Don't Read Any Further If...
- Your weight has not been relatively constant over the last 30 days
- Losing one pound a week isn't enough for you
- You won't exercise or don't like to sweat
- You won't keep track of your weight every 2 or 3 days
What's the diet all about, how did it get started!
I've been a Systems Engineer working at a major aerospace firm for a good chunk of my life (I'm not working now, but this experience has never left me). Recently I went for my annual physical, and the doctor hit the roof when he saw the blood test results! He 'strongly advised' me (under the pain of death!) that I needed to take cholesterol medicine to get my cholesterol level down along with the 'bad LDL' level. This is not new to me. I've been having trouble with cholesterol since I turned 30. I've tried all kinds of medicine, and I can't tolerate any of them (Zetia, Lipitor, etc, etc..), so I decided to lose some weight and see if that improved things. I've also occasionally had lower back problems, and sure..losing weight would definitely help that problem also! So what's not to like!
Except...I've heard (from many sources!) that losing weight is not easy! So I decided to take 'the Systems Approach' to the whole deal. What's the 'systems approach'? Very simply, you have to,
- Define the 'System'
- Define the 'Inputs' and 'Outputs'
- Define how the System reacts to the Inputs and Outputs
- Figure out how to control everything to get the results you want
So, as you probably guessed, the 'System' is your body...very simple in concept but very complicated in detail.
The 'Inputs' and 'Outputs'? Well...you put in Food, Water, and Oxygen and you get out...Life!
However...there are Life circumstances and side effects to deal with, as you well know! The one we're dealing with here, and one that gets a lot of attention, is BODY WEIGHT. Some people have problems with their weight being too light (underweight), but the vast majority have the opposite problem...the dreaded overweight problem!
But before we go any further, let me show you a Chart of my weight loss results so far so you know these are not just words on a web page...this approach really works!!
This is a 'Chart' of my weight (the blue bars) since I started the Diet. I started at 187 pounds and am now at 177 pounds after 10 weeks, a pound a week! Not bad! There were some 'Plateaus' along the way (we'll get to these later), but pretty much the weight lost was consistent...just as was predicted by the System Math!
Our Body 'System'
OK, more on the 'Chart' later, lets get back to our Body 'System'.
So...how does our body (the System) control our weight? Well, ideally we should have a 'just in time' food delivery system, where we would Eat just enough food to give us the energy to maintain our Life functions. So the Input fuel energy would be equal to our Output energy needed by our body! Simple control...just Eat enough each day to maintain our Life functions!
Not so simple! Back in the old days...when just existing was a struggle...we had to Eat when we found food, and Eat all we could when we found it. The body evolved a system to Store the excess food...so it would be available when food was scarce and we could live off of it!
You can search the internet to learn how the body processes our Food, and you'll find something along the lines of,
- The food enters your mouth and is processed by Saliva chemicals and enzymes (like Jeff Goldblum in 'The Fly'!). This starts to break down starch into sugar. The food enters the stomach where stomach acids and other enzymes further break down the food and proteins and create a kind of liquid slurry. This continues through the digestive tract where bile and more enzymes are introduced to thin everything out, so the fats, sugar, and proteins contained in the food can be absorbed through the small intestines into the bloodstream.
- Once in the bloodstream, the body uses the fats, sugar, and protein as needed. The excess fats are immediately stored in your fat cells. The sugar gives us the 'quick energy' we need, the liver uses some, and the excess sugar is converted into fat and again stored in your fat cells for later use (the body Loves to store fat for the hard times!). The protein takes longer to digest...it's converted into peptides and amino acids to build up the body protein stores. The excess amino acids are converted into fats and sugars and guess what...if the fats and sugars aren't needed they're stored as fat cells! Like you didn't know!
OK, the System process is Pretty Simple...you eat more than your body can use, you Gain Weight! You eat less than your body needs, the stored fat cells are burned and you Lose Weight! You eat just what your body needs, you Maintain Weight!
Most of us are in the Maintain Weight category...weve reached some kind of Equilibrium where our food intake is enough to maintain our lifestyle energy demands.
Have you reached your 'Steady State' weight?
