It’s hard to express my joy, and because I’m still in the middle of my experience, it’s perhaps a bit premature, but my recent weight loss has been so easy that I felt obligated to share the experience. I’ll even update this post as I progress, so you can see if I stick with it or find a problem I can’t overcome.
Weight when I started: Around 235 lb in September 2014. I started tracking my weight when I hit 230.
First 9ish months of progress:
Latest weight: 193 (Dec 25, 2015) — THAT’S over 40 lbs! Woohoo!
- In brief, I cut out carbs in the morning, increased low-fat proteins wherever I could, and started using a free journaling app called MyFitnessPal.
Too brief? Believe it. Here’s the long version:
- First, my nutritionist told me to stop eating carbs for breakfast. “They spike your insulin and you’re going to be snacking at 10:30.” All true. I stopped and now I am in complete control all morning. I simply don’t get those deep hunger pangs that used to have me running for morning snacks. The best part is the new FDA guidelines say whole eggs are fine, so I don’t even have to use the egg-white recipes my nutritionist gave me. (Update: Actually, I’ve gone back to using them for half the eggs so as to cut the fat, unnoticeably, from recipes.) Eggs and bacon recipes (a great one is the recipe for Egg Cupcakes on EverydayPaleo that I make in big batches using just one pan, not cupcakes), essentially crustless quiches, are easy to make ahead and reheat for breakfast. First problem solved. (Imagine: Eggs and bacon every morning for breakfast!)
- Next, she told me to write down what I eat, and that’s when things really started to happen.
- I quickly found MyFitnessPal (MFP) and found out that journaling my consumption was quite a simple task. The number of foods that were already available made the logging a very quick task, as in as few seconds. I could even grab recipes from the Web and either paste ingredients in by hand or let the app do it for me. MFP even sends out simple recipes that can be automatically logged. As a caregiver on the side, that’s a big help, but that’s another story.
- But all that is not the most important thing to know. The combination of avoiding insulin-spiking carbs (like sugar and refined wheat products) and using a simple and FREE app to make sure that I was eating ENOUGH (key point) meant that I have almost NEVER felt deeply hungry — those nagging, aching stomach cramps that say ‘feed me now’. Scouts honor. Unless I was just not paying attention or not sleeping well (key point) or stressed about something (another key point), I never feel that. Hunger builds much more slowly now, which makes it much more manageable than before.
- OK, so there’s more. As I continued journaling, I quickly realized that I could plan for meals well ahead of time. I have gotten pretty good at anticipating the calories of a meal and could actually decide how much to eat and feel REALLY GOOD about having that power. The endorphin rush is palpable here, folks.
- Once I got into a decent rhythm, still not feeling hungry and being in control of my food choices, another realization hit me. Not only could I plan my day, but I didn’t have to worry that having a bad day would bust my plans. There was no wagon to fall off of because I wasn’t on any wagon at all. I was just walking along, taking each day as it came, and knowing that if I hit a bump, no problem, there were more meals, more days, and a continuous bias downward in my weight. As I build up a bank account of good days, a bad day just means it might take an extra few days to reach my goal, but so what. I KNOW I’ll get there. Another endorphin rush.
- As I’ve continued to follow this simple approach with MFP, I’ve learned to simply hand over my weight loss management to the journaling process. As long as I journal honestly and take the small steps to follow it, I don’t worry about weight management. Another much needed stress reducer.
- And right now, that’s where I am. I KNOW I will get to my goal and be able to not only reach it, but sustain it once I’m there. Between the simple choices in foods [remember, I’ve done little more than stop eating carbs for breakfast, (update: cut a bit of fat,) and maybe bump up my protein as much as I can (key point)] and using the app, I’ve made almost no other changes that were critical to success.
- OK, yes, I’m walking more and even running, but that is my choice and has almost no impact on my weight, since I often EAT most of those calories I burn, the same day even! (That is such a pleasure, too.)
- MFP limits guys to a minimum of 1500 calories per day (1200 for women). To sustain my rate of weight loss I have to add moderate exercise to my regimen and NOT eat back all of them. [Minimum calorie limits are related to proper bowel function, so don’t ignore them.]
- I’ve discovered that I can’t go to the minimum. I had a test to determine my Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR, and I’m able to lose weight, even though I eat more than the 1500 calorie minimum, around 1700. BMR is your resting metabolic rate and your body won’t let you go below that for long. As I found out, my body would either retain calories (constipate me) or give me sufficient cravings to eat to the BMR. Recommendation: Figure out your BMR and you’ll know how low you can go.
- Over time, I have learned that I can go 100-200 calories below my BMR to accelerate loss, but that’s about it. The body will only tolerate weight loss just so quickly.
- And so, after all this I plopped down $50 for the Premier version of MFP, not so much for how I’ll be using the app going forward as for the thanks for what it has done for me. If this were any of those other plans, I’d have shelled out MUCH MORE and probably not been as successful, not learned that eating ENOUGH was key, not learned what foods worked for me, and not learned that I could be successful with so few changes in my food choices. [No one needs to be plopping down buckets of money for all the diet books, programs, sessions. It angers me now when I see all the ways folks waste their money.]
- Stay tuned and I’ll keep updating my chart and any lessons I’ve learned.
ANYONE can do this and I didn’t want to keep it a secret. This is just too important not to share.
(Full Disclosure: I receive NO compensation from MyFitnessPal for any of this. Pick your own journaling app if it suits your needs, but I have been VERY happy with MFP, even the free version.)