tips

Reducing My Calories – Reflections

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I really appreciate all the tips and ideas that people left on my post about reducing my calorie intake. There were a lot of good ideas that I’m taking into consideration. Lori from Finding Radiance left me this comment:

“I hear you. I can’t do the 1200 calories, either. That is what I am supposed to eat to lose 1 pound a week according to MFP – can you believe that? I just shoot for 1500 calories and only eat back some of my exercise calories on long ride days. It’s slow going, but working. It is also a point to consider about trying to maintain where you are. You may not mentally be happy with that, but your body might be. It could end up not being worth what it takes to get and *stay* at a lower weight now.”

She made a good point about how maybe my body is just where it’s going to be. I have been unhappy with where it’s at for months now. I’d gained 15 pounds and was struggling to lose it again. I’d lost about 5 of it, then gained it back. I had a lot of setbacks (several injuries, sickness, a dose of prednisone, some monkey-ing with medications that caused some weight gain) and was feeling very deflated about it.

Even though it was “only” 15 pounds, it felt significant to me. Clothes weren’t fitting properly anymore. The weather was getting nicer and I was preparing for a mini-vacation in Arizona and brought out all my shorts and tank tops and…nothing fit. Like at all. I had to go buy practically an entire new wardrobe and it depressed me. There were tears.

I went from a size 4 or 6 in shorts to a size 8. The small tank tops are now a medium. I was very unhappy about this and became determined to get it under control. Sure I wasn’t still GAINING weight but I wasn’t LOSING either.

This MIGHT be where my body is comfortable and just stuck. Perhaps. But I am willing to give it a try to see if I can change that. Even if I can only lose 5 of those 15 pounds I know it will make me a little but happier about my body than where I am currently at.

I told Michael about my plan to reduce my calories. He wasn’t very happy with the restriction and he was very sweet, saying, “I hope you know that you don’t have to lose weight for me.” It was unnecessary for him to say but it was good to hear nonetheless.

Reflections and Goals

I went into this restriction with some trepidation but I was feeling determined and wanted to do it right. Sure I was reducing my calories quite a bit, but I wanted to make what calories I ate SMART calories. The portion-controlled guacamole was a good idea on my part. Sure I wasn’t happy about it being processed but like I said, it was portion controlled and pairing it with some celery was the perfect snack that filled me up.

I experimented with changing up my breakfasts and eating foods that were higher in protein (more filling) like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and oatmeal. I tried my best to avoid eating frozen lunches and tried to eat real food instead. Baked chicken, salads, soups, etc. It wasn’t 100% but I did okay with this goal.

I tried to limit alcohol intake to Friday/Saturday nights only and only 1 glass. I also tried to be better about the dessert I ate: not eating it every night and making better choices (like a piece of chocolate with strawberries instead of high calorie junk). I also had fruit as dessert many times (this is easy for me to do when it’s berry season!)

I’m kind of sick of salads. I love salad and eat a lot of it, but it was becoming my lunch or dinner norm and I burned out on it.

Food prep is time consuming but VERY NECESSARY. Sure it takes a long time but spending an hour prepping the veggies for the week has saved me so much time and on evenings when I’m tired and hungry having that stuff already prepped helps me make better choices.

Tilapia! I re-discovered tilapia. We used to eat it frequently (usually as fish tacos) but then stopped and I don’t know why because it’s a great fish to eat when trying to lose weight. It’s about half the calories of salmon and is a good choice for low-calorie lunches or to pair it with some rice or quinoa for dinner.

I went back to measuring my portions. I’ve written about this topic a lot because you can track your food and do everything “right” but if you aren’t REALLY measuring your food you have no idea how many calories you’re taking in. I measured portions diligently to lose weight and then periodically throughout my 6+ years of maintenance I would go back to measuring. Basically to “check in” and remind myself what a portion was. It’s easy to slip back in bad habits.

I think this was part of my problem this past year. I was eye-balling portions because I’d done it for so long and “knew” what a serving was. But in reality, things were a little off. Clearly! The biggest shocker? I made a bunch of quinoa for lunches and dinners and measured out a serving using my food scale and my eyes bugged out of my head. Wait, what? THAT’S 200 calories worth of quinoa?!? Holy cow, I was eating twice that! For a long time. It was a good wake up call and a good reminder that I had slipped back into lazy habits. Read these old posts for more insight:

What’s REALLY a Serving Size?

