30 Y/O male trying to slim down No clue where to start

RetiredBuddha Posts: 4 Member
edited March 2021 in Health and Weight Loss
Hey guys, thanks in advance for taking a minute to read this. I am a 30 year old male, 5'7 and 239lbs. I want to trim myself down to around 180-190lbs but not looking to really get chiseled. I quit smoking about a year ago and am just trying to journey to a better healthier me.

I have read some things online and talked to various people, but I think I am struggeling to actually grasp what I need to do. My primary goal is to take my 239lb self and turn into about 180-190lbs. I have been replacing meals with slim fast and having one larger meal a day aiming for 1200-1400 calories per day. I recently got a treadmill to use and alternate between running and jogging for about an hour a day. I guess I am looking for diet advice, when I search online I find a lot of don't do this do that on one website and the next says that is wrong. I am not sure if my calorie intake is too low but I have been sticking with higher protein and low carb and low sugar foods. I hope this is a bit clearer after I edited it :)

Thank you again for your time.


  • ChickenKillerPuppy
    ChickenKillerPuppy Posts: 292 Member
    Hi there and welcome! I guess I am confused about your post and thought some clarification may help you get some of the direction you want. You mentioned you wanted to trim down and get to 180-190 pounds, which is about your weight, but you start off talking about all this exercise equipment you purchased. Most of losing weight has to do with eating, and changing your eating habits in a sustainable way that you can live with forever so you can keep it off (could you really eat two slimfast shakes every day for the rest of your life?). Exercise can help tone your muscles or build muscles, and cardio can help burn calories, but exercise and fitness is not necessary to losing weight (although it can help). So right off the bat, it seems you may be conflating working out and eating at a calorie deficit so you can lose weight. Is your goal to lose weight, or to build muscle, or some combination of the above?
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,968 Member
    I wish I was retired at 30. The free time you enjoy can be helpful towards your weight loss if you leverage it.

    Weight gain and loss comes down to calories. It's just math.

    You mentioned a treadmill: Exercise burns calories which either speeds weight loss or allows you to eat more and still lose weight. It's a tortoise and the hare thing, where eating more at the same rate of weight loss is advantageous for most people because not feeling as deprived means they stick with it instead of giving up. But most people who aren't athletes aren't going to burn huge numbers of calories. Again, it's just math. If, for example, you're eating 3,000 calories a day because tacos are delicious, and burning 100 calories by walking, going to the gym and burning 300 more is going to have less impact than eating 1,500 fewer. Not that it has to be one of the other, most people who keep the weight off long term do both.

    To get started, you should eat the same way you're used to for a week or two, but log everything. It's a learning experience that will help guide your journey. You'll realize where most of your calories are going, you'll notice things about what is the most filling vs the number of calories you have to "spend" on it. You might see patterns in when you overeat and from that, solutions might become obvious. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step; gaining context is a great place to start with weight loss.
  • RetiredBuddha
    RetiredBuddha Posts: 4 Member
    Sorry, I was not trying to be confusing putting thoughts into text has never been my strong suit, I will edit so that it makes more sense. My goal is to lose weight and eventually gain some muscle as well but I guess my goal would be to become tone, not fat but not a big body builder type person.
  • extra_medium
    extra_medium Posts: 1,525 Member
    edited March 2021
    Input your info into the site/app, weigh and log everything you eat, and keep your calories within the recommended range. Don't overthink it, weightloss is really simple. Not always easy, but it's a simple concept - eat fewer calories than you burn and you'll lose weight.

    I really do recommend weighing out portions, and ignoring the volume based measurements on labels because they can vary so much and it's too easy to fudge the numbers in your favor.
  • steveko89
    steveko89 Posts: 2,188 Member
    Hey @RetireBuddha! Welcome and congrats on making the choice to take more control of your health. Cut yourself some slack on your methodology. Plenty of people in this arena like to tell other people what they're doing wrong; you're not necessarily doing anything wrong, but there might be different or more sustainable ways to approach things. Additionally, I've found a lot of success in improving my mental healthy by being really vigilant about trying to minimize negative self-talk and based on the way you wrote about you I'd encourage you to think about trying the same. I've honestly been amazed how much of a difference it can make in terms of how you feel about yourself.

