food journal

How to Lose Weight – Week Four

Disclaimer: I’m not a dietitian or doctor. I did not go to school to get a degree in Nutrition. Please see your doctor before starting your weight loss journey.

You can read Week One, Week Two, and Week Three to catch up.

In Week Three you focused on adding exercise. When I started my exercise program I swam a few times a week for over a month before I tackled the food portion of it. For continuity’s sake I’m tackling the food part sooner than that.

Week Four- FOOD (Sometimes the Hardest Part)

A lot of people who are overweight and obese got that way through poor habits: no portion control, eating junk food, having a fast food diet, not being AWARE of what they eat, and having food addictions. If you truly have a food addiction I really suggest a therapist or Weight Watchers…trying to tackle it on your own can be overwhelming.

I had a health scare that woke me up. Having high blood pressure and developing diabetes was enough of a wake-up call that I didn’t feel like I needed to get help to do so. I had to lose weight NO MATTER WHAT. There was no half-assing it.


Step One – Limiting/Counting Your Calories

Read this post on How to Count Calories.

If you’re doing Weight Watchers it’s the same process: counting points and staying within a range. Counting calories worked for me. It was simple. I did not track fat, carbs, sugar, etc. I just counted my calories. And I did it the old-fashioned way with a journal and a pen. I also ate a lot of processed food because I was learning how to eat portion sizes and how to count calories.

Count everything that goes into your mouth: liquids, nibbles, bites, snacks, sips. Everything. Writing it all down will break the habit of mindless munching. Being accountable, even just to yourself, will open your eyes to how you eat. For the last few weeks I recommended you become AWARE of the food you eat. Now is the time to start restricting it.

Of course the words RESTRICTING will be unnerving. It might suddenly make you feel like you want to eat everything in sight. Don’t give into this. Stay under 2,000 calories a day (for a woman) for at least one week. Really try hard. After the first week you’ll find that it’s starting to become a habit. I am so used to counting my calories now that I hardly even think about it, I just do it.

If you need a mantra, inspiring photo or a list of things to motivate you to lose weight, do it. Post a photo on your fridge. Have your list of goals in your purse with easy access.

“It is not strength but desire that moves us.”


Step Two – Eat the Same Things

My diet was pretty boring for about 1 year. In order to stay on track and lose 50 pounds I stuck to the same foods because it was simple, I didn’t cook and I knew how many calories were in what I was eating.

There is a benefit in eating the same foods, at least for awhile. Get used to eat smaller portions of food. Get used to not giving in to trigger foods and cravings. Knowing exactly what you’ll eat for every meal will take out temptation and slip-ups. It’s not a magic cure and you’ll still struggle but the hard work is worth it. You don’t have to do it forever either. This exercise is just to help form healthy habits.

For this week pick 2 or 3 different foods for each meal and alternate each day. For example: Monday/Wednesday/Friday eat 2 scrambled eggs for breakfast. Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday eat oatmeal. Sunday eat cereal or yogurt and fruit. Rotate a few different low calorie things for each meal to avoid boredom but stay within the calorie range.


Step Three – Take Photos/Food Journal

One thing about blogging is that I’ve realized just how powerful photos can be. Try taking photos of your food BEFORE you eat it. You don’t have to share it with anyone, you don’t have to post them on a blog or online. Just become aware of just HOW MUCH and WHAT you are eating.

Even now, at 143 pounds, after 3 years of maintaining 100 pounds lost–I can still slip up. Sometimes I don’t even notice that I’ve been LAZY about portion sizes until I write the blog post about dinner and see the photos. OOOPS. Remember the “how many ounces of steak is a serving?” debate I had with Michael? Yeah. That was me having eyes bigger than my stomach.


It’s a great idea to look at the photos before eating, as well.

Step Four – Eat Portion Sizes

I had no idea what a portion size was. When I was 250+ and saying “I’ve tried everything and CAN’T lose weight” I was eating 3-5 times the food I should. Portions sizes are always going to be something I struggle with.

I love that photo. Half the plate should be fruits and vegetables. Filling up on high fiber foods like steamed broccoli, peas and carrots, mashed cauliflower–whatever you prefer–will help prevent overeating. Check out this awesome slide-show about portion sizes at the Mayo Clinic.

In order to learn how to eat portion sizes I ate Lean Cuisines for dinner every night for a long time. I’d have around 400 calories in the frozen meal plus a small salad. That’s how I learned what the “right amount” of food to eat was. I also measured and counted everything. If I was having some Wheat Thins I counted 14 crackers out and that was it. Sure the processed food wasn’t the healthiest thing to do but it worked for me!

Dish up servings sizes onto the plate and then eat it slowly. Remember that eating at restaurants will be detrimental to your weight loss. No restaurant dish is one serving. It’s often 3x the amount of food we should be eating.

  • Enjoy the food. Eat it slowly, savor it.
  • Don’t go back for seconds. No buffet style eating!
  • Try eating HALF of things. Half a sandwich with a salad. Split a burger with a friend.
  • Don’t eat from the package. Measure out the serving size, put the package away and eat the serving.
  • Eat SMALL snacks every few hours. Carrots, plain yogurt, cottage cheese, an apple, etc. The trick is to not starve yourself and then binge.

