Over the years, I’ve made every excuse in the book. I have 5 kids, so I couldn’t “help” being overweight. I don’t have much free time so I couldn’t “work in” working out. I have Fibromyalgia so any type of rigorous activity was painful. Those were just a few of the excuses I would use to make myself feel better about not doing anything to change the condition of my health and over time, the weight just seemed to get added on day by day until I finally didn’t even recognize myself anymore. All the excuses … all the pounds. At my largest, I was pushing 200 pounds and I felt like I was too far gone to get my body back. I doubted myself and that doubt is why it took me 4 years to get to this point LOL! Over and over, I’d start.. I’d lose some weight… I’d give up and go right back to where I started from. I did it repeatedly. A lot of my problem (in addition to the excuses and the busy life) was that I was overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to eat right. I kept trying things like the cabbage soup diet, low carb diets, diet pills, barely eating at all, etc and it seemed like no matter what I did, it just made it a miserable experience to try to lose the weight. I didn’t want to be miserable, which is why I kept giving up.
Now, I don’t do “diets” at all. I control my portions. I limit high calorie foods especially those with little to no nutritional value. I watch my overall calories throughout the day and I only drink water (I will share my method with you at the end of this article). I stop eating when I’m full. Instead of brownies for family night each week, we do muffins… so instead of having a pan full of 24 brownies, we have 6 muffins — one for each of us, and that’s it. Very minor changes — very gradual changes, and that totally worked for me. I don’t have time (or the desire) to read labels or manually count calories, so I use MyFitnessPal’s smartphone app as well as MapMyRun+ (app as well) to help me easily track my activity and my nutrition/caloric intake. (If you don’t own a smartphone, both of these have web interfaces that you can use from your computer’s browser!) To be able to just click on an app or visit a website, enter what I eat, and see where I am as far as my calorie budget makes it SO much easier to watch what I eat — and choose better foods since I can see exactly how it affects my day BEFORE I choose to eat it. MyFitnessPal’s food database has literally EVERYTHING you can imagine — any fast food place if you don’t have a choice but to eat out, you can find almost everything on their menu in the app which helps you make healthy decisions. If you want to eat more than your allotted calories, all you have to do is EXERCISE! At the end of the day, if I have calories left, I will grab a healthy snack to make sure my body isn’t running on fumes :) See the screenshot below of the MyFitnessPal app!
I start out with a calorie budget of 1240 for the day (MyFitnessPal sets this for me at a healthy level based on how much I want to lose per week, how much I weigh, my height, etc). When I burn calories, that calorie budget increases so I can consume more food while still losing my goal weight throughout the week. With 1 hour of cardio activity, I typically burn anywhere from 350-600 calories depending on the activity (this is where MapMyRun+ comes in — you can enter a ton of activities and it tells you how much you burn in a certain amount of time based on your body type and activity level – MyFitnessPal will do the same but not with as many activity options).
I enter the calories I burned in MyFitnessPal and it updates my calorie budget for the day, which usually ends up being somewhere around 1700 by the end of the day. It’s a very simple process and when I finalize my “diary” entry, it tells me how much I would weigh in 5 weeks if every day was like that day which can either be motivating (on good days) or eye-opening (on bad ones). Note: 1240 calories per day puts me in range to lose 1.5 pounds per week. My goal is actually ONE pound per week, so this way if I do splurge with food, I’m still within my goal range since I can actually consume up to 1470 calories more than I burn through exercise each day ;) It also helps to make sure that if I don’t record accurate serving sizes (since I can’t/don’t always measure) that I’ll still be on track.
As for what I might eat in a typical day, it just depends on how much time I have to prepare things and what I have a taste for. Stesha Sims asked me on Facebook what I normally eat for breakfast. Here is what I replied:
Most of the time, mornings are crazy hectic for us so I will eat Cascadian Farm organic cereal (I normally do 1.5 cups of cereal and 3/4 to 1 cup of 2% milk — I haven’t been able to go below 2% yet LOL) or I will drink a Special K protein shake and have a serving of yogurt covered raisins. Sometimes we do oatmeal, toast, and fruit. If there’s more time, I’ll make egg white omelets with turkey bacon and some sort of fruit (apples, an orange, grapes, or berries) on the side. I don’t really restrict what I eat because I don’t like to feel unsatisfied, you know?
I mainly watch my portions closely, pay attention to how many calories & calories from fat things have and I’ve gotten good about finding healthier substitutes for things I love. If I can’t find a good substitute for something I don’t want to go without, I practice moderation and just make sure it’s not a REGULAR part of my typical diet, but I don’t disallow myself from having things because I will end up setting myself up for failure. The key is to be responsible with the food you eat, not to completely CUT OUT everything that you enjoy.
Now, certain things I will admit that I completely DID cut out, but I did it very gradually — I ONLY drink water at this point. It took me a while to wean myself off of Pepsi/sweet tea but I don’t even miss either of those… and now, when I happen to get a sip of one of the kids’ drinks (it’s seldom I let them drink anything but water either, I should note) I am normally like EWWWW because it is SOOOO sweet to me now and I can’t handle carbonation at all LOL I also do not drink coffee. I either drink Advocare Spark or HALF of a 5-hour energy shot if I need a boost!
The 3-phase process that helped me wean myself off of soft drinks and sweet team completely:
PHASE ONE: I started minimizing my soda/tea intake by NEVER getting anything bigger than a SMALL. If I was at a store, I would get a can instead of a bottle. And for EVERY small soda or tea I drank, I had to drink twice as much water before I could have another one. This got me used to drinking water. So if I had 12 ounces of soda or tea, I had to drink 24 ounces of water before I could have another soda or tea.
PHASE TWO: Once I mastered Phase 1, I cut myself back to only getting a soda/tea once or twice a day. The rest of the day, I had to drink water. No exceptions.
PHASE THREE: After a while, I cut back to strictly only ONE per day and the rest of the time I had to drink water… It didn’t take long until I would even forget that I wanted a soda/tea so I’d go a couple of days without ever having one which put me at about 3 per week.
Eventually I just stopped even wanting the soda/tea. Plus, this process gradually got me used to drinking water so by Phase 3, I liked it and it didn’t bother me to NOT have the other drinks anymore. I don’t have any problem drinking water… and like I said, now when I happen to get a sip of tea or something, I always regret it because it’s a shock to my system! I also kept in my mind that if I was going to be working out as hard as I was, there was no way I was going to make that sweat be in vain by coming home and undoing all my progress with the foods/drinks I was putting into my body. It takes a lot of will power, but when you make changes GRADUALLY, you’re more likely to not notice as much, not miss things as much, and taper off entirely without feeling deprived or miserable!
GOOD LUCK getting your diet in check!! ;)