I know that I’ve mentioned here and there that I count calories. I guess this seems directly disproportional to many of my other blog posts that revolve around all kinds of bad for you goodness, but like many people, I’m on the slow and steady journey of losing weight. It’s a subject that isn’t easy for me to talk about, but I know I get motivation from reading other blogs about weight loss and its struggles, so I figured it was about time to give back. There’s not many full length photos of me at my heaviest, so please refrain from too much laughter at this particular photo. 😉 Here I am back in October 2010, 20 pounds ago…my first time in a corn maze (an alternate title for this picture is “What way do we go?”).
When we moved to Ohio, we met lots of new people and were socializing often…read: we drank a lot of alcohol and ate a bunch of bad for your Midwestern food. Hence me gaining about 15 pounds in just a few short months…wow…it’ll really creep up on ya sometimes!
Since last summer I have lost 20 pounds. That’s so crazy to see it written out. I’m not at my goal yet, and this wasn’t even an original goal for me, but when I stepped on the scale and realized that I had reached 20 pounds of weight loss it was a pretty crazy moment. I hadn’t even realized how far I’d come. It’s important to remember how far you’ve come, because it’s easy to become short-sighted in a weight loss journey. I am not content where I’m at now, but I have to realize that I’m much better off now than I was a year ago.
Now, the reason that I hadn’t realized it was because the most recent weight loss was only 5 pounds of it. Last summer, I food journaled like a mad woman, staying under 1200 calories a day, and was training for a half marathon…yes, I was still only eating 1200 calories a day and run/walking at least 4 days a week. I even counted every sip of Gatorade and every GU pack…it was pretty extreme. That’s when I lost the 15 pounds. At some point after that weight loss, I decided that I didn’t need to journal anymore and honestly, I really just wanted to eat normal again, so I abandoned my journaling. I somehow managed to maintain that initial weight loss (give or take a few pounds) over the next 9 months or so, but decided a couple months ago that it was time to get serious again. It’s not like I hadn’t been trying to lose weight still, but I had stopped calorie counting and was just trying to do the whole eat healthy-ish and work out a lot-ish thing. Some days that worked…most days it didn’t. I’m glad that I had at least been doing that much, since it probably is the reason I was able to maintain the weight loss. But, I’ve learned that when I want to lose weight that isn’t the way to do it, so back to calorie counting I went.
Currently, I’m using the free app on my iPhone called My Fitness Pal and I love it. It has a cool bar code feature where you can scan the bar code on almost any food item and it automatically tells you the nutrition facts for each serving and can input it right into your diary. (See the little bar code button to the right of the search box?)
It makes it pretty hard to be lazy about counting when it’s that easy. There is also a pretty large database of all kinds of foods from varying restaurants and grocery brands, so when there isn’t a bar code available, you can use the search feature. It also has a social media feature where you can be friends with your real-life friends, which definitely keeps me motivated. It doesn’t tell them every piece of food you put it your mouth, but it tells that if you were under calories and when you’ve lost weight. Kind of like getting a virtual high-five from your friends!
Another thing that I love about it is that I can create my own recipes. For instance, I make my own pizza dough, so I just input all the ingredients and now I know exactly how many calories a slice of my pizza is (I also measured out the sauce and cheese). That’s 1,370 calories of pizza dough for an entire pizza btw…not one slice!
One of the most important things about calorie counting is measuring. I hate doing it, but it is a necessary evil if you want to know exactly how many calories you are consuming. Another good tip is calculating how many calories your body needs to maintain its current weight (Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR). You can calculate your own at this website. My current BMR is 1,541 calories a day. So, at the rate I’m going with eating just at 1200 calories a day, I should be able to lose about a pound every 10 days (burning 3,500 extra calories is equivalent to one pound of weight loss). But, BMR is based on calories burned without any physical activity like as if all I did was just lay in bed all day long, so probably a pound and a half a week is a little more reasonable.
Here’s my disclaimer…Don’t get me wrong, I have no plans to eat just 1,200 calories a day for the rest of my life, but this is what works for me to lose weight. When I do anything less drastic, I don’t see fast enough weight loss and it makes me want to give up. I am also the kind of person that weighs myself everyday. I know this does not work for everyone, but it keeps me motivated even if I only lose a tenth of a pound. It is also important to be eating a well rounded diet including fruits, vegetables, and protein. I also take a multi-vitamin everyday. The overall goal is to be healthy, not just skinny. Eating 1,200 calories in chips and soda everyday and nothing else may make you thin, but healthy, it will not. Besides, you can eat a junk ton of steamed veggies for very little calories!
Besides healthy eating, Dane and I have made goals to get back to working out on a more regular basis. Lately, we’ve been mixing in strength training in with cardio…kinda cross-fit-esque without the cross fit craziness (no offense to all my cross fit loving friends!).
I have no intention of turning Bella Carina into a weight loss blog, but I felt that this milestone was note-worthy enough to talk about. Who knows, maybe I’ll check back in after I lose another ten pounds or so.
Here’s a recent picture of me with my sister…20 pounds lost.