If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. Anne Bradstreet

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Ether 12:27

Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season therof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion. D&C 59:18-20

Sunday, September 16, 2007

How to Lose Weight -- And Keep it Off!

In the index on the right, you will see the steps I've gone through, and am still going through, to gain control of my weight problem. I will always have a weight problem -- I've been overweight too often and for too long in the past for me to ever kid myself into thinking I can ever live one day without risk of becoming obese again.

In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul says:

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

And in Ether 12:27, the Lord says to Moroni:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Problems with weight control is my thorn in the flesh, my weakness. If you are reading this, it probably is for you, too, or for someone that you love and want to help.

This particular article is a composite of the principles I've learned through both this effort to gain control of my weight and past successes and failures. These principles do work. These principles are taught in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that they can benefit others as they have benefitted me.

Get Started -- Make the decision to change your life
Get Real -- Face up to what you have to do to get to where you need to be
Get Patience -- Face up to how long it's going to take
Get Healthy -- Make better choices in the foods you eat
Get Fit -- Increase your physical activity

Get Started -- Make the decision to change your life

Before you can make a decision to change your life, you must acknowledge that you bear full responsibility for your weight problem. Yes, it is a thorn in the flesh, and yes, it is a weakness. But it was never beyond your ability to control. You have to get to the point of saying, in honesty, it's my choices that brought me to this point. I have no one to blame but myself.

Once you accept responsibility for your situation, you become teachable, and changeable.

"Everything in the gospel teaches us that we can change if we need to, that we can be helped if we truly want it, that we can be made whole, whatever the problems of the past."
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Ensign, Nov. 1997, 66

Acknowledging that you can't do it alone is a very big step in overcoming your weakenss, your thorn in the flesh. When you go to the Lord for help, humbly admitting that you have this weakness, and seeking help to understand how to overcome it, the windows of heaven will open to you, providing you with the guidance and inspiration you need to overcome your weakness.

In the process of overcoming your weight problem, you will become strong. Your weakness will make you strong, as the Lord promised to Moroni.

Only when you make life-changes can you overcome your weakness. Going on a diet is not going to do it. You must permanently change your diet and the way you use food.

Get Real -- Face up to what you have to do to get to where you need to be

To get from where you are to where you need to be, you must accept the hard, cold fact that you must learn to live within the calorie budget Nature has given you. We all have to do it. Our bodies only need a certain number of calories, and when they are fed more than they need, they store the extra as fat. It's natural law.

To get started, you need to obtain 4 numbers: the first 2 to identify where you are, and the last 2 to identify where you need to be.

Current weight:
Calorie consumption needed to maintain current weight:
Normal, healthy weight range:
Calorie consumption to maintain normal, healthy weight range:

While I do not believe it is entirely about calories, it is enough about calories that this makes the best place to start.

Getting the weight facts

Weigh yourself to get your current weight.

To get your normal, healthy weight range, go to the Halls website. Enter the basic information -- height, weight, adult, and gender. Click "Calculate"

Scroll down to "Medical Recommendation." This is the normal, healthy weight range for your height. This weight range is based on 19-25 BMI, and is sufficiently broad to accommodate the different body frames - small, medium, and large. The only exceptions are super athletes, who may weigh more than this range but still be healthy, because of their higher muscle mass. Medical evidence suggests that all body weights within this BMI range are equally healthy. Above or below this range, health risks occur.

Now you have two of the facts: your current weight, and your normal, healthy weight range.

Getting the calorie facts

To determine the calorie consumption needed to maintain current weight and normal, healthy weight, use a good online BMR calculator.

Put in your height, current weight, age, and gender, and click "calculate BMR. " Write this number down.

BMR is the number of calories it takes to just keep your body alive. Your body burns additional calories as you engage in your daily activities. Use the Harris Benedict Equation to determine the total calories you burn on average per day. When you choose which activity level you are, be honest. If you aren't sure, or seem to fit between two levels, then do the math for both.

