I don't really know how to start this post off. I should probably begin with a disclaimer: I'm not a medical professional, dietician, or personal trainer! This is just me sharing my experience and what I did. I'm not recommending it to anyone. Talk with your doctor before beginning any weight loss/diet/workout program.
I love chatting on twitter (if you don't already, follow me by clicking here! I'd love to talk to you!) and I oftentimes share things there that I don't blog about. A few weeks ago, on March 28 to be exact, I decided to change my health for the better. And in the past 7 weeks, I've lost 13lbs and gained lots of new muscle.
I mentioned a few things here and there and had people emailing me, DMing me and tweeting me asking about it. I replied but let me just say, it's impossible to have that kind of discussion in 140 characters or less!
Recently, Chris and I took the kids on a quick trip to Dallas. I was watching a morning show while getting ready one day and a man was on the show talking about a diet he developed for diabetics (I think...I'm pretty sure that was the target audience). Anyway, he was talking about how he recommended a diet of 500 calories twice a week. The other five days, you ate as normal.
I thought, "I can do that!" When I got home I did a little online research. I decided that 500 calories twice a week and changing nothing the other 5 days just wasn't the right way to go about this. Instead, I would lower my calories everyday by eating healthy, whole foods. I cut out a lot of the bread and sugar...I LOVE bread and I ADORE sweet tea. Just cutting those things out helped a lot! It seems the recommendation for the lowest amount of calories you can eat and still be healthy is around 1200. Sometimes I eat that and sometimes I eat fewer calories than that.
I've talked before about my recumbent bike, which I love. It's a low impact workout and it doesn't bore me to death, because I can read on my iPad while I'm working out. ;-) Recently, my parents gave me their elliptical and I put it in my office. So in addition to my new diet plan, I added a workout plan. I exercise on the elliptical 6 days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes (and up to an hour and a half). Everyday I try to go a little faster or up my resistance a bit. I watch old seasons of Pretty Little Liars on my laptop while I'm at it, which helps the time pass quickly! A few people asked me when I exercise. I'm NOT a morning person. I exercise every night after dinner. Chris plays with the boys while I get my exercise done. It's great "me" time!
I burn anywhere from 300 - 650 calories according to most sites. Beware of sites that say you're burning something crazy like 1000 calories in an hour. I'd rather be conservative with my calories burned and accurate with my calories consumed.
Now that the weather is nicer (we had snow in May for crying out loud!) we spend a lot of time outside. I chase my kids, we take family walks, the whole nine yards. That extra activity equals more calories burned while having fun with my family...a win-win situation!
The most popular question I've received is what do you eat?!
Well, protein is really important because I don't want to lose muscle mass. I eat a ton of grilled chicken. I marinate it in lots of different herbs, spices and even pre-made marinades from the store, so it doesn't feel like the same old thing. I also eat tons of fruits and vegetables. I love roasting sweet potatoes and onions using the marinade I make for this recipe. I also enjoy eating quinoa, edamame, turkey burgers etc. After the first week and a half I noticed a huge difference in what I wanted to eat. I no longer craved bread or chocolate but I eat edamame like it's candy. Also, I take a multivitamin every day, which I feel is very important.
Drink wise, I pretty much stick to water. I know some people hate drinking water, and while I'm not one of them, there are plenty of ways to jazz it up. Sometimes I add citrus to my water which is super refreshing. Recently I received some crystal light drink packets (in an auction item I won at a charity gala). I think there's 5 calories in each one. I've used the grape and lemonade ones and they were really good! I do treat myself with half and half tea when I'm at chick-fil-a.
You have to burn 3500 calories to lose one pound of fat, so all of this is a math game. I'm terrible at math, so I log everything into a free site that I've used since 2009 called Spark People. It's awesome and there is a ton of great info there. I keep track of my measurements, water intake, nutrition and exercise there. Remember, if you're logging your food, you need to log everything! If you drink sweet tea, gatorade, snapple, etc., it has calories! Input them! If you use a salad dressing, enter it!
So from March 28 - May 11 (which is really 6.5 weeks) I lost 13 pounds following my own guidelines. Am I done? Nope. I'm going to continue with my plan until I reach my goal (I'm 5lbs away from my original goal. When I get there I'll decide if I'm good with that!) and then change things up a bit. I'll add it more calories and probably reduce down to 4-5 days of exercise to maintain my weight.
Wow, so that's a lot of information. Here's some bullet points:
- Do your research! Talk to professionals, read online, get advice from people you know who've embarked on a successful weight loss journey.
- Load up on recipes. Eating out isn't a great option when you're controlling your calories. Search online for great, low cal options. You'll find lots of things that work or can be modified to work!
- Find an exercise you love...or at least can commit to doing. It's great if you can find something that you can distract yourself with while doing the exercise (see my notes above).
- Calories are more important (in my opinion) than exercise when it comes to weight loss. Why? If you're eating junk, or a large amount of calories, you're hindering your potential loss. It's all a numbers game (remember, 3500 calories = 1lb of fat). Cutting calories is a good start, but make sure the calories you're taking in are from lean proteins, fresh fruits and veggies and other healthy choices.
- Be committed. You will fail if you aren't fully committed to this. It's like turning a switch on in your brain that repeats, "I want to be healthy!" over and over. When that switch flips, it's so much easier to make good choices.
- Find support and a place to help you keep track of your goals. I mentioned that I love Spark People - there are lots of great sites where you can keep track of your goals, achievements, calories, workouts, etc. They also have support forums which are awesome. You can find interesting workouts, answers to your questions etc there. I highly recommend it!
So, I hope that answers most of your questions. If I missed something, leave it in the comments and I'll be sure to reply!