I’ve tried pretty much every diet under the sun. Weight Watchers, South Beach, a dabble with Atkins, Special K, and others that I just can’t remember at the moment. I’ve had success with each of them. I lost over 30 pounds the first time I did WW my freshman year of high school. I lost the promised 12 pounds in the first two weeks of South Beach. And the summer before my freshman year of college I lost 10 pounds thanks to Special K. But no matter what, the weight has come back. I like to think I’m older and wiser now, and conform to the whole “it’s not a diet it’s a lifestyle change” thing. That’s what has led me to choose natural foods. However, there are still a lot of natural foods that aren’t exactly aiding in my weight loss (Cape Cod chips, I’m looking at you).
This time around, I’m really trying to focus on my health. I think the following three tools are essential to me making a healthy lifestyle change and really getting my weight under control.
- Caloriecount.com — Seriously, I wish these people were paying me because right now I’m doing their advertising for free. If you’re trying to lose weight and not using this site, you need to start right now because it’s one of the most powerful tools to really watch what you eat. Basically, you give them your stats (height, weight, age) and your goal weight, and they tell you how many calories you need to eat and how long it will take you to reach said goal. You can log all of your food on the site, and they have a pretty extensive database. Something not coming up? You can add custom foods, too. It also has an awesome recipe analyzer, which is what I use for my recipes here. As you log your food, it tells you how you’re doing in terms of key nutrients and vitamins (carbs, sugars, protein, fats, sodium) based on the recommended daily values (you can change these if you have certain dietary needs). I never realized how much sodium I was eating until I started using this site. And I also realized I’m never going to get enough potassium. Anyway, I used this site to lose 15 pounds last semester…which I promptly regained when I moved back home, which is why I’ve returned! It’s a great site, and I highly recommend using it. My one piece of advice: avoid the message boards. They’re helpful sometimes, but there’s a scary group of regular users who have a tendency to harass newcomers who don’t play by the rules. Learned that one the hard way!
- Total Energy Expenditure Calculator — This calculator tells you how many calories you burn in a day, which helps you figure out how many you need to eat in order to lose weight. The general rule is to eat 500 fewer than you need to maintain. So you put in your gender, age, weight and height and then record how much of each type of exercise you’ve done. The calculator tells you your basal metabolic rate (what your body needs to be alive) and then how many calories you burn in the day. I generally end up with between 2,000 and 2,200 depending on how much I’ve walked around that day, so I try to keep my calories within 1,500 to 1,700. This tool has been really helpful in figuring out how much I really need to eat. Keep that number in mind when you’re using Calorie Count — they have a tendency to underestimate how much you should be eating.
- A Good Pair of Sneakers — Cheesy, I know, but it’s so true! Walking is such an easy exercise and has so many great benefits. For someone like me who isn’t exactly aerodynamic, I find a nice walk much less daunting than a jog. I have weak ankles and funky knees, so walking is really what is easiest for me. I found a great pair of Brooks sneakers for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, and I suggest, if you’re serious about walking or have any types of funky foot problems, that you consider getting a real solid pair and getting yourself measured. I went to Marathon Sports on Boylston, and they were awesome.
They watched me walk around and then recommended a pair based on my flat-footedness and other quirks. They’re great shoes, and I still use them a couple years later. So yeah, start walking people. You’re not going to burn as many calories as you would sweating your butt off on the eliptical, but I think adding in a walk every day is a nice way to ease into exercise. It’s something pretty much anyone can do, and it can be fun too! Get your Skinny Boyfriend off his skinny butt for a walk around the neighborhood after dinner every day, and I guarantee you’ll see some results. As long as you don’t come back inside and eat a bunch of chips, that is.
I hope I’ve inspired you all to count some calories, figure out how much your body burns and take a jaunt around the neighborhood! These three tools have really helped me in my weight loss journey. I hope they help you too!
Any other helpful tools for weightloss out there?