This Diet is for people in Equilibrium, in the Maintain Weight category. Why is this important? Because, in Engineering, knowing where we are is an important concept. You have to have an 'Initial Condition', a 'Defined Starting Point' for a System before you can predict what will happen when you try to control it!
So...if your weight has been relatively constant over the past 30 days or so, you know where you are...your Food Intake is equal to the Energy your body needs..an Equilibrium has been reached! Good, we're getting somewhere now, we know where we are!
If you're not in this Equilibrium category, come back when your weight is constant and we'll go from there.
The next step Very Important!!
You need 'Feedback'!!
The concept of 'Feedback' is a very important one in System Engineering and in the functioning of our modern society. Airplanes couldn't fly without it, they'd go 'out of control'. Your thermostat on your furnace wouldn't work without it. Your Diet is not going to work without it!!
'Feedback' is simply measuring the thing you are trying to control...then 'feeding back' the measurement and comparing it to your 'control point', then taking appropriate action! In airplane control, you measure things like 'turn rate' with sensors, then compare the measurements to what the pilot wants, then adjust the airplane control surfaces (the things that go up and down on the wings) to increase of decrease the turn rate to match the pilot's command. Your home thermostat is another example of 'Feedback'. It measures the room temperature, then 'feeds it back' to a switch, which turns the furnace on or off depending on how the temperature compares to the temperature setting you put in.
What's your Diet 'Feedback'? Its Measuring Your Weight and recording it on a Chart! You need to see where you've been and how it compares to your objective! If you don't do this, you will probably fail and get Out of Control! You will have more incentive to keep on track if you can see your goal instead of haphazardly saying you have to 'eat less' or 'exercise more' to control your weight. Remember, an airplane will go Out of Control without feedback, and so will your Diet!!
The Magic Chart - Chart Your Course!
So...repeat after me...Where do we want to go? Weight Loss Island!! How do we get there? We Chart our Course!!
Again...Where do we want to go? Weight Loss Island!! How do we get there? We Chart our Course!!
OK, Mr big deal Chart...how do we make a 'Chart'? If you want to be fancy, you can use an Excel Chart...you can Download my Excel Chart by clicking Here and fill in your own weight measurements.
Or, if you have a printer available, you can Print out a Blank Chart by clicking Here.
Another approach is to just use a paper Chart in a notebook or pad. Go to the stationary department of your Big Chain drugstore and buy a "Quad Pad" that has sheets with squares on the pages like below (if you can't find a Quad Pad you can make one by drawing vertical lines on regular notebook paper).
Then draw 2 Axis Lines and label the vertical one as Weight and the horizontal one as Date (see the figure below), and put in your starting weight near the top of the vertical Weight Axis. At the horizontal axis start with your 'Diet Begin' date on a Monday and mark the dates for every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday...skip all the other days. So you'll have 3 weight measurement days a week, each 3 measurements represent a week in time. Let's assume you're starting at 165 lbs and your starting on March 3rd, 2008. Now fill in the Date axis with 10 weeks of dates..remember..only Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Then at he end of 10 weeks, put a mark at 155 Lbs..that's one pound a week weight loss..we don't want to shoot for any more than that, we may not even make it but at least we set up our goal! Now draw a line from the beginning 165 lb point to the 10 week 155 lb point...this is our Course Line, our Control Command Line. Now the Chart should look like the one below..and we're ready to go!! All you have to do is mark your weight on the Chart every Mon, Wed, and Fri..and you can see if you're 'On Course' and what you need to do to get back on your 'Line'!
Some Magic Numbers!
OK...so what's with this Magic Mathematical Diet thing anyway? Where's the Math??
Well, the First Magic Number is...
3500 Calories = 1 Pound of Fat
That's right, you have to 'Burn' 3500 calories to Lose 1 pound of fat! What's a Calorie? A Calorie is actually a measure of Energy (to be technical, it's the Energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1° Centigrade). So your Body runs on an Energy balance, on a Calorie balance...this makes sense, it takes Energy to run anything, your car burns energy from gas, your body burns energy from Food!
