Authors Note: As of this posting… I have lost 40 lbs. just under months, and still eat what I want.
Diets, they have saturated our society. The reason is obvious; we are big, and getting even bigger. We fight and struggle with our waistlines and search for ways to stop the jiggling we see in the mirror when we brush our teeth. Diets abound. Atkins, Paleo, Mediterranean, Weight Watchers, DASH, Biggest Loser, Raw Food, Ornish, South Beach, and the list goes on. We wake up, look in the mirror and we know something isn’t right, but the battle isn’t a winning one. Well, that can change if you want it to. No fad diet, no expensive shakes, no special recipes, no money- you can easily lose weight and still eat what you want.
Going into the holidays this past winter, I was l feeling down as I avoided buying new pants because I refused to buy a larger size. I had already bought more spacious jeans that would not make me a muffin top, twice, and longer belts too. I still hadn’t lost my winter weight from last winter. No more, I said. I have always known that weight loss/gain is simple math. Eat more calories than I burn in a day, gain. Burn more calories than I eat in a day, lose. But I needed a catalyst for change…
COUNT YOUR CALORIES
So I thought about counting calories, and of course with smartphone in-hand I thought, “Are there any apps that keep track of calories?” Of course there were! I chose an app named Lose It! based on the most positive reviews in the app store and the fact that it was free. The choice of apps shouldn’t matter if you go this route, but I can testify to the functionality of my particular choice. I opened the app and was asked to put in a weight loss goal. I put in 50 pounds and then chose how quickly I wanted to lose it. So far, so good.
Calorie counting with an app is light-lifting, each day the app displays how many calories you can eat for that day. Putting in calories is super-easy. The app is a serious foodie and knows every food imaginable, and you can even scan in foods using the camera on your phone- it takes seconds. Next, if you exercise you can put that in too and earn more progress towards your calories for the day too. (Or exercise can “buy” some calories if you want to have that second drink later or know you are going out to eat) The calorie-inputting is stupidly simple and takes less than 10 minutes a day.
EAT WHAT YOU WANT, NOT AS MUCH AS YOU WANT
What’s great about losing weight this way is that you can eat whatever you want. To be clear, I said whatever you want, not as much as you want. Calories counting teaches lessons fast, really fast. Immediately I got schooled: a piece of pizza is fine but three pieces isn’t, steak is delicious but not 12 ounces, pasta and with light Alfredo sauce, spinach, and turkey meatballs is some seriously good comfort food, just don’t have a second plate. You get the point, it’s not always what we eat, but how much of it. Of course, healthy eating decisions have a snowball effect. I soon found myself enjoying one meal a day that was a hearty soup, or a salad, with a tasty organic apple for dessert, and enjoying my favorite recipes while occasionally replacing the meat with fish or tofu. Salads are amazing because you can eat as much as want and the calories stay almost magically low. Of course, that is the produce, not the dressing. Be careful about your choice and portions of condiments, they can have more calories than the meal itself!
EXERCISE IS YOUR FRIEND
Exercise become my friend. If my budget is 1600 calories for the day, I could eat 1700, exercise, burn 400 calories, and be 300 calories under budget for the day. Exercise, whether at a gym, yoga studio, or a brisk daily walk doesn’t just burn calories. Exercise makes you more positive, you will sleep better, and best of all you will feel good about yourself. More smart decisions follow. Alcohol. Alcohol and weight gain go hand in hand. A beer is about 150 calories, wine 120. Not bad right? Not bad if you have one. But if you seriously want want to lose weight you aren’t having three or four drinks often.
BUMPS IN THE ROAD ARE PART OF THE JOURNEY
Another important lesson of weight loss is that no one is perfect. Real weight loss doesn’t just start at one number and go down to another number in a straight line, not at all. A bad day at work, an invitation to go out to a restaurant with friends, or just wanting a personal “food porn” moment can throw the whole calorie count deal out the window. It is the realization that counts in this process, the understanding of the math behind the food. One slip up or treat doesn’t make all your effort disappear, it’s just part of the journey.
PLATEAUS ARE NORMAL, BURN THROUGH THEM
Then there are the plateaus. You lose ten pounds quickly but it was mostly water, the next ten is harder, but that is also when you start to physically notice the progress. Then you’ll hit your another plateau where you are eating less, but just not losing. This is where it is time to do some cardio, that weight was easy to put on, but you need to show it who is in charge. “Hey weight… Bye Felicia!”
Don’t believe anyone who says weight loss is easy. The math is easy. Weight loss takes effort. Did the app do it for me? Did hours at the gym do it for me? Did replacing a full meal with soup or salad do it for me? These thing all helped, but there is one thing that caused my weight loss: perseverance. There is one driver of this bus, me. I know what is down the road to left, I know what is to the right. I choose my path, and you can choose yours.
YOU ARE WORTH IT
Do you want to lose weight, feel good about yourself, and live a longer healthier life? The road is there in front of you: keep track of your calories. Know how many calories you should be eating to maintain a healthy weight, exercise, and eat food that makes you feel good. Don’t get mad at yourself when you indulge. Weight loss takes time, and getting frustrated can be an impetus to stray from your path when you are desperately seeking instant gratification.
Find strength in knowing that every pound you lose will make you stronger. Your clothes will fit again, and you can finally get that new suit or dress that will look great on you. You won’t always need an app to count your calories. This journey can reset your habits and make you more aware that it is what, and how much, we eat determines our weight, our appearance, and our well-being. You are now empowered, and healthy eating can become a lifestyle instead of a daily caloric goal. Finally, always remember: You can do it, because you are worth it. I know I am.