Sedentary - little or no exercise. BMR x 1.2
Lightly active - light activity or sports 1-3 days per week. BMR x 1.375
Moderately active - moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days per week. BMR x 1.55
Very active - hard exercise or sports 6-7 days per week. BMR x 1.725
Extra active - very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training. BMR x 1.9

Now, do the same calculations for your normal, healthy weight. Find the BMR for the highest number in your healthy range and do the calculations using the same activity level. Find the BMR for the lowest number in your healthy range and do the calculations.

I will use my stats as an example:

starting weight: 255 lbs.
calories needed to maintain starting weight: 2117
normal, healthy weight range: 94-124 lbs.
calories needed to maintain 124 lbs.: 1433
calories needed to maintain 94 lbs.: 1277

Let's do the math. 2117 - 1433 = 684 calories, a 32% reduction. 2117 - 1277 = 840 calories, a 40% reduction.

For me to get from my starting weight of 255 to within my normal, healthy weight range of 94-124, I must reduce my calorie consumption from 32-40%. That's the cold, hard reality.

Get Patience -- Face up to how long it's going to take

We must all face the cold, hard reality that it's going to take a very long time to conquer our weight problems. In fact, it's going to take the rest of our lives.

Why? Simply because losing the weight is only half the battle. We must continue to maintain the weight loss. That's why it is so very important to know what your calorie budget is, and to learn to live within it.

Right now it may seem like an awful price to pay -- to have to reduce your calories by such a drastic amount for the rest of your life. But you don't have to do it all at once -- you can break it up into much smaller, manageable steps. And by the time you reach your goal weight, I bet you will find that you calorie budget is quite sufficient. I have.

I like to use the fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, to demonstrate the wisdom of using small steps to accomplish a major goal. The name of the Tortoise was "Slow and Steady," and the moral of the fable is that "Slow and Steady wins the race."

In the fable, the Hare stopped to rest because he knew he was so much faster than the Tortoise, but in dieting, many of us quite in desperation because we have a bad day, or get frustrated that the loss is so slow. For whatever the reason, we stop in our tracks. The result often is that we not only stop losing weight, but we gain back what we've already lost, sometimes plus some. Been there, done that.

Just plodding along, taking one step at a time, is the only way to conquer our weight problems. This requires a great deal of patience. We need to constantly remind ourselves that this is a life change, not a diet, and the changes are not only going to improve our looks, but also our health.

We need to forgive ourselves if we fall off the wagon one day, and we need to get right back on.

We need to be firm with others when they fail to understand our need to get control of what we eat. Be firm, but kind.

We need daily communication with God, seeking His strength to do what we can't do on our own.

Get Healthy -- Make better choices in the foods you eat

When we apply the concept of dividing this very big task of losing a lot of weight AND making permanent changes in our eating habits into smaller steps, we signficantly increase our chances for success.

Let's focus again on these simple laws of nature: (1) in order to lose weight, we must consume less calories than our body needs at its current weight, and (2) in order to maintain our normal, healthy weight, we must live within the calorie budget nature has given us.

If I want to go from 255 lbs. to 124 lbs. (the top of my healthy range), I must reduce my calorie intake by 32%. But, I don't have to do it all in one step. I can do it in increments, over time, working with both the quality and quantity of what I eat, as well as increasing my activity level (more about this in the next segment).

Each of you must decide which steps you will take first; these are only suggestions.

Cut calories by reducing the quantity of food you eat

Simply reduce the portions you are currently eating for one meal, two meals, or even all meals. This can be done quite easily by using smaller dishes, or by not taking seconds. If you need to ultimately reduce your calorie intake by 25%, then you can start, as the first step, by cutting back 1/8 on your portions. That's not a very big cut, and you will still be eating all of the same foods. Then, after you've adjusted to this, or when you hit a plateau, cut back another 1/8.

If you are a snacker, as many of us overweight people are, don't buy economy sized packages. Instead, buy single-servings. If you like candy bars, buy the miniature sizes.

If you cook more food than is necessary for a meal, either intentionally or because of habit, immediately store away the excess, even before you begin your meal. Leave out only enough for the meal you are having.

If you drink sodas, switch to diet. That in itself cut a big chunk of calories. Better yet, totally give it up and enjoy water. You can wean yourself from the sodas gradually, or go cold turkey, whichever works best for you.

