Had enough of back pain and being fat - time to diet and exercise! Advice?

Before I start, a warning. It’s going to get a bit whiny.

So, yeah. I had enough of back pain, enough of being fat, enough of running out of breath, enough of not being taken seriously, because, hey, fat guys are funny!

So, time to exercise. Problems: I’m on an extremely tight budget - we can get by but cannot afford luxuries. I get bored really quickly when exercising. I get ill very easily if I get sweaty outdoors when it’s cold - I don’t know why, really. And there’s the back pain: the GP told me I shouldn’t do any running. He also advised against martial arts and exercises with lots of jumping.

It’s also time to diet. Problems here: according to my doctor the NHS doesn’t do any dieting support at all, and I’m on my own. This in the country with the highest level of obesity in Western Europe, but that’s the UK health service for you. Because of budget constraints, going to a dietician or joining Weight Watchers are not possible.

And there’s another thing - the hunger. I am trying to be careful with what I eat, but I get incredibly hungry at work. Basically I need good breakfasts and lunches to manage. It was extremely embarrassing for me a few days ago: a coworker brought a cake in for her birthday, and I passed on it, because, of course, I wanted to be disciplined. Well, I just couldn’t follow what some other guy was telling me, because my mind was going “Cake! Cake!! CAKE! CAKE! I WANT THAT CAKE RIGHT NOW!

I usually also get hungry when the time comes to leave work, around 5 - 5.30. I mean, normally, even before starting being careful. I probably have to find some suitable snack to eat in the late afternoon.

I found a lot of material searching online, but most of it seems to be bullshit of the worst kind. So, guys, do you have advice? Web sites, diets or regimens that worked for you, things to be aware of, things and mistakes to stay well clear of?

I’ve never had to worry about my weight. Some simple things I do: I go for a walk after lunch at work, probably a mile or so. I drink water throughout the day. I rarely eat out.

It’s all about portion control. That’s all Weight Watchers is doing for you: limiting the portion sizes to a realistic meal size. Moderate exercise, like walking, coupled with portion control goes a long way.

It depends on your personality type.

Option 1:
Make small changes and concentrate on one at a time. Once each is part of your new normal you add another. Based on your OP an excellent first step would be adding protein to your breakfast. Possibly 2nd taking your lunch (and a couple of healthy snacks) to work.

For me I decided that we were going to order in once per week or less this year. We’ve managed to order food only once in 2014 and that’s down from 2-3 times a week in the past. We make a menu plan on the weekend, shop for it, put it on the fridge so we know what needs to come out of the freezer and we’ve been really good at executing. We still eat out occasionally but this is working. We also cook for 4 and before serving ourselves dinner we package our next days lunches up. No overeating and a healthy lunch ready to go.

Options 2 is my husband - the all in guy. He’s supporting the little changes I’m making and he’s going to the gym 4x a week and he’s not eating anything other than our healthy meals. I don’t do well with full deprivation so as long as I eat the protein and vegetables that are on my plan for the day I allow myself to eat anything I want. Normally I find that just a few bites is enough to quell any craving and then I can put it down.

I will say this difference in approach makes him lose weight faster. If history is any guide he’ll also quit as soon as he reaches his goals and revert to his original weight within months.

I can’t help you with diet as I’m not qualified, but there are some real experts here (like DrSeid, is it?) who will hopefully come in and offer you some proper advice, but I will second **Leaffan **above with walking as an exercise.

I used to be about 2 stone overweight, and suffer quite badly from psoriatic arthritis, so I understand the difficulties with exercise, but walking is low impact, and requires no special equipment, training or expense. Start with really short walks… just stick a coat on and do a ten minute walk from home every evening. Ramp that up every few weeks by adding on another 5 minutes and you’ll soon be up to an hour, then two, then going for longer walks at the weekend…

It really is amazing how much this can help with your weight loss and overall health.

…and good luck!

Thanks for this first round of suggestions, and by the way, I realize I should have mentioned my current weight. I am 110 Kg, and am 172 cm tall. I reckon I should lose about 30 Kg.

