Pastor Moriah Seaman
Losing weight is hard, and even harder without the support of friends. The purpose of this group is simple: taking serious measures in order to keep each other accountable to our weight loss goals. There is a $15 cost to join this group. Don’t worry though, you can earn it back: for every pound you lose, you get $1 back! There is no time limit to earn all of your $15 back. The only way to lose what's left of your $15 is quitting!
How does it work?
Each week (every Monday), the participants will use their smartphones to text a picture of their feet standing on their scale (with the result visible) to the group leader (yours truly, Pastor Moriah). This helps prevent any temptation to fudge the numbers. I certainly wouldn't expect anyone to submit sketchy numbers, but there's something about submitting cold hard evidence that forces us to stay true to our plan! The numbers from these photos are processed and shared in an online document accessible only to those participating. Just like the hit show “Biggest Loser,” having your progress revealed to the group will be a powerful form of accountability!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Never at any point will a particular person's progress be involuntarily emphasized or focused on. There will be no shaming or scolding of any kind. The online document is the only means of your progress being revealed. We're aiming to foster this accountability in an environment of encouragement, not guilt.
Every 1st Tuesday at 6:30pm, the group will meet in the cafe to get "paid" for their progress, share about how their weight loss journey is going so far (optional), and ask for prayer if desired. There is no specific diet or weight loss plan required. Any participant is welcome (and encouraged) to pursue any option they think will work best for them! However, I've detailed a basic plan that has worked well for me in the past if you're not sure where to start (see below).
What happens if I earn all my money back? Congratulations! You will have lost 15 pounds! If you're like me, you may yet have more weight that you would like to lose (Moriah is hoping to lose 40 lbs total by the end of this journey). If so, you can "buy in" for another 10, 15, or 20 pounds! Just bring more cash (or check made out to Vineyard Church of Baton Rouge), and I will continue to give you your rewards as you continue losing weight!
How long will this thing last? Ideally, this group will sustain itself until each person has met their weight loss goal! Once someone has done so, we will congratulate them (Rejoice with those who rejoice! – Romans 12:15), and their participation will have run it's course.
What if I can't make the meetings?
The first meeting is important since I'll be explaining all the details of how this group will function. However, I'll be asking for a consensus to see if the majority of our group would like to continue meeting on the 1st Tuesday of each month to share, encourage, and pray with each other. If you can't make the meetings, you can still participate!
What if I forget?
I'll be using a Remind text-alert system for our group. It allows me to schedule text reminders for every Monday morning ("Just a reminder: text me a picture of your feet on a scale displaying your weight today!"). Don't worry, once you reach your goal weight, you can unsubscribe to stop receiving messages.
MORIAH'S Weight Loss Plan
Disclaimer: I'm not a weight loss or nutrition expert by any means. However, I've done a good bit of research over the years (and also a good bit of initially successful weight loss attempts that didn't last long – I need this accountability as much as anyone!) There are a trillion diets available, and nearly all of them have both advocates and critics. It can be confusing, frustrating, and overwhelming. Ultimately, my best advice is to do lots of research for yourself, and find out what works best for you (steady, long-lasting results are what really counts). Become your own weight loss expert. That being said, if you're not sure where to start, give this plan I've detailed below a shot.
Most of what you'll read below is a combination of my research on something called CICO (Calories In ; Calories Out, aka Calorie Counting) and some basic nutrition / weight loss advice from this great book: "The Skinny Rules" by Bob Harper (weight loss expert from The Biggest Loser). Also, I've really found this podcast to be helpful as well: Cut The Fat Podcast (I recommend starting from the beginning).
Tell me about CICO...
CICO is a simple concept really: eat fewer calories than your body burns every day and you will lose weight. Period. It's simple physics. If you burn more energy than you consume, you will lose weight. What you eat is still very important, but with careful calorie counting, you can still budget for some of your favorite foods within your daily calorie allowance. Weight Watchers is essentially a commercialized form of Calorie Counting with their own terms (using a point system instead of standardized calorie values). It can be an extremely reliable weight loss method if you put in the hard work and stick with it.
Why Calorie Counting?
There are those who don't like calorie counting for various reasons, but I've found this to be the only method that really gets results for me for one very important reason: I struggle with overeating. That's probably why most of us are reading this right now. Food tastes good! Aaaaand portion control is hard. I've developed some terrible overeating habits through years and years of overeating. My appetite can no longer be trusted. My awareness of how much food I've eaten in a given day is incredibly distorted.
