I’ve been getting this question a lot lately and I often don’t have the two hours that I feel is necessary to explain how I did it. Which is my motivation for this blog post. What I usually answer is:
I exercised three times a week by doing the couch to 5k program and I calorie counted.
This really is the bare-bones of what I did. I sometimes think people are looking for something magical, like “I did the liquid amino diet!” or “I just combined green tea and lemon juice and drank it every morning and the pounds magically melted off!” (Side note: I did try phentermine for about a month through my doctor, and it kind of helped… mostly because it gave me energy because losing weight is tiring. But it also gave me scary heart palpitations and it made me cold and I couldn’t sleep at night and stuff, so I went off of it. I lost just as much weight on it as I did off of it. If you can’t lose weight without it, you won’t lose long term weight with it. Also, it costs money and you have to go to your doctor once a month which also costs money and I hate spending money when I don’t have to on things I can do myself.)
But anyway, no, I am boring. I just did five hundred hours of research (as I always do before I start doing anything in my life) and discovered that the magical secret to losing weight is eating less calories than you are expending so that your body uses your fat to power itself instead. Exercise helps a lot because you don’t have to cut what you have been eating as drastically.
For example (made up numbers, I’m too lazy to look up real ones):
If I have been eating 3000 calories per day , and I am sitting on the couch all day and want to lose 2 lbs per week without exercising, I will eat 2000 calories a day instead. This is hard.
If I am exercising three times a week and burning 500 – 600 calories each time, I can eat 2300 calories a day instead. I know that doesn’t seem like much, but man, when you’re craving a 300 calorie chocolate bar, it’s enough to help. I find it much easier to calorie count if I exercise along with it because of this principle. I don’t feel nearly as deprived.
Thoughts regarding losing weight
Why calorie counting is awesome:
My favorite calorie counting places:
http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ – The app I use now. Make friends with me! Nitetiger4 is my username.
http://caloriecount.about.com – What I started with before I had a smartphone.
Eat what you want and lose weight! YEAH. Just keep it under calories! Every once in a while (not every day) I eat something like three pieces of chocolate cake and then have a salad for dinner to keep under calories. This is what I consider a cheat day, and I do it when it comes up organically (like a holiday or a party or something), I don’t plan in advance to have one or else I somehow end up having them every day and I feel sick. If I let myself have a cheat day where I eat everything I want and have 3000 calories instead of the 1600 I’m supposed to be eating, I tend to derail for the next week. I do sometimes make exceptions for big holidays, but if I do it for like every birthday and Sunday dinner, then I stop losing weight so well.
So anyway, if you want to eat a cookie, eat a cookie. Just count the calories. Although I’ve learned not to eat it for breakfast or you will rollercoaster all day and give up. Save it for after dinner. I feel much less deprived on calorie counting because I don’t feel like I fail when I eat a cookie, unlike other diets where it’s like “OH NO I ATE A COOKIE AND DR. ATKINS WILL FIND ME AND KILL ME FOR EATING CARBS!”
Anyway, over time, hopefully you can modify to eating well along with eating less, but I feel like doing both at once is what sets people up to fail because you feel deprived of food you love and your body is deprived of calories and so your brain and your cells are all screaming at you to just eat that piece of cake please and then you eat a hundred because you failed to follow your diet and so you might as well.
What is your motivation?
– I want my body to look better.
This is a way to set yourself up to fail, imo. I’ve gone from semi-whale-obese size at 5’9″ and 260 lbs to now 180 lbs (still another 10 to go to be in the healthy range and 20 so that I am in the middle of the healthy range). You know what though? I feel the same about my body. I still look at it and I don’t feel like I’m a sexy skinny thang, even though people come up and compliment me on how I look all the time (and by that I mean, people who know what I looked like before.) Their compliments are nice, but they’re not really motivating for me. I’ve gone from a size 20 down to a size 12… and yeah, I still see in the mirror how my hip to waist ratio is insanely larger than anyone else’s in the world rather than the fact that I have lost 4 inches around my chest and a bazillion from my waist and hips.
(Side note: It is kind of interesting to be able to see my cheekbones now, and I do notice my skinny fingers. Sometimes I stare at my fingers for 10 minutes because that’s the only place I can really tell that I lost weight and it’s kind of weird to see the difference. I had to move my wedding ring to my middle finger the other day because it kept falling off my ring finger. So that’s semi motivating, I guess, but not enough to keep me going.)
