At the expense of exposing a page out of my “highlight reel”, here are all the sounds-easy-but-it-wasn’t/isn’t way I have lost 35+ pounds since November of 2013. I’m putting this up on my blog because I keep getting asked about the weight and thought it might be nice to answer it all in one spot. Firstly, however, I never thought of myself as completely unattractive or ugly or disgusting. I just happened to look at our family pictures in October of 2013, realized I was a lot heavier than I used to be, actually weighed myself on the scale, and said, “Oh … that’s why I’ve been having to buy such larger-sized pants. Duh …” And here I was thinking it was the fashion industry’s fault for mis-sizing pants. Wake up call. Right? Right. I was really good at deluding myself and ignoring facts right in front of me. That was when I decided I was finally in a place where I felt like I could start an exercise and healthier eating routine. Here’s how I did it.
It wasn’t a diet. I lost 35 pounds in 6 months, which is a good, healthy weight loss for me. Not too fast, not too slow. Not too much. I’m sure you want a list of how I accomplished this. Also, please keep in mind that what works for me won’t work for everyone. Some people have medical issues that complicate matters. Some people just burn fat differently. I’m not a doctor. So, now that that’s out of the way, moving on. This is what worked for me.
Reasons to Lose Weight
First, I want to make it clear that I didn’t lose weight just so I could look better. I lost weight because I felt unhealthy. I was depressed (more than usual), my skin had problems, my digestive system wasn’t up to par, and I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be. So I decided to make exercise and eating healthier foods and portions a priority. I GAVE UP A LOT OF STUFF to do this. I still give up a lot to do this. I give up a full 1 – 2 hours every morning to exercise (time I could be writing/cleaning/playing/sleeping …). I give up money buying better food. I give up time cooking more food at home, and keeping my kitchen clean. That all adds up, but it’s worth it to me right now.
This was absolute key for me. I used MyFitnessPal on my phone to track my calories each day, staying within a specific goal after researching how much I wanted/should weigh with how many calories I should be eating a day to safely lose 1 – 2 pounds a week. I used a FitBit wristband for 7 days to more accurately calculate how many calories I actually burn every day by just existing and going about my normal schedule. I hate things on my wrist, so the FitBit then went to my husband, but I at least knew now how many calories I burn on a normal schedule. This way I could figure out what I should be consuming to lose weight. For the record, the FitBit tracked almost exactly the same amount of calories that most sites averaged I was probably burning at my current age, weight, and activity level, so it’s nice to know you don’t have to get a FitBit to do this.
I still keep a food diary even though I’ve lost the weight I want to lose. I take weekends off from tracking, but track my food Monday – Friday to maintain the weight I’m at.
Also, when I eat out, I’m more likely to choose restaurants that publish their nutritional content online. I wish every restaurant did this.
Weigh Myself Every Day
Some say this is just depressing. It actually helps me A LOT. I still weigh myself every day because it helps me keep in mind where I’m at and what I’m eating and doing every day to keep myself at that weight.
Choose Healthier Foods & Moderate Portions
This. Is. Hard. It’s very hard. I felt like I was starving for a solid month, honestly, but it was only because I was so used to consuming so many more calories every day, and now I was cutting back. My stomach had to shrink, and my body had to get used to not eating as much sugar or unhealthy, empty calories and carbohydrates. But now? I still eat unhealthy food sometimes, sure, but I eat less of it, and on the whole I’m choosing healthier foods. I also don’t eat as much sugar or bread as I used to.
As far as what foods I am eating now, I am not eating, like, wheat grass and green smoothies every day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just not my style. I like normal-ish food, not diets I’m never going to be able to maintain for the rest of my existence, and that kind of stuff isn’t something I’m going to maintain, personally. So it has been a matter of not necessarily cutting out certain foods, just a matter adding more healthy foods and cutting down on how many unhealthy foods I eat, and when, and being aware of what is in my food before I put it in my mouth. If I’m aware of the amount of calories and carbs — and the kind of calories and carbs – in that bowl of ice cream, I’m more likely to eat 1 scoop instead of 2 or 3. But I still eat 1 scoop because, yeah, ice cream. And I’m not going to eat the other scoops the next day. Maybe a few days later, or a week later.
Here are some helpful links:
Basics of Carbohydrates
How Much Should I Weigh?
The Dos and Don’ts of Counting Calories
Believe it or not, you can eat normally and still lose weight. I have. I lost weight through the worst time of the year — holidays and winter. If I can do that, there’s something there. I think it actually helped because it taught me how to more carefully choose what yummy foods to eat, and to eat less and be satisfied with that. Not easy, but you get the idea.
For most people, weight loss is a pretty simple concept. I know some people have health problems that inhibit weight loss, or medications can interfere, or genes, or other outlying factors. But for most people, it’s simply a matter of expending more calories than you’re consuming. And exercise is key for that. It not only burns calories while you’re doing it, but it will build more muscle to keep those calories burning even when you’re not exercising. Plus, it makes you feel good overall, which helps you make better choices about your lifestyle. Win win.
I exercise 5 – 6 days a week now, at least for 30 minutes. For a long time in those 6 months, I exercised for 60 minutes every morning. It’s a habit now. Sometimes I take the weekends off, but it’s okay. As long as I am exercising on a regular basis.
I mostly cycle on my stationary bike and watch Kdramas. Low impact. Easy to stay at home. Entertainment. Win win.
Consistency & Support
Support is essential. I found a friend of mine who wanted to lose weight, as well, and she and I allowed each other to see our food diaries, so we felt somewhat accountable to each other. My husband also decided to start losing a bit of weight halfway through my weight loss. He has lost a bunch now too. It was really helpful to have him on board since it’s easier to change my eating habits if the whole family is okay with it.
Consistency is also essential. I’m not sure what else to say. Just … stay consistent. Don’t give up. It will be hard at times, and it will keep being hard. I still do all the things I mentioned above. Every single one. I’m not trying to lose more weight, but I’m maintaining what I have because I’m keeping my lifestyle consistent with the goals I set. I didn’t “go on a diet”. I changed the way I live.
And for the sake of tying this into writing, I have to say that since I am healthier now, I feel a lot more productive with my writing. Win!
This is me in the family picture I spoke of
This is me last week at the aquarium with my family