Thursday, May 16, 2013

25 Pounds

Numbers from WPClipart

25: the number of pounds I've lost since January. (For my non-USA friends, that is 11.3 kg or 1.8 stone.) After "playing" with the same 15-20 pounds over the last 5 years or so, I feel that finally hitting the "magic" 25 pound mark deserves a shout out. Go me! LOL

It also marks when I was able to buy clothes in the next size down. Yes, the "big ladies" don't get to buy new clothes for "just" a 10 or 15 pound loss. I was quite discouraged, actually, that it took so long, but also keep in mind that my previous size was quite snug on me at my highest weight (read: I could not button my work pants, and my jeans were uncomfortable), but I had to wear them because, well, there really wasn't anything bigger sold in regular stores. I also think I'm about to need new bras. (Sorry to any males reading this right now!) The ones I have are older, and they just don't fit like they used to. They're way too loose going around me. But man, I hate bra shopping!

Obviously, the next thing everyone is going to ask is "what method are you using?" Frankly, I'm doing it the old-fashioned way: food diary and calorie counting. I have not changed what foods I am eating, and I am not exercising (unless you count physical therapy, though I leave there after working for an hour and I'm a sweaty mess, so maybe that really does count as working out twice a week!). Now, I may be eating less of something. For example, my macaroni and cheese: I used to make it four servings, until I found out that equaled about 600 calories. Whoa!! That would be okay for a meal, but not for a side serving with something else. So I now divide it into six servings, which is still high at 400 calories, but I also make sure I pair it with something like baked chicken (the same baked marinated chicken I've always eaten), so that I can "afford" the higher calories. At some point, I know my calorie target will drop to the point that even that will be difficult, but for now, it's fine. And it's working for me, which is the whole point!

Note: I may have been a bit misleading when I said I was doing it the old-fashioned way. The method is certainly well worn, but I'm using modern tools to do it: my smartphone and My Fitness Pal. There is a website for My Fitness Pal, but I much prefer the smartphone app. I find it much more user friendly! I also love that I have it with me everywhere I go. No writing it down and having to look up the calories later. No carrying around a book to know how many calories are in a meal when we eat out. No wondering if I have enough calories left in my budget to have one more roll with dinner. It's right there in my pocket, I just have to whip it out and take a look. (I am not affiliated with My Fitness Pal in any way, and they did not ask me to write this. In fact, they probably have no clue this blog exists. I'm just a happy user.)

When you create your account, you tell it your current weight, how active your lifestyle is, and how much you want to lose per week (I chose 1 pound per week), and it gives you a daily calorie target. They have an excellent database of foot items, including most of the chain restaurant items. You can also add your own foods/items if you find any missing. As you add foods to your diary each day, it will decrement those from your "calorie budget," and your remaining calories for the day are displayed at the top of the screen. You can also track any exercising you do (they have a database for calories burned, too!), and it will increase your budget to compensate for calories burned. As you lose weight (I think it is every 10 pounds), it will adjust your calorie budget so you will (hopefully) continue to lose. It will also track your weight and measurements, if you want to do that. I only track my weight right now. It will also tell you the nutritional breakdown of individual items and everything you've eaten (assuming those values were input when the item was added), so you can see things like your total protien, fat, and carb intake. Again, I'm not really paying much attention to that part, I'm really just focused on the calorie count for now, and as long as it is working, I don't feel the need to monkey with it. If it ain't broke...

Other things I like about My Fitness Pal: If you tend to eat the same things every time at certain restaurants (or the same foods together as a meal at home), you can store a "meal" so you don't have to re-input the individual pieces each time. Example: for Mexican food, I have my usual meal of 1/2 of the cheese dip (I estimate it at 6 Tablespoons), 30 chips, and a burrito saved as a single meal, so I can add all of the pieces (and adjust quantities, if needed) with a single click. My actual restaurant is not there, and I don't have nutritional info on them, but I searched the database and found what seemed to be the most typical calorie count for "Mexican cheese dip" and used that. (Personally, I'm not into being accurate "to the calorie." As long as I'm generally in the ballpark, I'm fine with that.)

