Life

How the weight came off (for me.)

Since posting about how I lost 30 pounds from March to now, I’ve had a lot of people asking me what I did to take it off. Was I trying a new diet or a supplement? Did I eliminate carbs or sugar? Join Noom?

Alas, it was the boring old watching what I eat, and daily exercise. I know the thought of me exercising is funny to some people because they know how much I LOATHE such things, but hear me out, because I am not doing anything too strenuous because let’s face it: I’m lazy.

I’ll tell you what I did, which may not work for you. We’re all different, but I started with a trip to my doctor to get advice on what I needed to focus on. I’d suggest the same for you.

Back in February (at the advice of my doctor) I was asked to start a food journal. I can’t recommend this enough to people just starting out with their weight loss. I KNOW it seems like a silly and time-consuming idea to log everything you eat but what it really is, is a reality check. When I started mine, I just KNEW my doc was wrong. I didn’t eat a lot. It must be my thyroid acting wonky, or something other than my diet because surely I wasn’t eating THAT much. I was convinced my normal daily calorie counts couldn’t be that far off from the goal she set me off with of 1,500 a day.

She told me to start the week just writing down EVERYTHING I normally ate in a day. Just so we’d get a baseline. Then, in week two, we could start seeing what were my big calorie items that we could trim. I’d humor her if only to prove her wrong.

I didn’t make it past day two with the log because I was HORRIFIED by the number I saw. By 8:00 am I’d already consumed 900 of my 1,500 allotments. What? How? I hadn’t even had breakfast yet!!!

The culprit? My coffee (I used a LOT of cream and sugar back then. Like 3 tablespoons of sugar and 7-8 tablespoons of creamer. That put each cup was around 305 calories, and I had 2-3 cups a day… Um….) That was my wake up call. I wasn’t EATING too many calories, I was drinking them. Same with the wine I had at the end of a night… 2-3 glasses depending on the days’ stress levels. Another 300-450 calories, right before bed. That put me at 1,365 calories without ANY food eaten. Holy crap.

Step 1: Cut my drinkable calories. Now, I have ONE cup of coffee with HALF the cream and sugar allotment (120 calories). Then, it’s black/herbal teas with nothing added or water the rest of the day. I even cut out wine (mostly because I developed a weird allergy to it.) Melatonin became the thing to help me get sleepy instead of the wine.

Once I cut out those liquid calories, the journal helped me see what foods helped me feel full longer and what foods had me starving two hours later. Discovery: the more protein the meal had, the longer I stayed full. So that 1 egg, 1 slice of toast with butter, 2 slices of bacon, and 1/4 cup of applesauce (340 cal) kept me full to lunch longer than the carb-filled lemon poppyseed muffin (390) that had me hungry 2 hours later.

If I need a snack in between meals, it’s a protein-heavy snack (over a carb-loaded one which was my norm.) I have on hand cashews, cheese sticks, bananas, protein bars, etc.

Step 2: Eat smarter. I can still eat food I want, I just pay closer attention to HOW much of it I’m eating and what foods keep me fuller longer. This took several months to figure out what those were, but it was worth it. Logging the calories also helped me learn what days I overdid it and what days I could have a little treat.

Of course, as any doctor would tell you, diet alone isn’t enough. You also have to also do the dreaded exercise. It took me several attempts at things before I settled on something that worked for me (i.e. something that I wouldn’t make a million excuses as to why I couldn’t do that work out that day.) It had to be ‘easy’ mentally for me to do. And it had to be 20 min or less or it seemed to time-consuming for me.

I ended up on yoga stretches for 10 minutes that I do after my first cup of coffee. The stretches help wake my body and mind up. After yoga, I move to either 50 squats and 50 leg lifts or light weights (I’m talking 2, 3, 4 pounds here. I’m slowly working my way up but started with 2 pounds.) I do six types of lifts that last about ten minutes. For days I overdo it eating wise? I jump on the treadmill and do some extra work to burn those extra calories.

Step 3: Twenty minutes of movement every day For me, it was Yoga with a little light cardio to target the upper and lower body. For you, it might be a walk or Zumba. Find something that you don’t hate to do, is what I’d suggest. It’s easier to not give up that way. There are a LOT of free yoga apps out there. That’s how I started. I used those apps, found ones I liked for my body and ability (I have back and hand issues), and then made them the ones I do on rotation. Find a time that you can do this consistently. For me, I do my movement before breakfast because I realized if I did it later in the day, I’d always find a way out of it. Now, if I wanna eat breakfast, I have to move. Find what works for your mental blocks.

Now, could I do more? Absolutely. I am not as tone or buff or as slim as I could be. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But what I am, is healthier than I was in February. Which was all I was aiming for.

If I start gaining again (which happens) I go back to the food journal to reset old eating habits that crept in when I wasn’t logging the food intake.

That’s it. That’s what I did. Now, I need to do my movement moment so I can have my breakfast!

Danielle Bannister, Author and reluctant exerciser

2 thoughts on “How the weight came off (for me.)”

  1. Well! Except for the see a doctor & join Noom (and join DietBet) yours is my weight loss story as well.

    – hate exercise with a passion – check
    – unknowingly over eat – check
    – lose 30 pounds this year – check
    – get back on the healthy eating and movement lifestyle – check

    So you know it is with a full heart that I say, “Congratulations! I am most impressed with your hard work & dedication.”

    I bet you feel SO much better. I know I do!!

    ~smiles,
    Shari

    1. Everyone has a different journey to make for sure! And everyone needs different levels of motivation, and what they need to do to reach their goals for sure. Mine was just one path of many. Ha. Congrats to you as well on your weight loss!

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