Week 1: Weight Loss Basics


This is my second post in the series of fitness routine and includes an update on my progress and the basics of weight loss…

Starting with progress, I will be honest, I am too embarrassed to share my ‘BEFORE’ picture on its own! So it will have to wait until I have a progress picture to go with it :D. But in my first week, I have lost 2 lbs and now am down to 108 lbs. I haven’t bothered checking my body composition because I just want to lose weight right now.

Now the basics of weight loss. We all already know that in order to lose weight, we need to create a calorie deficit. As long as calories-in is less calories-out, there will be a calorie deficit and the body will be forced to use its reserves. Most of us also know that in order to lose 1 lb we need to create a deficit of 3500 calories. Spread it over a 7-day week, and that’s 500 calories a day if you want to lose weight at the rate of a pound per week. Anything over 2 lbs/week can be seriously dangerous and, I can assure you, that such weight loss will not be permanent. In my last post I mentioned that I had lost 10 lbs in 10 days, but bear in mind that I wasn’t drinking water or other fluids during that time either. I would say, a glass a day was probably the most water I got during those 10 days. So not only was I losing weight from stored fat and muscles, I was also getting dehydrated.

Another thing to consider is that the body does not strictly follow such linear math. Weight loss, in my experience, is more like a log curve- you tend lose a lot of weight initially but with time that rate keeps declining and ultimately hits the infamous plateau! So although a 7000-calorie deficit might help you lose 2 lbs in week 1, depending on how much weight you have to lose, it may not be the same in, say, week 6. So stay patient. More on that when we, I mean, I get there!

In terms of work out I am doing the basic stuff. I joined a 3-week boot camp class (Fit Body Boot Camp) that involves some serious high intensity cardio and strength training. I am going to stay away from weight training right now. Even for the strength training portion of the class, I go light on weights. So when my instructor tells us to do squats, I stick with body weight instead of picking up a dumbbell. The simple reason for this is that I am not giving my body enough nourishment to really reap the benefit of lifting heavy weights. Lifting heavy weights causes micro tears in the muscles, hence the soreness afterwards, and it is in the process of repairing that these muscles become bigger, stronger. But in order to repair, the body needs copious amounts of protein that I cannot supply when I am trying to create a deficit. So stay away from those weights for now. We will have plenty of serious lifting to do later!

If you are going to work out at home, like I will once the 3 weeks are over, I will do HIIT 2-3 times a week and other types of cardio for remaining 1-2 days.

HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training, is all the rage these days but honestly, if you can get 40-minute worth of work done in 20, why wouldn’t you go for it! But if you are new, ease your way into it. I have an elliptical at home so here is what I do:

2 minutes of warm up at a medium pace – able to talk

1.5 minutes of medium-high pace – able to talk but feeling slightly out of breath

30 seconds of as-high-as-I-can-go pace – don’t ask me to do anything, I just want these 30 seconds to be over! This is the high intensity interval.

Repeat this 2-minute set of medium-high and intense pace intervals up to but no more than 10 times. Cool down for 5 minutes.

You can really turn any cardio workout into a HIIT session, just follow the basic idea of medium-high pace for 1-2 minutes and high intensity pace for 20-30 seconds, and repeat for a total workout lasting 15-20 minutes, maybe 30.

That is that about work out during week 1 up until we hit our desired weight. Now on to food. The important thing to remember is that although we have to eat less it does not mean we have to compromise on nutrition. Simply make each calorie count. What I have in the picture above are some of my staples these days. I LOVE LOVE LOVE bread! But I also like to avoid grains and processed foods as much as possible. So protein bread is a blessing for me. Each slice has 10 gms of protein which is pretty good for a bread. Coconut water is a natural electrolyte and a great go-to drink post workout. Another great drink is kombucha- I love that stuff. I even make my own. I will cover that is another post but if you haven’t tried it yet, I’d say do it! And finally there are the all-organic RX bars- yummy with the sweet and salt but they come in other flavors as well. I’ve heard blueberry is really good too. Besides these items, other products that I am consuming these days include a protein smoothie, oatmeal, 1 or 2 fruit a day, lots of veggies, and nuts for snacking if I feel uncontrollably hungry. I am eating some chicken but I find it easier to control calories when I eat things that are already packaged and portion-controlled, like an RX bar.

Using any calorie counter, I use Livestrong’s MyPlate app, determine your daily calorie requirement based on your lifestyle. Remember to do this for maintenance level. If you select your target as “lose a pound per week” or such, the calculator will automatically factor in the deficit needed. I prefer to do that myself. Mine was little over 1250. Again, using MyPlate, I estimated that I was consuming about 850 calories a day. For the life of me, I cannot find where my HRM is so I estimated that I must be burning about 500 calories per session of boot camp. Now let’s do some math!

Calories needed       : 1250

Calories consumed :(850)

Deficit                         : 400

Calories burned       : 500

Total deficit               : 900

So that is about a 1000 calorie daily deficit. But there are rest days and days when I end up going out for dinner. We all have those days. All I can say is that do your best to compensate and stagger these days. So don’t eat out on your rest day. If you eat out, work out extra the following day. If you know in advance that you are going to be dining out, adjust calories in advance, and try to watch what you order. But hey, life is too short to give up on good food, so just do your best!

That is all about week 1. I will be back with more updates on my progress and maybe some healthy recipes.

Stay fit!






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