Last June I weighed 141 pounds. I’d probably weighed this for 5 years, so it wasn’t, like, a jolt into action or anything when I got on the scale one day. I’m 5’4, so this was heavier than I wanted to be, but I was still in a size 6 or 8 so it didn’t bother me too much. At this time, I had just run a half marathon, was training for another, was involved in a 3 day a week bootcamp, took 2-3 hip hop classes a week, and lifted 2-3 times a week. I mentioned to my bootcamp instructor, who is also a nutritionist, that the scale never moves, so she offered to take a look at my diet and make some suggestions. I wrote down EVERYTHING I ate or drank for 2 weeks and took it to her.
Pre nutritionist I would typically have an energy bar before I worked out in the morning, yogurt once I got in the office, salad or sandwich or wrap for lunch, a cottage cheese or cheese & crackers for a snack, a glass or 2 of wine, and dinner. The huz and I cook almost every night. He is a creature of habit and so am I, so we usually had pasta, tacos, Chinese, burgers, and pasta again throughout the week. A few times a week was a Mexican food splurge and a chai. Probably averaged about 2500 calories a day for me. I burned probably 500-800 everyday working out, so it was okay.
Nutritionist suggested just a few things.
- Cut out dairy. Because I carried some weight in my mid-section she thought I might be lactose intolerant.
- Quit the energy bars. She said it was like eating a candy bar every morning.
- Replace my morning food with fruit. As much as I wanted.
- Try to center my lunches around a vegetable, i.e. salad.
- Make my afternoon snack veggies and hummus or salsa.
- Only drink alcohol on the weekends.
- Dinners were already a nice variety, so that was okay the way it was, just make sure my total calorie count stayed under 2000.
- Note: To estimate what calorie count foods contain, just google whatever you are eating and there are lots of websites that will show you. If you are eating out, many restaurants will post on their websites.
So, I figured out my caloric intake need, just one of those calculators you find online, and decided to try 1800. I planned my fruit and snacks and lunch at the beginning of the week. And I continued to WRITE IT ALL DOWN. That is the most important part. Why? You realize how many calories things have and you start to bargain and trade off with yourself. Like this, “200 calories for a skinny chai? That’s like a snack and a glass of wine! Skipping the chai.” Or “A breakfast burrito has 250 calories? That means I can’t have sweet potato fries with my chicken wrap for lunch. No thank you.” And you’ll find things like “A salad at this restaurant has more calories than the cheeseburger? Medium with cheddar please.”
After a few months of this, I was losing weight and my clothes were loose. And I loved it. So I decided to set a goal weight and keep going.
I am not a doctor and this is not scientific, it’s just how I went about it. For the most part I had a healthy balance of food that was fruit and vegetable based. But some days you may find that you eat 2200 because you went to a birthday party and had wine, cheese, and cake. So cut it down a few hundred for a few days after that. If you have a really hard workout (like a 10 mile run when training) give yourself permission to increase the number. If you know you are going to your favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch and you HAVE to have a chimichanga and a margarita, make that your only meal for the day. If I am on vacation and I don’t write it down, whatev, it’s not like you gain 10 pounds over the course of 3 days. Don’t make it stressful or too restrictive, just let it balance itself out over the week where you are happy, healthy, and within your number.
I lost 14 pounds over the course of about 7 months. I am now at 127. I’ve been stuck here for about 3 months. I really want to be at 125. So, I’m readjusting my calorie number and increasing my caloric burn and hope to get there by this June. That would put me at my college weight. I am now in a size 4. Which is awesome. I love it and I am proud of it. It wasn’t a lot of work, just a few tweaks and paying attention. And time, it's not going to happen in a month. Okay?
My personal opinion is that it’s not so much about what foods you eat. I eat what I like. So get it out of your head that you have to cut carbs or fat or that you have to add wheat germ or carrot juice or whatever the latest fad diet says. I hate hearing “I eat FILL IN THE BLANK healthy food and don’t lose”…. Well, you ate too much of it. Okay?
It’s not about when you eat. You hear don’t eat after 7pm? That won’t matter if you ate 3000 calories before 7pm. Eat every 2-3 hours? Fine, if it makes you feel better. Just don’t eat 300 calories a pop 8 times a day.
It’s all about how much you eat.
And while you’re at it, work out. 5-6 times a week do something. Right now I average 8-9 hours of physical activity a week. That’s a lot and most people cannot make that happen (I don’t have kids). If you can average 5 you will only speed up your weight loss.
Moral of the story: It’s math. Figure out your number, document what you eat, stay under your number.
I’ll let you know when I get to 125. And if anyone tries this method, I’d love to hear how it goes. I’ll also answer any questions you may have. It’s all out there now, so I have nothing to hide!