I assume I have a ways to go, probably another 25 pounds. I’m uncertain how much I weighed when I was thin, only that I wore sizes 4-10, depending on how old the clothing item was (I wear a lot of vintage and something manufactured in the U.S. in 1950’s through the 1970’s will be sized much larger than its modern day counterpart) so, I’m playing it by ear. I work out 3-5 days a week doing resistance exercises in addition to cardio. I’m hoping to restore muscle mass that I suspect I’ve lost over a period of years, something that likely had a very negative effect on my metabolism.
I began gaining weight in 2008 when I first quit smoking. I relapsed several times and went though withdrawal almost continuously for two and a half years. Currently, I haven’t smoked for seven months and no longer crave cigarettes in any unmanageable way (the cravings are now more ‘distant’ and very easy to brush off). Looking back at my old date books, I see that I steadily gained a pound a week for about a year. I remember cutting back my calories significantly, working out 4-5 days a week for months and not being able to do anything other than maintain. I weighed less than I do right now, at the time. So even though twenty pounds is something to celebrate, it is discouraging to see that I’m still no where near my goal. I was, at that time, under a lot of stress and ‘yo-yo’ smoking (for lack of a better description!) and had just lost my job, so, at some point, I simply gave up. Eventually, I stopped gaining and maintained what was my heaviest weight for a year or so.
After I felt safe that quitting smoking was no longer my number one issue (after not smoking for four months) I began to re-focus on fat loss, beginning this March, 2011. I’ve lost the weight slowly, restricting my calories by about about 250 a day (I was eating 1900-2100). I exercise, as mentioned above, and I walk everywhere. I never drink my calories, accept for soup, which for me means no juice or sports drinks. I allow myself treats as long as I’ve already eaten plenty of fruits and vegetables that day and if the treat is still within my calories. I measure rather than weigh myself most of the time. If I’m going to eat bread, which is a big culprit for me, I no longer eat it just by itself or as toast but as a part of something, like an open face turkey or tomato sandwich. I also no longer eat any type of crackers which presented a problem for me when having soup, as it was easy to mindlessly add 300-400 calories (I love soup!).
In addition to eating fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grain, I still eat all kinds of things that are considered absolute no-no’s when attempting fat loss: cheese (as long as I can measure the calories in the cube/slice and it’s about 1 oz a day, no problem. It’s when cheese is baked into lasagna or mixed into eggs, for example, and I have NO IDEA how much I’ve had that it’s a problem for me), peanut butter, avocados, cookies, ice cream (very rarely, but yeah), bread (whole wheat; whole grain), mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, full fat dressings, cream soups, eggs, chocolate, hummus, pizza (thin crust, spinach or margarita with more sauce than cheese), pasta (way less and usually without cheese), baked Cheetos (yes, this has helped me though quite a few rough patches), tortilla chips (14 chips = 180 calories, very satisfying, add salsa and it’s still under 200).
However, I no longer ever eat: fast food (for me this means the thick crust gooey pizzas I used to order), crackers, cake, french fries, alcohol, any kind of shredded cheese (hard to keep track of/measure), butter (it was rare that I used butter, I’m now paying much closer attention), popcorn (I know it can be prepared in a low calorie way but it feels like I’m pigging out on a large amount of food when I have popcorn which is something I’m trying to get away from doing), white potatoes (for the time being), corn, high fructose corn syrup, ground beef, sausage, bacon (I never ate bacon but am aware that it’s used as a condiment/flavoring in a lot of cooking, particularly in restaurants), ramen-type soups (a big weakness of mine, higher calorie than I realized and sky high sodium), breakfast eaten out (spells big trouble for me: pancakes, waffles, syrup, eggs prepared with cheese, Greek toast, etc., I’m never going to order oatmeal when I go out to breakfast, just saying).
My advice is to lose weight slowly (1-2 pounds a week), never starve yourself as it can damage your body and set one up to binge (which can become disordered eating, a whole other, much worse problem than simply being overweight) and to find forms of exercises that you will enjoy in the long term. Quitting smoking helped me view my health as a whole and to pay attention to the way I feel, as opposed to simply focusing on my appearance. I view my weight loss as an on-going series of adjustments I’ve made toward a healthier lifestyle, a sustainable improvement in health, overall, not merely a ‘diet’ I’m on in order to become ‘skinny’. This thinking takes the pressure off, somehow, and puts the emphasis where it belongs: If I take care of my health, the excess weight will take care of itself.