With my new weight, I still had a normal BMI, but I was borderline overweight. By the way, for those who do not know, BMI stands for body mass index, and it is a way to categorize your weight based on your height. You can use BMI to identify if you are at a healthy weight, overweight or obese.
BMI doesn’t tell the whole story. Athletes with zero visible fat can fall into the overweight category because muscle is dense. For me and my body type, BMI does tell the truth.
I came up with an immediate weight loss goal of 12 pounds, and I proceeded to follow the advice I gave in this article. But, I learned a few things along the way that adds some personal guidance to that original article. Let me explain how I started my first weight loss journey.
My weight loss routine
The mathematics of losing weight
The basic math for losing weight is to eat fewer calories than you burn. So, an average woman burns around 2000 calories per day, more if you do extra workouts and less if you spend most of your day sitting or lying down. So in a perfect world, if you burn 2000 calories and eat 2000 calories every day, you will remain the same weight forever. So, to lose weight, you can either burn more calories per day or eat fewer calories per day or a combination of both.
You need a calorie deficit of around 3500 to lose about a pound. So, if you eat a total of 3500 fewer calories in a week than you burned, you will see a pound of fat gone.
My game plan
For the first time in my life, I set out to intensively track the calories of every meal or snack I ate. While I casually counted calories in the past, this time around, I was more serious about it. So serious, I recorded the calorie of a single chip I stole from my son’s plate. My goal was to lose 1 pound per week, as well as exercise for half an hour every day. I capped my daily calorie intake at 1400 calories per day, which is still within a healthy limit.
As a side note, it is not advisable to eat less than 1200 calories per day as it is not healthy and cannot be maintained.
I had no plans to try any special diet or concoctions. I wanted to lose weight the old fashion way. If you have read this article, you will understand why I am not a fan of some fad diets. I didn’t invest in anything extra for this weight loss adventure, but I did find a few things helpful that I already owned. I will discuss these below. But, the primary investment I made was the decision to lose weight.
How I lost 12 pounds in six weeks
I never set out to lose 12 pounds in 6 weeks. I was comfortable losing 1 pound per week because the most successful strategy for any change in life is to be slow and steady. Also, I attempted the weight loss during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, where food was plentiful. These are my strategies and findings during my weight loss journey.
I made up my mind to do this
I have noticed a few things about myself that I am working on changing. My decisions that start firm becomes wishy-washy as time passes. Plans are made and broken because I wasn’t able to see them through. I have recognized that the most successful people in this world aren’t necessarily successful because they are smart, but mainly because they are dedicated.
With this realization, I made up my mind that I will lose 12 pounds, and I would not give up or change my mind until the goal has been achieved. Making the decision has been the most critical part of the journey because it means that I will not falter. I decided to eat fewer calories and work out consistently, every day for a half-hour.
I used tools to measure calories eaten and burned
I said earlier that I didn’t invest in anything special for the purpose of this weight loss adventure. But, I already owned an Apple Watch. Comparable brands are the Fitbit and the Garmin. Fitness trackers aren’t necessary but proved to be useful. On days where I didn’t leave the house, I was able to see how little calories I burned and was able to quickly take a break and get in an additional 10-minute walk. I know that fitness devices aren’t cheap, so if it is out of your budget, you can track your activity manually.
If you are somewhat active, then adding half an hour of cardio type workout should be a good start. Active here doesn’t necessarily mean you are already working out, only that you walk around a decent amount already.
The other very useful tool I used is the MyFitnessPal app. I didn’t pay to upgrade, so I used the free version of the app. It is great because you can set up your weight loss goals, and it will calculate how many calories per day you should eat to meet those goals.
I use MyFitnessPal to track how many calories I ate. It has an extensive database of items, including restaurant menus, which brings me to the next point.
