The sweet spot for losing weight has eluded me for a long time. And it’s so simple.
For the last year, intermittent fasting has been my go to way to lose weight, feel better, and keep weight off. But because of my disability and age, it’s been a long slow haul to hell. With an upcoming surgery on my other hip, and a promise to the doctor I’d lose more weight, I needed something more. A twist of lime, perhaps.
What used to be simple for me now requires dynamite. I haven’t tried swallowing dynamite yet, but the day isn’t over. My weight has refused to budge much past a certain point, and I can’t blame only my age, although that’s a big part of it. It’s the fact that I can’t move much anymore, or rather, I can, but I don’t, because things hurt. It’s a pain in the everything to move a lot.
What I needed was a tip I got from a friend, one I hadn’t thought about, or tried, for years because I initially thought it was too much trouble.
What I’m referring to is simple bookkeeping.
For the last week, I’ve kept a written record — as accurate as possible — of everything I’ve eaten, and drank (drunk?), even if it has no calories. It’s a good way to keep track of the amount of water you drink, too.
I don’t count or record carbs, only calories. I can’t do both without losing my mind. Plus, I know veggies and fruits have a lot of carbs in them, and I don’t want to know. I don’t want to give up my grapefruit, pomegranates, or broccoli.
I record what I’ve eaten as soon as possible, before I eat it — if possible — or directly after I’ve eaten, because if I don’t I’ll forget some things. Every morning I take my handful of supplements with a glass of Emergen-C, a squeeze of lemon, and psyllium. The Emergen-C and psyllium have 35 calories each. Who knew?
If I have an idea in mind of what I’d like to eat the next day, I write it down like a little menu. This depends largely on whether I’ve hidden the delicious stuff I want well enough, although there isn’t much danger of anyone else eating what I want.
I have no clue if other people know at the end of the day what they want to eat the next day, unless of course they’re on a packaged diet of some kind, in which case they just have to look at a label to keep track of calories.
I tried that. Once. On the advice of a friend — who told me in no uncertain terms that she knew of someone who lost a lot of weight on Nutrisystem — I bought two week’s worth of Nutrisystem food. I followed the diet and did what they said to do, and at the end of two weeks I had — voila! — gained five pounds. Another friend went on one of those “prepared” diets, and she lost thirty pounds. And the hits just keep on coming.
Meanwhile, I’m the only person I know who actually works out on a regular basis— I use the community pool, hydrobells, resistance bands, and five pound weights. I have to use a metaphorical cudgel on myself sometimes to leave the warm, comfy house. It gets cold and windy even in the desert, and the sadists in charge of the pool open one or two of those big window/doors to make sure we wet ones get even colder. But at least I’m getting full body exercise. Yet, I’m still having trouble losing the weight I want to lose.
I’d like to blame all the muscle I have for this conundrum, because I make sure I don’t lose muscle tone, but blaming that would only prove I have too much of it in my head.
Part of the problem is that in my muscle head I figured I could eat pretty much anything I wanted at the end of a fast because I’d gone 18 to 24 hours or more without eating. As usual, I found that I was very, very wrong.
Enter the food journal.
Keeping a written record means there’s a “record,” and you’ll be sorry if you try to bamboozle The Record.
Besides the record keeping, I still do the alternate day fasting of 18–24 hours, so I’m not going an entire day without eating on fast days.
I bought a food scale to measure ounces, but so far I haven’t needed it. I use my phone to look up calories for everything. It took just two days to notice a difference and to lose two and a half pounds.
There are special wrist devices so people can keep track of the number of steps they’ve racked up in a day. A food journal works the same way, but like trying to hit 10,000 steps, I had to decide what my caloric allowance would be.
In my usual fantasy riddled way, I aimed for 500 calories a day in the beginning. As I soon discovered, 500 calories was a chimera in the desert. I had almost reached it on some days with Bulletproof coffee in the morning, which is 300 calories with the MCT oil and a small spoonful of ghee. Now I have that every other day.
