Guide to Losing Pounds

This is a guide on how to lose those unwanted pounds in 2010 and beyond.  This is the time of year where many new folks are trying to find out how exactly to lose weight and a lot of the information floating around pertaining to such is downright confusing, contradicting, and occasionally outright lies.

I’m here to give you a short, but complete guide on how to lose weight — this is how I lost 125 pounds in under 12 months.  No diet plans, fad machines, meal plans or any other marketing bull.  There is only one way to lose weight as far as I’m concerned and it comes down to these three simple steps.

Here are the steps I took to lose 125+ pounds:

Step 1.  Calculate Daily Calorie Needs

You need to calculate your daily calorie needs using a BMR Calculator.  This will tell you, depending on your height/weight and daily activity, roughly how many calories you need to consume a day to maintain your current weight.

For example:  At 344 pounds, 73 inches, and living a sedentary lifestyle the calculator said I needed roughly 3,576 calories to maintain my weight of 344 pounds.  If on any given day I had more than 3,576 calories, I’d gain weight.  If I cut back a little and ate less than 3,576 calories, I’d lose weight.

Here are my current daily calorie needs with moderate physical activity:

bmr calculation Guide to Losing Pounds

Step 2.  Subtract Calories From Your Day

Professionals like doctors, trainers, and nutritionists recommend that you should aim to safely lose 1-2 pounds a week.  One pound lost equals 3,500 calories.  That means to lose one pound this week you would subtract 500 calories from your daily calorie intake (500 x 7 days).

It’s really that simple.

So, if you ate 500 less calories than you needed every day you’d lose 4 pounds a month and 48 pounds over the next year.  I obviously lost pounds at a much greater rate, so my calorie deficit was much, much greater.  It’s not generally recommended by professionals, but I simply found it hard to continue consuming so many calories on a daily basis once I started my healthy lifestyle.

I’ll leave it up to you to figure out how many calories to consume.  A word of caution, though:  don’t assume following really low-calorie diets are good for you, because they’ll end up being counteractive.  Not only that, they’ll completely suck the energy out of you and are generally unhealthy.  I don’t know the exact numbers, I’m just some guy with a blog on the internet, but a “low” amount of calories is considered around the 1,300 range or below.

Step 3.  Burn Calories

If you’re not eating healthy, no amount of exercise or physical activity will replace a healthy lifestyle.  With that being said, if you increase your physical activity you’ll burn more calories during the day.  If you play around with a BMR calculator you will see that increasing your amount of physical activity changes the amount of calories you need to maintain your current weight.

Adding regular, physical activity into your life not only make it easier to lose weight, but also allows you to throw a few extra hot wings on your plate without them sticking to you.  That’s a good thing on game day.

Those are the steps.  They are short, simple, and will leave you wanting more — but nothing else is coming.  Before discovering the “secret” steps to lose weight above I had tried the same diets, meal plans, and fad machines that you’ve probably tried.  A lot of money is spent to make us think we need all of those, when in fact these short three steps are all we have ever needed.

I discovered this last year on January 15th, weighing in at 344.2 pounds.  And, nearly a year later, I’ve never been so confident that those three steps are the only way to lose weight and keep it off for good.

You might have questions, so I’ll try to beat you to the punch:

What food do I need to eat to lose weight?

There’s no set meal plan or any particular food you have to buy to lose weight.  You can check out the type of food I eat by taking a look back at when I use to count calories on the blog.

How do I know how many calories something contains?

If you’re at the grocery store and buying something that comes in packaging you’ll be able to find the calories and nutritional information somewhere on the label.  If it’s produce or something from the deli, a quick search in your favorite search engine will tell you how many calories it has.  If you’re looking for calories in a banana, for example, just search for “calories in a banana.”  You’ll find a myriad of websites telling you how many calories a banana contains — this is how I found out the large banana I eat daily is roughly 120 calories.

Eating in a restaurant is its own beast.  Some restaurants post nutritional information online — it would behoove you to visit the restaurant’s website you plan on eating at later and finding something from the menu beforehand that is light in calories.  If the restaurant doesn’t post nutritional information (not all do), another quick search in your favorite search engine will help you.

How long do I need to exercise?  What type of exercises?

You need to make sure you’ve used more calories than you’ve eaten on any given day.  You shouldn’t look at exercise as the primary weapon to losing weight — that’s your diet — you should look at exercise as a way to burn some extra calories, live healthy, and maintain a well-oiled machine of a body.

Do you want to lose pounds in 2010 and have questions about the steps you should take?  Post them in the comments and I’d love to answer them.