Tracking calories eaten is an art, not a science
Everything you eat has a caloric value. A few foods have zero calories, such as water. The problem is, you might have no idea how to measure it. Many common foods, like a medium banana, or a cup of grapes, have an estimated calorie value. But, pre-made meals from restaurants can sometimes be challenging to measure. Nevertheless, this is how I made it work.
I mainly made food myself. I can quickly add the recipe to MyFitnessPal, and then I use that recipe to determine how many calories are in a serving. When I buy food from a restaurant, I get foods that appear simple to calculate, like salads. Or, I eat from places that post the calories like Panera Bread.
I also learned to estimate the value of calories over time. The whole idea behind counting calories is that it is an estimate. Some estimates might be over, and some might be under.
Tracking calories is good to do for a few weeks to gauge how different foods affect your weight. I wouldn’t recommend it as a long term strategy because it is hard to manage. Additionally, if you are not accustomed to reading labels, tracking calories will shed light on what you are eating and will help you with food choices in the long run.
Fiber was my friend
My best days were when I start the day with my homemade chia pudding. Chia is high in fiber, and it kept me full. On the days where I have the pudding for breakfast, I could easily skip lunch if I wanted to. I just have no urge to eat. By the way, you can check out the price for chia seeds on Amazon here.
The reason why fiber keeps us full is self-explanatory. It adds bulk to the stomach, so naturally, you will feel full. Eating meals high in fiber helps us to stick to the plan of lowering calories.
I also stock up on these whole wheat fig bars whose high fiber content reduces hunger pangs.
I didn’t eat any ‘diet-foods’
I have acquaintances that invest so much on fancy, celebrity-endorsed programs to lose weight. My response to this is that apparently, marketing works. The success rate for many of these diet plans are very high, but there is a caveat. The weight loss does not stay off. There comes a day when you will need to cancel the plan and go back to your routine, and with that comes back the fat.
I simply ate a little less of what I would typically eat. In the first couple of weeks, I tried to stay away from store-bought foods, but this was to get my calorie counting more consistent. But, overall, I didn’t change the foods I typically ate. While I’d encourage you to work on swapping foods for healthier choices, losing weight mainly requires eating fewer calories than you usually do.
Many of us know all too well why we have gained weight over the years (if it’s diet-related). We understand our cravings and weaknesses well. In many cases, it’s those weaknesses that need to be addressed. A friend of mine who gained quite a few pounds in a year admits that she picked up a habit of eating chocolate in the evenings. In her case, simply reducing or eliminating those encounters will immediately produce results.
My identified weakness was endless snacking. I snacked out of boredom, and most of it happens close to bedtime, the worst time to eat. Once I identified my weakness, I was able to see results immediately as I work to reduce them. The good news is that by removing snacking as a part of my diet for a few weeks, I have eliminated my cravings for them, allowing my weight loss to remain.
Weigh Daily Every Morning
Weighing every day is controversial. Some say, weight naturally fluctuates daily and that once per week is enough. Others claim that tracking your weight daily helps to quickly identify what strategies work and which ones dont. I will agree with the latter. If your scale is iffy or you need to get one, then check out this highly reviewed one from Amazon.
While it’s true that weight fluctuates per day, there is an influence based on what you have had to eat the day before. On the days where my weight spiked, I could relate to an evening out with the girls where I was temporarily off my diet, or my husband bringing home surprise pizza.
The best time to weigh is first thing in the morning after you have emptied your bladder and before you have eaten. Once you have weighed, you should document this number. MyFitnessPal also keeps track of your progress. This morning routine will help you to see the progression of your weight loss, keep you motivated, and is useful when you are trying to maintain your weight loss.
Fats are not the enemy
The most shocking thing I learned while on my weight loss journey is that fats are not the enemy. The days where I started my day with good sources of fat were my best days.
MCT oil like this Bulletproof brand stands for medium-chain triglycerides, and it is a major reason why I lost weight quickly. When I bought this MCT oil, I never bought it for the weight loss benefits. A friend a mine told me of her plans to use it and what stood out on the label was the words ‘brain octane oil’. I was also having some memory issues, and it has claimed to improve brain health so I bought it solely for that reason.
