Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My Math Diet

That title has two words that most people don't like but I've had several friends ask me how I lost weight this year and have kept it off so I'm going to break it down. I lost about 25 lbs in 6 months and have kept it off for the past 3-4 months since I've been home.

I've had people assume that it was super easy to lose weight since I was deployed for 6 months away from the normal fast food temptations in America but there were people over there who gained weight. I believe it really wasn't that different than doing the same thing here. It always comes down to choices.

Our unit was encouraging people to use this time to set and achieve fitness goals while we were over there. When I first arrived, I weighed myself and was excited to get started. I started making what I thought were healthier choices in the dining facility and working out in the gym. I used the treadmill and the elliptical and did some free weights. A couple of weeks into it, I weighed myself again and hadn't made any progress. I was frustrated and more determined to figure this out. I remembered that there are a host of studies showing that people who keep a food journal lose more weight so I started recording everything in MyFitnessPal. I figured out that some of those healthier choices I thought was making were quite the opposite. I started reading the message boards on MyFitnessPal and learning some little tips and tricks as well as how to use the website/app to its full potential.

One of the girls in my section was teaching a spin class and invited me. I was reluctant because I used to belong to a gym and walk by the spin classes and never wanted to try it. It was dark, there was loud dance music going, people were screaming and it overall it just seemed like a sweaty, creepy rave.  I went anyway and was surprised to discover I didn't hate it. I liked the music she chose and the bike was showing an incredible number of calories burned. The thing I like about MyFitnessPal is that you get to set how much weight you lose, put in what you eat, and then you get to "eat back" your calories burned though exercise. So if I can eat 1300 calories/day to lose a pound/week, then I burn 500 calories in spin class, I can eat 1800 calories that day. It inspired me to keep working out more. I usually attended 2-3 classes a week. We joined a gym since I returned home and I still do spin 2 times a week.

I also started running and walking more. I worked up to a 5k from January to March, made it to running a 10k by May and was able to run/walk a half marathon by June. I usually ran 2 days a week and walked a couple of nights as well listening to podcasts.  I was not and am still not fast. I did the 10k in 1hr 10min or so. It burned a ton of calories though and it was great being part of a team that cheered me on to run the 10k and half.  I'm planning on run/walking another half marathon with my husband in a few months.

So what did I eat? I basically ate whatever I wanted that fit in my MyFitnessPal allotted calories. I learned to make some substitutions so that I could eat more. I learned that I like a Coke Zero with a twist of lime as much as a Dr Pepper. I learned that I can't eat as much mayo as I wish. I will sacrifice mayo for mustard if it means I can have ice cream. Condiments can really cut into your daily calories. Portion sizes are also important to watch. I focused on foods that filled me up and I still enjoyed eating. I really watched beverages because that is an easy place (juice, frappaccinos, etc) to use up all your calories and still be hungry.

An average day for me looked like this:

Breakfast: big cup of cereal (Honey Nut Cheerios were a great go-to with less calories) and coffee
Snack: banana
Lunch: grilled chicken salad with full fat ranch (lite ranch tastes like sadness)
Dinner: turkey burger with cheese and a side of veggies and Coke Zero
Dessert: Breyer's ice cream

Now, I eat pretty much what I want but I keep working out. My mantra is that you have to "change your plate to lose weight, but you have to train to maintain". I just got out of spin class and tomorrow I will run. Last night my husband and I walked 2 miles. It gives us a good time to talk. I weigh myself daily and make choices based on that. I look up nutritional information when I can on my favorite restaurants and look for better choices that I will still enjoy.  You can cut your calories in half with some simple choices eating out. Good example from McAlister's: I can have the Southwest Turkey Melt and Southwest vegetable soup for 500 calories or the Reuben and broccoli cheese soup for 760 calories. Throw a full calorie drink in and it is easy to get to 1000 calories for one meal. Most of the sauces at Chick-fil-A are really high calorie. I used to use 2 packet of Chick-fil-A sauce which is 280 calories! Craziness! Knowledge is power.

So I call this the Math Diet is because that's really all it is. Calories in minus calories out. People kept seeing the weight come off and asking how I was doing it and I just would say, "Math!"

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