Like most people I’ve tried to lose weight over the years and have been less than successful. How unsuccessful was I? One time I somehow managed to tack on eight pounds to what I already weighed and that completely sucked ass.
In late October I decided once again to work on it, but this time I told myself I really had to lose the weight. Why? I was pushing 280. I’m 6 ft and in high school I weighed 180. I was way too thin back then but over the years my goal was always 220. Today I stepped on the scale and saw 220.5 appear. Suffice it to say I was beyond stoked.
In the past my weight loss routine went like this…
Cut out anything that tasted good and only eat stuff that tasted like cardboard or dirt. That would go on for four or five days at which point I would say F this and cruise to my local pizza joint for a thin crust with sausage, pepperoni and roasted red peppers. When I was living in Buffalo I would add a dozen medium wings from Duffs to the mix. I would wash that down with a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew and top it off with Ben & Jerry’s. Suffice it to say that way of losing weight never worked for me.
So, in late October I decided to get serious about the weight loss. I figured I would start on November 2 which would allow me one last post-Halloween candy orgy. On November 1 I was at my local Target shortly after they opened and hit the candy aisle for some 50% off Halloween candy.
The rest of the day was spent having a three-way with Hershey’s Nuggets and Reese’s peanut butter cups. At one point I think mini Milky Way bars joined the party. The day was kind of a blur, but I awoke November 2 and vowed to take the weight loss seriously.
The first few weeks I ate a lot of yogurt, boysenberry granola and fruit and I found I lost a few pounds, which made me happy. I knew I couldn’t live on that for the rest of my life so I added soup to the mix. The new menu helped with the weight loss but I still wasn’t feeling right about it.
Then my Muse hooked me up with a free app for my phone. It’s called My Fitness Pal and after using it for two days I realized that this was my missing link to the weight loss. How did it work for me? Simple.
The app (which also is available online) tracks what you eat and shows you calories, fat, carbs and protein. I signed in and entered my height and weight then it asked how much I wanted to lose per week. I could choose from .5, 1, 1.5 or 2 pounds a week. I chose two pounds and I was told that I should be eating 1550 calories per day.
Th really cool thing about the app is that you can put food from the grocery store in by brand name and it has the info already there. It even has a lot of restaurant foods as well. I can also create my own foods online. For example, I created a homemade chicken torta entry. All I did was put the ingredients (bolillo, chicken, salsa, guacamole) in and I simply added the totals and now instead of entering several items I can simply click one button.
What I found as I started tracking my food amazed me. I’d been eating generic Special K with red berries for breakfast and as I was shopping I started looking at the nutrition labels on food. A one cup serving of the generic Special K was 220 calories. Not per bowl. Per cup.
That kind of surprised me, so I looked over at the box of Chocolate Frosted Flakes and guessed how many calories per cup that was. I figured it was in the 400 range and when I looked at the box I seriously uttered the phrase “Holy shit” out loud. Why did I say that? It’s because Chocolate Frosted Flakes has 110 calories per cup. Half of the “healthy” cereal.
That absolutely blew me away and changed the way I looked at weight loss. I found that I could actually eat things that I liked and still drop weight. Once that revelation hit me it was on like Donkey Kong. What kind of stuff was I able to eat? Here is what I ate on January 7. At that point I changed my weight loss goal from two pounds a week to one pound, which took my daily calorie consumption to 1690. The four columns of numbers are calories, carbs, fat and protein. I don’t track things like green tea or black coffee which add no calories.
Kroger – Blended Low Fat Yogurt – Plain, 0.25 cup 35 4 1 3
Fresh & Easy – Triple Berry Crunch Cereal, 0.75 cup 150 30 3 4
Fruit: Blueberries – Fresh, 1/8 cup 10 1 0 0
Blackberries – Fresh, 0.25 cup 19 5 0 0
Fresh (Store Bought) – Raspberries, 0.25 cup 16 4 0 0
Beer – Michelob Ultra, 12 FL OZ 95 3 0 1
Fresh & Easy – chicken bites, 9 oz cooked 390 0 0 0
Homemade – Chicken torta, 1 sandwich 332 31 8 33
Orville Redenbacher’s – Smartpop Pop Up Bowl, 2 C 30 6 0 8
Jell-O (Jello) – Sugar Free Creme Brulee Rice Pudding, 1 container 70 12 2 2
Kelloggs – Frosted Flakes Chocolate, 2 cup 220 52 2 2
I’m not expecting you to do the math so I’ll do it for you. That day I ate all that food and was at 1367 calories which is 323 below my goal. What is 323 calories? I could have a Hershey bar and a cup of regular (not sugar free) pudding and still be under my target. On days I take my 13 mile bike ride I earn another 1,200 calories which means I can eat even more. I usually don’t eat the full 1,200 extra, but I could.
The other thing I’ve learned is that if I have a day where I feel like pigging out, I do. For example, one day I ate 2200 calories, so the next three days I made a conscious effort to try and stay 150 calories below the 1690 so that at the end of the week I come out more or less even. The bottom line is that I was a fat ass and now with simply watching what I eat I can lose weight and still enjoy myself.
For example, today’s lunch is french onion soup. A can of Progresso French Onion is 100 calories. When I add some croutons and a bit of cheese to it I end up with a tasty 245 calorie lunch. That allows me the opportunity to have a pudding cup (120 calories) or a bowl of Chocolate Frosted Flakes later in the day if I so choose.
For the first time in my life I’m wearing clothes that hang off my body. I need to get some clothes that fit better, but it’s kind or cool to realize that on Halloween I was a solid XXL and though I wear mostly XL now I can wear some things that are L. That is all the way rad and has helped me feel a lot better about myself.
I’m not saying that the way I lost weight is the best way, but it worked for me. Before I go to bed at night I click the “COMPLETE THIS ENTRY” button on the website and it says, “If everyday were like today you would weigh: XXX in 5 weeks”. I’m amazed to see that some days I eat cookies and chocolate and I can still drop the weight.
I’ve now changed my goal to 210 pounds. Any thinner than that and I think I would be too skinny and if I wore a wife beater I could be mistaken for a meth addict. It’s not so much about counting calories as it is looking at what I eat and how I can change the things I already eat to fit my goals.
My weakness is a torta. A torta is a Mexican sandwich that traditionally has refried beans, meat, guacamole, salsa, cilantro, onions and cheese. I found that if I cut out the beans and cheese and make it chicken instead of al pastor it cuts the calories down to around 350. Doing that means I can go to Chronic Taco and see Danny my “torta dealer” more often.
Once I get down to the 210 I’m going to start working on building muscle because the reality is that weight is simply a number. If I go back to 230 and the extra 20 pounds is muscle, that’s cool. It’s really about how you feel and how you look. I’m down from a size 40 pant and am now solidly in a 36, though I can almost fit comfortably in a 34. Weight loss isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. It’s all about the attitude and let’s be honest, I’m full of attitude!