So when you talk about Food Calories, your talking about the amount of Energy that your body gets from that amount of Food. When you talk about Exercise Calories, you talk about how much Energy your body burns when you do that Exercise. It's all the same thing...it's all an Energy Balance!
How many Calories does it take to Live...
You Need About 1800 to 2500 Calories/Day to Live
These are the amount of Calories you Burn to do your normal things, and you get these Calories from the Food you Eat. The amount you burn depends on your sex, weight, muscle mass, and to some extent, your genes.
So, what happens if you Don't get your daily Calories? Your Body starts to use it's stored reserves, it's stored fat..and it can get 3500 Calories for each Pound of stored fat!
Let's do some Math! Remember, you're at your Equilibrium Point, you're in the Maintain Weight category...no significant Weight Gain or Loss in the last 30 days...so this means that your Food intake is just enough to balance you Living needs.
Remember our Chart shows 1 Pound/Week Lost, that means we have to Eat Less or Exercise More to give us a Calorie Deficit of 3500 Calories per Week,
3500 Calories = 1 Pound Deficit
Let's divide this up between Exercise and Food...lets pick a number and say,
2000 Calories => Eat Less Food!
1500 Calories => Exercise More!
The Food Part!
More Math! How many meals and snacks a week do you have? Let's say 3 meals a day plus 2 snacks a day,
5 Meals and Snacks/Day * 7 Days = 35 Meals and Snacks/Week
We said that we'll get 2000 Calories from Eating less Food, so that's,
2000 Calories / 35 Meals and Snacks = 57 Calories Less for Each Meal or Snack
For a Total Of
The secret here is you can eat the same thing you're eating now, Only Eat a Little Bit Less of It at Each Meal. Let's round this off to the
Second Magic Number = 50 Calories Less for Each Meal or Snack
...it's a lot easier to deal with.
You can get tons of data about the 'Calorie Content' for different types of Food, so we won't list them all here, just some examples,
1 Oz bag of Potato Chips 150 Calories
Fast Food Small Cheeseburger 300 Calories
Fast Food Big Cheeseburger 650 Calories
12 Oz Soft Drink 140 Calories
12 Oz Beer 160 Calories
8 Oz Glass of Red Wine 200 Calories
So if you have a bag of potato chips as a snack...give 1/3 of the bag away to your friend...there's your 50 Calories. Or give 1/6 of of your Cheeseburger to your dog..that's 50 Calories or more. Or share your Fries with your spouse..that probably saves 100 Calories, that counts for 2 meals! Or just simply take smaller portions than you take now!
You can mix and match, the only important thing is to cut out 250 to 300 Calories a day from your present Food Intake!! Another way to say it is to cut your Food Intake by 10% to 15%!! That means you can Eat 85% to 90% of what you normally Eat...but you HAVE to cut out that 50 Calories/Meal or Snack!!
That's it about the Food...you don't have to change your diet or do any complicated Calorie counting, just cut some of your portions down! Simple!!
Now for the Harder Part...Exercise!
The Exercise Part!
OK..here's the deal..
You Must Exercise for this Whole Thing to Work!!
Remember, we need to do 1500 Calories of Exercise/Week to keep our Mathematical Diet numbers right!
Some typical numbers for Exercising,
Brisk Walking - 250 Calories/Hour
Exercise Machines - 400 - 500 Calories/Hour
Jogging, Running, Biking - 500 - 600 Calories/Hour
If you don't Jog, Run, or Bike...my recommendation is to join the local YMCA/YWCA or a local Health Club and use their exercise machines. Now..one word of caution...Start Slowly! See your Doctor if you have any doubts about exercising...and also talk to the Fitness Instructor at the gym before you start any workout. They are trained and will teach you the right way to use the machines. Work out a program with them, tell them your goal is weight loss and tell them the amount of Calories you want to burn per week. They can set this up, and they may recommend a combination of exercise machines and weight training.
Start for 10 minutes the first one or two days on the machines at low intensity and gradually build from there. Don't go crazy and push yourself too hard. Gradually build up to the point where you're reaching your Calories Burned Goal. I spend about 6 hrs/week, including travel time, at the YMCA. Three times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri) with an Hour workout each time...half hour on the exercise bike and half hour on the Elliptical trainer, which is great because it's low-impact and easy on the joints. I started slowly, but now I'm at the point where I can burn about 400-500 Calories in an hour.
