Over the past 8 months, I’ve lost a little over 30 pounds. I’ve been ridiculously open about it every step of the way. My Facebook wall has been flooded with posts about Couch to 5k, my Runkeeper runs, and updates from My Fitness Pal. And still, the first thing people ask is, “What’s your secret?”
The secret is… I have no secrets. I’m an open book. I’m not dieting. I’m just aware of what I’m eating now, and I’m a lot more active.
Granted, My Fitness Pal (MFP) has been a huge help. It’s a site where you plug in what you weigh, what you want to weigh, and how much you want to lose per week, and it tells you the number of calories you need to eat.
And what’s really cool about it, is that it’s a community, like Facebook. You have a wall, you can have friends, you can blog, and you can post on their forums. You can share information, as much as you’d like, with other people on the site, and them with you, so you can find out what works and what doesn’t work.
It was using this site that I discovered the missing link. Every time I’ve tried to lose weight before, I failed. And now I know why. I wasn’t eating enough.
I’d always heard it’s all about calories in vs. calories out. I naturally figured that the less I ate, the more I’d lose.
A few years ago, the last time I was actively trying to lose weight, I ate maybe 800 calories a day, and lost no more than a half pound a week. My progress was painfully slow, and I was tired, cranky and sad, because I really enjoy eating, and a granola bar is not a satisfying breakfast. I felt like a failure because I could NOT lose weight. I knew it would be dangerous to eat any less than I was already eating. I felt like my options were either 1) Starve and maybe lose a few pounds, or 2) Eat whatever the hell I wanted and maintain a weight just slightly higher than I’d like to be. Eating whatever the hell I wanted won.
This time around, I didn’t even care about losing weight at first. It was just about fitness. I wanted to be able to run a 5k, and I thought if I could do that, then I’d be fit and healthy no matter what the number on the scale was.
I signed up on MFP on a whim. And I discovered something amazing. I needed a LOT more food! Especially when I exercised like a madwoman. During most of my “weight loss journey,” I ate around 1800 calories a day, and averaged losing one pound a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less, especially as I got closer to my goal. In other words, I ate twice as much as I did years ago, and lost more than twice as fast.
What really made a difference for me, though, is having nothing, and I mean NOTHING, off limits. I’m still convinced that success and failure in weight loss is purely psychological. If you think you’re doing well, you’ll stick with it long enough for it to make a difference. If you think you’re screwing up, you’ll quit before you see progress. I know damn well I’m not going to give up pizza, so I continued to eat pizza. No guilt. No remorse. Same goes for chocolate, wine, pie, cake, bread, cheese, and pasta. If it fit in my daily calorie allowance, I ate it. If it didn’t fit, I’d exercise more so it would fit, then ate it.
Yep. That’s my huge secret. No gimmicks, no fads, no pills, no injections, no deprivation, no hunger, no fatigue, no sadness, no crankiness, no “good foods vs bad foods.” Just getting regular exercise, and eating the right amount of food. Not too much, and especially, not too little.