you?  Not an awful lot apart from the total calorie intake.  You’re going to have to read the packets and try remember roughly how many calories are in the portion size that you choose to consume.  Most food has packages and all packages must display at very least, the calorie content.  If you’re looking for a gauge of how many calories you should consume in one day to have slow but consistent weight loss, you could consider using mine (based on middle age, medium height, medium wight) which is 1600 calories as a starting point.

Men and women are different when it comes to physical mass and make up.  This means that the average daily allowance for men and women differs in many ways based on sex, age, height, weight, and exercise (calorie expenditure) levels.  So get an app like UnderArmor’s My Fitness Pal, or search online  and use one of the many calculators to determine your precise calorie intake requirements for one day and use that as your own baseline.

What I do:  If I consume 1800 calories in one day all week, and add about 1500 calories extra to that on Saturday and Sunday (family meals, drinks etc), this totals 15,600 calories.  This will keep me about the same weight, which tells me my body is fuelled by about 2,228 calories per day over the week.

Two pounds weight is a good consistent and significant amount of weight loss in 1 week.  One pound is also good.  Weight loss is weight loss – pick an achievable target for you.

Based on 3500 calories = 1 pound body fat then… One pound weight loss requires me to reduce my weekly intake by 3500 which leaves me with (15,600 – 3,500 =) 12,100 calories for the week or 1,728 per day, OR  1,600 calories per weekday and 2,050 calories per day for Saturday and Sunday.  And this is what I do.

There are a few other important things to take into consideration, but these are extras, learn them as you go or read about them in our other posts.

  1. Nutritional intake, 2. calories burnt by exercise, and 3. weight vs waist line.

1. Nutritional intake:  All calories add up the same.  But all foods do not contain the same amount of nutrients.  I don’t like to label food but it can’t be denied that there is a great divide in what we eat.  Perspective one – chef Nigella Lawson is right on the money with ‘have a little of what ever you fancy’, and ‘everything in moderation’.  However ‘good food’ or James ‘Clean Food’ Duigan’s perspective is that unprocessed, no added sugar and good-fat foods are better for your body in many ways.   Your body will get more good fuel from 100 calories of natural food sources, than it will from 100 calories of deep fried food for example.  This is a whole other read!

2. Calories burnt by exercise:  Yes, exercise burns calories.  And it also builds muscle and strengthens your body making it look awesome.  So can you eat more if you exercise?  People tend to unconsciously eat more than they burn during exercise.  Most weighing scales are simple things.  The can’t tell the difference between fat or muscle – they just measure weight.

Try visualise this.  A cardboard box filled with Styrofoam sitting beside a rock of approximately the same size.  Your brain knows that the rock is much, much heavier than the box of Styrofoam that takes up the same amount of space.  Now in your mind, shrink the rock until it is approximately the same weight as the box of Styrofoam.  Your image of the rock is probably now about 10 times smaller than the box of Styrofoam.  What does all this mean?  Fat is light and fluffy like Styrofoam.  Muscle is hard and dense and heavy like a rock.  So 1 pound of fat takes up more space under your skin, then 1 pound of muscle.  But the weighing scales cannot tell the difference.

So if you lose 1 pound of fat and add 1 pound of muscle then you look at immeasurably better but your weighing scales will deflate your joy of your achievement because it will say exactly the same weight.  What do you do?

My advice, ignore your estimated calories burnt from exercise, particularly at the start of your diet changes.  Do not eat more food or calories just because you exercised.  Ignore it.  And any extra calories burnt will help you look better and feel better.  And you will triumph.

3. Weight Vs Waistline:  I often find that when people start on a diet it can take up to 3 weeks of hard slog for any change to be reflected on the scales.  Three weeks is an awful long time for somebody to wait for their hard work to become inspiration to continue.

During the first two or three weeks, you will have rumbly bellies, hunger, occasional nausea, and so little motivation that you will want to quit.

Here’s what you do – take a two pronged approach.  Track your weight via an app or simply on a piece of paper beside your weighing scales.  Also, measure your waist line and track it also.  Buy a craft or cloth measuring tape from a drapers or a good clothes shop.  Once a week is enough to weigh and measure yourself.  I usually do a Thursday or Friday morning, straight after my shower.

I weigh myself and log it.  And then I use the cloth measuring tape to measure my waistline.  I do this by wrapping the tape measure around  the widest equator line of my waist.  This is usually about an inch below my belly button and I make sure it goes around the widest spread of my belly.  Because this is where you will initially see the reductions.  I also take a few good breaths and then breath out naturally, not pushing my belly out nor pulling it in.  I pull the measuring tape tight to hold it in place and then release gently until it is about to slip down so it is not to squeeze my waist and skew the measurement.  I measure to the nearest 1/4 of an inch.  Everything is progress and this is where you will see if first.  And it’s also where everyone one else will start to notice it when looking at you.

And that’s it.  Do you have any other Day 01 diet improvement tips to share?  Comment and let us know.