With all the trendy diets and extreme workout routines popular today, it’s hard to keep track of what’s working and what’s not. Of course, some plans may have your best friend dropping weight like crazy and leave you wondering how you keep managing to hold onto almost every pound. Weight loss success depends on so many factors, including your individual metabolism, your health limitations, your schedule, and of course, your level of commitment.
My most successful weight loss effort took place a few years ago, and truth be told, I actually gained a whole lot more than I lost during that time. Over the course of nine months, I lost a total of 60 pounds and several clothes sizes. I felt healthier than I had in years, and I looked better, too. That was by far the most weight I had ever lost, and I was pretty thrilled. My weight loss journey ended abruptly, though, when I found out I was pregnant with my youngest child. It was a pregnancy doctors never thought would happen without fertility treatments, but one I am convinced was spurred at least in part by the effect my weight loss had on my hormonal balance.
I suppose you’d like to know how I managed to lose the weight, and whether it might work for you, too.
I really didn’t change much about the foods I ate, other than to track them carefully and count the calories I consumed each day. That was enough to make a major difference.
If you have never counted calories, it’s not so hard. You just track the foods you eat, add up the amount of calories they contain, and try to stay within a certain limit. That limit may be quite high if you are significantly overweight and just starting your journey, or if you are tall, very active or particularly, a man. Men can consume more calories each day than women without gaining weight, especially if they are also active.
You can find nutritional information on most packaged foods, and now calorie counts are included on many menus and in online guides and trackers. If all else fails, you can estimate calorie counts based on the weight of a serving of food and the calories found in its likely ingredients.
I had no idea how many calories were in an Oreo cookie until I started counting. I quickly discovered that a handful of Oreos and a glass of milk might be a tasty bedtime snack, but indulging in a similar treat each night could quickly add up to a pound of weight gain a week.
Now, I like Oreos. But once I started holding myself accountable for every calorie I consumed throughout the day, I discovered that I was perfectly willing to sacrifice one treat for another or eat a much lighter dinner if I wanted to enjoy an occasional glass of milk and chocolate cookies before bed.
Exercise was important, too
In addition to counting calories, I also gradually added regular exercise to my routine. I began just walking around my block. Then I walked farther, and farther. Before long, I joined the YMCA and added some strength training and walking on an elliptical trainer to my walks around the neighborhood. Exercise got easier and more fun as the weight came off.
Change took commitment
I was completely committed to losing weight and getting healthy during the nine months before I got pregnant. After I found out about the new baby, I stopped trying to lose weight and focused on staying healthy and eating right for her. It wasn’t much different from what I’d been doing, but I kept my calorie counts high enough to support her growth well.
Unfortunately, after my youngest was born, I haven’t had the level of motivation or commitment necessary to start losing weight again. My time and focus have been spent elsewhere, so I am pretty much back at the same steady weight I was for years before I started counting calories before.
I’m not a yo-yo dieter or someone who is constantly trying to lose weight. But when I decide to take it seriously and hold myself accountable for every calorie, the pounds do come steadily off. I’m feeling pretty happy and confident this spring; maybe I’ll sally forth on a weight loss journey again soon.
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