Fast food can really be calorie-laden, so be sure to reduce your portions here, too. DO NOT go for the super size. Order a kiddie meal instead, or the small size of everything.

If you can't control the portions of a certain food you eat, that means you have an addiction to that food. You will have to just give it up totally. The good news is, there is a lot of really good, delicious food that you can have in its place. You may not believe me now, but you will once you've spent a couple months improving the quality of the food you eat. That I promise.

Cut calories by improving the quality of the food you eat

Food preparation

You can drop a lot of calories out of a favorite recipe just by making some different choices in the ingredients. High-fat ingredients can be replaced with lower-fat versions. Butter or other fats, sugar, meat, and cheese can frequently be reduced without affecting the texture or taste of the finished food. Start by reducing a little bit, and if that doesn't negatively affect the finished food, then next time, reduce just a bit more. Example: years ago I found a recipe for homemade cream pies that was absolutely delicious. The recipe called for 1 cup of sugar. I first measured out the 1 cup, and then removed 1 tbsp of the sugar. The pie was just as delicious. I worked it all the way down to 2/3 cup, and the pie was delicious. When I went lower than that, the taste wasn't as good, so that's where I stopped. I scratched out 1 cup and put in 2/3 cup. Changes like this can really make a dent in your calorie intake.

Calories can be reduced by changes in the cooking method. Instead of frying in a frying pan on the stove top, try oven-frying, which generally adds less fat.

Be careful about low-fat foods. Many of them replace the fat with sugar, which merely replaces one problem with another. Products will vary by how much sugar they add, so read the labels.

Food Replacements

Replace some of the junk food you are eating with whole foods. Eventually, you may be able to totally eliminate junk food.

Replace some of the processed foods you are eating with whole foods. It's almost impossible to entirely eliminate processed foods, since by definition if man does something to it, it's processed. At least I do not find it desirable to eliminate all processed foods. However, we can do much to eliminate the over-processed foods, especially the ones in which most of the nutrients have been stripped and lots of additives used to replace them. Read the labels. If it says "enriched," then it's highly processed. If it has ingredients that you can't pronounce, then it is highly processed.

Go to The World's Healthiest Foods website to see a list of, well, the world's healthiest foods. This is definitely one website you should use again and again. The foods chosen by this organization are:

  • the most nutrient dense -- that means the most nutrition for the least number of calories
  • whole foods, not highly processesed with synthetic, artificial or irradiated ingredients
  • common, everyday foods familiar to most people
  • readily available in most supermarkets
  • affordable for most people, especially in season
  • taste really good
Look over the list and see what whole foods you can add to your menus, replacing some of the processed foods and junk foods you have been eating. Start with the foods you know you like. Then try some new foods.

God has built a lot of nutritional redundancy into the animal and plant kingdoms. That means you don't have to eat foods you don't like to get the nutrition you need -- that same nutrition is available in many other foods.

Over the months, as I replaced more and more junk foods and processed foods with whole foods -- whole grains and whole fruits -- I noticed a definite change in my food preferences. I no longer craved the junk foods and processed foods. It was an amazing transformation that is such a blessing.

By reducing the quantity of food you eat, and improving the quality, you can, over time, reduce your calorie intake from its current level to what it is supposed to be -- the calorie budget nature gave you.

As you progress in this effort, taking one small step at a time, you will lose your excess weight. But more importantly, you will be making the lifestyle changes that are necessary for you to keep the weight off.

Get Fit -- Increase your physical activity

An important element of Health is physical fitness. The body needs to be active in order to be strong. In previous generations, people naturally had to do more physical work than most of us do. To make up the difference, we have to engage in sports and other exercise.

What a blessing we have been given. Our work load is not only made lighter, but we also have an abundance of leisure activities. Still, most of us remain sedentary. This is inexcusable.

Just like in calorie-reducing, you can add physical activity to your life-style in increments. Don't try to go from being sedentary to extra active -- you will not only burn yourself out, but may cause yourself bodily injury.