One tip I use for figuring out servings sizes: A serving size is never as much food as you WANT to eat!


QUESTION: How are you doing on your weight loss program? Have you followed any of the steps I suggested?

How to Lose Weight – Week Two

Disclaimer: I’m not a dietitian or doctor. I did not go to school to get a degree in Nutrition. Please see your doctor before starting your weight loss journey.

You can read Week One to catch up. Here’s a quick recap:

Step One – Measure Your Body and Weigh In.

Step Two – Count Your Calories

Step Three – Get a Journal

Step Four – Set a Goal

Week Two

Now you’re starting Week Two of your journey.  Week One was all about becoming aware of what changes need to happen. It’s time to STOP making excuses and START trying. Start Week Two with weighing in and measuring. Record it in your journal and let’s get on with the changes!

Sorry to break it to you. There is no “SECRET to INSTANT weight loss” and you can’t “lose weight while you sleep.” You lose weight through hard work and determination, simple as that.

Step One – Remove All Junk Food From the House

This should be an easy task to do during week two. Why? Because you are full of anticipation and drive that this time trying to lose weight will work. We all know that feeling…the gung-ho feeling that energizes us.  But this time we’re going to stick with it.

Removing the junk food from the house is a crucial step. Not having the temptations in the house, in your face, will help you be successful. Go through your pantry and cupboards and put it all in a bag. Take it into work and share with your coworkers–they will LOVE you!


Stock your fridge with some healthy snacks and treats. Here are some ideas. You don’t have to give up sugar and treats completely. Try substituting the high calorie desserts for lower calorie substitutes:

  • Small pieces of dark chocolate. The trick is to not eat ALL of them. One serving each day.
  • Fresh strawberries with plain Greek yogurt or light whipped cream.
  • Smart Ones frozen desserts (they are pretty good for being “diet” desserts!)

Here is an example of a typical food day–including snacks and treats.

Beware of the Late Night Sabotages. Removing the treats from your house will help that.


Step Two – Exercise

Now is not the time to join a gym, or start exercising like you’re training for a marathon. Remember: baby steps!

This week we’re going to focus on adding little things to our daily life and creating a healthy habit. When you go grocery shopping park as far away as you can. Walk places you’d normally drive. Take the stairs at work instead of an elevator.

Sneak in some movement every day. It doesn’t have to be vigorous. Just move your body. Go for a walk at lunch time.

When I first started my journey to lose weight I did it in two parts: the first part was exercise. I started swimming a few times a week and did so for about a month. After that I started the food part. I knew I couldn’t do both at the same time and not feel overwhelmed so I did it in two parts. By the time I started counting my calories to lose weight I was settled into the routine of swimming a few times a week and it didn’t feel overwhelming.


Step Three – Don’t Drink Your Calories

This may seem like a no-brainer but so many people drink half their daily caloric intake in their coffee drinks! Double Shot White Chocolate Mochas, Beer, wine, regular soda, juice, Vitamin Water…I saw this one guy at a gym with a gallon jug of apple juice once. I was so baffled as to why he needed a gallon of apple juice to workout? Why would he drink the calories he was burning? Baffling.

I’ve talked a lot about not drinking my calories–and if I’m going to drink my calories I want it to be a nice beer or glass of wine. I used to be a BIG juice drinker. I’d have a huge glass of orange juice with breakfast every day–that’s what 200 calories? Giving up juice was a hard one for me but I did it cold turkey and now I only drink juice a few times a year (usually when I’m sick). I also used to drink several regular sodas a day. How many calories a day extra was that? 300? 400? Just cutting out my liquid calories I would have started losing weight immediately.

That goes for those high-calorie coffee drinks too!


Step Four – Make a List

You’re actually making two lists this week. The first list is food.

Make a list of foods that you like that are healthy. For example, list all your favorite fruits and vegetables, what kind of proteins you’ll eat, etc. Also make a list of foods that you’re not willing to give up completely. For me that would be chocolate. I won’t give up chocolate ever. I love it. But I had to find ways to fit chocolate into my daily caloric intake without going over 2,000 calories a day. That meant I had to pay attention to portions and I had to find lower calorie chocolate options. No more Butterfingers candy bars (King size of course); I had decide which kind of chocolate made the cut. For me it had to be under 200 calories.

Now make a list of physical activities you enjoy. Write down a few different exercises that you think you’d like and put them in order. Over the years I occasionally tried to workout. I joined a gym when I was 18 but it didn’t last long. I also tried Curves. Didn’t like that either. When I realized that I had to pick SOMETHING I’d like and something I would stick with I picked swimming. I’d always loved swimming and I knew I’d keep at it.

Stay positive and remind yourself every day WHY you are doing this. It’s important to stay on track.

Up next week: we really start the hard work!

QUESTION: How did you do during Week One? Are you feeling confident about Week Two?