That's why engaging the math part of my brain in calorie-counting has been extremely helpful for me in losing weight. No more scenarios like this: "I'm hungry... I don't think I really had that much to eat today..." (proceeds to binge eat entire pizza). I tried a Keto diet once (low carb diet, eating lots of proteins, good fats, and veggies). I initially lost a bunch of weight, but I quickly bounced back because I just started eating more and more food – Keto-friendly food, but food nonetheless. You can still gain weight eating mostly proteins and veggies. Calories are calories, no matter how healthy they are. The missing part of the puzzle for that Keto diet was either portion control (which I'm terrible at) or calorie counting (can't argue with math)! At the end of the day, if I'm hungry, I can look at my calorie log: "Looks like I've had 1600 calories already today. I can have 8oz of leftover chicken breast at 200 calories and that's it, no more food today". Boom. Weight loss in progress.
So why haven't I lost all the weight yet? Every time I commit to calorie counting, I'm successful, and I lose some weight! For a few weeks... And then I fall off the wagon, stop tracking, start eating garbage, and putting the weight back on. Repeat. I've done this several times in my life already, and maybe you've got a similar story. I'm super excited about this group, because I think it will help me stay the course long-term until I reach my goal! Let's do this!
On to some details about calorie counting...
So what should my daily calorie limit be?
There are some initial calculations required to determine this. First, you need to calculate your Base Metabolic Rate (BMR), which tells you the calories you burn every day just by being alive (not including exercise). My current BMR is 2180. Generally, if I sat in bed all day (probably watching Netflix), my body would burn about 2180 calories. Following this formula, my regular daily routine (desk job = "sedentary") multiplies my BMR by 1.2, equaling a total of about 2600 calories burned every day. If you are "lightly active," you'd multiply your BMR by 1.375 instead. I play disc golf twice a week, so I could probably get away with a total calorie rate of about 3000 calories a day. I'm guessing most of us are in one of those two camps. When in doubt, choose the more conservative option by multiplying your BMR by 1.2 to find your daily calories burned.
This is not an exact science, but it's a place to start. I'm going to opt for the more conservative total of 2600 calories a day. This means that if I eat roughly 2600 calories a day, I will stay the same weight. In order to lose weight, I need to eat less than 2600 calories a day. A pound of human fatty tissue consists of about 3500 calories. If I want to lose one pound a week (a solid goal), I need to cut 500 calories a day, leaving me with a 2100 calorie daily allowance. Bottom line: if I eat 2100 calories or less every day, I will lose one pound a week! (FYI, I'm actually aiming for 1800 calories a week, since I found that I wasn't quite losing a pound a week at 2100 calories a day – Again, these are ballpark figures, so adjustments may be needed if you're not making progress)
What if I want to lose more than one pound a week?
If you do it right, you can be more aggressive and plan to lose two pounds a week. I personally wouldn't recommend this without enlisting the help of a doctor or nutritionist to make sure you're getting all the proper nutrients. You would have to knock 1000 calories or more off of your daily calorie allowance. If you eat super healthy (lots of natural foods: fruits, nuts, leafy greens, vegetables, lean proteins, etc), losing two pounds a week is very achievable. If you're ready to make some big changes to your diet, go for it!
I definitely don't want to discourage anyone from making big changes if you are ready. However, for me, I'm trying to be as realistic as I can, not wanting to bite off more than I can chew (excuse the food pun, har har). I'm going to stick with a moderate (but solid) goal of one pound a week. I'm in this for the long haul. I'm not confident that I could maintain a diet that's nutrient-rich enough to lose two pounds a week. I'd like to lose 40 pounds, so I'll need to maintain my lowered calorie limit for about 40 weeks! That's over nine months! This is definitely more of a marathon than a sprint. With your help though, I'm confident I can do this.
So what should my weight loss goal be?
You've got your daily calorie allowance, you're ready to lose a pound or so a week, now what? Well, how much weight do you want to lose? How much is healthy for you to lose? If you're not sure, use this BMI calculator. At 225lbs, my BMI is 31.38, which means I am in "Obese class 1". Again, these calculators are not an exact science (especially these BMI calculators), but it gives you a good idea. This tells me I have some work to do. A healthy weight range for my height according to this BMI chart is 140-170 pounds.
