(In honor of my husband, who loves to hike and whose birthday is today!)
I’m a pretty good loser, but with help, I’m a great loser. Help can be an app, a website, a book, an accountability partner, a support group, or a lock on the fridge. For me, it was Loseit.com.
When I first started losing weight, I didn’t want help. Don’t give me a list of rules. Don’t tell me any foods are off limits. Call it stubbornness, call it arrogance, call it refusal to let go of a baking addiction…the point is, I wanted to do it on my own terms. Also, on my bad days, I did NOT want to have to tell someone how bad I was. My shame is my own, thank you very much! But after four months of losing weight and two months of plateau-ing, (P.L.A.T.E.A.U. stands for Please Let my Attempts Take Effect…ARGH!! U’ve got to be kidding me! Really body? All this effort and the scale doesn’t budge?) I was ready for help.
Loseit.com is a free, easy, online calorie diary of sorts. You know it’s quick and easy if a stay at home mom with four computer-crazy little kids can use it. When I sit down at the computer, I have about 70 seconds before the boys swarm all over me, asking for a turn. One of them will actually climb up the back of my chair and onto my shoulders.
Anyways, you create an account, telling them how much you weigh now, your weight goal, and if you want to lose 1, 1.5, or 2 pounds a week. I love the realism here; notice that you may not choose to lose 20 pounds per week. They calculate how many calories you should eat each day to reach your goal. You type in a food and it tells you how many calories that food has and adds it all up for you. So easy! No math skills needed!
You can also create custom foods (such as a favorite homemade soup recipe or how you take your coffee) and name them. Whole meals can be repeated with one click; useful if you eat the same thing for breakfast five days a week (like coffee, juice, and oatmeal), and previous meals are automatically saved and available to add; useful if you have leftovers for lunch the next day or you cook similar dinners every week.
You can also enter any exercise you do which ADDS calories to your daily allotment. They even include housework and gardening. If there’s chocolate in the house, my home gets a good cleaning!
Loseit even has a community feature where your friends and family can join as friends and see one another’s progress and leave comments. It’s a great way to stay encouraged and be held accountable….as much as you want to be!
So, how does this help?
Imagine that you’ve lost fifteen pounds and need a new outfit to go out with your girlfriends. You have $80 to spend on clothes and your favorite brand of jeans is on sale for $40. At the store you find a fabulous shirt that you love, but it costs $60. If you buy the shirt, you can’t buy the jeans. So, you have to choose: marvelous shirt and mediocre jeans OR spectacular jeans and second rate shirt. No, put those credit cards back in your pocket! In this metaphor, debt turns into love handles!
That’s what Loseit does for me; it helps me budget. I want to eat marvelous everything, all day, all the time. But that’s how I gained my weight in the first place. So, a budget example: After entering my breakfast, lunch, dinner, and exercise, I have a whopping 150 calories left for snack time. I want to have a brownie and a cappuccino, but I can’t do that and stay within my calorie budget, so I have to choose: a brownie and tea OR carrots and cappuccino.
Loseit has shown me where my calorie bombs were hiding; those foods that seemed innocent, but in reality have a lot higher count than I imagined. Muffins, for example, and spaghetti. The first time I entered my breakfast of muffins into Loseit, I cringed: the muffins used up almost half of my allotment that day! Score one for the learning curve. And over time I’ve learned which foods I can fill my plate with and still have room for treats. (Vegetables! Not surprised? What, have you been reading my blog or something?)
Loseit is not the only website out there, but it’s the one I know. The point is, at some point most of us will need some help, be it encouragement, accountability, or a dose of reality. So, when you’re ready, don’t be afraid to get help!
“Note this: Wicked men trust themselves alone…and fail; but the righteous man trusts in me, and lives!” Habakkuk 2:4
I want you to put your foot in your mouth. Portion control is a big factor in weight loss and healthy eating and –whoa, hey! I did not think you were that flexible. Get your toes away from your nose, it was only a metaphor. I just meant that your foot is about the size of a properly proportioned meal.
Before I lost weight, I ate pretty healthy: cooked from scratch most days, got some veggies in there somewhere, and limited the junk food. The problem was I ate twice as much pretty-healthy-food as my body needed. I’m not exaggerating: twice as much.
I like food. It tastes good and it’s fun to eat. Can I get an amen? The problem was not that I ate but that I ate again and again and again at each meal. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your food. In fact, I encourage you to enjoy your food with undivided attention. Studies show that if we eat while we’re distracted—watching TV, checking email—we eat about 30% more than when we simply eat. Enjoy your food thoroughly, but when your portion is gone, stop eating.
Eating proper portion sizes is easy to do with the measuring tools you have on you: your fists. Your two fists are the size of your one stomach, so you can use your fists to quickly gauge how much food will fill your belly. A meal is equal to four fists and two of those fists should be fruits or vegetables. Four fists is roughly the size of your foot, so when you’ve put your foot in your mouth, you stop eating. I repeat: you stop eating. It’s that simple and it’s that hard.
