I didn’t intend to write about my weight loss journey, but then it happened…
- Low-carb dieting
- Intermittent fasting / time restricted eating
- Counting calories
Kathy Jo’s NON-Patented, NON-Trademarked Way to Lose Weight and Keep It OFF
Getting some sort of exercise each week speeds up metabolism and increases the amount of food we can eat while still losing weight. And while I enjoy weight-lifting and yoga, I was sick quite a bit throughout the year that I was losing weight–I had two nasty ear infections that knocked me down and didn’t want to let me back up again. This means that I was unable to exercise as hard as I would have liked to during much of that time.
But whenever I was up to it, I walked. It’s an exercise that most of us can do. It’s easy to start small and gradually work up to a faster pace and a longer walk. When the weather was nice, I walked outside. When it got cold, I bought a manual treadmill and watched anime while I walked indoors; I really hated that treadmill, so the anime, with subtitles instead of dubbed, gave me something to focus on.
I started at only 10-20 minutes, which was HARD at first. By the time the year was up, I often walked for a full hour. I would sometimes listen to audio books or podcasts while I walked. Other times, I just walked.
One thing I loved while walking outside was watching my shadow grow skinnier over the months.
Some people think that a low-carb diet is a lot of hooey, so I would like to give you a couple of simple reasons why it’s NOT:
- As Primal Blueprint author Mark Sisson points out, insulin drives fat storage, and carbs drive insulin.
- Carb cravings are real. Unlike protein and fat, eating lots of carbs will make us crave more. And this craving can and will lead to eating way more food than is necessary–certainly more than can be eaten while still losing weight. If my carbs go up significantly–and they sometimes do!–so does my overall calorie count for that day and, often times, several days after.
Note that I’m not saying “no-carb” or even “extremely low-carb,” though those strategies can be helpful for some people. For myself, I try to stay below 100 grams of carbs per day. And when my carbs get out of whack, it can take me a week or more to get them back under control.
Intermittent Fasting / Time Restricted Eating
I also used intermittent fasting, or time restricted eating, as part of my weight loss plan. Again, some believe this to be hooey and instead recommend eating six meals a day. That would never work for me, so I’ll explain what did and WHY it helped me.
With this style of eating, you eat all of your calories for the day in a specific window of time, such as eight hours. This worked well for me because I would simply skip breakfast, which is much easier to do when carbs are under control, then I would eat all of my food for the day between noon and 8 p.m.
Why? Because 1700 calories spread out over six “meals” makes for minuscule amounts of food. But 1700 calories spread out over two meals and maybe a snack makes for a satisfactory amount of food. This means that while I was occasionally hungry before lunch, I was completely satisfied the rest of the day, which made it much easier to stick to the plan.
I’ve read a lot about why counting calories is bad and doesn’t work. And I do believe absolutely that there are more important things in dieting than counting calories, which is why I list this one last!
But I’m still listing it, and here’s why: It’s an easy way to determine how much food it is okay to eat each day. And counting calories–EVERY calorie, EVERY day–keeps us honest about our diet and conscious of exactly how bad a decision that candy bar might be. (And keep in mind, I’m not saying that the candy bar is ALWAYS a bad idea, only that sometimes, it is.)
I used a program which calculated my caloric needs each day based on how much exercise I did that day and what my current weight was, but you can also figure out your Base Metabolic Rate with an online calculator and get an average of how much to eat each day.
And it is AN AVERAGE. My calories fluctuated each day. Most say that you shouldn’t go lower than 25% below your caloric needs, but this doesn’t have to be a strict amount per day; think of it on a weekly basis, and then there’s some wiggle room. During one period of nine days when I lost about three pounds, I had three very low calorie days, three moderately low calorie days, and three “high” calorie days when I ate close to the maximum number of calories necessary per day.
Keeping the Weight Off
I’ve kept the weight off for more than a year now. Mostly. I did gain five pounds during the move to Hawaii, but I followed the plan again, and it dropped right off–and this time, I didn’t have to track my food carefully, though I often have a running caloric total for the day going in the back of my mind. But I don’t have any foods which are “no, never” foods because of calories, though they may be “not today” foods.
And that’s possibly the most important thing I learned during my weight loss year: I don’t have to eat perfectly all the time. I just have to make more good decisions than bad on average.