    Before I get into my recommended path, know it's largely through the lens of very good advice I received a few years ago (from a user I met here): Manage your diet to manage your weight; exercise is for health, enjoyment, performance, and aesthetics goals. Thus, I'll break things down in those two silos and have a final section based around targets, loss rate, and expectations.

    Exercise -
    Basically, do whatever you enjoy and anything you need to do for any sort of athletic performance or physique aspirations. Being strong and active is great for health and longevity so I would encourage you to do something but only if it's activity you truly enjoy. In short, life is too short to toil away on a treadmill (or whatever) if you don't find it enjoyable. I'm also not a huge fan of the relationship with food that is fostered by trying to assign and measure the calories burned in exercise (though I recognize that methodology is a fundamental part of the platform). If you are to continue your jogging/running regimen, I would encourage some sort of process and/or performance goal to work towards; i.e. maintain a certain pace, increase your sprinting capacity, etc.

    Diet -
    To lose weight all that required is a caloric deficit. You can get there in a variety of ways, intermittent fasting, low carb, low fat, vegetarian, vegan, keto, carnivore, paleo, Mediterranean, meal replacement shakes like you've tried, etc. In my judgement, the methods don't matter as much as we're made to believe so long as you're getting your minimum requirements and not causing any other unintended health consequences. Try to find what works for you, fits that criteria, and supports your goals; that's going to look different for every person, hence the common occurrence of some casting aspersions that others are doing it "wrong" when it looks different from what they perceive to be correct. Remember that whatever you decide to start with isn't set in stone that's how you continue if something is amiss; I can't tell you how many different iterations and refinements I've gone through in my routine to try to find different solutions. Long term, this trial & error is important in learning what habits do and don't work for you to avoid weight regain as you alluded to in your post. Macros are also something that get a lot of attention but aren't terribly important so long as you're getting enough protein to support the muscle mass you have (as it doesn't sound like you're looking to add muscle) and dietary fat. However, I do think the default MFP recommendation for protein is a little low, and many find that protein and fiber are very crucial to satiety.

    Now, you also mentioned trying to be healthier rather than just looking to lose weight. In terms of food selection, my philosophy is that nothing is off limits; there are no good/bad foods though every time you eat you're making a choice of what and how much you put in your body. I don't want to get too prescriptive and everyone has their own barometer for what constitutes "healthy eating" but generally I prioritize lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, hit my macro targets and let the rest work itself out. If you want to limit added sugar that's certainly not going to hurt but you do not need to eliminate any foods or food groups from your diet, it's all about moderation.

    Targets/pacing/expectations -
    Based on your size your sedentary maintenance is somewhere right around 2400 cal. For round numbers and the amount of activity you described TDEECalculator.com gives you to 2750 calories as a place to start as "lightly active". Per some recent diet data from Renaissance Periodization, their user base of dieters was most successful when they pursued a loss rate of ~0.5% of their body weight per week and limited their loss phases to 6-8 weeks. They also encourage they're user base to take a maintenance phase for at least half the duration of their diet phase before their next diet (or massing) phase. So following this template you could think of things in terms of blocks of time up to 12 weeks. Compared to what you're currently trying to do at 1400 cal/day (which would be requisite to at least a 2lb/week loss) this seems quite gradual. Similarly, the idea of being at maintenance 1/3 of the time will put off many people, though I think the idea has some merit. Plenty of users are pretty good at losing weight but don't figure out how to do maintenance at all and just end up right back where they started... or worse. If a dieter loses more gradually and forces a maintenance phase every 8 weeks the practice of maintenance is already established once a goal weight is achieved, theoretically making it easier to maintain long term. Further, there's also merit to using diet breaks to reset mentally and even hormonally, making it generally easier to adhere to a plan and mitigate some of the metabolic adaption that can be detected in chronic dieters (the dreaded "starvation mode") where the body adapts to constantly being at a deficit for a long period of time (which as an aside is at most a 5-7% depression of TDEE).