C is for Calories

M is for Measuring Mistakes

How to Count Calories

Counting Calories and Serving Sizes

So I’m back to measuring almost everything. I use the food scale primarily because sometimes you can’t trust the label. Remember this post I wrote about misleading labels? If not, read it now. You will be shocked and want to immediately buy a food scale.

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Progress

I was making progress that first week and that boosted my motivation. Seeing immediately changes like losing 1 pound after a week of the new diet made me feel better about what I was doing. Before I felt like I was denying myself things I wanted, restricting, but not seeing ANY CHANGE on the scale. That SUCKS.

Week 1 of the diet: lost 1 pound

Week 2 of the diet: lost .6 pounds

Week 3: lost .4 pounds

I’m going to continue what I am currently doing for a little while longer and see if it keeps working. I don’t know that I can reduce my calories any lower, so this is it. Stay tuned!

Five Truths of Weight Loss

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In my journey to lose over 100 pounds, I discovered a lot of things about the process of losing weight, and I discovered a lot of things about myself, too. It was amazing how EASY it was to change my lifestyle.

Before, I spent weekends on the couch with a tub of ice cream, candy bars and could eat an entire pizza all by myself. My life was spent on the couch in front of the TV. This is not to say I was antisocial. I had a lot of friends that I hung out with. A lot of the activities we did revolved around food. I certainly had certain friends who were enablers; they were people who always wanted to eat too.

As I slowly changed my habits to lose the weight, I saw how bad this lifestyle was for me. I spent less time on the couch. This was a direct result of introducing exercise into my life. Exercising became something I enjoyed. It also took up a lot of time. Swimming especially; there was the process of going to the pool, getting ready, going swimming for as long as I could, and then showering and dressing afterward. It took time. That was time I wasn’t on the couch eating something. Having distractions outside of the house has helped me maintain my weight loss immensely. Being busy, being social, being active, means there’s no time and no room for boredom eating.

This list is about MY truths. Weight loss is a very individual thing. What works for me, may not work for someone else. There’s food restrictions, special diets, personal taste, physical limitations. So tailor YOUR truths to YOUR reality. But here  is what I learned about losing weight:

The Five Truths of Weight Loss

1. It Will Be Hard Work. It will probably be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. It takes time. It takes planning. It takes willpower and dedication. You will sweat. You WILL be sore. You may hate it at first. But once you change the habits that lead to weight gain and start to see some progress, it suddenly won’t be so hard to do it. You might even like it!

2. You Will Lose A Lot At First But That Won’t Be The Norm. Those first few weeks that I was swimming and counting my calories were epic. I was so encouraged by HOW MUCH I lost. It got me excited! I felt motivated! I wanted to keep going! I think I lost like 8 pounds that first week or two. It was amazing! Then it slowed down. I was losing about 5 pounds a week, then 4, then I was lucky if I lost 1 pound a week. But even if the numbers aren’t huge, if you are still losing, you are heading in the right direction. Don’t let that small number on the scale discourage you. (See Truth #1)

3. You Will Be Tempted. And unfortunately, that temptation never goes away. Even now, 110 pounds lighter and active, I still have temptations every single day. You have decide what you want more –the junk food or the goal weight. I had my sights set on that number on the scale and I had tunnel vision. I was NOT going to fail. I was going to lose 100 pounds. Period!

4. Exercise Plays A Big Part. You have to burn more than you eat. You can lose some weight doing Weight Watchers or counting your calories, but until you introduce exercise into your life those numbers won’t be what you want them to be and it will be even harder to keep the weight off. Exercise inspires me to eat healthier. Exercise makes me FEEL better. It really is a magical cure for things like stress, depression, anxiety, anger, sadness, bad days and grumpy moods. I always feel better after a workout. And sorry to break the news, but exercising once a week is not enough!

5. Food Makes A Difference. The type of food you will eat makes a difference.  Skipping meals, drastically cutting carbs, relying on supplements and doing fad diets just don’t work. The bottom line: your body needs fuel and nutrients in order to survive. So control those portions; measure foods; eat fruits, veggies, protein, cabs and fat–just eat the right kind. My suggestion is to see a dietitian to get started on an eating plan that works for you and that you will LIKE.

I had a hard time imagining what my body would look like after I lost the weight because it had been so long since I’d weighed an “average” size. And I especially had no idea how drastically my life would change. Running in evens! Biking 72 miles! Being on the cover of a magazine! Who, me?! There were a lot of changes and surprises, but I don’t regret a thing!

QUESTION: What are YOUR truths of weight loss?