39 thoughts on “Guide to Losing Pounds”

  1. Great post, Tyler!
    How do you keep track of daily calories and exercise? Do you write everything down in a journal or do you use an online tool?

    1. I don’t track my daily exercise — I just know to get SOME sort of exercise during the day. I track calories actually using twitter, you can view the page at twitter.com/344food.

      I’ve paused it for the time being due to the business of the holidays, but I’m resuming that as soon as I get this first work week under my belt and things calm down.

  2. Hi Tyler,
    I managed to loose 4 stone, a bout 3 years ago, since then i have put on 2 stone, and now am starting the journey again.
    what tips do you have to keep motivated?

    1. My tips for staying motivated wouldn’t be look at what you’re doing today. You’re not eating well and going to the gym for 30 minutes or an hour a night just to go — you’re going for a reason. Why are you going? Keep your goals in front of you every single day — are you losing weight for that wedding in March, to live another decade with your daughter, or are you trying to fit into a bathing suit this summer?

      Keep your goals in front of you. That bag of greasy fries won’t look so appealing.

  3. Great post Tyler. Too many people think a fad diet will work. In reality a life change is necessary. I see you posted how you don’t really track your calories or workouts now. It’s pretty much 2nd nature these days?

    1. Yes, it becomes second nature. At first you’ll hate tracking calories and your workouts, but you’re simply going through a learning curve. Eventually, you’ll be like Neo in the Matrix and be able to look at food (that you cook yourself) and be able to fairly accurately estimate it’s calories. Now, restaurant cooked food is another monster altogether…

    1. It’s that simple, but I wish it were simple to turn down an appetizer when you’re out to eat with family.

      Execution is the difficult part, of course.

  4. Great post. I am a long time reader but first time poster. So far I have lost over 60 lbs in the last 8 months, with about 20 more to go. Just today someone was asking me how I did it and I said, there was no magic, just watching what I eat and going to the gym. She looked at me like I must be lying, it can’t be that easy. While I agree it is not easy at times, it sure is easy to understand and do when you put your mind to it.

    Thanks for a great website, I look forward to your updates every week and your posts.

    1. I’m SO glad you posted a comment, Steven. I know most people don’t post comments and simply lurk, but I really do appreciate the comments — they keep me going. I congratulate you on the weight loss, that’s a great loss!

      Nobody believes diet and exercise works. As I said, a lot of money is spent making you think it doesn’t.

      I appreciate the comment and the kind remarks, hope to see your comments in the future!

  5. It’s tough to wrap my head around the BMR calculator.

    It tells me my daily intake should be 2589 calories. Yet I use the treadmill and gym for 1+ hours every other day, so 3-4 times a week. That burns calories, the treadmill alone nets me 400-600 calories. Is that already figured into the 2589 since I said moderately accurate? Or could I eat 3000 calories in a day I burned 600 calories at the gym and still maintain my weight?

    It’s kinda like what came first the chicken or the egg. Is 2589 my goal before exercise or after exercise?

    1. BMR calculators ask for your physical activity because they do take your exercise/activity into consideration.

      That IS already factored into the 2,589.

  6. I have the same confusion as Matt – Tyler, could you elaborate on this as the net vs. gross calorie consumption can be very confusing. Thanks!

  7. I discovered you and your amazing weight loss about 2 weeks ago in preparation for my own weight loss journey. It first started with your youtube vids, then I found your site and I just feel so happy to find so many other people online in the same boat. Congrats and I hope that at the end of 2010 that I’ll be able to celebrate just like you. I’m inspired and blogging helps keeps me accountable. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  8. So I am like Steven, where I have been following your blogs for the past few months but have never commented. I just want to say thank you for your website, you’re doing such a great job and are such an inspiration to so many of us. I have started and stopped my weight loss journey many times over the past two years or so, but this time I set my goals appropriately and learned to keep smaller goals to keep my motivation going. So here is my question to you Tyler, on average how many calories do you burn at the gym? Right now I am trying to burn 1000-12000 a day through exercise. I never realized how hard that can be.

    One other note, for all of you who are wondering where to track calories. I have been using the website livestrong.com and the DailyPlate program. It has a lot of restaurants and stuff so I find it to be pretty accurate. It has definitely helped me a lot to realize what I am putting in my mouth.

  9. I’ve been down this road, on a couple of different paths. I have discovered that the best tool I’ve found for figuring out calories in produce and other non-packaged food is a little book called The Calorie King – and their website – http://www.calorieking.com/foods/. Ignore their ads and “program” stuff, and just use the food database. The book is even easier to use (small and convenient). My wife is puzzled at how to determine calories of some things like casseroles, but I tell her – just look up the ingreadients, add them up and make a rough guess – just the fact that you are trying makes you conscious of the calories and changes your lifestyle.

