After I read the book, I went several months without actively trying to lose weight. I actually had to go back and read through my journal to figure out what the catalyst for change was. This is why you should keep a journal, or have a blog. Either one, you choose.
Sometime during the Fall of 2006 I won the lottery. The breast reduction lottery. I remember Nordstrom measuring me as an H cup. H! After sending off pictures of my naked watermelon shaped breasts my insurance agreed to cover 80% of the costs if I went under the knife. That Christmas my sister got a laptop, and I got a pretty new chest. If you are ever given the choice, choose the chest.
My parents agreed to pay for it on one condition: I had to set a goal and lose a certain amount of weight before the surgery. I believe the goal was 10 lbs.
Don’t worry friends, we are finally to the point where I tell you about my methods. If we were living in a dream world, this would be the point where I tell you about my ridiculously easy method for losing weight. All you have to do is take a pill infused with the root of an organic onion and stand on your head for 10 minutes every morning. The weight will melt off your body like a fudgescicle on a hot summer day. Because life is easy like that.
Silly readers, you should know by now that diets don’t work. So whatever I did, it wasn’t a diet. It wasn’t a “nutrition plan made up by some know it all doctor who just discovered a break through system that somehow no one else had ever heard of or tried”. I decided that whatever I did, it had to follow the guidelines I had set for myself after reading the book (listen to stomach hunger, not mouth hunger, no limitations on what foods I can eat, etc) Want to know what it was?
It was science baby!
(That Husband must be so proud, I’m using science and math together in the same post)
Let me tell you how the conversation goes when I see someone who last saw me at 200 lbs:
Old friend: Wow Jenna, you look fantastic!
Jenna: Thanks. I’ve lost about 40 lbs.
Old friend: I have to ask, how did you do it?
Jenna: Well, I counted my calories.
Old friend: Oh.. okay bye now.
I’ve come to realize that the term calorie counting is a terrible phrase to use on people. They want the conversation to go like this:
Old friend: Wow Jenna, you look so great!
Jenna: Thank you very much. Yep, I’m down almost 40 lbs now.
Old friend: I just have to know how you lost so much weight.
Jenna: Did you see that episode Oprah did on the “Totally Fake Diet”? I followed every step, eating 17 green grapes at exactly 3.47 every afternoon, and now I look like this!
Old friend: I’d heard about that and my friend did it and her mom and the results have just been so amazing. I mean, it’s so easy it shouldn’t even work right, but it does! I heard Oprah lost 13 lbs in a week doing it.
Calorie Counting? It’s so boring! There is nothing flashy, or new and improved, and it’s never been proven to help you drop 20 lbs in 10 days. It’s the kind of practical thing your family doctor or your nutritionist would suggest. Want to know why? Because it works.
That Wife’s Philosophy of Calorie Counting as Calorie Budgeting
I’m going to give you $1400/day for clothes. You have to buy a new outfit (bra, underwear, pants, shoes, socks, shirt, dress, umbrella, purse, earrings, all of it) with that money every single day (dream world, right?). You get to keep the money left over, but never the clothes. How will you spend the money? Will you spend all $1400 every single day? Will you shave off a hundred dollars for a few days to build up your supply so you can splurge on that Vera Wang dress? Will you spend more than your allotment and only get $900 the next day? Staying out of debt isn’t always about what you do in one day, it’s what you do with your money over a period of time.
Now turn that money into calories. 1400 calories/day. With those calories you are going to “dress your mouth”. The challenge is finding a way to keep feel full without overspending. You can spend 350 for breakfast, and 500 for lunch, but that only leaves you with 550 for the rest of the day. What if you want to splurge on the weekends, where will you shave off the extra calories? Save up 100 calories Monday-Friday and you have 500 calories to blow over the weekend. It’s about your caloric balance over time, not your balance day to day.
I realized throught his process that I can’t budget my money worth anything, but budgeting my calories and watching those numbers rise and fall was thrilling for me. That Husband does not find this ironic or funny I don’t think.
Things That Wifes believe fervently about calorie counting, and will argue passionately about with you if you attempt to refute them
1. Unless you are weighing, measuring, and tracking your calories, I would bet my life savings that the majority of you are understimating the amount of calories you eat. It was not until I really sat down and counted and measured every single thing that went into my mouth that I began to see results. Which leads me to believe that my “guestimates” are much more off target than I realize. I do not think I am alone in this. I believe this is why the majority of people who try to lose weight, can’t. Actually I believe it’s why 100% of the people can’t. I believe this principle is based on science, calories in versus calories out. Your body can only work with what you give it.
2. Your body knows how much food it needs. Your mouth will try to confuse you (asking for sugar and cakes and cookies), but your body will tell you when you are truly hungry. Learn to listen to it. Learn that whole grains and vegetables make you feel good, and that lots of fatty and sugary sweets make you feel bad.
3. It is not your daily caloric intake that matters. Only what you eat OVER TIME. I cannot stress this enough. You will be seeing charts below which solidified this belief of mine.
4. If you are hungry, eat. Always. If you are truly hungry, you can eat carrots, or dry popcorn, or drink fat free milk to satiate your hunger. Never, ever, ever go without food because you “spent” all of your calories. Tomorrow is a new day, and over time, your body will start to regulate in its desires.
5. Remember that all food is legal. So buying the Vera Wang dress on sale with no return policy would be like getting the cheeseburger, fries, and milkshake. You can’t return the dress, and you can’t return the food. You can eat whatever you want, but you have to work off your choices somehow over time. If you go too deep into calorie debt, you get fat. It’s that simple.
6. The goal is to feel healthy and strong. Eventually, you should reach the point where you find your body enjoys eating vegetables and whole grains as much as it tells you it wants cookies. At least mine did. In fact, I started to enjoy my avocado, lettuce, tomato, and chicken sandwiches on whole wheat with a wedge of laughing cow cheese even MORE than a cookie. Oh those were good.
7. For me, there were days when I ate 600 calories, and days when I ate 2600 calories. In the end, all that matters is that it evens out to your goal intake in the end.
8. I have one freebie, and that is sodium. I don’t count it, I don’t worry about it. I can’t be perfect, and so I give myself some wiggle room. Pick your own “wiggle” area, and let it go. If you keep up with regular physicals and you notice a problem, change, otherwise, enjoy yourself a little bit.
9. Focus on getting the most fiber, the most protein, and the least amount of saturated fat possible and you will lose weight.
- If you are focusing on getting as much fiber as possible, you will naturally be eating whole grains, because that is the best way to get fiber. Eating more fiber will also keep you full, helping you eat less.
- I shoot for around 70 grams of fiber/day. This is a lot, but if you fill up your diet with protein, you don’t have the calories left in your budget to fill it up with fat. So your fat intake naturally stays low.
- You can never keep your sat fat intake too low. Ever.
I’m not a Nutritionist, or a Dr., or anything else even close. Heck, I don’t even have a college degree. But I have experience, and I think experience means a lot.
I am really not trying to drag this out into a ridiculous wait for you all, because I know this last post on how I actually lost the weight is what you are really interested in. But it was too long to put the two together. The finale will go up later this afternoon.