So yeah, I feel the same about my body as I did before, which is indifferent. I like myself as I am, and I always have been content with being me. My body is now saggy and baggy where I lost all the fat, instead of being rolley polley. No one tells you that happens sometimes (not always… you’ve probably seen pictures of people that don’t have this problem. This is why there are no pictures of me in a bikini on this blog.) Supposedly, if I lose the last 20 lbs and gain more muscle I will be less saggy, but I’m not counting on it. And I don’t care. Because if I cared, I would give up and go back to being 260 lbs and eating like an elephant because I’ve realized that you’re only going to be as happy as you are where you are now. Getting a bigger house, more money, losing weight all seem like they would make you happier than you are now, but THEY DON’T. So be happy now and find a different motivator. 🙂 Smile and love yourself and kick the media in the shins and yell in their face “I DON’T CARE THAT I DON’T LOOK LIKE YOUR PHOTOSHOPPED MODELS AND NEVER WILL. I LOVE ME BECAUSE I AM FAR MORE THAN A DRESS SIZE!!!!!!”
Is your motivator to look better to the world? Consider this. Do you go up to women that you have always known to be skinny and say to them “You look so good!” and by good, you mean they are slender. No. Do you like being friends with slender women over larger women? Probably not. You might tell slender women they have a cute outfit, but you probably also say that to larger women with a sense of style. Random people don’t run up to me on the street and tell me that I am skinny and good looking either. It’s always people who know what I looked like before. Sometimes you might get lucky and someone random will tell you that “You could be a model!” but usually they have ulterior motives and they are men. Anyway, looking better so the world will notice? Yeah, you’re going to probably be disappointed, especially if you’re married. They only care if they knew you before, so when you move away from your friends and you’re skinny, no one will tell you about it anymore. Because that’s considered impolite. 🙂
This might be an ok motivator though for those who are still looking for an SO, I guess, but if you’re not confident with yourself now, you probably won’t be when you’ve lost weight. Also, won’t you always be frightened that your SO married you for looks and what will happen if you gain the weight back? (I would be.) Also, you probably won’t stay motivated, because it takes a long time to lose enough weight that guys/girls will notice you more than they did before anyway.
Do you want to lose weight for your significant other? Meh. Your husband probably doesn’t care (unless he’s a douche.) Let me tell you that my skinny, handsome husband looked at my pictures of me when I was 260 lbs and said “Well, I guess love really is blind.” meaning that looking back now, he can see how big I was, but then, he didn’t really notice. He loves and has loved me for who I am personality wise – not how I looked. And now that I’m smoking hot (lololol), he reaps the rewards of sticking with me when I was fat… I guess. But though he does compliment me on how good of a job I have done losing weight and sticking with exercising, he really doesn’t love me any more or less than before. Also, my stomach has an insane amount of bright red stretch marks from having three children and they will never go away (unless I get plastic surgery, but see my qualifier above… YOU WILL ONLY BE AS HAPPY WITH YOURSELF AS YOU ARE NOW, SO WHY BOTHER), so if he was sticking around for looks, those would have frightened him off long ago.
Anyway my point is, don’t be motivated by how you will look because you will be sad and give up when you don’t see the results as quickly as you wanted to.
– I want to be healthier. ( And I want to set a good example for my children.)
This is my motivator. I want to be less likely to die from a heart attack. I don’t want to get diabetes. I don’t want to be tired and not be able to play with my kids. I don’t want to have sleep apnea from being too big. I don’t want my body to fall apart as I get older and not be able to do things anymore. I don’t want to wait to take care of myself until my kids have moved away and it’s “”””easier”””” because I will have my habits set and I’ll be too old and tired and by then my body is past its prime anyway and your body is already hurt and tired from years of you not taking care of it and it will be much harder than you think. I want to exercise and eat well so I can help hopefully stave off the depression that runs in my family. I want my children to see me eat sensibly, so that they eat sensibly as well. I want my children to see me exercise and compete and then want to exercise and carry that habit into adulthood. I want my children to take care of themselves and love themselves. I need to do this now because the longer I wait, the harder it is. I don’t want to wait until something exterior (losing SO, bad health) forces me into it, I will take control now and do it because I want to.