    I am currently at the heaviest I’ve ever been (260), and getting ready for the downhill ride (again) – here (on this blog) I think I’ve found a bit of the motivation. THANKS!!!

    1. I like Calorie King. They have a mobile version as well and can find calorie info wherever I am!

      As for casseroles, I have added up everything in recipes before and guesstimated how much I can have, but in the end I gave up making them because most of them needed high calorie soups or cheeses.

      Good luck with your weight loss and keeping it off for good!

  10. Saw your profile on CNN and want to congratulate you on a realistic way to lose weight. After reading about many different diets out there as well as exercise, I one day had an epiphany. It wasn’t that this diet is best or this specific set of exercises is the most effective, it was: “You already know what you have to do, so what’s keeping you from doing it?”

    I joined a gym, got a trainer to get me motivated, and have lost 25 lbs from my high of 300 in the past 4 months. It could be more and I’m working on the diet portion, but I know some of the more key stats are improving. My blood pressure is getting lower, my body fat percentage is down 5%, meaning I’m putting on more muscle relative to my weight. I just have to stay focused on my eating habits (portion control, more veggies and lean protein, less bad fats and sugar) and should do well in the long run. Your blog is definitely a source of realistic info.

    Thanks.

  11. This is a very inspiring blog. I’d started down this same journey last year, and was making some decent progress, but I lost track. I went back to my old ways. I had found this secret sauce much like you had, and discovered that I could eat quite a bit of healthy food, and still remain under my caloric intake. That along with exercise made me feel better, and I was starting to seem some weight loss.

    There are recent events in my life that have inspired me to try again, and your story only helps. I wanted to thank you for sharing your story with others. I hope to use your blog as a point of focus throughout this year, and may even start my own to keep myself in check. If its just me, I may fall off the plan again.

  12. A decade ago I lost 50 lbs in 5 months because I was bored and lonely and spent all of my time at the gym and counting calories (by hand, with a calculator and a calorie book!). I worked out 3 hours and ate 1,800 calories a day, and was eating and living and unsustainable lifestyle. And shockingly enough, I gained it all back, plus about 40 more after the birth of my son.

    I’ve lost about 10 lbs. since December 3rd tracking my calories and wearing the bodybugg, which really motivates me to walk more and be more active every day. However, I eat whatever I want. I cook with butter and cream, and have candy occasionally. The biggest difference is that I am much more aware of my portion sizes now and I move more than I did before. But I never “work out” more than 60 minutes a day. And I am loosing weight as quickly as I did when I was kinda crazy about the whole thing. I’d rather eat real food in smaller portions and move more than eat artificial diet junk.

  13. Hey,
    I’ve been reading stories, all very much like yours. I am doing very similar things. I’m 24 and about 6’5.” On January 13th, 2009 I pretty much did the same thing you did. I got serious. I wieghed around 320lbs. I started being more active going to the gym daily and eating less crappy foods and watching everything else I ate. From the time I started to May I lost about 60lbs. Since then, nothing has happened. At my lowest I was 255. I tend to stay around 265. I am wondering if you ever flat lined at a specific weight and what you did about it. Or even if you have any advice. I want to get out of this rut.
    I was amazed to see the progress you made so quick. That was the path I was on when I started until May and I just can’t really figure out what happened.
    Best of luck to you and I look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks man.

  14. Hey Tyler! I found out about your blog here while poking around CNN. I love your little guide to losing weight. I’ve been yo-yoing for about two years now, but once this school semester starts up, I’m seriously committing myself to changing the way I eat and my sedentary lifestyle. Reading some of your blog was the last push I needed to start really making these changes. I can’t wait to get started (tomorrow!).

    Also, you look great! Congratulations! I’m sure you’ll reach your final goal in no time. : )

    - Erika

  15. Hey thanks for posting this! I had resolved to start this past Monday, Jan 4th on basically the identical “plan” you did. Common sense, portion control/calorie watch, and exercise. This has proven my theory right and I am looking forward to what this year will bring. Right now I’m 26y/o and @ 280 lbs so I’ve got a ways to go but this year will be the year! Thanks again for sharing and being a motivating factor for me.

  16. Thanks for the motivation Tyler! I lost 50 pounds in 2009 and want to lose another 50 in 2010! I’ve already gotten rid of the “holiday bulge” and am back to my healthy eating. That used to be my problem in the past, fall off the wagon and then stay off the wagon only to realize it after I had gained 50 pounds! Now I know I’m in it for the long haul and while I may have my binge moments, I get right back in the healthy eating mode. Best of luck to you in 2010!