Humble fatass checking in. My advice? Just start doing it. It’s easy to talk and think and talk about losing weight. In the end, turn off the computer and just go for a walk. Buy substitutes, like veggies instead of chips, so you don’t have junk food to snack on (I’m still working on this one). A gym membership can help if you will actually stick to it, but if you won’t, just get off your rumpus and do something. Do anything! Bike, walk around the block, jumping jacks in your living room, Wii Fit, whatever.

The “5-6 small meals” approach may help with the hunger. I ususally eat a protein bar for breakfast (careful, there are some high calorie bars out there, mine are 160 cal.), an apple mid morning, a Subway sandwich or veggies for lunch, a granola bar mid afternoon. and a sensible supper. Perhaps a 100 cal. bag of microwave popcorn later in the evening. Protein and fiber help you feel full longer.

The calorie count and times look something like this:
Breakfast - 160 - 200 cal
Snack - 100 cal
Lunch - 350- 500 cal
Snack - 100 cal
Supper - 500 - 600 cal
Snack - 100 cal

Using this schedule I consume, worst case, about 1600 calories. For a normal male that will lead to weight loss. I am about 35 pounds over my ideal weight. Just by adjusting my eating to the plan above, I have lost over 10 pounds in the last 3 weeks without any increase in activity.

Good luck, you can do it!

(Converting) 5’7 240 is pretty big but it’s not debilitatingly fat. Losing 65 lbs would put you at 175, which is a good weight, depending on your body type. In my non-doctory opinion, the cause of the pain is the lack of muscle rather than carrying excess weight. Building up your muscle mass and your endurance will make you feel a lot healthier than just your weight. Exercise will be more important than just dropping lb’s (or kg’s in your case).

Re: Diet
You don’t need a dietician. Many SDMBers use myfitnesspal. It’s an app you can get for your smartphone. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can just use the website - no biggie. It tracks your calories. ALL your calories. Leave nothing out. That alone will do a good job in helping you lose weight. Of course there are specific diet guidelines like avoiding carbs, eat healthy fats (nuts), stick to lean meats, cut out processed everything - especially sugar, but I think that should be more or less intuitive.

Re Exercise: I hear ya, bud. Exercise is boring especially for someone who doesn’t have a background in it. The best would be a cardio sport you play regularly like basketball, soccer, or swimming. If you don’t have that, the next best thing is to just go outside and run. Since you are weather averse, there are still things you can do at home. P90X and Insanity workout videos aren’t gimmicks. They work, if you stick to their regimen. If you don’t want to shell out the dollars for those videos you can still do calisthenics. Doing pushups, situps, burpees, squats, planks, mountain climbers, are all basically the exercises you do with the workout videos but without the video-guided training.

for exercise get a magnetic resistance recumbent exercise bicycle. easy on the body and you can start easy, quiet so you don’t disturb people, you can read or watch TV while doing it.

they are not expensive and you can find them used for cheaper. there are stores that sell both new and used exercise equipment.

Walk, walk, walk. Apples and celery will keep the hunger away. Lots of crunching and chewing to keep your mouth busy.

If you are budget and fitness constrained, I think walking for exercise is an excellent idea.

However, weight loss is 20% exercise, 80% nutrition (or thereabouts), so I think your first, and biggest, step is to get a handle on what you’re eating.

My recommendation is to create a (free) account at MyFitnessPal and log your actual intake for a week or two. Get an idea of what you are eating now. Then, when you’re ready, start cutting a few hundred calories from your typical calorie intake (say, 500 or so, depending on where you sit). Do that for a few weeks and see if you lose a couple of pounds. If so, carry on. If not, try cutting another 200 or 300 calories (but never dip below around 1400-1500 or so if you’re relatively inactive.).

In the meantime, start researching what a proper diet looks like. There are plenty of dense and filling foods that are lower calorie. I find that if I pay attention to my macronutrients, and get a ratio of 30/30/40 (protein, fat, carbs), I feel fuller for longer. You can track macronutrients in MyFitnessPal as well, so you’ll soon discover what your balanced meals look like.

There is no one-lifestyle-fits-all solution. You can eat out regularly and lose weight, you just have to make the right choices, which come through time and knowledge. You do not have to deprive yourself and feel ravenous all the time to see consistent weight loss. You just have to experiment a little, do some research, stay away from fad diets, and be patient.

Good luck, and congratulations on taking this first step!