Wow. That. Seems. Really thin. These charts don't really take into account muscle mass, bone structure, and other things like that. In college, when my metabolism was high, I was working out regularly, I had relatively low body fat, I put on a bit of muscle mass, and I weighed about 180. I'm shooting for a more acheivable goal of 190 pounds. I honestly don't know what that is like anymore. I haven't weighed under 200 pounds in years. When I get to 190, if I still have some extra body fat, I may decide that I'd like to lose 10 more pounds and hit 180. We'll see. If you're not sure what a healthy target weight is for you, I'd recommend you ask your doctor. I would guess that most of us will be tempted to quit too soon. If you are losing weight, keep going until you're at a healthy weight for your height, or until your doctor tells you it's time to stop.
Side note: let's fast forward three or four months. Several of us (hopefully all of us!) will have lost a good bit of weight. Some of our friends and family may notice and say discouraging things like "that's not healthy... you look so thin.. are you eating enough?" This could stem from jealously, insecurity, whatever. Don't be distracted by this. Keep on keepin' on. That's why it's important to do your research. "Well, actually, my doctor says a healthy weight for my height is 180 pounds. I've still got some work to do. Thanks for the concern though."
How exactly do I "calorie count"?
Great question. Any packaged food has a label with calorie information on it. Here's an example: Dark Cocoa Karma, one of my favorite cereals for breakfast. A serving size (61 grams) is 210 calories. I usually budget 500 calories for breakfast. One measured cup of 2% milk is 125 calories, so that leaves 375 calories for the cereal.
Now we do a bit of math to find out how many grams of cereal equals 375 calories. We divide 210 calories by 61 grams to find how many calories per gram – 3.4 calories per gram. Divide 375 calories by 3.4 calories/gram to find how many grams of cereal you can have – 110 grams.
"Umm, Moriah, I hate math." A much simpler method would be to just measure out one and a half servings (90 grams) at 305 calories, or one and three quarter servings (105 grams) at 370 calories.
How do you measure in grams?
This is where your new kitchen scale comes in. You can get one from Amazon or Walmart for fairly cheap ($10-15). Place your cereal bowl on your kitchen scale and turn it on. Usually, it will zero out whatever container is already on the scale when it's turned on (meaning, it doesn't count the weight of the bowl). Otherwise, there's a button that allows you to zero out (aka tare) whatever is currently on the scale. Make sure the units setting is set to grams (or ounces if you're measuring ounces), and start pouring your cereal into the bowl until it says 110 grams (for 375 calories of cereal). Not too bad once you get the hang of it! Now you know almost quite certainly that your bowl of cereal (with one cup of 2% milk) is exactly 500 calories. Good job.
Use this same method to measure other foods that can't be measured easily with tablespoons or measuring cups (avocados, meats, berries, etc). Meats are best weighed using ounces, but most everything else is weighed using grams.
What if I don't know the calorie information for a food?
Pull out your expensive rectangle (smartphone) or computer and do a quick google search for the food, including the brand, followed by the word "calories". You'll almost always find what you need, or something close enough to it.
What about eating out? They don't have nutrition information at my favorite restaurant.
Generally, eating out should be avoided when trying to lose weight. Restaurant food is incredibly rich and calorie-dense, full of sugar and bad fats (a deadly combo). You could grab a moderate entree as your cheat meal once a week (read more about this below), but it's best just to avoid restaurants all together. If you must, take your best guess at the calorie total. I'd say most entrees are easily 800-1500 calories per plate (drink not included; definitely get water, not soda). Just eat half your entree (take the rest home or give it to a friend), and be extremely conservative with your other meals that day to stay under your calorie limit.
So how should I track these calories I just ate?
Some people like to carry around a small notepad and a pencil. I like to use an app on my phone called MyFitnessPal. It's a great calorie tracking app with a huge database of foods already pre-loaded. You can even use your phone camera (in the app) to scan bar codes on packaged food, and it will pull up that exact product's nutrition information. Highly recommended. Note: I don't recommend using MyFitnessPal's built in system for determining your daily calorie allowance. Nor do I recommend entering your workout/exercise data into the app. Neither are accurate, and I've found them to be extremely generous in increasing your calorie limit. Stick with your adjusted BMR minus 500 calories as your daily limit.
And that's calorie counting in a nutshell! Contact me with any questions about this. Next, we'll cover some specifics on what you should and shouldn't eat.
A few basic rules:
- Stay under your calorie limit
- No sweets (no desserts, candy, soda, high-sugar foods, etc)
- No carbs after lunch (explained below)
- Drink at least 64oz (half a gallon) of water every day
- Exercise (light to moderate) 2-3 times a week
- Optional: enjoy one cheat meal or dessert once a week (in moderation, no bingeing)
No desserts, none? No SODA?
