I love food and I love eating. But, I don't love dieting. Although I have always been a mostly healthy eater, I'm not one to turn down a piece of birthday cake or a glass of wine during cocktail hour. But indulging a little too much and a little too often resulted in a slow gain of 25 pounds by my early 20s.
When I was younger, I'd managed to maintain my weight of 130 pounds by being active. I belonged to the dance team and played intramural sports, so it wasn't difficult for me to motivate myself to exercise. After college, I started a desk job, and with that came long hours, pizza lunches, and plenty of happy hours. I continued to exercise almost every day, but it wasn't enough””and my weight climbed to 153 pounds, which was too much for my 5-foot-4-inch frame.
My Tipping Point
I wasn't happy at my heaviest, but I wasn't really motivated to do anything about it until a ski trip with friends in 2004 put things in perspective. The vacation was a blast, but I quickly lost my getaway glow when I saw photos from our trip. Looking at the physical proof, I was embarrassed by how much weight I had gained. Every photo was a “bad” photo of me. I was so depressed that I threw most of them away.
Soon after the ski trip, I left my desk job to pursue graduate school and took a part-time job working at the front desk of an upscale health club. One of the perks was a free membership, which was the motivation I needed to take control of my weight. I started exercising at the health club most mornings, taking Body Pump and spinning classes on a regular basis. Finding workout buddies helped too. I made some new friends who were avid runners and I began training for and participating in road races with them.
Even though I was burning plenty of calories through exercise, I knew my eating habits were preventing me from losing weight. I wasn't eating unhealthy foods””I stuck with salads, turkey sandwiches, and stir-fry dishes””I was just eating too much of everything. I started tracking my daily calories online at fitday.com. Counting calories really helped me understand my overblown portion sizes and just how many calories I was consuming.
A New Life
Almost a year and a half later, in the summer of 2005, I finally reached my goal weight of 130 pounds. My weight loss didn't happen overnight””in fact it took a pretty long time””but that was because I wasn't “dieting.” Through trial and error and figuring out what worked best for me, I made lifestyle changes, which have stuck with me to today. For example, I almost always have oatmeal with nut butter and a piece of fruit for breakfast. It helps set a healthy tone for my whole day, plus it keeps me full until lunchtime.
Now I'm committed to maintaining my weight without missing out on any fun, like birthday celebrations or nights out with friends, which is the main philosophy behind Carrots 'N' Cake. Hopefully, my tips and tricks are helpful to you and you'll share some of your own secrets and successes with me too.
What Worked for Me: My Weight Loss Tips
Make an appointment to exercise
Every Sunday I jot down my exercise goals on my Google calendar. Sometimes last-minute plans get in the way, but I generally stick to my schedule once I've put it in ink.
Count calories””at least in the beginning
I didn't realize just how many calories I was consuming, so tracking what I ate helped keep me aware of what I was putting in my mouth. I don't count calories anymore, but I track what I eat (and when I exercise) on my blog, which keeps me accountable.
Eat fresh fruit with breakfast
It's such a small thing to do, but it sets a healthy tone for my whole day. Plus, fruit is low in calories and good for you!
Reduce portion sizes
This might seem like a “duh” tip, but just eating less of my usual servings helped me lose weight.
Read a lot of health and fitness magazines
These types of magazines are constant motivation and keep healthy eating and fitness interesting, especially when I really don't want to get on the elliptical! Plus, I get tons of a great ideas for meals and workouts from them.
Every Sunday I sit down and plan a week's worth of meals. I almost always make my own lunch, which means I have more control over how many calories are in my meal. I'm also able to save money by making sure I use up all of my fresh produce.
Maintaining my weight is all about balance. If I overindulge at a weekend barbecue or mindlessly munch throughout the afternoon, I don't throw in the towel. I make sure my next meal is healthy and move on.