    So, to lose at 0.5%/week your starting deficit would be ~600 cal/day so your total calorie target would be 2150 cal/day and I'd suggest a pretty balanced macro split (30/35/35%) for the loss phase where you could increase carbs and fat a little on when on maintenance. Now, big picture this plan would take some time, probably about 18 months total to get below 190lbs doing all the diet breaks. If you wanted to up this to 1%/week (so a deficit of 1200 cal/day to start) it would take 9 months to get below 190lbs and a starting point of ~1550 cal/day, which isn't terribly different to what you're doing now. Note that 1%/week is the highest recommended loss rate so even if you were to go for a maximum loss rate without any planned diet breaks you're looking at 6 months to get down to the 180s, and I would not have that as an expectation; weight loss is hardly ever linear and adherence isn't going to be 100%. It's likely that you'll have a diet break at some point, be intentional or not so just make sure you have the right mindset for that going in. Ultimately, in this scenario being consistently good is better than being occasionally great.

    Good luck and feel free to send me a friend request. I can't say I'm much good for wall banter but I'm always happy to trade DMs if you want to check in periodically.
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,878 Member
    It looks like you've already gotten some good advice, so I just wanted to say welcome!

  • djaxon1
    djaxon1 Posts: 82 Member
    Hardest part is starting out.
    Exercise is not a magic method for weight loss , oh no.
    Your diet is by far the most important factor.
    A hard look at what you have been eating may help .
    It takes time , there's no "30 day fix" !
    At least YOU are thinking about what you eat which is a great start.
  • ChickenKillerPuppy
    ChickenKillerPuppy Posts: 292 Member
    It's all about learning about how many calories your body burns in an average day. Then you can create a calorie deficit and lose weight. But that takes the effort of tracking what you eat accurately, which means weighing your food and counting everything. It's a lot of work in the beginning but it gets easier.

    Biggest advice I can give is to try to keep eating foods you like, but learning how to modify them to fit in your calorie goal range. If I have to eat sad "diet" food I white-knuckle it until I binge because eating steamed broccoli and grilled chicken doesn't make me happy. But if I eat foods I like, I will want to keep doing this. Tonight I'm making a tuna melt and some Chinese-restaurant-style green beans and I'm having a mini ice cream sandwich for dessert. All of that is 583 calories. I've been excited for my dinner all day!

    I'm trying to create a lifestyle where I can MAINTAIN my weight loss, not just lose it and regain. If you eat two slim fasts and some sad diet food for dinner you will lose weight, but then you will stop, and you will not have learned how to eat to maintain your goal weight, and you will regain. We have all done it. I would begin the mindset change from diet to slowly changing your habits to create a maintainable lifestyle. (Just my two cents, of course - other things may work for other people).

    Good luck, and use the message boards! I just find reading them gives me ideas and keep me on track.
  • HungryasFuark
    HungryasFuark Posts: 463 Member
    long story short run at least 20 mins daily or do any other form of cardio and lift weights 3 to 6 days per week( download a bigginer lifting program from websites like bodybuilding.com or Muscle&Strength.com) and drink at least 3 litres of water and try to eat 2000 calories of at least 50% nutritious food and dont forget to enjoy a cheat meal every week for sanity and carbing up your depleated body from cutting calories, all the simple rules above worked for me for years weight loss is pretty easy specially when you are running or doing any other kind of cardio and lifting weights together they make your body utilize the food really good, Last advice always keep it simple and dont follow the "special diets" some people sell. Good Luck!
  • spiriteagle99
    spiriteagle99 Posts: 3,472 Member
    Welcome. My first thought was that your calorie goal was way too low. Men shouldn't eat less than 1500 calories, net, a day. It's hard to get proper nutrition on less and your body ends up using muscle for fuel instead of fat, which isn't helpful. Second thought was that Slimfast is good for one week or two but after that you're going to want to eat everything in sight that isn't liquid goo. It is better to eat real food that you enjoy, just in smaller amounts, than to have special 'diet foods' that you hate. As several people have mentioned, it helps to look at the long view: not just how you can drop 30 lbs. but how you can keep it off so you aren't having to do another crash diet every other year. Third: this site works well for a lot of people. Set up your goal so that you lose 1-1.5 lbs a week, log every bite you eat, enter exercise that you do so you can eat a bit extra, and try to end the day or week as close to your goal calories as possible.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,968 Member
    When you have some time to kill, Google "national weight loss registry." It's good to be reminded of success. If other people can do it, you can too. The fact that you're taking the time to learn how this stuff works means you have the personality traits to succeed.