Monday, October 10, 2011

Weight Loss on a Budget

I've been debating about writing a section on dieting on a budget. I have some strong feelings about dieting and the "obesity" epidemic. I, also, worried that it would add just another layer to an already overwhelming change. It's difficult to maintain a grocery budget and a balanced diet. Adding the addition of "dieting" can completely cause the entire system to crash.
The weight loss industry has convinced the American public that losing weight is hard and you can only do it if you spend a lot of money in the process. More often than not their systems are designed to fail for if you succeeded then you would no longer require their products. I'm not going to say that all programs are designed for failure but many are - especially those that come in pill form. Most people want everything right now. Rapid weight loss results in what is called Yo-Yoing. Yo-yoing is losing weight, gaining it back, losing weight, etc. This is the result of most weight loss programs.
Why do most programs fail? The answer is simple, they don't change the underlaying problem. For example, you have a house. The exterior siding is stained so you spray paint it a dark blue to cover it up. Over time the paint fades and you're back to yucky siding. So you paint it green when what you need to do is scrape away all the old paint, prime and then paint it a color that you like instead of something that covers up.
The same is with losing weight. We don't want to take the time to do it right, we want to fit into that outfit for our class reunion which is next week or get ready for summer vacations on the first warm day after winter. We want quick, easy and something that doesn't require a lot of thought. But that doesn't spell success.
When it comes to weight (losing or gaining) there's a simple equation - calories in vs calories out. To lose weight your calories in have to be smaller than your calories out. Easy as can be - in theory.
Now we're looking at food on a budget. This is where I have some real issues with the fighting obesity programs. I don't believe education is THE answer. I believe it's a part of the answer but no amount of education is going to change the price of food and people's access to it. If I had unlimited funds, you can bet I would buy fresh organic fruits and vegetables to serve at every meal. I might even make that the majority of my meal but I can't. I have to be creative when it comes to fruits and vegetables through foraging and gardening because to buy them in the store would financially ruin me. I'd love to buy organic farm raised meat and eggs - I can barely afford what I do buy. This is not a pity party just reality. To buy the foods that are best for maintaining weight just are not affordable. What is affordable is calorie dense foods. That is why the poor have always been portrayed as fat, cheap foods are calorie dense. That doesn't make them lack nutrition, in fact many provide great nutrition but also excessive calories.
How does one maintain a budget, provide good nutrition, and lose weight to keep it off permantently? The truth is - I'm going to find out. My doctor has demanded I lose weight for my health. My blood pressure has been creeping up along with my weight over the last year and it's time to focus on becoming healthy.
One tool I am using is Sparkpeople. Sparkpeople is a free website with lots of tools, trackers and support. I have used it in the past but not really as a committed weight loss tool. What I am going to use and used in the past is the Nutrition Tracker. This is the best tool out there. Enter what you eat and how much (a little tricky for those who make everything from scratch but not impossible), the system tells you how many calories, carbs, fat, protein you have eaten. If you set up a weight loss goal, the tracker will also give the parameters you need to meet to lose weight and still be healthy. My goal is to lose 100 pounds in one year. Sunday was my birthday so by my next birthday I want to be 100 pounds lighter. This might be a slightly too big of a goal but we'll see. It means slow weight loss - 2 pound a week approximately. Slow weight loss is tough because you can't see it right away but it's the perfect plan for keeping the weight off. I am giving myself a year because in that time I can learn to make better choices. I'm not planning on overhauling my diet, just learning to eat less of calorie dense foods and more of the lower calorie foods. Tracking my diet will mean greater success.
I have lots of ideas but I have already talked too much so more thoughts tomorrow.

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