First of all, I didn’t even do a Christmas post on here. So, um, Merry Christmas from our family to yours.
And now here we are: New Year’s Day. Which makes me sappy as I reflect on last year. 2013 was a big year around here.
The biggest change, which started with me and trickled down to impact the whole family, was me deciding last January to go on a diet. I didn’t decide to do this on my own, though…here’s how the whole thing went down, since the story has never fully been told.
Very early in January, most of our small group signed up to do the Color Run together in April. (Remember? My hair drama?) I planned to walk as much as possible, and do a little jogging to get ready for this, but I didn’t have big goals of actually running the whole thing.
On January 16, my friend Kelli and I were texting in the afternoon. I sent her a picture of Ghirardelli chocolate chips…I’d just eaten a handful of them for a snack, and I told Kelli they were too tempting. She suggested I throw them away…I remember asking, “Is doing the Color Run making you all healthy or something?” She said no, but that she had been thinking about dieting. I told her I was in…I definitely needed to lose a few pounds.
I suggested we try My Fitness Pal. I knew it was free, and easy to use (my sister Hayley had been using it for a while). It seemed like the best place to start. So we did. We joined that afternoon, and that night, I was already using the app to count my calories.
Days turned into weeks and then months, and now, almost a year later, I’m 29 lbs lighter (and Kelli? She’s 39 lbs lighter!)! It’s been an amazing journey that went way beyond just losing weight, and really became about health and a lifestyle change.
BTW: by the time the Color Run came around, we’d both lost 10 or more pounds and ran a decent portion of the 5k! Since then I ran a 5K at the boys’ school, even though I still really don’t like running.
Lots of people have asked how I did it. I’m clearly no expert…just a wife and mom who got healthy this year without tricks or gimmicks…that stuff is not for me. I wanted to do this in a way that I could keep going, not some shake I’d drink for a while, and then gain weight when I stopped drinking it, you know?
Here’s the recap for any of you who have asked!
1. I did this with a friend…this is ABSOLUTELY KEY. I am not kidding you. I would’ve quit a couple of weeks in if weren’t for Kelli. We texted each other dozens of times those early weeks, encouraging each other to stay on track, and we still do now. All the time.
I also had lots of support from my friend, Heather, who is a personal trainer, my sister who has lost a bunch of weight, and my friend Robin, who’s also on My Fitness Pal and who is encouraging and walks/jogs with me when we can! And, my awesome husband, who practically daily encouraged me or helped me make time for exercise. Love him.
2. My Fitness Pal (MFP) is a fantastic tool. You use it to track your calories and exercise. It’s both an app and a website, and both are very easy to use. There’s a database of foods so you don’t have to input much information, and you can even scan a barcode and the information will pop up.
My only complaint about MFP is that when you’re filling in your profile, and you put in that you want to lose 1-1.5 lbs/week, it’s likely going to calculate your calories way too low. It started me out at 1200 calories, which wasn’t nearly enough…I did start losing some weight, but I was starving all.the.time and cranky. Even now, I shouldn’t be eating at 1200 calories to lose.
Here’s a great tool to figure out how many calories you should be eating to lose weight. It’s called your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). Fill in the little form (just use the Mifflin-Jeor formula button), and it will give you your TDEE. Multiply that number by 0.8. This is the number of calories you should be eating, and you can manually enter that into your MFP profile, so that it’s your goal every day.
To get your calculated calories manually entered in MFP, follow these quick steps:
From the website’s homepage, click on goals. Then click change goals, then custom, and then put in your calories in that first box. Click the green change goals button again, and you’ve got it!
3. Exercise is so important. You know this…it makes you feel better, it builds muscle, and most importantly, while you’re dieting, it allows you to eat more. I can’t tell you how many days I worked out just to get another 200 calories or so to eat.
My next post is going to be a big list of the workouts I’ve done over the past year, so you’ll have somewhere to start.
You enter your workouts on MFP, and it will credit your daily allowance with the number of calories you’ve burned from that workout.
And YES, you should eat back your exercise calories (up to about 300 a day). Your body needs fuel, and food is your fuel (not comfort. Fuel.). You will stop losing weight if you’re not eating enough, because your body starts to think you’re starving, and then it just holds onto your fat. Just trust me.
4. Along those lines…don’t undereat. Your TDEE goal is what you need to be eating.
5. Water is your new best friend. You need to be drinking water all day long…so much so that you will pee more than you ever have in your whole life.
I am a girl who LOVES Dr. Pepper and sweet tea. Like so, so much. I make room for it in my calories sometimes (it’s been a lot recently, but that ends tomorrow, as Christmas break feels over), but even on those days, I drink a ton of water. And with sweet tea: I get it half-cut (half sweet, half unsweet) everywhere I go.
6. Don’t let one bad day sink you. You’re going to slip up. Just be honest with yourself and move on.
7. Find a good snack. At the beginning of my diet, I knew I needed to find a raw vegetable I could snack on. Late afternoon while I’m making dinner, I need something to eat. For me, it’s broccoli. I cannot tell you how many dozens of bunches of broccoli I’ve chopped up over the past year. But, it’s my thing: I snack on broccoli and a tablespoon of regular french onion dip all the time. If you need some protein: a 1/2 cup of light cottage cheese, a small handful of nuts or seeds, or peanut butter on a few apple slices or 1/2 a banana will do the trick.
On that note: measure your food. Don’t guess. Yes, I grab the tablespoon for the dip or when I measure out salad dressing. If you only have one set, buy another cheap one or 2 at the store. It’s helpful.
8. Plan your meals. Because I’m home most days at lunch, I make a salad really often (I used to hate making my own salads. Now, not at all. I keep lots of salad fixings on hand: hardboiled eggs, Feta cheese, sunflower seeds, red onion, rotisserie chicken in little bags in the freezer). Because she works, Kelli often ate an apple and a string cheese for lunch…this wouldn’t be enough to get me through to dinner, but this worked for her, and freed up calories for dinner with her family so she didn’t have to restrict calories at that time quite so much. Figure out what works for you!
I’m sure there’s more, and I’ll add on as I think of things, but that’s all for now. 2013 was a fantastic year, and I’m so excited to see what 2014 brings. Oh, and here are a couple of before and afters of me and Kelli :)
If you want to join MFP or you’re already on there, friend me: nicolediehl77. I’d be happy to go through this with you! I am still aiming to lose a couple more pounds, and I don’t foresee stopping with tracking my food anytime soon.