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Attention SP Newbies - 12 Things That Helped Me Lose 50 lbs

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Hello all! I hope you are experiencing a wonderful start to 2016. I'm writing this blog for you today, as I have seen many (MANY) mobile chats and blogs lately, where the words 'discouraged', 'frustrated', and 'defeated' are front and center, when the author is referring to their weight loss journey. I know firsthand that this journey is no joke, and I would like to share with you the things I do (and don't do), that have worked for me over the past 9.5 months, and resulted in a 50 lb weight loss.

1. C.Y.A.: When tracking high-calorie foods/drinks (especially at restaurants), I overestimate portions on purpose. I've gotten pretty good at eyeballing portions (except for things like trail mix, dried fruit, cereal, etc which I still measure out with measuring cups), but if I'm ever in doubt about the size of something that is high-calorie, I will overestimate the portion size by at least 25% when I put it in my nutrition tracker. Example: if I eat 1 meatball appetizer, and I guesstimate that it is 1 oz, then I will enter it as 1.25 oz in my tracker.

2. BECAUSE YOU HAVE A LIFE: I do not work out more than 1 hour per day, or multiple times per day. Honestly, I'm happy if I get in a 45-minute workout, 3x/week. I think an excess amount of gym time in the early stages of a weight loss journey leads to discouragement and frustration, and can cause some people to throw in the towel - especially if the person experiences burn-out or injury. I do not believe a 3-hour daily workout at the gym is sustainable long-term for most people - also, who the heck wants to spend 3 hours of their day at the gym? (Note: I know this will not apply to you if you are currently training for an event, like a marathon, or if you love to exercise. I'm mainly referring to people who are just getting started with working out on a regular basis.)

3. IMMA DIRTY GIRL: I do not eat 'clean'. Yes, you read that correctly - I still eat processed food, almost on a daily basis. Granted, I have greatly REDUCED the amount of processed food I eat, but it is still part of my diet. I don't stress out about preservatives, organic, free-range, etc etc. Portion control is key, and I rarely go back for seconds of anything, whether it's a clean food or not.

4. LOG IT ALL: I log everything I eat - even the junk. Whether I eat nachos or steamed asparagus, it is logged in my SparkPeople nutrition tracker. This keeps me honest, and makes it easier to gauge my progress. I believe this is the #1 most effective tool on SP's site - I feel if I wasn't tracking my nutrition, I would not have experienced the success I have thus far.

5. K.I.S.S.: If you're like me, and dislike spending time in the kitchen, I recommend keeping your foods simple. I don't stress over making super-healthy fancy meals that are going to require 20 unique ingredients and lots of time to prepare. Short on time? Try an omelet made with Egg Beaters, steamed veggies (the frozen ones without sauce that you can steam in the bag in the microwave), some shredded cheddar cheese, and turkey cold cuts. Looking for a quick snack? Try an apple with 2 Tbsp of peanut butter. I do sometimes utilize the crockpot on weekends, and make lasagna or pot roast, and portion it out for lunches, or put in the freezer - but this is not an every-weekend occurrence. I love special, home cooked meals as much as the next person, but my revised way of eating must fit into MY schedule, not the other way around.

6. MAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF: When I've eaten something that is homemade by a friend/coworker, or from a restaurant that is not listed in the nutrition database, I will find a chain restaurant version of the food I ate that is listed in the database, and use that to log my meal. Example: I ate a small, plain chicken and cheese quesadilla last weekend, from a local Mexican restaurant. I looked up 'chicken quesadilla' in the SP database, and decided to go with the 'O'Charley's Chicken Quesadilla (1/2 order)' when logging my food. It was around 500 calories. I said, 'cool', and logged it. I don't stress if I don't find *exactly* what I'm eating in the database - I just find something similar, log it, and move on - I'm not going to spend a lot of time searching in the database. Also, SparkPeople has recently added a feature to their app that lets you add in an entry with a specific number of calories - this is awesome if you have an idea of how many calories you ate, and you just want to enter it in your tracker quickly, and move on. I will definitely be using this feature, especially when eating at events like baby showers or potlucks at work - when you eat small spoonfuls of several foods, it can be hard to guesstimate, so this quick calorie entry will be great for that!

7. WATERWORLD (gah, that movie sucked): I always drink at least 64 ounces of water per day - usually more. This greatly helps keep my calories in check, since sometimes when we think we're hungry, we are actually thirsty. It was a challenge to start this new habit back in April, but after about 1-2 weeks, my body got acclimated to all the additional water. And when I say '64 ounces of water', this is indeed 64 ounces of plain water - it does not include any other beverages, except an occasional caffeine-free herbal tea in the evening. I do not count my morning cups of coffee as water.

8. PORTION CONTROL FREAK: I buy pre-portioned snacks, or I portion out snacks into baggies. I love to snack, and this method keeps my snacking in check - I love 100-calorie packs of almonds, string cheese, fiber one bars, plain instant oatmeal, small boxes of raisins, apples, Greek yogurt, a cup of grapes, etc. I usually combine 2 of those foods for a snack, and it keeps me from getting hunger pangs before the next meal.

9. I EAT IT ALL, YO!: I do not have any completely off-limit foods. That being said, there are some foods I do not allow in my house right now - like donuts. Now that I think about it, I don't even remember the last time I had a donut, and that's probably a good thing - it is one of those foods that is too easy for me to overeat. But, throughout the past 9.5 months, I have eaten everything from fast food, to Baskin Robbins, to fattening vanilla bread pudding, AND I've still lost weight because I've made room in my daily calories for these foods, and I do not eat them all of the time.

10. YOUR KITCHEN AIN'T A RESTAURANT: When I do cook, I make enough for my husband and I, but if he doesn't want any, I do not make anything different for him - my husband either eats the food, or he's on his own. I do not believe my (and your!) kitchen is a restaurant, where everyone at the table gets to put in their order, and you make it for them. NO WAY. Your time is too valuable for that.

11. SCOFF AT THE SCALE: I do not weigh myself all the time. I realize that some people love to weigh themselves daily or weekly, and if that works for you, that's cool. BUT, if weighing yourself is a stressor, I highly recommend only weighing yourself 1x/month. I do not worry about daily weight fluctuation. The way my body feels, and the way my clothing fits will let me know if I'm on the right track. It's important to reference metrics other than a scale when measuring success!

12. I NEVER MESS UP: Ok, ok, that's a bit silly, but what I'm trying to say, is that I do not believe I ever 'blow it' by eating pizza or chocolate or whatever. Indulging in a food I love is not me screwing up - I'm living my life. I never get back on the wagon, as I never consider myself off the wagon. Eating real-world foods is NORMAL, and just because I eat a burger once in a while does not mean I'm off-track. Because I can assure you - if I were only eating kale and grilled chicken, I would've gone crazy a long time ago, and said 'Screw this!' - it is not sustainable for me. And that's what I love right now about what I eat - I feel I could eat like this for the rest of my life - and that's a great feeling.

Remember, it will take time to lose weight, and change habits! It will not happen overnight, but this can be a successful journey for you - try to tweak things to fit your needs, and find what works for you!

Have a fantastic week!


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