I have been in this challenge for almost a week now and I have lost the 4% weight as measured by the scale. Although I love contests, I really don't like contests that rely on the weight on the scale because that weight can fluctuate 2-3 pounds in a day with water shifts in your body. The scale does not truly reflect all your hard work...but pictures do. I lost 7 pounds in 6 days. So, did I lose 7 pounds of fat? Heck No!! Did I do it by starvation and liquid diets? Heck No!! Did I do it by doing tons of cardio? Heck No!!

First of all, about 3-4 pounds of the weight loss is probably just water. I have changed my diet considerably and that helps stimulate fat loss simply by the change in diet. Another thing I want to mention is that although I am overweight on the scale, a good amount of my weight is muscle weight since I train with heavy weights pretty consistently and the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be and you will burn fat faster than people with less muscle. And I lift HEAVY and I don't have bulky muscles. What I do have is a few layers of fat covering my muscle.

#1 So...the number 1 thing I write in my plan is CONSISTENT STRENGTH TRAINING not to build muscle at this time, but to maintain what I have. Since I have decreased my calories from God knows how many...probably 3600-4500 a day eating what I want, to 1400 I am going to lose weight because that is shocking to the body. Because I am eating less, my strength training in the gym is a challenge, and I listen to my body and lift enough... a little lighter to maintain my muscle. For example...instead of bench pressing 120 pounds, I am pressing between 65 and 90 pounds for 3 sets of 10. That's all my calorie intake allows...so I listen to my body.

#2 I am lazy...hate to cook, so how I get around that is keeping things simple. In the morning, I drink a protein shake with straberries and blueberries mixed in. I use ON Whey protein and mix it with a cup if unsweetened almond milk. If I am craving sugar...I add a tablespoon or so of splenda in the mix. Most of the time I don't do that. This makes about 20 ounces of a very yummy and filling shake. Then I head to work. At work...when my body tells me I am hungry, I microwave a packet of Quaker Oats High Protein oatmeal. It makes alot....it is 240 calories I believe with 10 grams of protein. Then after that, when my body tells me I am hungry, I eat a HUMONGOUS portion of sauteed veggies. I take a pack of frozen vegetables, add alot of fresh mushrooms and onions to that pack of veggies, add olive oil in a large pan, salt and I cook it for about 8-10 minutes. I use a kinda liberal amount of olive oil...I don't measure it. If I want the veggies to taste like chinese food, I add seseme oil as well. I eat 6 serving of veggies in one sitting. That is alot of fiber. I cannot eat meat with that because it would sit in my stomach like a rock. Several hours later, I will have just protein in the form of fish, chicken, or turkey. If my calories are low, I treat myself with peanut butter...plain old off the spoon peanut butter. If I get hungry after I ate all my calories, I will make me another shake. I don't deprove my body of nutrition. Mild hunger is ok...depending on my workout earlier. When I train Legs and Back, those are big muscles that need energy to repair...so i allow myself an extra protein shake...keeping my calories below 1800 for sure. If I am working smaller muscles, I don't allow myself too many extra calories..I just stay mildly hungry if that happens.


#3 I allow myself a CHEAT meal a week. And I have whatever I want. This week I had Panera Bread Steak Panini which is almost 1000 calories by itself, I had their bag of chips which is 150 calories, and I have my fav double chocolate brownie which is about 500 calories. I don't eat much during the day, because I know i am going to smash for the meal. So I may have a protein shake and oatmeal during the day.

#4 If I have a lunch meeting thrown in the mix for work or some family function my plan is simple....I just eat a protein shake and nothing else til the lunch meal. If I happen to find myself without many healthy choices, I eat the best I can....for instance instead of having a burger with a full bun, I just take part of the bun off. I try to pick a veggie instead of fries. ONE BIG THING I DO IS LIMIT MY BREAD, RICE, AND POTATO INTAKE!!!! I found for me, I cannot eat alot of dairy either...like yogurt. It stalls my weightloss big time no matter if I limit my calories or not. I love greek yogurt...but I treat it more as a treat than part of my diet. I have no clue why dairy affects my weightloss so much. I do understand why bread impacts my weight loss negatively. It does not matter if it is plain white bread or 100% whole grain, it stunts my weightloss significantly. I would eat a candybar before a piece of bread or yogurt. Depending what I ate at the restaraunt determines my next meals...keeping things below 1400 calories.