With remarkable maturity, I changed the number I aimed for to 1200 calories. Not impossible to attain and within the parameters of actual weight loss.
The food journal is as good as a running balance in a check book.
You can’t bamboozle your checkbook, or the food journal. It’s like trying to spend more money than you have in the bank, assuming you’re a person who does NOT have credit cards. Gasp. It would be marvelous to have a calorie credit card! You could earn miles and rewards for using this card. Paying it back would be kind of a bitch, but while you have the credit, you’d be living “large.”
At any rate, if you don’t have more money in the bank after you’ve spent what you have, you can’t buy anything else. Same with the food journal. Once you’ve reached the limit of the number of calories you allow yourself per day — this can vary widely, depending on whether it’s your birthday, or whether it’s gloomy outside and you need a “weather treat” — you can allow yourself more, but you will feel inordinately guilty.
A bit like when I use my credit cards.
A food journal is a Catholic confessional with resulting treadmill rosary consequences and a lot of mea culpas.
When my food journal shows I went over my caloric limit, I feel much guiltier than when I wasn’t counting calories. Why? Is it because someone will possibly audit my books?
But don’t keep two sets of books because of this possibility. Let’s not go off the deep end, here.
A food journal makes it easier to move to the second part of the weight loss “formula.”
If you can see your food choices, see what you’ve eaten, or what you eat on a regular basis, you can see where they can be trimmed. Writing down what you plan to eat helps, too.
According to Brad Pilon of Eat, Stop, Eat, if you cut just 135 calories a day, you could lose five pounds of solid fat in 10 weeks, or 70 days. Trimming 135 calories from that food journal and your plate, totals 9300 calories over that 10 week period, which translates to five pounds of fat. At least, that’s what Brad worked out mathematically:
In inches this is roughly a 6 inch x 6 inch inch x 2 inch “block” of fat. This would be a noticeable “smoothing out” of the fat below your belly button…That’s 1,125,000 cubic millimeters of fat loss, which is equivalent to 1,250 milliliters. 1,125 milliliters is roughly the volume of 1,033 grams of fat….and 1,033 grams of fat contains a little less than 9,300 Calories. — Brad Pilon
I have no clue what he just did, but I trust his math much more than I do my own. My checkbook was never fit and toned.
Cutting just 135 calories is slow and gradual weight loss, which suits many people. Some people don’t want to “diet,” but would barely notice they’ve given up 135 calories. One of those loaded coffee drinks at Starbuck’s is over 500 calories.
By my calculations — wherein I tried to use Brad’s mathematical formula — this means if you gave up a daily 500 plus calorie Starbuck’s whipped cream, lotta latte, foam and syrup “coffee,” it would mean a loss of *thirty five hundred pounds in 10 weeks.*
*Your results may vary*
Slow and steady can work. Remember the rabbit and the turtle.
Granted, the rabbit had a better figure, but the turtle won anyway.
Cutting 135 calories a day from your daily caloric intake isn’t hard. If you wrote down in your food journal those two double stuffed Oreos you ate, which are almost 150 calories, you’d know that all you had to do was stop eating them for a couple of months to drop five pounds. This number of calories is also 15 potato chips, or 2 tablespoons of Skippy peanut butter.
If you regularly eat five double stuffed Oreos, all you’d have to do — according to Brad — is stop eating two of them and you’d be golden. Not eating them at all is better, of course, but I’m nicer than Brad. I’ll let you eat three of them.
I wrote down the five cookies I ate last night, after I had a beautiful day of just 1,000 calories, all of them from healthy choices. Vegetables, some fruit, a chicken, tomato, and green bean dish, and an hour and half work out in the pool.
And then whammo. I tried to bamboozle the food journal —I hoped against hope it wouldn’t notice — and it didn’t work. But hey, I still kept my total well under 2000 calories.
Just wait until “they” get a load of my other set of books.