Did you know that your children will grow up to pretty much be exactly like you? This is a scary thing, but statistically it’s likely. So take care of yourself and set the example, so that your kids don’t have to say “I don’t want to be like my mother/father” and then fight with their habits their whole lives. Also, meet some older people who have been heavy their whole lives and see exactly how their bodies are falling apart and how many surgeries they have to have and how easily they break and realize how you really, really, really, don’t want to do that to yourself.
There are other reasons, but these are the two main ones that have been in my head. There are probably some other good ones for you. Just analyze your reasoning and motivation to make sure your motivation is strong enough to carry you through the hard parts. 🙂
Finding a goal:
What’s your goal?
Mine was originally this: Get to 160 lbs.
Um, yeah, that is a good goal, but it’s hard when you have 60 lbs to lose to feel motivated after a month and you’ve lost 5 lbs.
Your first goal is this: I WILL FORM A HABIT OF EXERCISING THREE TIMES A WEEK AND COUNTING MY CALORIES EVERY DAY. You may not run far. You may eat way too many calories. That’s ok. The goal is the habit at first. Then move on to staying under your calorie goal and running further or faster every week.
After that, try something like:
Lose 3 lbs in two weeks. Lose 6 lbs in a month.
Be able to run for longer than 30 seconds. Run a mile. Run a 5k.
Short goals and a long term goal are a good combination to help keep motivated. Tell Facebook and your SO your progress and when you meet your goal. People will cheer you on and it helps. 🙂
Three times a week. Thirty minutes each time, at least. Whatever you choose, you’re probably going to hate it for the next month, if you keep doing it, so just be resigned to that and pick something. Find a program to help you progress in your exercise so you see progress there and so that your body doesn’t get bored and start making you burn less calories as it gets used to what you’re doing. I used Couch to 5k (http://www.coolrunning.com), but you could find another program for biking or elliptical or swimming or whatever, I’m sure. It’s really important that you push yourself so you see results (Jillian Michaels talks a lot about this. It’s hard because we promised you would see results… and honesetly to see results it has to be hard.)
Make sure whatever you choose is easy to get out and do. This is why I picked running, because all I needed was shoes and my shoes were not going to get a flat tire or be closed for the holidays and I could do it inside or outside during the various seasons and the gym and the road are right outside my door, which means I can get ready to run in ten minutes and be back in thirty and I don’t have a lot of time to get demotivated once I get started getting ready. Also I can take my dog running and she appreciates the exercise and will mostly not trip me or judge how I look when I’m running.
If you can find a buddy to go with you, this helps a lot because you don’t want to let them down and not come. This is most motivating if it’s just you and one other person and the other person is always consistent, so that you know that they will be left waiting if you don’t show. However, it’s not necessary. I ran by myself for four months with my dog and showed up for myself just fine because I was committed. Which leads me to…
Be committed and plan:
You must be committed to losing weight and you must plan how you will implement it. For me, it had to become the most important thing in my life. I found my motivation and figured out my plan, and then I said to my husband something like: “I am going to do couch to 5k. I am doing it three times a week for 30 minutes, Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8 o’clock. If the kids aren’t in bed, you’re just going to have to handle it and get them to bed.” (I also told him “Don’t bring candy home ever, unless I tell you to, because I will eat it all. You can eat all the candy you want, just not in the house please.”)
You have to make yourself go through with it NO MATTER WHAT. I liked telling my husband the above because he’d then say “Wait, aren’t you going running tonight? You better go get ready. I’ve got the kids. We’ll play Skyrim when you get back.”
Also, setting a time, the same time every time you go, is really helpful in making it a habit. It doesn’t matter what time of day you go, according to studies, just as long as it’s a good time for you and that you know you can commit to. (I am just now getting into morning running, because I HATE WAKING UP EARLY. So that’s I chose evenings when I first started)
It’s really really really hard to start exercising and stay consistent (especially if you’ve never exercised before), so you must tell yourself that it is the most important thing ever and you will do it even if you don’t want to and you’re so tired and the kids and blah blah blah. Do you skip Downton Abbey on Thursday night (I don’t know when it’s on, I’m just guessing) because you’re so tired and the kids bit you all day long? No. You cannot miss exercise either and it must be as important to you as your favorite TV show or book or whatever, even though you hate it. (Also, you can try telling yourself that you can’t watch Downton Abbey til you get that exercise done.) It must come first.
