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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How I lost 55 pounds in 7 months

Last year I managed to lose 55 pounds (25 kg) in 7 months. I am 5’5 (165cm) tall, so for me it meant going from size 14 to size 4 and sometimes 2. 
  I think the primary key to my success was a very strong motivation, but there were also some practical aspects that helped me persevere. Here are the main three rules which I found useful. In the following days I will be posting one more tip per day. I know that in dieting there is no silver bullet - things that work for some would be absolutely irrelevant or even harmful for others. So I am not suggesting that you follow all these tips, rather I hope you find some of them inspirational :-)
My Weightlossophy
1. Know how much you are burning.  
  I tended to hugely overestimate the energy that I burned when working out, primarily thanks to treadmills, ellipticals and workout videos that claim you burn 1000 calories in an hour. But then I had a metabolic assessment and discovered that I actually burned 400 calories, 100 out of which I would have burnt anyway, by simply being alive. Before that I had always thought: “I worked out so hard, I deserve some extra ice cream... or 2”. Now I knew why when I managed to stick to a workout routine, I’d gain weight :-).
  Metabolic assessment tells you how many calories you, personally, burn performing specific activities, such as sleeping, working, cleaning the house, running, walking, etc. I used Senswear, a small equipment you wear on your arm, which continuously measures your calorie burn based on your heart rate, body temperature, etc. Another equipment I found online that seems similar is Bodybugg
  Such equipment can be pricey to buy. Sometimes you can rent it from your gym. But even if you don’t have access to a personal metabolic assessment, you can approximate your calorie burn based on your weight, age and activity type on several sites, such as Nutritiondata or Healthstatus, which usually turn out quite accurate for me.
  Note of caution:
as you lose weight you burn less calories for the same activity, so when you slim substantially, you might want to update your calculations. I know it’s sad, but hey - you’re getting thinner ;-)
2. Calculate how much you eat
  It is very tempting to believe that you can eat as much of the “non-fat” yogurt as you want, or that you should eat “plenty” of “healthy” foods. Walnuts are great for you, and it’s so easy to reach out and grab 2,3,4 more walnuts - how many calories can there be? Well, in 4 walnuts there are 100 calories, something that takes me an hour to burn. Not to mention “unhealthy” foods, where in a singe slice of an amazingly delicious cheesecake there can be 1400 calories - pretty much all my daily ration.
  My favorite online resource for calculating calories is CalorieKing. But there are many more great sites like that. After a while, as you become more experienced, counting calories gets much easier because you remember many items by heart, especially the ones you eat the most.
3. Record everything
  Now that you know how much you burn and how much you eat, record it all. Take a small piece of paper with you to work: it is so easy to forget a 100 calorie cookie that you munched on. Then add up everything and see what is your daily balance. It can be quite eye opening to keep such a record for a while. If you also weigh yourself every day, or at least once a week, you can see how your calorie balance impacts your weight. They say that
a deficit of 3500 calories results in a weight loss of 1 lb. That was approximately true for me. 
  Don’t cheat! Don’t round up your workout time and round down the calories in your meals. It will only upset you in the long term, because you will feel that you’ve spent so much time and effort being “good”, and still have not lost any weight. 
  After a while it will be very satisfying to look back at your honest track record and see how well you were doing and how much weight you lost as a result. You can even make a graph, like mine (or prettier) to boost your morale :-).
I will be posting one additional tip from my “Weightlossophy” every day for the rest of my detox diet (April 11, 2010). So if you’re interested, check back in. Or if you have a thought or a question, please leave a comment,  and I’ll be happy to get the conversation going. 

30 comments:

Emily Ziegler said...

How wonderful! Excellent tips! Congrats on all of your success!

Laura said...

Wow...that's amazing...I'm really bad at calorie counting, but I know I should do it. You're inspiring.

bunkycooks said...

Good for you! I know that losing that much weight was a real accomplishment!

hamms said...

Thank you for the great info! I have been struggling for several years now to lose weight. May I ask what a typical work out for you is daily?

Cooking Rookie said...

Re: hamms
Before this 7 months long diet I used to do pretty intense workouts - running, elliptical, weights, kickboxing. But when I started counting calories, I realized that food was much more crucial for me, and working out too hard made me hungry. So I switched to walking and yoga. In fact, for me it turns out that I burn more calories walking at moderate pace than weight lifting and kickboxing. Yoga does not burn much calories, but it's good for you overall :-).

Noelle said...

This is very helpful! I have hit a slump and have also hit some cravings and I have been vegan 6 months! Did you have motivation or help from with actual friends?

