Diet is a four letter word

Growing up, I was never really aware of my weight. I guess I was always active enough (doing what, though, I’m not sure) and probably kept my calories down to a reasonable level or my metabolism handled things for me for a long time. Ah, Youth!

I am 5’4″ and have a medium to large build. I’m basing the “large build” on guides that have you measure your wrist circumference. Mine is 6″. According to BMI measurements – I should weigh between 108 and 145lbs. But this doesn’t take into consideration my build – it only bases that on height. If you just base it on build, the range is 134 – 151lbs. These two really do not add up. Especially if you’re just looking at the low end: 108lbs vs 134lbs. That’s a HUGE difference!

I think when I was in high school – I was probably about 125 pounds. College got me up to 130-135 which is where I stayed for a good long time. Then… I got pregnant with my first kid. I used the pregnancy as an excuse to over indulge and after it was all said and done – I was at 145 (which really isn’t TOO bad). As the years crept by, I think that great metabolism I used to have went away. Soon enough I was at 150lbs, then 160lbs. 160 was definitely the wake-up call. I did the South Beach diet, and got myself very briefly down to just under 150. It didn’t last. Then I got pregnant again, and after all was said and done on that one – I was at 155lbs. This of course, slowly crept up to 160 – which I was almost willing to accept. But when I saw it going OVER 160 – I realized it would never end. If I didn’t make a change, I would just continue to gain weight.

I tried to do South Beach, but just couldn’t be that rigid again. I tried a couple of other “fad” diets – of course, these do not work. So I tried Jenny Craig. This did work for a while. I was on Jenny Craig for about 3-4 months. I ate the food out of the boxes – it wasn’t bad. I had a lot of crazy-hungry days, but I just dealt with it. I did everything online – and instead of going in to see them, a consultant called me once a week. When I got my weight down below 150 – she cheered and said “SAY GOOD BYE TO THE 150’s!!” I was happy, but didn’t really feel the excitement. I had been down there before. I wasn’t convinced I could stay there. After all, I didn’t want to live on Jenny Craig food forever.

I ultimately got down to 145lbs. It felt like I was there for just a day. By this time I was sick of Jenny Craig and desperately wanted to eat normal food again. I had been exercising at Curves, but was SO bored with it. I was in over my head with work – and every minute I couldn’t put in trying to finish the project I was doing at the time, made me crazy. So I quit everything.

Just a few months later I was back up to 155lbs. I’d lost 15lbs on Jenny Craig and immediately gained 10 of it back. Not good. I needed a new plan.

The first thing I did was join 24 Hour Fitness. I thought that if I just “ate less” and exercised regularly, I could lose weight.

Well, that was partially true. In the end that didn’t work. I lost maybe a pound – maybe two – over the course of two months. WTH? So I signed up with a personal trainer and my first complaint to her was the weight loss. “I’m eating less – I’m working out – THIS ISN”T WORKING!!!!” She told me she wanted me to write down everything I ate. Just one potato chip? Write it down. EVERYTHING that went into my stomach. And if possible, include calorie, protein and carb information. I was to bring my food log for the week the next time I met with her.

This was a turning point. Since I do everything online, I went looking for a way to log all my food through a website or something. I found a number of free tools (fitday.com, livestrong/the daily plate) but I wasn’t thrilled with the features or interface. After a number of Google searches, I found MyFoodDiary.com. THIS had everything I needed. I liked the interface and while it wasn’t free, it wasn’t expensive either. I figured, I’d try it – and just cancel after awhile. Now? I think I’m hooked on that site for life. (Well, at least it isn’t like living on Jenny Craig food forever!)

With MFD (MyFoodDiary.com) I can track my weight, my food. I can build recipes, enter custom labels for foods that aren’t in their database (although they have a pretty extensive database). I also read the forums – there’s a lot of good information I’ve found there.

I never thought I’d be willing to “Calorie Count” – it always seemed like a “chore.” But I feel very strongly now, this is the only way I’m going to be able to do this.

The first day, and almost every day since, has been an eye-opener. While I thought I was eating less, I really wasn’t. When you broke it down meal for meal, calorie for calorie, I was actually taking in WAY more calories then I realized. All the diets that can promise results, whether they’re low-carb, low-fat, in a box, in a shake – they all come down to one simple fact: it’s basically a math equation.

Calories out > calories in = weight loss.

This is true for everyone, except where medical issues make it not the case. (There is a fantastic post in the forums on MFD by a guy named Charles who lost 300 something lbs this way. He said basically the same thing.)

Once I started counting the calories, I started to lose weight.

That’s not to say I didn’t hit plateau’s. I have. And each time, I learned something new – and had to adjust my thinking. The first plateau I hit, again, went back to the personal trainer and had measurments taken. While I hadn’t seen numbers dip on the scale, due to the amount of exercise, I was gaining muscle at almost an equal proportion to fat I was losing. Another plateau I realized that what I considered to be a portion as specified from a label – wasn’t what I was actually eating. I started weighing and carefully measuring out my food so I would know exactly what I was eating.

Now – I am currently sitting at about 136lbs. And I’ve been here for a few weeks – so it’s definitely not like the “day” I was at 145. I’m certainly within my healthy range and my obsession to LOSE weight is waning. I can still see some fat that has settled on my belly and love-handles. I would love to see it gone. But I know now that I’m this close, it’s going to go extremely slowly. Figure – probably .5 lbs every two weeks or so. So instead, I’m focusing on getting in shape. I want to build up some endurance and be able to run for longer periods (I feel like a wimp saying running for 2mins makes me tired. I know I can do better than that!) and I want to build some definition to my arms and shoulders. (=sigh= resistance training)

I don’t consider what I’m doing a “diet”. Diet’s come and go. You go on them. You go off them. You gain the weight back. What I have tried to do is change my lifestyle. I am making myself extremely aware of what I eat. For me, it’s the only way I know I’m going to keep the weight off. I am a mindless eater. If I see it, if it’s on the counter – I’ll eat it. If there’s a bag of chips by the computer, they’ll be gone and I’ll barely have the recollection of eating the entire thing. By making myself accountable for everything I eat – I know I can take control.

2 Comments

  1. Starz Above
    Jul 20, 2009

    I’m finding out the same things you say here, although instead of joining a gym we bought 20 acres to homestead!
    Did you ever try out the iphone app ‘Lose it!’? That’s what I used for awhile, from the last week of January until the end of March, and just watching what I ate and how much made a huge difference! I lost about 13 lbs. I really think raising that awareness helped me to lose a few more lbs since then, even without keeping track of things diligently. But now, with a banner-year-birthday coming up I’m getting tired of not feeling like I know I should. Your post has inspired me to go for it, and I’m going to start using the program again (tomorrow) and working some ‘regular’ exercise into my schedule along with the work out I get living the ‘country life.’ The garden and animals probably have quite a bit of the gym equipment part of the workout covered, so I think I’ll concentrate on cardio – I’ll walk and then work back up to running. You can’t beat the scenery out here!
    Thanks – I’ve missed you, I’m glad I found you again :-)

  2. Jennifer
    Jul 20, 2009

    Gardening can be a great form exercise! Good for you for getting back on track. 😀

    I think I downloaded the “lose it” program – but never really used it. Since MFD had an “iphone friendly” website – I ended making a bookmark icon for that and just used that.

    The scenery here in Utah definitely makes running more interesting than if I was just doing it in the gym. Just have to enjoy it while I can before the cold comes!! 😀

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