Sunday, 1 April 2012

Guest Post: Shep's Sciencey Guide To Weight Loss

My old friend Shep is an experienced blogger and an expert on weight loss and exercise. He has very kindly agreed to do the very first guest post for Expect Cowgirls:

This guide will not be easy, nor will it be quick. There is no way to achieve long term sustainable weight loss without effort, discipline and, above all, time. Despite this disclaimer, losing a decent amount of weight and keeping it off long term is possible so let me show you how with these simple tips.

1. Stop eating shit. This is the most obvious but one of the hardest rules to stick to. It also involves the most common sense out of any of my tips. Does McDonalds taste great? Yeah, most of it does. Does everyone know it’s terrible for you? Yeah that’s pretty well known. So why keep eating it and other similar junk foods? Mostly because it does taste great and is usually pretty cheap and convenient. That shouldn’t count for anything if your goal is weight loss. This is why this is tip #1: 70% of weight loss is diet related and 30% is exercise related. If something seems like it will be bad for you, such as fast food, soft drinks and chocolate bars, it probably is bad for you. Common sense says cut that shit out so get some self-discipline and cut that shit out.

2. Treat yourself. But Shep, you said to stop eating shit in the previous point! That’s true, and here is how the two can co-exist. If you’ve worked really hard at your diet, cut out excess shit and are starting to notice changes you have earned a treat. I don’t mean go smash a buffet at Sizzler (but that’s inadvisable for other reasons), I mean have a small bowl of ice cream or a few beers. Discipline works best when there are rewards for keeping it up. If you have a weakness for chocolate, like I do, allow yourself a small bar on a Friday afternoon as reward for a dedicated week of good diet and exercise. This way you will enjoy your discipline as a means to that sweet sweet candy.

3. Exercise. I could write a book on exercise so I’ll condense it down to two easy components: cardio and weights. Do both and you’ll give yourself such an advantage over diet alone. Exercising muscles burn kilojoules, which is the base unit of energy (also known as calories). An overabundance of kilojoules in your system equals weight gain. Therefore exercise = less kilojoules = less weight. Simple maths! It’s obvious that cardio (e.g. running, swimming, cycling) burns kilojoules, you can feel your breath increasing and sweat forming as you burn the energy but what about the role of weight training? Even light weight training or body weight training has a place in weight loss. Before you start: no you won’t become a huge beefcake; unless you lift huge weights and eat way more food than you need (related to point 1). Light weights build lean muscle and more muscle means more capacity to burn kilojoules. More simple maths. To sum up exercise: buy shoes, buy dumbbells, any exercise is better than nothing and regular exercise is better again.

4. Monitor and set goals. Way to go, you’re following steps 1-3 like a boss. So how much weight have you lost? You don’t know? You have to measure that shit! My best advice for measuring weight loss is to weigh yourself once per week, first thing in the morning and directly after your morning wee. This is advisable because you have daily weight fluctuations that will make it appear like your weight is extremely variable so weighing weekly will give you a good average. Make it before breakfast so you’ll be as light as possible and feel great about yourself. Feeling great about yourself will aid motivation and adherence.

5. Be realistic. See those nutjobs on the Biggest Loser dropping 10kg per week? That’s ridiculous and unsustainable. If you want to lose 5kg give yourself around 12 weeks. This timeframe is realistic because you are dropping the weight safely, giving your body time to readjust to the smaller you, and because of those natural variations in weight that will mean you may lose 1kg one week or gain a few hundred grams in another. Remember, it’s about averages over the long term so be patient and aim to drop 500g per week.

6. Chin up! You’re doing this to be a better person, not to punish yourself. You will lose weight to get a jump start on living, to fit into nicer clothes or to achieve a fitness goal. Losing weight should be a positive experience so enjoy what you do and look forward to the results.

I will leave you with a personal story as evidence that the above system works. In mid-2010 my weight fluctuated between 92 and 95kg, not hugely overweight but uncomfortable. I began my journey to weight loss with 3-4 walks per week lasting 30 minutes each. I progressed this as the weeks turned into months until you fast forward to now. I have weighed consistently under 83kg for the past 13 months and last October I ran my first half-marathon. It is possible people!

Thanks Shep for sharing this!


  1. This is the best blog post I've read since the days of sheptastic.

    1. I quite agree! If only it had ended with a trivia question.