The “Lose 25 lbs Before Camping” Plan

Daily iPhone photos: spokes on a Sunday morningEd. Note: Welcome to AlmostFit. This is a personal entry on my plans to lose 25 pounds this summer. The diet choices I’m describing are my own, and are not recommended for everyone – in other words, consult a doctor before you make any significant dietary changes.

Summer has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest, and it certainly was a long time in coming this year. Between a worn out pair of shoes with holes in the soles letting my socks get soaked daily from record rainfall, some pretty big bouts with seasonal depression, and some employment ambiguity, it has been a rough spring. But with 75-degree temperatures and mostly sunny skies, a new pair of hole-free shoes, and the kids out of school for the summer, things are looking up.

An Opportunity in the Making

One of the summer activities we have planned is to go camping with my wife’s extended family in mid-August. Her family has an annual family camping reunion each summer, and it generally involves lots of activities during the day, a fair bit of lounging and visiting, and not just a little food and drink. We always have an absolute blast, but I remember last year how it really would have been so much nicer to be a little thinner when we’re hiking around the mountains or swimming in the rivers.

With all of that on the roadmap, it occurred to me that this is one of those golden opportunities to use an imminent event to my weight loss advantage. Some folks will recall that I lost about 20 lbs at the beginning of the year using a combination of intermittent fasting (IF), whole foods, and reasonable indulgences. But the biggest motivator? An event – a weekend getaway trip with my wife to central California. I used that event as a focal point to lose weight, and it worked. Couple the food plan with exercise, and I was able to lose that weight pretty quickly.

Once the event was over, I wondered how well I would do with keeping the weight off. And to my surprise, I have kept most of it off since then. I say surprise because a) I wasn’t sure whether the quick loss of 20 lbs with IF would be a permanent thing, and b) I’ve taken my eye off the ball exercise and moderation-wise for the last few months. I think what is saving me here is that I’ve developed better food habits over the last couple of years, so my default foods are now whole foods rather than the junk I ate when I was younger. I have crept back up on the scale between 3 or 4 pounds from my low this year, but I can guarantee that its a direct result of a few too many craft beers combined with a lack of an exercise plan, and a whole lot of stress (stress and boredom eaters of the world, unite!).

But that ended earlier this week, with a conscious decision to make some changes to meet my family camping trip goal.

The Plan

With a little planning, I have already started to get my weight loss goals recharged. I would really like to be about 25 lbs thinner by the time family camp comes around, which is roughly 7 weeks. That would bring my year’s total to 40 lbs lost. And if I’m successful with this push, that will leave a final 35 lbs for the fall to reach my goal of 75 lbs for the year.

So how am I going to do it? This is the basic idea:

My Personal “Lose 25 lbs for Camping” Plan

Minimums per day:
6 glasses water
50 push-ups
30 crunches
5 minutes of “wall sit” strengthening exercises
30 minutes walk/run/cycle outside per day

Eating guidelines:

Day Meal plan
Saturday Eat normal but moderate. “Normal” being generally whole foods, minimally processed, but with moderate indulgences.
Sunday Eat normal but moderate – same as Saturday.
Monday Vegetarian, mostly seasonal vegetables and whole grain/quinoa etc., with moderate fruit consumption.
Tuesday Intermittent Fast during the day, and then eat a well-balanced meal at 5pm.
Wednesday Protein day, primarily chicken, beef, and pork. No cured meats.
Thursday Pescatarian foods, with a focus on vegetables and whole grains plus fish, shell fish, and so forth
Friday Intermittent Fasting during the day, and then eat at 5pm. This meal is likely my homemade pizza, which is also a well-balanced meal.

There are a few things I should clarify: First, this plan starts by using the principle of using minimums rather than goals for my basic daily habits. One of my usual reads is a site called Dumb Little Man, where they recently posted an article on this concept. The article was “Thinking Small without Guilt: Setting Your Minimum Goal Standards“, and it made a lot of sense to me. Rather than making success contingent on reaching a higher goal, view it as a bare minimum that must be met. Is 6 glasses of water enough to maximize my weight loss? Probably not – but it is certainly more than I drink on average, and a good minimum with which to start. And that is the idea – are 50 pushups enough after two weeks to really tone up? I doubt it, but it doesn’t matter. As long as I’m hitting my minimums, anything I do above that is cake. Mmm. Cake.

And once the requirement becomes comfortable and habitual, I’ll likely raise the minimums. I also have a set of exercise options to try for fun, but I am not making that a requirement – yet.

Second, you’ll notice that there is no calorie counting in this plan. My objective is to generally reduce my intake on a weekly level and not drive myself insane trying to account for every crumb (which for me has never worked). The plan is simple: eat reasonably on non-fasting days by eating whole, seasonal foods while limiting my sugar intake (including natural sugars). You might have noticed that there’s no “carbohydrate” day, and that is primarily because with my love of carbs I could easily undo the work of two or three other days if I ate bread all day. I’m generally keeping the carbs to a minimum, replacing them with vegetables, protein, fats, and some complex carbs/whole grains.

Third, the core of this plan in many ways is Intermittent Fasting. I enjoy fasting for a variety of reasons, though I know it’s not for everyone. This approach worked well for me in January, but this time I’m adding a little more structure to make planning easier.

Finally, on weekends I’m not going to worry too much about what I eat. I’ll still maintain my habits of moderation and real food, but if I want to have a beer with friends, I’m having that beer. Dessert? Definitely – just not 3 of them.

There are of course a lot more details involved, like what exactly I will eat on each day – but you’ll have to wait for the next few posts to find out. Will it work? Stay tuned.

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