I started the weight loss attempt on February 4th and as of today, July 16th, I've lost 43 pounds. Here is my before and after picture:
It's really hard to believe I was so heavy. I really didn't notice it. You always notice you're a "couple of pounds" over but that's about it. I had no idea I had crept up to 240 pounds.
Today, I'm under what I weighed my Senior year of High School. My ultimate goal is 180, which is (according to most height/weight measurements) still "overweight" but I'm not really going to care at that point. But we'll see.
I have lots of people ask me "How have you done it?" So I've compiled a list of some of the steps I've taken to lose 40+ pounds. A word of caution, I am in no way an expert. I learn more and more everyday even 6 months after I've started this. This is just what I would call "practical advice":
- I counted calories. At first, this idea scared me because I was like "Oh my goodness, how am I going to look at all of these containers and keep track of it all?" It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I found a website to help keep track of what I ate and the calories and nutrition content of each item.
- I ate 1600 calories a day and rarely no more than that. You can find calculators online which tell you approximately how many calories your body naturally uses. I used 2600 calories a day naturally, so i was left with burning 1000 calories a day from food alone...but then I added..
- Exercise! I didn't exercise at first, I gradually got myself into the groove of the diet then exercise. But someone at the church gave us a $100 gift card for Wal-Mart (anonymously) and I used that money to buy a stationary bicycle. I started with 20 minutes in front of the TV and gradually bumped it up to 30 minutes. It was hard at first, it burned! Now I use the harder difficulty settings to get a better workout.
- Remember that 3500 calories equals 1 pound. And that goes for both gaining and losing. So if you cut a 1000 calories a day, you'll lose about 2.5 pounds a week. If you can put in 30 minutes of exercise a day thats another half pound.
- Don't beat yourself up over the occasional miss. So you ended up going 500 calories over for a day...it's not the end of the world and it certainly isn't the end of the diet. You'll have those days.
- I stopped drinking calories. For example: Coca-Cola in a 20oz bottle has over 200 calories. A large sweet tea has 300 calories! Holy Crap! Thats almost a whole meal in calories! Water of course is best, but if you just can't stand water go to diet soda or have tea with splenda. Fruit juice is pretty bad for you too as it's loaded with sugar!
- I started paying attention to serving sizes. Believe it or not, butter is not all that horrible. The problem is that people put 3 to 4 times the amount of butter on something that they should. This is especially true of salad dressing. I remember one time when someone was on a "diet" and got a salad with 5 or 6 servings of ranch (most ranch is 150 calories per serving). She had a lot more fat in her salad than I did in my burger! If you want the butter or the dressing, portion it out first and stick to that portion.
- Realize that maintaining weight is A LOT better than gaining. That means that when you get on that scale and you weigh the same today as you did a week ago...that is still a success! Our weight fluctuates so much in a given day. Some people retain a lot of water at times, you have to figure in the weight of the food you're still digesting, etc...lots of factors to consider. I only weighed myself on Monday mornings because that was the same time every week that I could count on.
- I ate what I wanted to. Just a lot less of it. It's not uncommon for Carrie to want a pizza in the middle of the week. So instead of eating 3 or 4 slices like I used to, I would just eat 2. Or if I wanted to "splurge" I would eat less in the day so I could have that extra slice. You can still eat what you want, you just have to fit it in to your daily calorie goals. Tomorrow night we're going to Cheeseburger in Paradise and I'm going to get a half pound burger with a side of fries. So tomorrow morning I'll have some yogurt with fruit (150 calories), lunch will be a chicken salad (150 calories), and dinner can be 1300 calories. It's probably not the healthiest way to do it, but it curbs cravings. Lately I've been eating less calorie snacks and having soft serve ice cream after dinner.
- A typical day of food for me:
- Breakfast: 2 cups of oatmeal cooked in skim milk. Coffee with 3 teaspoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of non-dairy creamer (400 calories)
- Morning snack: Apple (80 calories)
- Lunch: Turkey Sandwich on whole wheat with lettuce, tomato, nonfat cheese (300 calories)
- Afternoon snack: Animal crackers (120 calories)
- Dinner: Grilled chicken breast, potato, steamed broccoli with butter, whole wheat bread. (420 calories)
- Evening snack: Fruit smoothie, bowl of cereal, Ice cream, or whatever I can with the calories I have left figure about 150 calories.
- Total Day Calories: 1470. Which gives you enough to play with some condiments such as butter or sour cream for a potato or maybe a bag of chips with lunch.
I'm not going to say it's been easy. There have been days where I just wanted to go to McDonalds and have my regular Big Mac Meal with large fries and a coke (1400 calories). It was REALLY hard when we had 5 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies! I stuck to 2 cookies a day...which was really hard. But I was finally determined to do something about it.
If you have any questions please feel free to ask!