For those of you who know me, you'll know that I have one or two other websites that specialise in weight loss.
Oh before I forget, this article, like all mine on this website is an original written by me and is protected by copyright law, so you may not copy it and publish it elsewhere!
While I like to write on this subject, this is not going to be another one of my weight loss articles that will be of use to most people.
There are plenty of them on my more specialised sites, so this article is going to be of use to the kind of people who have that little extra get up and go in them.
I'm going to tell you pretty much how I lost around two stone in weight a few years ago and then let you decide if it is of any use to you or not.
It all started when I left the UK to make a new life in Spain. I weighed in at almost 14 stone which was far too heavy for my five feet nine height and I felt fat. But events were about to unfold which would see a big change.
My ambition had always been to build my own house. I don't mean to have a house built for my, I mean to build it with my own two hands. Well, that ambition was soon to become a reality, although I was not a builder and apart from some time helping my brother on a few of his building jobs (he is a builder), I really had no business doing what I had in mind. But I'm an intelligent bloke and I can easily turn my hand to just about anything I have a mind to do, so I read up on what I needed to do and set about doing it!
I have a piece of land in the middle of nowhere halfway up a mountain with a steep dirt track leading up to the space I intended to build on. Now don't get me wrong, I had no intention of building a grand palace. It was only going to be a small, single storey cabin that was big enough for me and my dog to live in and small enough to manage single handed.
I had a JCB digger come up and level out a space as there really was nothing flat enough to work with, although the area I chose was about the best considering it was on a slight downward, south-west facing slope. By the way, the direction was important to me as will come apparent as I continue.
I'm going to talk in metric measurements now as that's the scale we use here in Europe. The house itself would have to be under 50m2 (metres square) to be legal, as any bigger would require planning permission which I wouldn't get as it was designated rural land. That suited me, as it meant I could build a rectangular cabin that actually ended up 8m (24ft) long by 5m (15ft) wide. The roof would be flat with a slight incline of 1in12. It didn't really need to be any steeper as we don't get snow here.
The layout was important in that the long axis of the house had to face due south. This meant the house stood in line with the four points of the compass and the significance of this is that it makes a house solar oriented. It means that with a small roof overhang on the south wall, which is the front of the house, the sun in summer would not touch the south wall which would prevent the house getting too hot when you didn't want it to.
It also meant the smallest wall area faced west so only presented a small face to the heat of the direct sun as it was on its way down, also preventing the house overheating in the late afternoon and making for a hot, sticky night! In winter, this is reversed.
The lower sun now hits the south wall and warms it up as well as entering the windows on the south side of the house allowing maximum warmth when you really need it. It simple use of free solar heat when you need it and keeping it off when you don't. Its important for up there as there is no electricity apart from solar panels or the generator for occasional use only, so no power sucking air conditioning! Anyway, back to the story.
The hard work began for me at the beginning of June, which was not the best time to start working at a physical job because of the high summer temperatures here. I had an electric cement mixer and a generator to run it, but that's the extent of the machinery I had to use. Everything else was by hand.
I had sand and gravel delivered from a local builder's merchant in the village nearby and set about laying the foundations and concrete slab that would make up the floor. It was thick, just over half a metre (18in) and took me a good few days to finish it working solid from 7am until 2pm every day. I couldn't go on any longer as 2pm is the time the Spanish stop working and have siesta and for good reason. This is the start of the hottest time of the day and there was no shade where I was working!
No as you can imagine, mixing concrete is back breaking work when you have to shovel sand, gravel and cement into a mixer by hand, then once its mixed tip it into a wheelbarrow to transfer to the place it was being laid. That is serious physical work and my weight started to drop as my strength increased day by day. The first week I had terrible muscle pains where I was using muscles I hadn't used for years, but I'm a stubborn tenacious bastard and I was determined to do this. At 42 years of age, if I didn't do it now, I probably never would.
Once the base was laid, I got a delivery of concrete blocks which I would build the walls from. That took me almost 2 months to complete as I had no bricklaying experience and was very slow and methodical. But I raised four walls that were as straight as a rod and exactly 90 degrees vertical. I had a builder friend come over from the UK after I had the four walls up and he checked it for me and was mightily impressed by my work. He said (of the walls) "Yep, they're straight. And I've got an eye like a shithouse rat." I knew I'd done a good job.
In that time, despite eating like a horse every day, my weight had dropped to just over 11 stone and I looked lean and mean. Leaner and meaner than I think I had ever looked, at least not since I left school.
When I said I ate like a horse, I was not kidding. After the first week of solid work, when my muscles began to ache less and I was feeling a lot stronger, I noticed that I was feeling hungry all the time. I was eating a very large bowl of cereal every morning before going on-site. I took with me only water and an apple and a banana for a mid morning snack, but soon had to take a sandwich as well as I was feeling starved by 2pm when I knocked off.
When I got back to the apartment I was renting in the village, I cooked a huge stir fry of chicken and fresh vegetables that would normally have done for two or more people and wolfed down the lot followed by a big helping of locally made chocolate cake (oh yeah...) and a cold beer or two. Then I slept for the prescribed siesta time from 3 to 4pm. The afternoons and evenings were for exploring and I usually ate more food in the evening which was not anything particularly diet oriented apart from it being made up of fresh produce.
By the time I moved out of the apartment and into my own cabin, which was still only very rudimentary but habitable, I had lost all that weight through exercise and not diet. If anything my diet would be considered deplorable by most diet experts, as I ate far too much chocolate and other sweet things, meals bulked out with white pasta or rice and too many sandwiches made with white bread. The local bakery in the village made fresh baguettes every day that were gorgeous covered in locally made olive oil! You have to try it to believe it can taste so good!
So what I'm saying about my own weight loss tips (and what I read a lot of here: weightlossgenius.com) based on my personal experience is that if you exercise hard, you can be more relaxed with your diet because you are burning off all the excess calories and building muscle bulk, which in turn makes your body burn calories even faster. While my diet wasn't wonderful, it was still based around fresh produce such as lean chicken breast or fish and lots of fresh vegetables that I either steamed or sir fried fast in olive oil. No processed foods or ready meals, just good home cooked meals.
This is the best way to lose weight, not simply by going on this or that diet. Dieting alone will help you to lose some weight but you won't keep it off unless you exercise with it. And that's a weight loss fact.
This article was originally posted on: Sat, 06 Mar 2010
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