It's been a little over a month since I shared with you a few details of how I lost 30 pounds last semester. Since then, I've lost 10 more pounds making my weight loss a total of 40 pounds. I have 5 more pounds to go until I weigh what I weighed when Christian and I got married, and 10 more to go until I reach my target weight loss of 50 pounds.
To say I feel like a totally different person is an understatement. Not just because I can almost squeeze into my favorite pair of jeans that have been up in my closet waiting for me for two years, but because my heart and my body feels like a machine. I can feel my body working and strengthening when my butt gets kicked in a total body sculpt class. I can feel my body thank me when I end the day and I'm on track with my healthy-eating goals. I have finally been able to see my body adapt to this different lifestyle that I've been leading, and it feels great to know that I don't want to go back to how I was eating and exercising before. Eating healthy is no longer a dreaded chore for me (although I will never totally cut out sweets, who do you think I am?).
Speaking of eating healthy, I want to share with you some of the things I did to change my eating habits that have contributed to 75% (in my opinion) of my body changing for the better. Whether you're trying to lose weight or are just curious about how other people eat (or neither and you think I'm insane), maybe some of what I say can be of use to you.
DISCLAIMER: I hope I don't offend anyone by writing this. Everyone has their own eating style and in the end, you should do what you like and what works for you. I've just had a lot of people ask what I did to lose weight and change my body, and this is what I did.
I've never been the most unhealthy eater in the world. I don't care for fast food (unless you count In N' Out because I dream about their burgers), and I've never been a big soda fan. I had a small two-year long stint with Diet Coke, and now just treat myself about once a month. I've always liked salad and am not really a picky eater, so naturally healthy food has always been a part of my repotoire, at least in one way or another.
Before last Fall semester however, I had been on a year-long hiatus from eating healthy. I wasn't making dinner for Christian and I on a regular basis, which meant eating out A LOT, and I made sweets (anything from cookies to cupcakes to donuts to cake) part of my daily routine. I made Christian take me out to get a cupcake like three times a week, people. I'm not sure how I let myself get so comfortable in a routine that was doing a lot of damage to my body. Not only in gaining weight but in feeling terrible- both physically and mentally. I guess I just didn't really realize the change that was happening until all the sudden I had gained 45 pounds (seriously) in about a year (I can't believe I'm admitting this to anyone- I am actually cringing writing this). When we got home from Europe this summer I was looking through all the pictures I had taken, and all of a sudden I thought, "Wait, this doesn't even look like me."
It took me that long to realize that in the span of 12 months I had changed into somebody that I hardly recognized on the outside. And then, to make matter worse, I didn't do anything about it! July and August went by and I consumed more ice cream than half of America does in a year and ate pie and hamburgers almost daily for the rest of the summer.
I'm grateful that once school started my brain actually kicked in and I started to work at changing my body into something that was fit, healthy, and most of all, made me feel proud. Because in the end it doesn't matter what our bodies look like- we're all shaped differently. What matters is that we're happy with our bodies, that we're proud, and when we look in the mirror we should feel beautiful, no matter what size or shape.
And I did not feel beautiful. I wanted to wear a plastic bag over my face and stay in bed all day.
So now after that rant, here's what I've been doing the past 5.5 months that has helped me change my body and most importantly, has made me comfortable in my own skin.
- There are some things I had to learn first and foremost about healthy eating. the first is that you should never have less than 1200 calories a day. Anything less is doing nothing for you. It might help you lose weight, but you'll just be malnourished and you won't be doing a lot of favors for your body. Most importantly you won't be creating a lean, mean, fighting machine, which is way better than just being thin (in my opinion). Which leads me to another point- yes, I do count my calories.
- Calories: I count them on the My Fitness Pal app. It's an app (also available online) that counts your calories, fat, sodium, vitamin, sugar intake. It helps you calculate your fitness goals and then tells you how much you should be eating. You can also record your fitness and it tallies that in for you each day. You can record your progress. I'm addicted to it. I am religious about recording on it and it has been the most helpful thing by far in helping me lose weight.
- Another thing to learn: You should not be trying to lose more than 2 pounds a week. Losing weight isn't a fast process if you do it right. At first I was really disappointed that I was only losing 1-2 pounds a week, but after a while, those pounds added up. There is no "quick fix" when it comes to being healthy.
