You CANNOT out exercise a horrible diet!
While working out is important (and certainly included everyday in my weight loss regime) eating right is SO much the bigger battle (for me) and really where the biggest impact is going to occur. (I've heard it said it's an 80/20 ratio. 80% what you eat and 20% your workouts.)
I mean I can jog for 30 minutes (which I had to work up to) and burn around 300 calories. Which is fantastic, dont get me wrong. But my point is, if you aren't conscience of what you're eating, you could mindlessly eat that many calories in a few minutes.
(Nov 2009 & Jan 2012)
I've tried this so many times before! Some have worked- Weight Watchers; twice, first time I lost 10lbs (then stopped and gained it back), second time I lost 15lbs (then stopped and gained it back). Some have not-*trying to keep track in my head, write my daily consumption on sticky notes on the fridge, or in a journal.
Then last year my husband found a few online tools. We tried one, I dont even remember the name, but I was sporadic about it. Then we found myfitnesspal. I think the key for me was that a) it was on my phone, which is in my pocket all the time and b) a few super handy features (scan items, huge database, graphs of progress).
And this is what I saw four and half months later!
By being consistent. And diligent.
A few things that helped with eating/food portion of my weight loss:
Is It Worth It?! I knew starting a healthier lifestyle would be difficult and I was going in big, starting right before Halloween. And Thanksgiving. And Christmas. But way back in the middle of September, before any of that happened I had a thought. Next year, in five years, in ten years am I going to remember that second helping of thanksgiving dinner I had? Am I going to remember that dozen pieces of candy I took from my kids Halloween bag? OR am I going to look smokin' and be proud of myself? I could still participate in the holidays and celebrations but I could do it smart and still be just fine.
Using smaller plates. Our normal dishes are a good general dinner plate size. My kids' plates are smaller and we have some ikea plates that are even smaller! I literally haven't used the big plates in over six months. Every night at dinner we set the table with our disney plates and I still don't fill it all up with food.
Measuring out portions. If I'm going to make the effort, I want to make sure I am accounting for everything. To me, the extra 10 seconds are worth it. I bought an inexpensive ($10ish) digital scale online and even an extra set of measuring cups because I use them so much.
Having recipes/meals I could rely on. Since usually I don't have to feed my entire family for lunch (school and work) my lunches turned in to something easy. (I didn't set out to do this, but it turns out it has helped a ton.) I found two meals that I enjoy a lot so I make one, put the leftovers in the fridge and have lunch for a week then switch. My two are Tostadas (174 calories) (where I found out I loved them while on vacation in California and my mother-in-law made them for me) and Taco Soup (175 calories for a 1/2 C). For dinners I eat a lot of chicken. (I <3 chicken) I have found a handful of recipes that work for me but have still been able to keep alot of what I usually cook and just watch my portion size.
Knowing ahead of time what our weekly meals were. I made a super simple weekly layout. Every week I fill it out, write my grocery list on the back and take it with me to the store (in case I see something on sale I can easily make a substitute). Then I put it on my kitchen counter, right where I can see it and follow it.
Getting rid of temptation It took a little while, but I dont give in at the store and think I'll only have 1 (
Having on hand, low cal snacks. While I try not to, sometimes I like to snack. I tend to visualize and compartmentalize all my foods in categories of 100 calories now. Air popped popcorn, apples, chicken (I'll grill up some and keep it in the fridge so I can pull out a few ounces at a time), Special K cracker chips (my favorite / have the strongest flavor: Ranch & Sour Cream and Onion), Werthers Original (sugar free), fat free yogurt w/ a 1/4 c granola, a cup of dry cereal, pretzel sticks, and an obvious choice is vegetables (but I'm not a fan! so sorry). All of the things in the picture below are about 100 calories. (Scooby snacks aren't my normal regime but my son really wanted me to add them into the picture.)
Don't drink your calories! I drink water or crystal light (and sometimes rarely, like when I go out to eat, again rarely, Diet Coke). My husband loves to drink juice, and thats just never been a temptation for me. 120 calories in 8oz of apple juice! Bazinga. I would WAY rather have an extra one of those snacks from the above picture for that price.
Planning my entree ahead of time if I was going out to eat. I'd figure out what I was going to eat a day or two before then the day of try to work out as close to that many calories as was feasible. Using online searches I could find just about any nutritional information from the restaurants I went to with ease. My best bet was always chicken.
Choose. Choose. CHOOSE. I didnt want to cut things out absolutely and completely. This whole thing is totally a mind game for me. The eating, the working out, all the aspects of it is a big mind game. In the past I've always looked at diets and thought "I can't do that. I could never not have___". I do however choose to have them less often. BUT when I want it, I count it and move on and dont beat myself up for enjoying it.
Also something helpful for me is that I try to start with half a serving. Plate it, sit down, eat it. THEN if I want more go get it. Sometimes, it's just a taste I want and I dont have to spend the rest of the calories. :) (With this in mind though, the three common foods I have in my house that I've noticed I choose not to have near as often as I used to are bread, cheese and peanut butter. (Again, for me, I'd just rather spend my calories else where. It wasn't an upfront choice of not eating these things but when I'd try to decide what I was putting on my taco I'd measure out an ounce of cheese and after the first or second time decide it wasn't worth it the next.)
So here's a little more detail about how I am counting calories. I use myfitnesspal. Which you can use on a desktop computer or a smartphone app. (I use them both.)
My daily allotted amount is 1200 calories.
I work out first thing in the morning (I'll have another post about my workouts and what motivates me).
While my calorie counter adds in the new amount I stay to my 1200 because, at least for the time being, (I still want to drop another few lbs) I want to maximize my efforts.
Below is a random day from last week, to give you an idea. A nice thing is the data base is so large you can typically search for anything and find the info. If you have a smart phone there is also a bar code scanner option you can scan your food in and it'll pull up it's nutritional information and you can add it to your day.
You can right click on the above picture. But basically it just shows I had taco soup & crackers for lunch. Chicken, baked potato, and salad for dinner. Yogurt, granola, popcorn, crackers and a multi vitamin throughout the day. Total 1118 calories.
One of the features I love is that I can enter in my common recipes and figure out exactly how many servings/calories they're worth. Just an example, here's a Taco Soup recipe.
You'll see this in my workout post probably but I really like visuals. I love seeing my nutrition, fitness and progress repots and get a kick out of the progress I'm making!
If you made it this far, thanks for sticking around. Sorry it was so long!
Here is Part 1. I hope to have Part 3 up next week (with some answers to the questions that were left in the last comments).
Thank you for all of your kind words and support!