In all the research I've come across, sugar is enemy #1 when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. I'll explain more below about sugar, carbs, insulin, and it's effects on appetite and fat storage. However, this is really a non-negotiable for weight loss. Cut out the sweets. No desserts, no soda (ask me later about my research on diet soda). There's just no room for sweets or sugary drinks on a calorie restricted diet. They just erase all your hard work and progress.
If you really miss sweets, try some 80% or 90% cocoa dark chocolate (it's... different). Cocoa is actually super good for you. It's chock full of flavonoids, antioxidants, and some fiber. It's the sugar in chocolate that causes problems. Try a small piece of very low sugar dark chocolate once or twice a week with lunch. Be sure to count the calories towards your total!
What's the deal with carbs?
Carbs are not bad in and of themselves. In fact, we need good high-fiber carbs in our diet like whole grains, low sugar fruits (berries!), oatmeal, beans, nuts, some dairy products, etc. Some fad diets cut out all carbs completely. They usually have great initial results, but it makes people super sluggish, and once they introduce carbs into their diet again, they often gain the weight back.
The reason carbs are often targeted in diets is because sugar and carbs (especially refined processed carbs like flour, starches, syrups, etc) trigger an insulin response. Insulin is a storage hormone which tells your body to store the extra sugar in your bloodstream as fat. Insulin also makes you hungry and inhibits fat burning! Wow, insulin is not my favorite hormone. Generally, the average diet in the US consists of WAY too many sugars & carbs. This means there's almost always insulin acting to store all that energy as fat while simultaneously boosting our appetites (for more sugar and carbs) and blocking fat burning. It doesn't help that American food has added sugar and refined starches in almost everything. Our appetite for sugar and carbs is way out of whack.
Bob Harper, author of "The Skinny Rules", does not recommend cutting carbs completely, but rather cutting carbs after lunch. This allows you to get some good high-fiber carbs in for breakfast and lunch (and I take full advantage of that!) to give you energy throughout the day and kick start your metabolism. After lunch, carbs are off the table, literally. It takes about 4 hours for insulin levels to go back down after consuming sugar or carbs. By dinner time (about 4-6 hours later), you are probably pretty hungry, and also craving (drum roll please)... sugar and carbs. BUT, you can't have 'em. This is where the fat burning really kicks in. Since there's currently no insulin acting in your system, you are now tapping into your fat stores for energy. A dinner of leafy greens or veggies and a lean protein will help hold you over, but you'll still probably go to bed a little hungry since you're short 500 calories (if you've been good).
Being hungry is not fun, but this is what we want. This is where the weight loss happens, being a little hungry. I myself am trying to learn how to be OK with being hungry. I've been immediately satisfying my hunger for several years, and now I am 40+ pounds overweight. In order to get back to a healthy weight, we will have to learn to be OK with being a little hungry in between meals and in the evenings until we reach our target weight. Over time, it will get easier. Our bodies will get better at regulating insulin and tapping into fat storage. Our appetites will adjust as we learn to be OK with being a little hungry. In the long run, we will be healthier and feel better. Let's do this!
OK, a few more things...
Fiber vs "net carbs".
A lot of healthy foods consist largely of carbs: leafy green veggies, avocados, oatmeal, etc. However, fiber is a very important and healthy carb that promotes digestion, makes you feel full, and triggers little or no insulin response. Essentially, grams of fiber are carbs that "don't count" as carbs for our diet. A serving of avocado has 12 grams of carbs, but 10 of those are fiber. So the "net carbs" (total carbs minus fiber) are still very low at 2 grams per serving. Low enough that you can enjoy a few servings of avocado as a protein source on your salad for dinner. Be sure to count those calories though!
Drinking lots of water is crucial.
It's recommended to drink 64oz (half a gallon) a day, but honestly, we should be drinking double that. Sometimes when we think we're hungry, we're just dehydrated and our body needs water, not food. A glass of water is our go-to when we get hungry.
What kind of exercise?
I recommend light to moderate exercise (walking a mile or two, light jogging, biking, disc golf, etc). Don't add to your calorie allowance when you exercise. You'll be a bit more hungry than usual, but it's too tempting to cheat beyond what you would have otherwise "earned". Just take those few extra calories burned (a casual two mile walk burns 100-200 calories, yep that's it...) as a bonus towards your weight loss progress. The real benefit of this exercise is that it keeps your metabolism going. If you only reduce your calorie intake without any kind of activity, your metabolism will eventually slow down to match your reduced calorie intake, and you'll plateau. Light to moderate exercise is crucial to keeping that metabolism going, or boosting it back up if you've plateaued.