Cooking Rookie said...

Re: Noelle
I did have a friend at work who had lost weight by counting calories, she was an inspiration to me, but I did not follow everything she did - I picked and chose what suited me more.
Regarding vegan, I am not one. I did not have any restrictions in terms of food. As soon as I forbid myself to eat a specific food, I start craving it. So I was just limiting calories - I could even eat cheese cakes, only very little of them.
Regarding motivation, mine probably sounds a little ridiculous, but it was strong enough for me: I planned a big move and wanted to travel light, both in terms of my own weight and in terms of not carrying all those large size clothes with me :-)

Greg said...

Congratulations! I know how hard that is to do, because I lost 125 pounds in about 20 months. I followed some of the same principals that you did. I have maintained my weight for 3 years now.

denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

Congratulations on losing so much! That's quite an accomplisment. Thanks for sharing your secrets and tips - very generous of you :)

citronetvanille said...

Congratulations! a lot of people should stop eating and follow your advice! No matter how hard you work out, it comes down to how many calories your body burns.

thecoffeebreak said...

Congrats and keep up good work!

Biren said...

Congratulations on your weight loss! You are so diligent in counting those calories.

Jenn @ defunktgourmet said...

Congratulations! Highly inspiring post.

hamms said...

thanks so much for the reply! I have lost about 15 pounds and have about 25 more to go. I have been counting calories, but I think my lack of activity has been holding me back. You have inspired me to get moving! Thank you & congrats!

redkathy said...

My hubby lost over forty and did do some of the same things! Congrats and best wishes!

Marina said...

Thanks for the inspiration!! I am determined to lose weight before I even set my wedding date. Though I find counting calories difficult with my busy schedule, im trying the clean eating approach :/

I looked up sensewear, but it seems you can only get it through a dr. Yes?

sweetlife said...

congrats on your weight loss..great tips..

sweetlife

Cooking Rookie said...

Re:Marina
I rented out my Sensewear from gym at work - it was a really good deal only $25 per week.I knew a woman who bought Sensewear on eBay. When I was searching Bodybugg, I saw people mentioning that it can also be rented from your local gyms.
Good luck with the clean eating! What does that mean? I have not heard that term before.

Cajun Chef Ryan said...

Congratulations on your accomplished weight loss! My dear wife and I started the Eat To Live diet plan last week and have lost 3 and 3.5 pounds respectively the first week.

Your post here is great motivation for me, going to forward to her too.

Also, I've shared this post on Stumble Upon.

Bon appetite!
CCR
=:~)

Stephanie @ Per l'Amore del Cibo said...

Congrats on all your success! I think these are great tips coming from a normal person who deals with day to day life -- sometimes all the information that's out there on weight loss can be confusing and daunting. Keep up the good work, you have become an inspiration to many!

Marina said...

Clean eating means focusing on eating mostly fruits, veggies, whole grains ( im also ok with non fat dairy) and limiting processed foods to as close to zero as possible. Basically making everything from scratch to limit additives and chemicals :)

The nice side effect is that you get full faster too!

Cooking Rookie said...

Thanks everyone for your comments!

Marina, thanks for telling about clean eating!

Stephanie, thanks for your kind words!

Ryan, thanks for bringing up ETL and good luck to you and your wife with this new plan! It did require a lot of discipline to start a new diet during the holidays :-) And thanks so much for sharing this post on Stumble Upon!

Kristen said...

This is so interesting to read! I will have to check out calorie king...I've been wondering how much I burn in everyday activities...

Cooking Rookie said...

Re: Kristen
Thanks for the comment, I'm really happy you found something useful in this post.
CalorieKing tells you the calories in the food, and Nutritiondata or Healthstatus tell you how much you burn.

Jenn said...

First of all congrats on your weightloss!!! Yay!!!!

Great list. Some people abhor tracking calories. Personally, like you, I find it very useful. I don't do it regularly anymore but when I feel like I'm gaining then I start tracking again. In fact, I'll probably start tracking soon because I need to drop a few pounds to test for a certification (RKC Kettlbell).

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!! :-)

Angie said...

Great tips! Congrats on your success!

Anonymous said...

The authoritative message :), cognitively...

Carolyn said...

Congratulations on such a great weight loss!

Sonia @ Food Obsessed said...

Congrats on losing the weight and keeping it off!!!

This is a beautifully written and incredibly inspirational post. Great tips you have in here. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it!

alison @ Ingredients, Inc. said...

wow congrats!