If you’re used to eating a lot, four fists isn’t going to look like enough food at first, but if you savor your food, really savor it, and concentrate on the flavors and textures, you’ll be bored with eating by the time your plate is empty. If you cut the food into small bites, it feels like you’re eating more. One study found that people who ate half a bagel cut into four pieces consumed less for lunch an hour later than people who ate the same half bagel in its full moon natural form.
Another study found that eating smaller bites (nickel sized) and chewing a little longer (9 seconds) helped participants eat 65% less food than those who took larger bites (3 nickels) and chewed less (3 seconds). That’s a lot of numbers… look, forget the numbers and just make an effort to chew more and eat more slowly. The longer you take to eat, the more time your stomach has to notify your brain that it’s full. Perhaps it’s not the amount of food on the plate, but the time we spend eating that makes us feel satisfied. Metaphoric translation: put your foot in your mouth and nibble your toes. If you’re still hungry after eating two fists of food and two fists of veggies, keep thinking about feet near your mouth. Toe jam near your tongue, bunions touching your boca, sweaty soles approaching your saliva… your appetite should disappear in no time.
How beautiful your sandaled feet,
O prince’s daughter!
Your graceful legs are like jewels,
the work of an artist’s hands.
Song of Solomon 7:1 NIV
Effect of taking smaller bites outweighs tendency to eat more when distracted
Small Bites, Big Weight Loss http://www.shape.com/blogs/weight-loss-coach/small-bites-big-weight-loss
To Slim Down, Take Smaller Bites http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/food/eating-small-bites-lose-weight
The Bible uses the word “portion” over 80 times. It can refer to land, food, inheritance, etc. but the common thread is that your “portion” is what you get, no more, no less; it is set aside for you and belongs to you. So how does this relate to weight loss? It’s all about your response to your portion.
If you look at the recommended portion sizes and servings, it makes you want to buy smaller plates because the amount of food we need to eat each day to thrive isn’t as much as we think it is. One of my biggest breakthroughs in losing weight was to stop going back for seconds. When I go back for seconds, it’s not because I still feel hungry, it’s because the food is delicious and I want to repeat that great experience I had the first go round. I am not satisfied with my portion. However, if I take my time, eating slowly and savoring each bite, I find that I don’t need to go back for seconds. The firsts have satisfied.
The secret to successful portion control is gratitude. The more grateful I am for what’s in front of me-yes, even broccoli-the more I’m able to let go of my desire for the foods I “can’t” have or can’t have as much of right now. I am content with my portion.
Our culture teaches us that we should eat plus: we should eat while reading, while browsing the internet, while watching TV, while driving, and so on; that eating requires entertainment. But eating is a form of entertainment. Eat without distraction and when it becomes boring (ie. you’ve had enough), stop eating. Be content with your portion.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12
Cucumbers are abundant and delicious this time of year. Click on the links below for reasons why cucumbers are fantastic for your health and recipes to give you new ways to eat them.
Cooking meals at home helps your family eat healthy and save money, but if you don’t shop with a plan, you can end up throwing expensive produce away. It’s happened to most of us at some point. You head to the grocery store with good intentions, buy a lot of random produce,—because with ten pounds of broccoli in the house, you can’t fail to lose weight, right?—and then half of that produce spends the next two weeks being nudged closer and closer to the back of the fridge before it’s finally tossed in the trash. It’s frustrating and discouraging. For you and for the produce.
The solution to this problem is to plan your produce. Here’s how.
- Choose one day a week to sit down and plan your meals for the week. If you’re new to cooking at home, pick one or two meals. Baby steps, baby spinach, baby bellas, baby got back on track. Try to choose menu items that share common vegetables. For example, a bag of spinach can make a spinach salad and a mushroom spinach omelet, or one head of cabbage can make Mu Shu Vegetables and Fried Cabbage. As you plan, make a shopping list of what you need to cook the recipes you’ve selected.
- Take your list to the store and don’t stray from it. There are going to be produce items that you always keep on hand like garlic and onions, and items that you only buy when you need them like bell peppers and broccoli. It all depends on your family and your preferences. For example, I always have carrots in the house. My boys like to snack on them (when given the choice of carrots or nothing), I like to mindlessly crunch them in front of the TV, they’re cheap, and they’re useful in a plethora of recipes. It’s a staple. Cauliflower, on the other hand, only comes home with me when I have a plan for it. It’s like the out of town relative you enjoy having over, but feel like you have to entertain.
- End the week with either a batch of homemade vegetable soup or veggie stir fry. Take your leftover bits and stems and combine them into something wonderful. Now your fridge is reset for the week to come and nothing goes to waste.
Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. Genesis 25:29 (NIV)