- Measure everything. I'm sure you think I must be OCD by now but you have no idea how much you put in to your body when you don't measure it out. 1 cup of skim milk has 90 calories (which is kind of a lot for something that's liquid AND fat free, I'd rather waste my calories elsewhere), and you don't need a whole cup for a bowl of cereal. But how many times have we just poured a huge bowl of cereal with lots and lots of milk? Try measuring 3/4 cup of cereal and 1/2 milk next time (both are serving sizes), and you'll see how much extra you're putting into your body that you could save for something else (like cheese, or maybe even a special treat!)
My calorie goal is about 1250-1300 calories per day. This goes up on days that I exercise, but I still never go over 1300 calories, even on days when I could eat more if I wanted to. There have been times where I've eaten a little bit more (Christmas was the worst), but I haven't eaten more than 1500 calories since the end of August.
Breakfast: I try to eat most of my carbs in the morning (always try to eat the most carbs for breakfast and not at night).
Usually I have 3/4 cup of chocolate cheerios or 1 cup of cheerios (both 100 calories), and 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (15-20 calories)
Total: 120 calories
Then I'll add 4 oz. (1/2 cup) of Trop 50 for 25 calories.
That makes my breakfast a total of 145 calories. I never go over 200 calories for breakfast. Though you could, since breakfast should be a hearty meal.
Sometimes I'll switch it up and do 1 egg and 1 egg white (87 calories total) with a 1 slice of wheat bread (90 calories) for 177 calories total.
Lunch: I try to have a balanced lunch with lots of protein. I usually have a sandwich: 2-3 slices of deli turkey (35-50 calories), 1 sandwich thin (100 calories), and a slice of colby jack cheese (70 calories). Then I'll have a rice cake (35 calories) with a laughing cow light swiss cheese wedge on it (35 calories) OR a part-skim low-moisture mozzarella cheese stick (60-70 calories). Maybe I'll have some carrot sticks (60 calories for 15 baby carrots) or some fat free pretzel sticks (50 calories for 25 pretzels).
This usually totals about 340-360 calories. I try not to go over 450 calories for lunch. If I do I try to have a smaller dinner.
Total for the day so far (if I have eggs for breakfast and lunch shown above): 522
Dinner: I always mix it up for dinner, we try to do a different healthy meal every night (tonight we're doing roasted veggie tacos with avocado cream and feta). I try to keep the main part of my meal at around 400 calories- then add extra for add-ons like bread, salad, or sides. Usually dinner totals about 500 calories.
Total for the day so far: 1022 calories. If I eat 1280 calories for the day I still have 258 calories left.
Snacks: I love snacking. I love to leave a little elbow room for snacks here and there throughout the day. Usually I have a small one in between breakfast and lunch (like a clementine- 40 calories each, and a small handful of almonds- 150 calories), and then one at night after dinner. I try to have my nightly snack before 9 p.m. Usually it's a sweet- I can't live without them. Like a square of ghiradelli chocolate or a small chocolate chip cookie or something along those lines. I NEED something sweet at the end of the day, so I always save enough calories for one small little treat at night. I try to keep my snacks under 200 calories per snack. So if I had a clementine, cheese stick, and a homemade chocolate chip cookie (110 calories) for my snacks for the day, that would put me at 210 calories total for snacks. I could add a rice cake in there or maybe an extra clementine and that would put me at 250 calories for snacks.
Total for the day: 1272 calories (which sounds just about right).
Now if I exercise I might add another helping of bread at dinner or another cookie or something extra at lunch, but usually I keep it how I described above. It's important to treat yourself, as long as you don't go overboard! I try to stick to one sweet a day (maybe 2 if I'm feeling extra fit ;) ).
I hope you can see that I don't do anything super crazy when I eat. I eat normal food. I try to stay away from anything super processed, but for the most part, I just don't eat a ton of anything, and I try to stick to whole grains and lots of fruits and veggies. Weight loss doesn't have to be a chore or something you dread. Heck, it doesn't even have to be terribly difficult. I wanted to do something that was attainable for me, and I feel like I didn't even have to change my habits SO much. I didn't want to have to do a no sugar, no carbs, no food, no happiness diet. I knew that wasn't for me.
So there you have it, I've eaten basically like this (with a few exceptions on holidays and the occasional weekends) since August, and don't plan on ever going back to my old ways. I honestly think that my eating habits are the main reason why I've reached my fitness goals. Exercising has just made the process a lot easier and maybe a little bit faster. Both are essential, but eating right will change your life.
P.S. sorry for this humongous rant.