Weight loss has always been a struggle for me. I have three kids and with each bundle of joy came 15 extra pounds that never left after each postpartum phase. I had my final baby 13 months ago and I knew I didn’t want to keep that weight, but I HATE exercising. And with three kids it’s not like I have any time for it anyway. I’m lucky if I get 2-3 showers each week (#momlife) let alone finding time to exercise. Nope, not gonna happen! So I knew I needed to try something else. Years ago I had tried counting calories and failed, but I realized with my busy life it was worth trying again. Using the app ‘Lose It’ (*not sponsored) I entered my stats and my goal weight. Then I started with a realistic goal weight of what I was before pregnancy #3 and a loss goal of one pound per week. The app calculates how many calories you are allowed to eat each day to meet your goals.
Everything I ate I logged. It was a bit tedious the first couple of days but as I added more foods they would get stored in the library making them easy to select the next time I ate that same item/meal. To be honest my goal of one pound per week sounded depressing and at times I questioned why go through all the effort of logging for only one pound per week. However, I kept reminding myself (and my husband helped remind me too) that it’s better than zero pound per week. Some weeks I lost two pounds, and some weeks nothing (damn Aunt Flow), but it did average one pound per week. I was strict, no cheating, but the nice part is I didn’t have to deny myself any desserts (my kryptonite), I just had to eat smart and I could “reward” myself at the end of the day.
The app allotted me 1,400 calories per day to start and would eat between 1,200-1,400 calories. It doesn’t sound like much but if you make smart choices you’d be surprised how much food you can eat under that limit. Another thing that helped was my husband started the diet too. It definitely helped cooking for both of us but even if I was the only one on it I could still just eat parts of dinner to cut back on the calories.
Foods we ate:
We did a lot of substitutions like riced cauliflower instead of rice and zucchini strings instead of spaghetti (both can be bought frozen to save time, just heat up and eat. It’s a super easy switch). We also did very little bread, the big calorie hit from bread just wasn’t worth it most of the time (except for my homemade pita pizzas once per week, the 200 calories per pita were fine when we topped
with lots of veggie toppings like bell peppers, onions, and artichoke hearts – note: leave off the cheese and it’s a much lower calorie hit.). We also tried to stick to basics like chicken or steak with veggies for lunches or dinners. Even eating out at fast food we would get chicken sandwiches and get lettuce wrap for the buns or remove one bun and eat it open faced. Creativity was the key sometimes
A typical day for me would look like this:
Breakfast: breakfast bread bar (filled with nuts and fruit) no butter – 190 calories
Homemade mocha coffee (with creamer and milk) – 140 calories
Snack: an apple cinnamon rice cake – 50 calories
Lunch: 2 scrambled eggs with salsa, half of an avocado – 280 calories
Snack: pretzels – 110 calories
Dinner: burrito bowl (chicken, beans, riced cauliflower, corn, salsa) – 350 calories
Dessert: 1oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (My Favorite!) – 140 calories
Drinks – all water or tea besides the 1 cup of coffee in the morning
Day’s total = 1,260 calories
For other meal ideas I would check out Pinterest for recipes and Amazon for recipe books.
From mid January to Mid June (5 months) I lost 35 lbs. I am now back to my pre-pregnancy #2 weight and my husband lost 50 pounds. All of this weight we lost was without exercise (exercise is still important and we hope to start a routine soon but needed the weight to start coming off first). If you do incorporate exercise (yay !) the app will take that into account too and give you an adjusted calorie budget for that day.
This was an easy way for us to lose weight, and because we now know the tools and tricks to keep our calorie intake lower I can also tell you we haven’t gained back any of the weight we lost since backing off the calorie tracking. Most weight lost on other diets would just creep back later but this diet re-trains your brain on proper portion sizes, and alternate substitutions, and what to stay far away from. And if you’re wondering, you can still stick to this diet when eating out, you just need to pay attention to the calorie counts on the menus and read the fine prints like if the sauce is included in their count or not. If you stick to items like grilled chicken and vegetables you can still eat out
plenty. On that same note, we made a choice to not count fruit or vegetables, most are low calorie anyway but even if they are higher they are still beneficial to your health so we didn’t want to deprive our bodies of the nutrition. Also, with all the veggies we ate we were eating healthier than we did when not counting calories.
I know 5 months seems like a long time but to be healthy the weight needs to come off slowly so you don’t risk health complications or the weight coming back. This diet changes the way you will think about food and will make you ask yourself whether something indulgent or high calorie is really worth it. This diet was easy to stick to because I still got to have little sweets, but instead of eating junk all day I would wait until the end of the day to see if I stayed below my limit and could reward myself with a small treat.
- Get a food scale and measuring cups/spoons. Some foods will require either of these to know how much you can eat. I found some food very interesting when I’d measure the serving size, some I’d be shocked I could eat more and some shocked me with how little of it I could eat.
- Don’t get coffee drinks from coffee bars or fast food. They are extremely high in their calorie count. Instead, brew your own coffee (or use a keurig) and add a little creamer and milk or low calorie sweetener.
- Portion 100 calorie bags of snacks and desserts, we like kettle corn or Berry Kix. Just use your scale to properly portion your own 100 calorie bags for on the go so you don’t blindly just keep
munching when distracted (you can buy 100 calorie snack packs but you get very little in them and they cost a fortune).
- Substitute veggies like riced cauliflower or zucchini for rice, potatoes, or noodles in a recipe. Swapping zucchini noodles for spaghetti will save you a ton of calories and make it so much healthier.
- Meal prep lunches for work or school. A simple container of seasoned chicken with green beans and riced cauliflower are very low calorie but very filling. If you have the calorie room you can even coat with a low calorie dressing or sauce (but measure as the serving size can be VERY deceiving) speaking of sauces…
- Watch out for sauces and dressings. You’ll be shocked when you see how much calories are in most sauces and dressings. Even if they look reasonable on the label the serving size might be
unrealistically small. Try substituting Italian dressing instead of ranch, etc.
- You can still have bread, just maybe make sandwiches open faced so you use half the amount of bread.
I hope my experience and tips can help you with your weight loss goals. Just remember I’m not a doctor and some people may not benefit from lower calorie intake. Also, don’t eat so few calories that you become unhealthy. There were a couple days that I would be doing too good with low calorie meals for breakfast and lunch (even with healthy filling meals) that I would need to eat a higher calorie dinner to get me closer to my limits so that I would still feel good and have energy. I definitely tried to not let that happen, but it was a learning curve in the beginning.
* I just want to say I am not a doctor or a dietician. This is just the method I had success with and am offering up this information in hopes it can help someone else in their weight loss journey. Always
ask your doctor if you are healthy enough for a diet.
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