#5 Some days I do not get all my calories in. For instance on Wednesday, I only ate 800 calories and just did not feel like eating more. No worries, Thursday was my cheat meal anyway...so the deficit will be made up the following day since I look at average calories over a weeks time. I ate over 2000 calories on Thursday and weighed myself yesterday and was down over a pound.

Let me explain why cheat meals are an important part of your plan IF YOU CAN GET RIGHT BACK ON PLAN THE NEXT MEAL...some people can't do that...when they fall out of the plan, they stay out. For these people, don't incorporate cheat meals. I do cheatmeals for 2 reasons....it gives me something to look forward to, and then it increases my calories substantially. This is good for the metabolism which slows significantly as we CONSITENTLY limit calorie intake. Our bodies are smart and they go in conservation mode when realizing the calories are cut. To do that, our metabolism slows with dieting if we cut calories too low OR EXERCISE TOO MUCH on limited calories. This puts your body in starvation mode...and guess what, you lose the muscle that increases metabolism. Have you ever seen people that lose weight and they are skinny fat? They are just a smaller soft version of what they were before? When I see that, I wish I could explain to them to eat more and lift more. You won't bulk up, you will just get firmer, curvier, and can eat a heck of alot more and still lose.

#5 Don't do too much all at once. I am only cutting my calories to 1400 and strength training. As long as I keep losing doing that, I won't add anything else. Eventally I will plateau and I will have to add something else in the mix to jump start things. At that point I may add a little more cardio to my routine. I did not do any cardio this week and I won't do any until I hit a stall. What I see so much is that people are trying to do it all....hit the gym for over an hour and cut calories. I want to just scream....don't play all your cards at once. You don't have too. Your body is AMAZING and will start to get used to that overkill and will plateau you out...then what do you do next to jump start things? You have used all your tricks...so what people do is lower their calories more and guess what...your metabolism follows and weight loss gets harder and harder. I change things up only when I need to. Another thing I use later when I stall is yoyo my calorie intake. I will have low days and high days, with a super high day in the mix. It increases metabolism.

#6 The leaner you get and the closer you get to your bodies "set" weight the harder it is to lose. The last 10 pounds ain't easy and eating whatever you want as long as your calories are down won't cut it. I had a person state that you can eat whatever you want...it is just abpit calories. That is FALSE!!! That works for awhile...and as long as it works...keep doing just that. But when you stall....instead of eating whatever you want keeping the calories low...then clean up the diet more and you will see the scale move again. Weight Watchers is an amazing program...but if you stall...look at what you are eating. If it's junk...clean it up and watch the pounds start to come off again.

#7 Another tool that I use to keep the weight coming off is to look at my protein/carb/fat ratios. I don't have to do that now, because I am still heavier that I should be...160 pounds...but when I get in my low 150's and and 140's I will have to start watching my carbs. Now my carbs are higher than my protein intake and I am losing...so I will keep to that. When I stop losing, added the cardio and the weight is still not moving, then I will have to make sure my protein calories are higher than my carbs. That works wonders for me. For instance if my calorie intake is 1600 calories, I will start my ratios at protien 40% Carbs 40% and Fat 20% then increase my protein to carb ratios to keep losing...making sure my protein intake is higher than carb. But I always throw in a cheat...unless I am doing a contest that requires very low bodyfat...which is not my goal.

#8 Know that water follow's carbs...so if you eat bread, starches and sweets, you MAY see it on the scale...even some fruits (especially if your carb intake is higher than your protein intake). It is not fat per'se but water weight. If you are 1-2 pounds from your goal by end of the contest...cut your carbs out. Just don't eat any carbs for a few days and you may see the "water loss" on the scale.

#9 Take pictures along the way!!!!! Critically important!!!

That's my plan...and some of the tools I use to lose. The key is consitency!!!