Little Steps Add Up
Inspired by her husband, Lesliejan5 took a proactive step in reversing the gradual weight gain she had experienced over the years. In her story she shares her tips that have helped her lose those 35lbs, which makes her feel healthier and happier
She contacted us through our Share Your Story feature, and provided the following answers to our questionnaire.
1. What made you decide to lose weight this time?
I returned from a business trip and discovered that my husband had started a program to lose weight while I was away. I had watched my weight creep up and up for during the last 18 months and was not happy at all with what was happening. I was inspired by my husband and decided to get on board.
2. What other "diets" (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?
I tried Weight Watchers a couple times and had some success with that. But, I did not keep the weight off. I joined a local gym a year ago and found that I had no desire to leave my home before or after work to drive to the gym. Also, the classes were crowded, and I felt a little ridiculous trying to follow along to the salsa-exercise steps (or whatever it was they were doing). So, so much for that!
3. What changes did you make to your usual diet, activity, lifestyle, and attitude?
Somehow, everything just clicked this time. I needed to do two things (this is nothing new): Eat fewer calories and exercise to burn off even more calories. My husband and I had the same goals, so that helped. When I decided on my calorie goal, it also became very important to me to make those calories count. There was a doctor on Good Morning America one morning who basically said that if people would make it a goal to eat a few servings of vegetables, fruit, and fiber everyday, they would be healthier and full and would not feel the need to eat fatty foods with empty calories. So, that's what I did. I bought a cereal with a decent amount of fiber (Smart Start) and began to eat that every morning (230 calories). I looked forward to that. I would then allow myself up to 450 calories for lunch. I looked forward to that, too. This left me about 650 calories for dinner (and maybe a snack). Frankly, the foods I've been preparing, along with fruit, veggies, etc. have been filling and delicious. OK, that's the first part.
Secondly, and easily as important, is the exercise. But, it's really been fairly easy. I have a treadmill in a room with a TV with a DVR. This sounds a little silly, but it works for me. I decided to walk everyday for 40 minutes (started at a 3% incline and am now at a 4% incline) at about 3.2 to 3.4 MPH. An hour long program or two 30 minute long programs -- without commercials -- takes 40 minutes to watch. That's it. I actually look forward to my treadmill/TV time. My husband likes to walk outside using his GPS watch. So, on the weekends, I'll walk with him for a change of pace.
4. How did Calorie Count help you to lose weight?
It was imperative to me to be able to track my calories on the computer. I wanted to be able to do so whether I was at work or at home. I did not want to use a paper and pen that would get lost or just not be with me when I wanted to write something down. So, when I found Calorie Count I was thrilled. I can log in from anywhere. I can track my calories each day. I can see a graph of my weight loss, too, which I love. I can track my activity and calories burned. I can look up calories, too. It's the perfect tool that has helped me tremendously. It keeps me on track. I look forward to putting the data in and seeing my success right before my eyes. It's easy to use.
5. What was most challenging about losing weight?
Changing the way we ate. When you start looking at the calories of the foods you eat, it is shocking to see what we take in! A sandwich at a typical restaurant where I would go to lunch was 850 calories. That was lunch! A salad that I would have was over 1,250 calories! Eating out was the biggest challenge. But, I conquered that, too. Many restaurants have the nutrition information available. I always ask for it and make my decision based on that. My husband and I split meals when we go out to eat (we might each get a salad and then split the main course). Frankly, it's more than enough food. It works. I enjoy cooking, so learning to cook with calories in mind was challenging, too. No more big, cheesy, fatty pizzas. I bought Cooking Light and started preparing delicious meals from that. Everyday Food also includes the nutrition information. I also use Calorie Count's recipe tool that adds up the calories for you! It's a great tool.
6. How long did it take you to see results?
Within 10 days I was seeing measurable results. Every week I was losing a pound or two. I liked that I could put my weight goal on Calorie Count, and it then gave me an approximate date when my goal would be met. When I made that goal, I decided to move it down another 5 pounds and I made that, too.
7. When did you realize that you were a success?
When I dropped 3 sizes and enjoyed shopping for clothes again.
8. How do you prevent relapse?
I weigh myself about every other day. I know some people think this is too much. But, I don't. I count calories everyday, and my goal is to continue to walk everyday. Since I started 6 months ago, I've missed walking only 2 days. I also continue to use Calorie Count.
9. How has your life changed now that you've lost weight?
I feel healthier, and I look better. I enjoy shopping and trying on clothes, and I don't run from the camera when pictures are being taken! It's easier to play with the trains on the floor with my grandson, too.
10. What five tips do you have for other dieters?
- Choose a reasonable calorie goal, and split it up over 3 meals and a snack. Make sure you have breakfast everyday. You'll look forward to waking up and having something to eat. I like my goal of having 1/2 my calories over breakfast and lunch and the other 1/2 at dinner and a snack afterward.
- Don't make the exercise part grueling. Walking is great and easy
to incorporate in your day. You burn approx. 100 calories with each
mile on a flat surface (more on an inclined treadmill). Plan to burn
200 to 300 calories per day (or fewer days a week if everyday is
- Have fun looking up the calories - make it a game. Make yourself
knowledgeable in this regard. Packaged products all have nutrition
info. Ask for the nutrition guide at restaurants and make your
selection accordingly. Don't be blindsided by a salad that has more
than your daily allowance of calories! iPhone has a great application
for looking up fast food calories, too.
- Decide on some snacks you can have that won't rack up hundreds of
calories. For example, a little bowl of dry cereal such as Honey-nut
Cheerios, thin breadsticks (Grissini at Safeway), sliced veggies with
light Ranch dressing to dip them in, sugar-free latte or coffee
drinks, mandarin oranges or sliced apple or Asian pear, etc. I keep
Hershey chocolate bars without nuts in the fridge. If I need a little
chocolate, I'll break off a couple squares (I do not eat the whole bar
at one time!).
- Be diligent with tracking your calories and exercise activity in
Calorie Count. Again, make it a game. Enter your goal weight and
then enter your weight once a week and watch your progress. It's
inspiring to realize your clothing is getting too big, and it's
inspiring to see your success as you enter your personal data.
If you would like us to feature your success story, you can submit it here. The most insightful stories will be featured on this blog and in the weekly "Success Stories" newsletter.