I also love the recipe feature. I input recipe ingredients and number of servings, and it will calculate the calories per serving for me and save it, so I don't have to add all of the ingredients each time. I have to say, that has been very enlightening. Some of our meals that I thought would be super high in calories turned out to be not as bad as I feared, and some meals I had never been concerned about turned out to be *much* higher in calories that I ever expected. Again, we still eat all of those foods, but I make the reasonable calorie meals more often and the higher calorie ones less frequently. I also discovered that I had been eating 50-100% more calories than I should be on a daily basis, sometimes more, up to 3 times my recommended daily calories. No wonder I was/am so heavy! I knew I was eating too much, but I had no clue it was THAT much too much.

I try to actually input things before I eat them. This serves two purposes: 1) I might make a different choice of food item or how much of it I eat when I see how many calories are actually in it before I take a bite. Suddenly, half the slice of quiche seems like plenty when you realize the whole slice has 1400 calories! And 2) I'm less likely to forget later that I ate something. I am far from perfect about the whole thing, and I go over my calorie limit plenty. But when I do it, it is because I choose to do it. It's not because I didn't know that there are 260 calories in each slice of pizza before I ate it. If I want a third slice, then I have it, but I know that means absolutely no snacks or it means being over my limit for the day. I am also not depriving myself of anything. Sometimes, "the phone says" I'm out of calories for the day and I can't have a cookie, and on some days, that's okay with me. I know that I can have a cookie tomorrow if I'm a little more careful about my calories. But sometimes, even if "the phone says" I can't have a cookie, I still do. If I *really* want the cookie, then I eat the cookie! But I also know in advance and accept the fact that eating the cookie when I've already "spent" all my calories for the day might slow my weight loss progress. As long as I am on target most days, I will be making progress, and any step in the right direction is a good thing, even if it's a baby step.

Okay, so that ended up being much longer than I thought, and I know it reads like a commercial for My Fitness Pal. To a certain extent, I guess it is, but only because I have been very happy both with the ease of use of the program/app, and because it is actually working! (Again, no affiliation, just a happy user.) After trying many times to lose weight and failing, I really thought this would fall under the "too good to be true." I mean, really, it can't be that simple, can it? (And I do know that some of my friends have had to alter their diet because just calorie restriction wasn't working for them. It may not work for me forever, but it is working right now.) But I committed to keeping a food diary this year, and this seemed to be the easiest way to accomplish that. Sure, I hoped I would lose weight, but it was really more about being conscious of what I was putting in my mouth. I didn't set a any sort of goal in terms of weight or time; I just wanted to track what I was eating and maybe lose some weight in the process. I was secretly hoping deep in my heart to lose 20 pounds by the end of the year. Um, yeah, I think I'm good there! LOL Having that little number at the top of the screen is much more motivating than I expected!

I don't intend this blog to turn into me talking about food and weight and all the time (no offense to those who have weight loss blogs; I read plenty of weight loss blogs and find them very motivating!). I'm not even sure I could do that if I wanted to because, amazingly, I'm not thinking about food and weight loss all the time! It's just part of what I do before I eat. But, I did want to both document and share my success because, well, I'm darn proud of myself, even if I do say so myself! I'll update you if when I hit another big milestone, be that 50 pounds lost or finally being able to wear my original wedding rings again (there are other weight loss achievements besides just the number on the scale). Not sure *when* I'll get to either of those, and it really doesn't matter. I intend to get there eventually, even if it takes months or years to do it. Here's to the next 25 pounds lost, and hopefully well beyond. Thanks for coming along with me on this journey!
Currently feeling: happy for me!


  1. Congratulations! Yay you for making small changes add up to something really big.

    I'm down 5lbs in three weeks, but I've got a long way to go yet.

  2. And boy are you looking good!!


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