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.