Note: I know the holidays are probably the worst time to publish a fitness post but I started this whole calorie-counting/lifestyle change around this time last year.
Hopefully, my story and experience can help anyone else trying to stay healthy during the holidays. Look at this way…if you can do it in December, think what you can accomplish in January!
It’s been a little over a year since I officially started eating healthier and exercising. I thought it might be helpful to share what’s worked for me and how it’s going now that I’m in maintenance mode.
First off, a little about my attitude towards food…
I love food. I’m an epic snacker and my eating style most resembles that of Belle in “Beauty & the Beast” a la “Be Our Guest.”
I don’t tend to eat a lot in one sitting but can eat quite a bit over the course of a few hours. So if eating was like running – I suppose you could say I’m built for endurance. Which funnily enough, is the exact opposite of my ACTUAL running abilities.
How It All Began…
Anyway, I can’t watch tv without something to eat and I am far from gym-rat status. That was the case a year ago and it’s still the case today. But the day after Thanksgiving last year (11/25/16 #neverforget), I weighed myself. I was shocked by how much I had gained. Although I didn’t even own a scale until a few months before, I knew it was the heaviest I’d ever been.
It’s a funny thing, body image. Because I’m naturally on the more slender side, I never worried about my weight. And unfortunately, that meant I also never cared about eating healthy either. I started gradually gaining weight after starting my first full-time office job. But gaining 5 or 10 pounds didn’t change the way I felt about myself. Overall, I felt pretty great and saw no reason to change.
Nonetheless, I could tell by how my clothes fit that I was obviously gaining weight. It was happening very slowly, but it WAS happening. By November of last year, I could barely fit into my largest pair of skinny jeans, which by Poshmark’s standards were already “plus size.” I had just gone through some major life changes and was eating and drinking whatever the heck I felt like. It didn’t really hit me until that morning.
Granted, I was on my period and it WAS the day after Thanksgiving, (the unofficial fattest day of the year), but still. I was surprised by how much I had gained. I decided then and there to do something about it.
My boyfriend had been using MyFitnessPal for a few months so I decided to give that a try. I had no idea if it was going to work or if I was going to stick with it but I was determined to at least try.
I set small goals for myself at first, just 5 pounds, but it was still soooo hard to stick to the daily calorie counts. I was used to eating well over 2200 calories a day so cutting back to 1600 felt like I was depriving myself. Plus, I had never tried to restrict myself before so I really had no idea how to do it.
But I bought myself a Fitbit and committed to getting exercise. The calories burned in the Fitbit app were added as exercise points to MyFitnessPal, allowing me a few extra snacks. Every little bit counts. I took the stairs, I went for walks at work, I ran in place during commercial breaks on tv at night.
Makin’ It Work
FINALLY, in the first week of January, I lost a pound. Encouraged by my success, I lowered my daily count to 1400 a day and increased the intensity of my workouts. I bought some workout clothes and started doing a free Bootcamp that my apartment gym was offering. I learned which low-calorie meals were satisfying (tacos, rice bowls, avocado on toast) and which were not (anything without spice, sauce, or cheese).
Although you can (theoretically) eat whatever you want on a low-calorie diet, it’s almost impossible if you eat a lot of junk food or fast food. French fries, Doritos, and candy bars could never fill me up enough to be worth their respective calorie counts. In order to stay under my daily count and still eat foods I found delicious and filling – I had to be very sneaky.
Finally, 5-6 months later, I had lost 18 pounds. And I’ve maintained that weight since, entering my calories every day on MFP. (Trust me, it gets easier once you get used to it.) As I’ve switched into maintenance mode, my motivation to work out and exercise has gone way down. I don’t wear a Fitbit anymore and I usually only work out once or twice a week. I’m trying to get better with my workouts but it’s always a struggle.
However, I have become a pro at tracking it all and maintaining a healthy weight. I’ve learned to balance restraint with total gluttony and still enjoy life. I’m naturally a very analytical person so I feel like calorie counting works for me. I’ll probably always use it as a way to track my general nutrition.
However, if you’re someone who tends to obsess or have body image issues, calorie-counting probably is not for you.
Weighing the Pros and Cons…
I definitely feel more confident in my body now than I did before but sometimes I miss mindless eating. Ignorance is bliss. Now, I’m just so aware of how many calories I’m consuming. Maybe that’s just part of a healthy lifestyle and mindset but sometimes I wonder, is this living?
But overall, that con aside, it’s definitely been a positive change in my life and taught me real restraint. I still have days where I let myself eat whatever I want (holidays, birthdays, weekends). But I’ve just learned to make up for it during the week. Everything is a balance.
I’m curious to know what works for everyone else. How do you find the motivation to exercise/work out and how do you maintain and/or lose weight? I’m still relatively new to all of it so I’d love to hear what works for everyone else.