Hi there and ho there, Beth’s Journeyers! My name is Gretchen and I blog about weight loss, good food, and life over at Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen! I recognize that this post is not part of your regularly schedule programming, but since Beth is tied up with a little thing like, oh, moving her entire life across the Potomac river, she has graciously allowed me to commandeer her fabulous blog for the day.
Thanks to the amazing support of the healthy living community and the inspiration of bloggers like Beth, I’ve lost 57 pounds (so far!) over the past year and freed myself from an incredibly toxic relationship with food. I’m so thrilled and honored to be guest-posting here, especially considering that this blog is one of the very first ones I glommed onto when I first started my own!
I know that Beth credits her incredible success with following the Weight Watchers Points+ plan, but I thought that for those of you who aren’t following that program I’d share with you the details of what I’m doing (since my journey certainly isn’t over yet!) My story isn’t unique. I’ve struggled with weight and self-image issues for most of my life. But thanks to embracing real food and healthy living, I’ve gone from a 246-pound couch potato to a 189-pound 5K completionist (granted, I’m no soon-to-be-marathoner like Beth is, but then again, I kinda think that running sucks, hahaha.)
I count calories. Granted, I don’t do it as religiously as I used to, but that’s pretty much what I’ve done to lose weight. Here is a breakdown of the steps I’ve taken to, well, change my life!
1. Figure out your current caloric intake.
Most people have no idea how much they really eat in a day. I suggest taking a day to write down literally every item of food and drink that makes it into your mouth. You can do this in a notebook, on the computer, or download an app to your phone (I use the calorie-count.comapp.) If you’ve never tracked your intake before, you might be surprised at how things turn out! Knowing really is half the battle, after all.
2. Calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR).
It’s simple math: calories in (minus) calories out (equals) weight loss/gain/maintenance. It really is that simple. Using a simple BMR calculator, you can get an idea of how many calories you burn literally just by being alive. Factor in any additional calories you might burn through activity and exercise, and from there you can see how many calories you should be consuming in order to lose weight. One pound is said to be equal to 3500 calories. So in order to lose 1 lb a week (a good, steady rate!) you need to have a deficit of 500 calories per day. Please note that I really don’t recommend consuming less than 1200 calories a day, though, as you may risk slowing down your metabolism (and being HANGRY!) at that point.
3. Eat! (Nutritiously.)
The biggest mistake I made when I first started out was putting too heavy a reliance on prepacked foods and frozen meals. Sure, 100-calorie snack packs are easy to count calories with, but eating so much processed crap made me feel like, well, crap! I now follow a delicious diet based on the principles of (mostly) clean eating: lots of veggies, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins like seafood, poultry, and tofu. I am also a huge proponent of eating fat (oh no she didn’t!) Yep. Healthy fats are God’s gift to weight-losers the world ever. Things like fish, avocado, nuts, seeds, and nut butters are bursting with flavor and keep you satiated for hours. You may balk at the thought of peanut butter being 100 calories a tablespoon, but how long will that box of cardboard diet crackers really keep your hunger at bay? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
If you’ve ever read my blog though, you know that I am NOT averse to indulging. Life’s too short not to enjoy good food, and that definitely includes cupcakes or a really good steak here and there. The main tenants of my new lifestyle boil down to this: eat mindfully, be active, and learn to love yourself again. I might still struggle with one of these things every day, but at least I know I’m fighting. And my journey isn’t over (my goal is to lose another 15 – 20 pounds), but for the first time in my life as a professional dieter, I know I’ll make it to the finish line this time.
If you’re interested in learning more about me and my journey, I encourage you to visit my blog! There you’ll find more details on how I lost weight, healthy recipes, progress pictures galore, and more than a few pictures of some pretty adorbs pups. Also, feel free to contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Twitter, or Facebook!
Have you ever tried counting calories? What did you think of it?
I tried it one day – A Full Day of Eats: PointsPlus v. Calories and that was pretty eye opening, but I don’t do it regularly!