Instead, work up one activity level at a time. Let's review the activity levels:

Sedentary - little or no exercise. BMR x 1.2
Lightly active - light activity or sports 1-3 days per week. BMR x 1.375
Moderately active - moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days per week. BMR x 1.55
Very active - hard exercise or sports 6-7 days per week. BMR x 1.725
Extra active - very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training. BMR x 1.9

You don't have to move up one activity level all at once. Just make small increases in your activities -- either in frequency, intensity, or duration. And you don't have to go to the top level -- moderately active is sufficent for most people.

In addition to improving your fitness, this increased activity will assist with your weight loss and weight maintenance. For example, moving from sedentary to moderately active for me increases my calorie budget, at 124 lbs., from 1433 to 1851. That's over 400 calories per day.


There really is no mystery to weight control. We've all been given a calorie budget that we must stay within. God has given us such a wonderful bounty of good, wholesome foods in the plant and animal kingdoms.

We cause our weight problems when we reject that good, wholesome food and eat highly processed and junk food instead, and when we consume more calories than our bodies need. We further compound our weight problems when we choose to be sedentary, rather than enjoying the many opportunities we have for exercise.

We solve our weight problems when we reverse those patterns, one step at a time, making good choices daily, forgiving ourselves when we falter, recommitting ourselves to press forward to victory.

Weight problems are a thorn in the side. They can be a debilitating weakness. But that weakness can be turned into strength when we humbly seek the Lord's guidance and draw upon His strength. He can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Make the decision to get started. I did, and I am so grateful that I did.


Curvaceous Kiwi said...

Hi, I hope you don't mind me responding to a '2007' post. But I'm trying to figure out my Calorie Budget (moreorless) I'm not very good at maths.. Would you mind terribly, taking a look?

Current Weight = 220lbs
Healthy Weight = 132lbs - 174lbs

220lbs = 1837kcal x 1.2 = 2204kcal
132lbs = 1454kcal x 1.2 = 1744kcal
174lbs = 1637kcal x 1.2 = 1964kcal

Kcal Reduction
2204kcal - 1744kcal = 460kcal = 20%
2204kcal - 1964kcal = 240kcal = 10%

So in effect I have to reduce my Calories too...

1764kcal - 1984kcal

Is this right? It's just too me it seems like an awful lot. I don't really eat much. Is this why I find it so hard for my weight to shift?

Please help, Thank you.

Marlene Newell said...

Curvaceous Kwiw . . .

Thanks for the interest in my post. You didn't mention if you have already made the effort to meticulously count the calories you currently eat. If you haven't, do this for a week. Just eat normal, but count everything that goes into your mouth. Once you know where you stand in relation to calories consumed, then you can better judge just what difference a 1744-1984 calorie budget would make.

If you are already within that calorie budget on a regular basis, then obviously your BMR is not burning calories according to the average.

If that is the case, then I recommend that you look seriously at the quality of your diet. Are your foods rich enough in natural fiber (fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains) and is your diet nutritionally balanced (ratio of proteins/carbs/fats).

But the sad reality is, you may have to either add physical activity to your daily routine OR go on a less than 1744 calorie diet to lose the weight, and then maintain the extra physical activity but gradually increase your calories to get back within that range to maintain your weight goal.

Good luck, and keep in touch.

Curvaceous Kiwi said...

Hi Marlene,

Thanks for responding so promptly. I'm actually on a prescribed all-meat diet courtesy of my doctor. My liver was starting to fail on me; and consuming vegetables and fruit was actually doing more harm than good.

I also have PCOS so my carb-intake previous to this was strictly limited. I can honestly say going Carnivore has been the best for me health wise and energy wise.

I also since the start of January started Fast-5. or in my case Fast-3. Which has been great, really great.

My problem is my Calorie intake has been about 1000kcals or less and a huge increase every few weeks or so.

So increasing my Caloric intake would be more beneficial yes? I also am just getting back into the swing of exercise again. I've been too unwell/ lacked the energy to even try previously but the Fasting/Carnivore lifestyle has given me a new look on life and has given me an amazing energy boost to achieve what used to be pretty impossible.