  17. What kind of budget do you have for your food each week. I am close to or over 100 lbs overweight and have been for like 15 yrs (I am 33). For the past 3 yrs I have used the excuse that we can’t afford for me to eat healthy b/c it is so expensive, which it is (there are 5 of us…hub, 3 kids), but I would love to hear that I can’t use that as an excuse b/c there is someone out there eating cheap but healthy! :) I found your blog through the CNN report.

  18. I’m glad I read this…I have been trying to eat better and less for the last few weeks and have only lost one pound. This site gave me a some motivation. Thanks! You look great!! And a lot younger!

  19. This site has given me the motovation to chnage the way I eat and take better care of myself.! I always thought I was the only one out there that had wieght issues. It’s nice to see I am not alone. Thank You for your site and I will be checking in from time to time.

  20. Hi i would like to thank you and congratulate you on your weight loss i have started mine im 33 going on 34 this month im close to 500 lbs i am 6,4 tall my target weight is 197
    i have been doing treadmill fat burner level 4 2.0 speed workout 20 minutes a day and another 20 minutes just walking normal on the treadmill at about 1.7 speed
    thanks to you i will now watch my calorie intake as well it says to maintain i need over 4701 calories a day my goal is 3000
    i don’t eat much veggies i figure i can sub those with some v8 juice i wanted to share a link with people on here i found for a online calorie counting tool its free http://www.everydayhealth.com/food-fitness/journal its one i started using and i like it alot if you have any extra advice for me that would be great..

    Homer Allen

  21. This post really put things in perspective. Today is my first day counting calories and already I have had a rude awakening. I love Starbucks Soy White Chocolate Mocha with two extra shots of espresso and whipped cream. After counting it all up this one cup of coffee is 470 calories and 16 grams of fat. Thats a lot of wasted calories just for coffee. Guess I will be trying their skinny lattes. I am also aiming to lose 100lbs this year and then about 20 more pounds in 2011. Here we go. Tyler stay motivated as I will too. Thank you for this blog.

  22. I am so glad I found your post! Back in high school about 7 years ago my goal and plan was to get into the Air Force after about a year of college ( I only wanted a couple of credits under my belt since I could finish once enlisted). Well, things happened and since then have gained nearly 100lbs. I have now realized that I’m an idiot for letting myself get this way and I need to do something more with my life and have made a goal to lose 100lbs in 12 months as I would like to get with a recruiter by January 2011 (no way am I doing it now. I’m afraid they will see me and not take me seriously). When I would tell people my goals, they would tell me its impossible and that there is no way I can lose that amount of weight without some type of surgery or pills that will eventually come back to kick me in the ass, within the time frame I wanted. I knew they were wrong but nothing I said changed their minds. I decided to go for it anyway and after research found your blog. You are my motivation and inspiration bc I now know it is possible. Thank you sooo much!!

    Since I started 01/19/2010 I have lost 6lbs! How am I doing it? The same way you did it. I’m counting calories and excercising. I’m not going to the gym just yet but I’m walking which is a HUGE start for me. Day one I was only able to do 1.5 miles and that nearly killed me. Now, I’m able to do at least 5. I don’t huff and puff but I still get the burn running down my leg from the knee down. As long as I have my mp3 going, I hardly notice the burn and thats what keeps me going. After reading a couple of your blogs, I now can see the light at the end of the tunnel and its as clear as day. I can’t thank you enough!

  23. You are making WONDERFUL progress. CONGRATS! I am starting my weight loss “journey” very soon. I have about 200 big ones to lose to get down in my goal weight range. Do you have any tips for a big guy hitting the gym for the first time in several years? I hear elliptical machines are a good low impact cardio workout that will allow me to go longer with less wear and tear on the feet and knees. What do you recommend?

  24. Tyler,

    Thank you so much for this blog! People used to ask me all the time how I lost weight and I quoted George Clooney, “this amazing new diet called ‘Eat Less, Work Out More’.” It is truly the only thing that works and stays around for good. It’s also great because once you accomplish weight loss with this method (a.k.a. the hard way), you will always know you can do it again. Then, whenever a set back occurs, you will be confident enough in yourself to keep truckin’!

    Now, people ask me how I can eat so much and not gain weight. It always surprises them when I say “I love good food so much, I just have to work out enough to make up for it.”

    Thanks for reminding people that it’s about coming to terms with your body, not fighting against it :)

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