I don't recommend intense exercise on a reduced calorie diet unless you're really wanting to drop pounds fast. You will hit some serious energy lows which can be difficult to manage. Aside from being sluggish and light-headed, cravings will get really intense. Again, a doctor, trainer, or nutritionist's advice is recommended if you're going to do intense workouts regularly on a reduced calorie diet.
What's with the cheat meal? I thought cheating was bad.
Yes, cheating is definitely bad, but a planned cheat in moderation once a week can be a great incentive. "I'm saying no to those donuts in the office Monday through Thursday, but I'm definitely going to have a fresh one on Friday as my cheat dessert." The key here is that you're in control, not bingeing. Have a dessert or a cheat meal (in moderation) once a week, but not both. The idea is to reward yourself a bit and maintain your sanity, not to undo your entire week's progress in one binge-eating session. If you're not sure that you can handle this, I'd recommend opting out of the cheat meal.
MISC TIPS / MORE DIET STUFF
Communicate with your spouse / close friends / roomates / anyone you share meals with.
This is really important. Tell your spouse / roommates that you are on a diet and that you need their support. As an overeater, I used to be the "garbage disposal" at the table. "I'm full. Moriah, do you want this?" "Um, sure.. (OM NOM NOM)". Request that your spouse / roommates not offer you food. This journey is much easier if your spouse / roommates are supporting you.
Eat fiber and protein at every meal.
Fiber and protein are not only a necessary part of your diet, but they make you feel full! Try to eat fiber and protein at every meal, and you will be much less hungry at the end of the day in spite of your calorie deficit.
Can I have fruit after lunch?
Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) are a super healthy choice if you want a slightly sweet snack, but try to eat your fruit early in the day. Fruit sugar is better than refined sugar, but its still sugar, and it still triggers a significant insulin response. Generally, I'd avoid eating fruit after lunch so your insulin levels have time to decrease.
Watch out for added sugar.
Added sugar is everywhere, in what seems like everything. Honey mustard salad dressing ("It's healthy right??" Nope, tons of added sugar), Ketchup, Pasta Sauce (surprising amounts of added sugar), some breads (check the nutrition info), some deli meats or sausages, and more. Always check the nutrition info, and stay away from added sugar as much as possible.
Some great low/no carb foods to eat for dinner...
Leafy greens and low carb veggies:
- Spring Mix greens
- Green beans
Lean and "lean-ish" proteins:
- Fish (so good for you)
- Chicken Breast
- Lean ground beef (88% lean, drain the fat)
- Pork Tenderloin (trim the fat)
- Steak (leaner cuts)
Don't use heavy cooking oils or butter! Those are very calorie-dense. Using a minimal amount of cooking spray is preferred. If you really want to use heavy oils or butter, carefully measure out what you need and count those calories. Eating veggies raw gets you the most nutrients, but boiling, baking, steaming, grilling, and frying (with minimal cooking spray oil) are all good cooking methods.
RECIPE: Moriah's Massive No-Carb Dinner Salad (600 calories)
Take a large (and I mean large) mixing bowl and fill it with giant handfuls of Spring Mix greens. Spring Mix greens are so low calorie I don't even count them (a whole one-pound container of these greens is only 75 calories...) Use a very small amount of cooking oil spray (25-50 calories) to fry up 300 calories of a lean protein (8oz chicken breast, etc). I like to add a little (well, a lot actually) Tony's and cracked pepper to the chicken while it's frying up. Add a serving (1/4th of a cup) of shredded cheese to your greens at 120 calories. Also toss on a Tbsp of real bacon pieces (comes in a bag at Walmart in the salad section, yum) at 30 calories. Dice up the chicken once it's fully cooked, toss it into the salad bowl, and add 2 Tbsp of your favorite low/no-carb dressing (Ranch, Bleu Cheese, Ceasar, Light Italian) at 110 calories. Eat the whole thing. Noms. All those greens will help you feel full for longer in the evenings. Also, keep a bathroom in sight.
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" – 1 Cor 10:31
"Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s" – 1 Cor 6:19-20
"Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh" – Gal 5:16
"I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should" – 1 Cor 9:27
"The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me." – Psalm 28:7
"People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" – Matt 4:4
"Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established" – Prov 16:3
"With God all things are possible" – Matt 19:26