About two and a half years ago, I embarked on a fitness journey with my brothers Aaron and Nate. Our goal was for each of us to lose a significant amount of weight and then keep it off permanently. At our family reunion in July 2011, after we had reached our weight loss goals (about 130 total pounds lost between us), we actually signed a pact that we would never allow ourselves to gain the weight back. The program has been modified several times since then, but essentially our mutual accountability program is as follows:
Each Friday, we report to each other our weight, waist measurement and body fat percentage. We have each agree to a weight we will not exceed. If we go over that weight on a Friday weigh-in, we get one strike and pay a $5 penalty. If you’re still over the next Friday, you add a $10 penalty. And if you get a third strike (three consecutive Fridays of being over the weight threshold you committed to) you pay a $200 penalty. So far, no one has paid the $200 penalty, although I’ve paid my fair share of $5 and $10 penalties. The money goes into a pot and the person with the fewest strikes wins the money in the pot each quarter. So far, I’ve only won the quarterly pot once. But the program has helped me keep off nearly 40 pounds that I lost back in 2011. It hasn’t been easy.
For a while, I fell into an unhealthy pattern of just “letting loose” after my Friday morning weigh-in and just eating whatever I wanted to eat on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, only to have to starve myself Monday through Thursday to get back down to my target weight. It wasn’t fun.
So I’ve recently developed an eating plan that I think is sustainable for the long-term. My goal is to keep myself within a range of 158-160 consistently and not fluctuate more than 1-2 pounds during the course of a week. Accordingly, my plan seeks to limit portions sizes, encourages exercise and limits unhealthy choices, while keeping enough flexibility that the program is sustainable. I’ve stuck to it for two months now and it’s helped me stop the pattern of bingeing and purging. I haven’t crossed my 160 upper limit on any Friday weigh-in.
The first thing I’ve done is to categorize all food into three categories: unlimited, limited and restricted:
Limited Food (no more than two servings of each daily)
Whole wheat bread/tortillas/pasta
Restricted Food Serving Size = Approximately 200 calories or about the size of a fist
1 cup pasta
1 cup white rice
2 slices white bread
1 hamburger bun, hot dog bun or hoagie bun
2 small biscuits, roll or muffins
1 baked potato
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 small serving French fries
1 small bag potato or corn chips
2 small slices pizza
1 small bowl ice cream
1 slice pie
3 small cookies
1 slice cake
Each restricted food serving must be earned by 20 minutes of vigorous exercise (defined as sustained heart-rate above 100-beats per minute). Each 200-calorie credit is burned by the exercise, thus reducing the negative effect.
Ideally, two restricted food credits would be earned and used daily (since I exercise about 40 minutes each weekday and 80 minutes on Saturdays.) Credits may be borrowed from the previous or following day, provided that exercise has been or will be done to earn those credits. Any restricted food credit usage outside of these parameters results in a $5 penalty payable to my brothers.
Free days may be used on vacations or holidays. On those days, exercise isn’t required and the above restrictions are relaxed (gotta live a little, right). However, strict restrictions must be put back into place immediately after the vacation and/or holiday in order to lose any weight gained almost immediately. I believe that if you allow the fat to stay around for a while it’s harder to lose. Your body starts to think that it’s the “new normal.”
Anyway, it’s something that has worked well for me that I thought I would share.