Good on you, John, for taking action. I came to the same conclusions earlier this year and I’m finally starting to see some results.
One good rule of thumb is to try your best to stick with whatever program you choose, with the caveat that you not be too hard on yourself if you slip up. You don’t have to throw in the towel if you “accidentally” have some cake at work - don’t punish yourself, just get back on track tomorrow and congratulate yourself for any small progress you make.

I use the Daily Plate app (through Livestrong?) or just online, set it up initially with your current weight and weight goals. Track your food/drink intake, plus your water and exercise. Kind of fun, and tracking will open your eyes about how much you can burn with a little bit of exertion.

I also got a little folding recumbent bike on Amazon - my house is super tiny and this fits right in. I am making myself do it first thing in the AM, get that yucky exercise out of the way and feel better all day for it. It’s the Exerpeutic 400XL, not bad on the lower back but the seat could use some padding.

All of the above is very useful information and taken a bit at a time, gradually incorporating lifestyle changes into your daily routine, you will see results. As for the back pain specifically…I’ve suffered from back pain since I was in my late teens due to a fall while goofing around on a contraction site. I spent years doing physio, going to chiropractors and in recent years, pilates. Nothing really worked and exercise really didn’t stick with me…same thing as you… it bores the crap out of me.

Eventually I found my way to a trainer a couple of years ago who very slowly introduced me to deadlifting. I can still be pretty lazy and have been resistant to a carb-free lifestyle so I still have a bit of a tummy but I now have reasonably good core muscle tone and can deadlift 100 kilos. It may not sound like much but I’m a short, middle aged woman who never had any upper body strength so for me 100 kg is major. AND… I no longer suffer from back pain. It gets a little stiff at times but not that constant pain that makes me ask “do I really want to bend over and pick up that dollar off the sidewalk”? And I can sneeze without having to hold on to something to ward off the pain. Day to day activities are so much easier now. Of course different things work for different people but I thought I’d share what worked for me even tho I was very sceptical from the start.

My number one problem with weight loss was always legitimate hunger. When calorie restricted to even generous ranges–like 1800/day for a medium-height, not-grossly-overweight woman, I’d be so hungry I couldn’t fall asleep at night, or would wake up from hunger in the middle of the night.

Turns out that insulin resistance was my problem. Eating moderately low-carb has gotten rid of that problem, and weight is coming off (slowly) without any counting or hunger now. Rather than fuss with carb exchanges, I just eliminated grains, legumes, white potatoes, and refined sugar from my everyday diet. I’ll eat them with other people on special occasions, but I don’t serve them to myself.

I recommend trying it, since lots of overweight people have some degree of insulin resistance, and it sounds like hunger, and therefore insulin, is a problem for you.

May I advise drinking lots of water?
Water is good for you. Most people don’t drink enough of it.
It also helps curb hunger.
I used water to help me quit smoking cigs. When I had a craving, I guzzled water.
Sure I peed a lot, but I figured I was flushing out my body of toxins from smoking.
Dieting - not exactly the same thing, but there are lots of toxins in junk food.
Water will help.

First of all, best of luck! Second of all, here’s what worked for me. I’m not an expert, or any kind of authority at all for that matter, but I found the following helpful. Apologies in advance if I’m just telling you stuff you already know:

1). Accept that effective weight loss is a matter of combining healthy eating with aerobic exercise and strength training. These three components are like legs on a stool, if you take one away you’ll fall off.

2). Accept that thinking of your journey as a battle against your weight is counterproductive and self-defeating. If you constantly focus on fixing what you’re unhappy with about yourself you’ll always be unhappy. You’ll be unhappy when you’re training, you’ll be unhappy when you’re dieting, and, most of all, you’ll be unhappy when you don’t see results as quickly as you’d might like. Instead of thinking about losing weight, think about gaining strength, gaining stamina, improving your heart and lung function, gaining more energy, and living longer.

3). Stay away from the Internet. There’s tons of great health and fitness info out there, but there’s also tons of unmitigated crap. In particular, stay away from fad “detox” diets that promise instant results. They’re all shit, the weight you’ll lose is mostly water, and you’ll just put it back on again once you start eating normally. Anyone who says different is either an idiot or a huckster after your money.