If you can get past the first three weeks of consistent exercise, it becomes a habit and it gets a lot easier to do. The first week of couch to 5k was pretty much hell for me. I could not run for 30 seconds without feeling like I was dying. But I pushed on. I was gasping and flopping down the road pretty much like a giant whale that grew legs. After three/four weeks, my body had adjusted and my habit had been formed and it was so much easier and I was burning way more calories every time I went out and I was finally seeing results. Push through.
(Also, after 10 months of running, I am JUST NOW starting to actually kind of enjoy it for itself. I kind of liked it before too, because I discovered that it really relieves my stress, but now I am starting to like running just because it’s kind of fun to reach the top of hills and see the vistas and push yourself and stuff)
You must be committed to calorie counting too. Again, it takes time to build the habit of entering everything you eat into your phone or computer or onto your piece of paper, but don’t give up. Keep trying. You’ll see results if you push through the initial hard part.
Now for me, I have to keep calorie counting. If I start thinking I can wing it, I go into maintenance mode (where I don’t lose weight, or I start to gain a little). Some people get the hang of calorie counting and then can just keep doing it without keeping track on paper, but I wouldn’t count on that person being you. So you might have to calorie count for a year or so and once you’ve lost the weight, every now and then to get back on track. Just deal with it.
Tips and Tricks
I hate these. I can never remember them when I read them on blogs. Here are a few though, just in case you can retain this information.
– You will not see results at first, most likely. You will hate every day when you wake up and it’s exercise day (if you’re exercising right, that is, where you push yourself) and you will probably hate inputting all of the food you eat and how at the end of the day you’re still kind of hungry but you can’t eat anything. And you will hate how your husband eats candy all the time and hasn’t gained any weight. And then you will weigh yourself and see no change or a small one, most likely and you will want to give up. Don’t. Keep going. One day you will get on the scale and you will have lost a pound. Be proud, even though it’s only 1/60th of your goal. You did something! And all those little 1/60ths will add up to 100% of your goal one day and you’ll have done it. Just keep going because it DOES work. And it DOES work for everyone, even you. It just takes time. The habit is your goal at first, really.
– You will be tired. People say that when they lost weight they got more energy, but I think this happens when you’re maintaining your goal weight. While you’re losing the weight and exercising you are tired. This is because your body is having to adjust to using fewer calories, so it tries to make you slow down so you burn fewer calories. It doesn’t like to burn your fat stores if it can help it. So you just have to realize that this will be a challenge that you’ll have to push through. You might be crabby like me while body realizes that it’s going to have to burn the fat stores, but again, you have to push through it. Eventually you do adjust and you’re not quite as tired.
– I say weigh yourself every day first thing in the morning, after you use the bathroom and before you eat or drink. Be naked. I weigh myself every day because I can’t stay motivated otherwise. If I do it every day I immediately see that the whole cake I ate yesterday made me gain three pounds and I can more easily not eat cake today, rather than seeing it a week later.
– Eat (non-cream-based) soup for dinners as often as you can stand it. Eat the leftovers for lunch. This is lovely advice. Soup is low calorie and fills you up . It keeps you from having cravings too. Also, you can eat more ice cream at the end of the day if you eat more soup during it.
– Recalculate your calories downward every 15 lbs you lose. Your body requires less calories when you have less weight for your muscles to haul around, so to continue losing weight, you must eat fewer calories.
– Drink water before you eat. This helps you feel more full and eat less.
– Don’t drink soda or gatorade or really, anything that’s not water (unless you need caffeine in tiny amounts for migraines). Wean yourself off (before you start calorie counting, preferably.) Even diet drinks are bad for you and your weight loss, according to studies. Protein shakes, ok. Green smoothies, pretty ok if you don’t drink too much or have too much fruit/milk in them. Maybe coconut water too, if it’s pure. Don’t drink juice. Soda, juice, gatorade, mostly sugar. Not good for you. Too many empty calories that just make you have cravings and make you hate life.
– Don’t give up. Never ever ever give up. You keep trying til you get it. One day you will. 🙂 Don’t be sad when you miss a day, just get up and try again.
Anyway, good luck! If you have any questions, feel free to post below since I’m sure I’m sure I missed something. I’ll try to respond. 🙂