However, the fact that I weighed daily made it easy for me to see a correlation between taking the MCT oil and not taking it. On the days that I took it, my daily weight loss was more than days when it’s not included in my diet. MCT oil seems to counter the effects of eating carbs. Every morning, I took around a tablespoon of the oil by adding it to yogurt or another breakfast item.
My best days happened when I added an avocado during lunch, in addition to the MCT oil. If you feed your body fat, it will not try to store food as fat. Please note that while I found the MCT oil very useful, the result likely came from the fact that it was a good source of fat. Other healthy fats might have the same effect.
I want to clarify that my weight loss was going well before I started taking the MCT oil. However, it appeared to help me on days where avoiding carbs was difficult. My weight loss was more when I added the oil to my diet.
Eating Carbs at night is a big no
Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source. As soon as you eat food high in carbs, your body goes to work to break it down. If you eat it at night, all that ready to use energy will just stay in your body as fat, as you are likely winding down and not moving around as much.
I ran a few day experiments during my journey. My husband brought home my favorite pizza for dinner one day. Who can say no to pizza? Anyway, the first day I had the pizza it was later in the evening. That day had been pretty hectic, and I didn’t eat much. I figured the pizza would make up for the food I missed that day. The next morning my weight went up considerably.
As we had leftovers, the second day, I ate the same pizza for lunch. I was testing my theory that my weight gain had more to do with when I ate the pizza, rather than the pizza itself. The next morning I had a few ounces of weight loss, which is quite a difference from what happened the previous day. I did a few of these mini-experiments during my journey so I could understand the effects of eating different foods.
Half an hour of exercise is plenty
If you enjoy working out for an hour or longer, then hats off and more power to you. But, one of the most effective strategies for losing weight is a combination of diet and exercise. With that being said, you dont need to go on a crazy exercise mission. A half an hour of exercise, along with the other changes I discussed, will be very effective.
One of the concepts I drill home on this site is the fact that dramatic changes are un-necessary to achieve results and are not maintainable long term. There is no need to join a gym or invest in coaching plans unless you have a medical necessity to lose a lot of weight fast. I do believe the extra motivation is helpful, but if it is not feasible for you then there are easier and cheaper options. Videos from Youtube, running, jogging, or walking around your block are pretty effective. Exercise mats such as these might prove useful for indoor exercising.
Water does affect the weight you see on the scale
I mentioned earlier that the best time to weigh is the first time in the morning after you have used the bathroom. If you drink any liquids before you weigh, that will be reflected on the scale. Fluids are essential and need to be had, but you should weigh in your most dehydrated state, which is after sleeping for several hours.
Drinking varying degrees of liquid on different days will change the scale as well. To improve the effectiveness of daily weighing, you should aim to keep your drinking habits consistent. So, try not to drink two cups of water one day and then ten the next. When I started my weight loss journey, I would log my water intake, but once I got more comfortable with the effects of my diet and how it is affecting my weight, I didn’t find the need to be that precise.
I lost 12 pounds in 6 weeks, and that was during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It was not the easiest thing I ever did, but it was very doable. I didn’t buy into any weight loss packages or went out of my way to do anything extra, and you can do it too. As I mentioned, you can be successful without any of them, but things like my Apple Watch and the MCT oil was helpful. You can also do it without them.
It has been a couple of months since the scale tipped to a number I am happy with, and while my weight fluctuates 1 or 2 pounds around that number, I have managed to maintain my weight loss with minimal effort. I simply relieved myself of my bad snacking habits. Understanding the reasons behind my weight gain was a critical part of my journey, so I can prevent it from happening again.
Losing weight is often difficult because a strategy isn’t designed before the journey is started. If you apply logic and a plan to most things, the result will be marvelous. With the techniques I listed here, I wish you the best success.