Sorry, no snazzy title today!
I have lost some weight since the beginning of the school year. I didn’t follow any diet plan or eat grapefruit or take pills or anything. I used simple math–calories in, calories out. I know that it is not quite this simple, because fiber calories are better than fat calories. But I also used common sense. An entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey is about 1000 calories. Obviously, you can’t go through life eating one of those + 500 additional calories and say, “Hey! I’m only taking in 1500 calories a day!!1!!!11!!” I mean, you could, but that would be stupid.
How much weight have I lost? I have no idea. I don’t do scales. I can tell you though that I was up to a size 16+ and just bought a size 10 dress and a size 8* dress this past weekend. Having said that, I should add that I was thisclose to fitting into size 8 shorts, but then couldn’t even get a leg in size 12 shorts. So who knows? Then I found a pair of size 14 shorts that fit perfectly…but my old size 14 shorts from last summer are about 3 inches too big for me. So again, who knows?
How did I do this? First, I planned my meals. Until the weather got cold, I ate a whole wheat muffin, 1 T of peanut butter and a dab of jelly for breakfast every morning. When the weather got cold, I switched to oatmeal with fruit (blueberries, bananas, raspberries) on top. For lunch, I had a whole wheat wrap & 1 T of peanut butter for lunch, a banana, and a 1 oz. bag of chips. For my snack, I had a protein bar. When I got home from school, I might have had a salad or one of those 100 calorie snack bags. (Okay, those aren’t the healthiest, but they make a good after school pick me up). Once the weather got cold, I started having vegetable soup with the banana and chips. Dinner was the only wild card, but I still used common sense, trying to keep it to < 800 calories. I only drank coffee & water, most days. I also exercised 4-5 times per week. I did Jillian Michaels workouts 3-4 times per week and pilates on the other days.
I kept track of calories burned & calories eaten. This was pretty easy to do given my “set” eating schedule. I used this website to help me figure out how many calories I was eating. When I made my own recipes, I used this website to help me figure everything out. When it comes to burning calories, I used this website.
Here are three things that I learned. Your mileage probably will vary:
1) It’s really all about calories. A wise friend of mine who works for Weight Watchers told me that you can lose weight just by cutting calories. If you have the willpower–and don’t consume beer like I do–you can probably get by with just ingesting 1500-1800 calories per day and be okay. I tried to lose weight for over a year with very little success. I just concentrated on exercising and never gave a thought to caloric intake. BIG MISTAKE. You HAVE to limit your calories. It makes all the difference. And speaking of calories….
2)…Many many MANY things have more calories than you think. I got into the habit of checking restaurant websites prior to eating there. For instance, I visited the Big Boy website prior to lunching there, and ended up with a reasonably calorie lunch. But one day, I decided to get my lunch at Einstein Bros. Bagels. I figured–shit, I’m getting a salad and a bagel, who gives a shit? I got my food and came back to school to eat. I thought there was a lot of cheese, so I picked around most of it. I skipped the nuts and only had half the dressing. I ate all of the lettuce and the whole salt bagel that came free with the salad. Good thing I modified this because it turns out that this salad has almost 900 calories in it (when you eat all the dressing, cheese and nuts). The bagel has 350 calories. Now, common sense should tell you that cheese has lots of calories but 900 calories for a fucking salad?!?! I could have a few beers for the same amount of calories. So the warning is–check your calories carefully. Food has more calories than you think & you never burn as many calories as you think. Speaking of burning calories….
3)…Do not confuse burning calories with a workout. Walking burns calories. So does shitting, screwing, breathing, smoking, talking on the phone and playing chess with Grandpa. But none of these things constitute a workout. A workout is when you get your heart rate up to its maximum level for a sustained period of time. To wit, walking for an hour will burn about 150 calories for a person of my weight. But cardio interval training will burn about 550 calories in 40 minutes. See the difference? Most people don’t walk an hour; they walk maybe half that with their dog and think it’s a workout. It’s not. Walking around the block with your dog is better than sitting on your ass watching TV, but it will burn less than 100 calories. When you then consume a 500 calorie Dairy Queen sundae, you have done more harm than good.
Now I know that many people have lost weight by just walking and doing no other exercise. And that is awesome–hell, I wish I could! But I have to believe that a) they weren’t eating many calories and/or b) they were walking for hours at a time. I also don’t buy the “walk for 15 minutes four times a day” racket. Again, it is better than sitting on your butt, but it is still not a workout. Again, your heart rate must be ramped up for a sustained period of time. Of course you will burn more calories than you do by just talking on the phone, but unless you make other changes, you will not see results.
I know this will irritate some people, but I say it still. I say it because I went through it…I tried walking for 15 minutes three or four times a day. I tried walking for an hour. And it simply didn’t work. The only thing that has worked for me are circuit training workouts that push my heart rate up for long periods of time. If you can lose weight just by walking–God bless you! I am endlessly jealous.
I should add that NONE of this was easy for me. Many people have said to me, at various points in life, that I am one of those people who “looks at food and gains weight”. I find that saying very insulting, btw, and will usually respond by saying, “Why do you say that?” This puts the person out on Front Street for saying something so asinine. Nevertheless, there is some truth to that statement in that weight does not “fall” off of me. I am not one of those people who loses like 8 pounds
of water weight in a week. I am not one of those people who loses a lot of weight in a short time…it is pound by pound, day by day. If you see me on a weekly basis, you likely will not notice the difference because, as I said, the weight does not “melt” off of me. It comes off slowly, begrudgingly, angrily. I still have about 30 pounds to go, and I actually am not looking forward to my goal weight simply because I have absolutely no idea how to maintain weight. I mean, I do, but I am not sure how successful I will be at maintaining a healthy weight. I guess we will see.
*Okay, it is stretchy material, but still.