I’ve been trying to lose weight since I was eight years old. I was a kid who took water pills, owned my own copy of Sweatin’ to the Oldies and Deal-a-Meal, and wished I could be anorexic (liked food too much) or bulemic (I hated barfing.) I went to a kids, hospital-sponsored weightloss program. I went to a dietician. (Memorable point: there was when she said I could eat “low fat,” and found a 0g fat Entemann’s coffee cake. I ate the whole thing.) I rode my bike back and forth from my house to Remke’s (supermarket) ten times, equalling ten miles. I walked around the neighborhood. I seemed unable to stop the increasing gain. I hated scales. I hated my doctor’s office. I hated the clothing available, and settled on oversized t-shirts, jeans, and a flannel jacket that fit my Dragonlance books neatly in the inner pocket. I loved the brief time in middle school that I got to play floor hockey. I loved tennis. I loved lifting weights in a brief PE unit in high school.
When talking about activities I loved, it would be incomplete to not mention my junior and senior year, where I auditioned and made it into the high school marching band color guard. My instructor kicked my ass, and for my latter high school years, was the mentor I needed. She was tough, but fair. Despite the fact that my weight only budged about 15 lbs total during those years, my head was held higher when I started my junior year, and people noticed.
I hadn’t intended on telling that story, but I guess it needed to be put there as a preface. I’ve lost five pounds! In Weight Watchers, that would equal a star and a round of applause. It’s been a long time since I’ve lost five pounds in a concerted effort to eat better, and I’m pretty happy with myself. This is an achievement I’ve been waiting for for a year.
Here are the secrets to my five pound success (which has taken me three weeks of effort):
- Tracking my food intake with a free online/mobile app – I’ve been using MyFitnessPal which has an enormous database that makes it easy to track my calories. It also includes a barcode scanner for easy tracking of packaged foods. I leave the setting for my base metabolic rate (BMR) at sedentary, and set my goal loss at 1.5 lbs per week.
- Tracking my daily activity with a fancy pedometer – Fitbit syncs with MyFitnessPal and alters my daily caloric limit based on my activity level. It’s not fool-proof, but it’s nice to know for sure when I can eat more because I’ve earned it.
- Eating the right foods – This is the really hard part, because it’s not as simple (for me) as calories in and calories burned. I need to eat THE RIGHT foods for me, and it turns out that a low protein diet (10-15% protein) is a DISASTER for me.
Years ago, I bought Jillian Michael’s Winning by Losing when it was in hard cover. Inside she had a Metabolic Type quiz (found here as well) which says I’m a “Balanced Oxidizer” that needs 30% of my calories from protein (30% from fat, 40% from carbs.)
What’s amazing to me is that focusing on getting enough protein (and lower amounts of fat and refined carbohydrates) had led me to crave refined carbohydrates MUCH less, and when I do indulge, it’s not the disaster it’s been before.
The other key thing for me is to cut out the non-nutritive carb fillers. I did not eat the scoop of brown rice on my plate last night, which saved me about 100-200 calories. I did, however, indulge in the petite chocolate cake for dessert, and I enjoyed it MUCH more than that scoop of rice. I’ve been passing on the bread, for the most part.
Making sure that I eat 30% of calories in protein is brutal (along with keeping my fats under 30%), especially because I just don’t like to eat that much meat and non-cheese dairy products. My supplementing with a mid-morning Vega Energizing Smoothie in almond milk has made a huge impact on whether or not I’m satiated when I eat lunch. Further, shifting my breakfast from cold cereal to quick steel-cut oats (1/4 cup dry) had helped stay my hunger for a little longer.
These results are not typical, and I don’t claim to know about whatever you need to reach your health goals. I go to the gym for strength training three times a week, and am trying to jog/run at least five miles total a week. I’m also a mother of a very active toddler and live in a city where I walk almost everywhere.
I’m hoping I can keep this up, mostly because I like that I’m seeing results on the scale, and in general, I feel more energetic. Really, that’s what this is all about, feeling good. I need that.