230: 30 Pounds Gone!

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On Friday, March 13, I reached another milestone on my journey to health: 30 pounds lost. I weighed in at 230 pounds.

A friend on Facebook asked what my secret was, so I’m going to spell out my whole weight-loss plan for you. But let me say right now that it’s no secret. Really and truly, I’m just eating less and working out.

1. How I Track My Calorie Intake

First, as I pointed out in an earlier blog, I set up an account on Fitday.com to help me create a diet plan and track my calories. There are some issues with Fitday. There is some inaccuracy in the nutrition info on some foods in their database. It’s really difficult to find some foods. But generally you can trust their info. Since you can create custom foods, I have actually entered a lot of stuff myself. Basically, anything I buy that has nutrition info on the package (which is everything that comes in a package!), I enter into the system myself. I eat a lot of the same things, so this works out. Stuff like produce that doesn’t come with a nutrition label, I look up in the Fitday database.

If for some reason I don’t have nutrition info on a food, I look it up at TheDailyPlate.com. Users have entered tons of foods brand name and chain restaurant foods into the system there. (NOTE: Look for the ones with the “Reviewed” tag.)

If I make a recipe at home, I enter it into SparkRecipes. They have a recipe calculator that tallies up the nutrition info for you. Then I enter it into my database at Fitday. (Some of these web sites also do the same thing Fitday does. I had just already set up my Fitday account and diet plan when I discovered them.)

2. How I Eat

First of all, let me say that I can eat anything I want. It’s just a question of how much I can eat. I am cutting 1,000 calories a day, leaving me about 1,582 calories. If something’s really high in calories, you may just have to forgo it.

I eat an extremely light breakfast. Usually consisting of:

Yoplait Light Yogurt (100 calories)
A slice of bread (70 calories)
Cup of coffee with Splenda and ½ tbsp. fat free half and half (about 14 calories)

or

Blueberry Bagel with a serving of fat free cream cheese (about 240 calories)
Cup of coffee with Splenda and ½ tbsp. fat free half and half (about 14 calories)

Those are my most common combinations. But I have also been known to eat Froot Loops, Corn Flakes (don’t drink the milk!!!!) or some Eggo Buttermilk Waffles with sugar free syrup.

I eat a 100-calorie snack around 10 a.m. Then lunch is – again – really light. Usually a sandwich (try using hummus instead of mayo), salad (with 1 tbsp of pretty much whatever dressing I want – I HATE low fat salad dressing), fruit, and a cup of sugar free pudding. Then mid-afternoon, I have another 100-calorie snack.

Dinner is my big meal of the day. Usually 700 to 800 calories. Here’s a fairly lo-cal recipe I like for dinner. It’s high in sodium, so see how you can cut the salt, but it’s pretty dang good. (I no longer salt the chicken before cooking it. And yes, use kosher salt. It’s lower in sodium than regular table salt.)

Jud’s Chicken Pomodoro

3. How I Exercise

I am blessed that the NASA contract I work for provides me with a free membership to the onsite fitness center here at Johnson Space Center. I know not everyone is so blessed, and going to the gym can be an iffy proposition for a lot of people. Basically, I go to the gym for 45 minutes three days a week (four if I have time). I spend 30 minutes on a stair stepper. I think the average calorie burn for this is about 360. But I push myself, so I’m burning about 430 at this point. I spend the remaining time doing three sets of 12 repetitions of each of the following: curls, presses, crunches. The calorie burn for these is minimal (maybe 100 for the whole time), but they will build muscle, which will cause you to burn calories more efficiently and just plain burn more calories when you exercise.

Pick a time to work out when you’re most likely to actually do it. For example, if you’re not a morning person, don’t try to work out at 5 a.m. That’ll last about two days.

I go at lunch. I’m already at work, so I just go over to the gym and work out during my lunch break then eat at my desk. (I know this won’t work for everyone.) I get the added benefit of my stomach being really empty when I weigh, but not so empty that I’m gonna pass out!

The most important thing to remember about exercise is this: if you expect to lose weight and then maintain a healthy weight, you HAVE TO EXERCISE. No way around it.

(You can also track your activities at Fitday.)

4. This Time It’s Different

You have to understand that this is a lifestyle choice. That’s really what’s made it different for me than past diets. I won’t be restricted to 1,500 calories a day for the rest of my life, but – because I have a tendency to overeat, I probably will have to be very careful about how much I eat from now on. I will always have to exercise. It’s hard, but I feel better about myself. And I just plain feel better. Honestly. At first, you’re just exhausted, but then you find you have more energy. Oh, and you have to buy new clothes because the crotch in your size 40 jeans is hitting you between the knees and there are no holes left on your belt.

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