4). If you can’t cook, learn a few healthy recipes. You don’t need many, and I found that cooking was a really worthwhile skill to learn in its own right. Avoid cookbooks with the word ‘Diet’ in the title. They’re mostly hawking fads.

5). For aerobics, pick a sport you enjoy and stick with it. If you’re stuck, pick the one you enjoy the most, everything else be damned. Don’t worry about which ones burn fat fastest or anything like that. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t stick with it anyway. If you don’t enjoy any sports, just walk. Even that is better than nothing.

6). Try natural appetite suppressors to curb your cravings. They include: cold water (colder the better), black coffee, sugar-free gum, and peppermint tea. They’re all mild and have all been proven to help (studies available on request - typing on my phone). Personally, I found black coffee very helpful.

6). Incorporate more naturally filling foods into your diet. Anything high in fibre or protein is good. It takes longer to digest and keeps you fuller longer. Oatmeal is particularly good.

7). When exercising, start SLOWLY! Nothing is more likely to derail you than an early injury. Also, don’t just work the most visible muscles. Pay attention to your core. It may not do too much for your outward physique but it pays off in better posture and a reduced risk of injury. Since you have a bad back, I’d recommend a few sessions with a trainer to give you a tailored lifting program and, most importantly, to show you how to lift without aggravating your back. They don’t come cheap, but it’s a very good investment.

8). Make sure you eat enough. A good rule of thumb is the amount of calories you burn in a day minus 500. Doing that will lose you about a pound a week. Too much less and your metabolism slows down and it’s harder to achieve your goals. A pound a week may not sound like much, but this is a marathon, not a sprint. Go too quickly and you’ll just get pissed off and that’s a recipe for failure. A guy who sticks to a slow plan for a year will make 10 times as much progress as a guy who sticks to a maximally effective program for a couple of months and gives up in frustration. You’ve given me your height and weight. Assuming you exercise lightly 3 times a week, your calorie target is about 2,300 per day. You didn’t give your age, which I need for the most accurate calculation, so I just guessed at 40 (not that your posts gave me that idea!)

9). All things being equal, pick the routine which requires the least organisation.

10). Don’t give up!

I lost 70 pounds in about a year on what was basically the South Beach diet, but I added more protein because that’s what helped me not feel hungry.
Go to the library and check out some diet books, see what seems right for you. And remember the secret is a balanced diet, not a fanatically restrictive one (unless medically necessary.)
Since you know your hunger peaks, you could try breaking meals up into smaller, more frequent, times.
Figure in snacks and you won’t feel deprived.
And eat some of that cake. A couple bites of “goodies” won’t hurt and…you won’t feel deprived.

Join the “Y” if you can. Pool exercises are a great place to start because the water supports your weight while you strengthen your muscles.
When you start using the treadmill it will help that you’re in out of the sun.
Take it easy but keep it up.


My suggestions (I’m obese, but I’ve been losing weight steadily and painlessly for over 5 years now) would be these:

Walk! It’s free and easy. If you can walk to work, it becomes part of your daily routine and you don’t even notice the time involved.

For back pain: yoga. Seriously, the stretching and core work completely reversed my back problems. If you haven’t done it before, I’d suggest starting in a class setting so that a teacher can give you tips on proper alignment, but you can pretty quickly move on to doing it at home. Also, in most places every class is different so you don’t get bored.

Cook/prepare what you eat. Cooking dinner takes time and energy, but (for me at least) the mental buildup makes the food infinitely more satisfying and filling. Even for snacks - I can eat 3 of those “sliced apples to go” packages and be hungry again 15 minutes later, but if I wash, core, and slice up an apple myself I’m good for hours. Also, the process of preparing what you eat lets your body get used to waiting for food.

I mentioned this in a similar thread recently. I made similar decision recently and I have had success by cutting my portions drastically, cutting essentially all sweets and fried food, upping my intake of vegetables and fruits.

I am hungry sometimes but don’t feel deprived and my stomach has shrunk which makes me full on less food now. Doing this for a few weeks has lost me about 20 pounds.

It is very difficult so good luck!

Oh, and find an interest to occupy you. It’s easier to trade a habit (thinking about food) for another habit than to just leave a void.