Also, exercise builds Muscles! And muscles increase your Metabolism! What's Metabolism? It's the amount of energy your body burns to maintain itself during your normal Life activities...your body is constantly
burning fuel (Calories) to keep you going! Muscles require more fuel just to Exist! So building Muscles through Aerobic Exercise and Weight Training will increase the Calories you consume daily, and these calories will come from your stored fat Cells! In other words, you're turning fat into Muscle!!
You can Balance Food and Exercise!!
If you didn't get your Exercise for the week...you need to Eat a little Less!! If you ate Too Much...you have to get more Exercise!! Keep things In Balance until you find a Comfortable Routine that Keeps You On the Course you've plotted on your Chart!! This is why you have to Chart your weight so you don't Get Out Of Control!!
I weight myself after my workout using the scale at the YMCA. Weigh yourself after your workout...but Don't Get Discouraged!! You'll have Plateau's where your weight won't change or may even go up! If you look at my Chart, you'll see 2 Plateau's...a 2 week Plateau and a 3 week Plateau. My weight didn't change for 3 Weeks!! What causes these? Weekends are a problem sometimes...and some people claim that your body adjusts so that it gets more efficient in processing your food, in other words, your metabolism adjusted! Your resting rate energy consumption may have changed somewhat through your metabolism, but, 'Physics is Physics', and in the long run, Energy Out must equal Energy In! When you're riding the exercise bike and sweating, Real Work is being done and your fat cells Must be Burned! In the long run, your Weight Will Go Down if you Stay the Course!!
Your Morning Exercise!
Leg Raises Abdominal Crunch
OK...One more thing...you have to tighten up your belly muscles!! This prevents hunger since your stomach gets smaller...and you'll look better too! This is definitely part of this program, don't skip it!! This is also good for your back if you have lower back problems.
Do your Morning Exercises 5 times a week on weekdays. This will take you 5 Minutes on weekday mornings just after you get up and before your shower. I know, I know...believe me it's worth it!
Again, check with your Doctor if you have any medical problems before you do any exercises.
Use a mat (I use a towel on the rug), lay down on the mat, and do Alternate Leg Raises as a warm up, this is also good for your lower back muscles. Start with 10, the next day do 15...and go from there. Right now I do 125 (counting both legs) and I'll probably stop at that amount.
After the Leg Raises, do your Abdominal Crunches. Knees bent, and your feet flat on the floor, put your hands behind your head and lift your head and back up using your stomach muscles. Again, start slow... 5, 10 at first. Do as many as you can until your stomach muscles just won't lift you. The amount you do will increase a little every day as your muscles build up. You're done! Go take your shower!
That's all there is to the Magic Mathematical Diet!! Simple but effective! But What's Next??
This Diet Works!! What's next? What happens when you meet your weight goal? What's your Maintenance Plan??
You Must Continue Charting Your Course on your Weight Chart. When you reach your Target Weight, Put a Constant Line at that Weight. Continue your Exercises, but you can Eat More to maintain your weight. You'll find your New Equilibrium Point...this is the amount you can eat without going above your Constant Line Course. This is why you Must Keep Charting Your Weight so you don't get Out of Control...like the Airplane with no 'Feedback'!
OK...Here it is..
- You can keep your present diet...but you must eat 50 Calories less for each meal or snack, for a total savings of 250 - 300 Calories/Day.
- You need to Exercise 3 times a week, and burn 400-500 Calories for each Exercise period after you get used to it.
- You need to keep things in Balance...if you Exercise Less, you need to Eat Less...If you Eat More, you have to Exercise More!
- You want to do your Morning Exercises!
- You Have to Chart Your Course...you must weight yourself 3 times a week and keep a Weight Chart...even after you've gotten to your Target Weight!
- Finally...Don't Get Discouraged! Remember I had Plateau's of 2 weeks and 3 weeks where I had no weight loss. You must keep with the program during these times....your Body Will Respond! Sometimes it just takes a little time!
Success! You're Done..You've Lost your 10 pounds or More!
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