(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
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)
Oh, if only I had a little green linguistically challenged trainer who could hang on my back, spouting guru encouragement and inspiring me by lifting spaceships out of ponds. Instead, I have four little beige people I must dress and cobble and herd out the door like protesting cats. I feel like Luke when he sizes up that spaceship: I don’t think I’m strong enough. And why am I herding booger spurting beige cats wearing Spiderman masks into the spaceship stuck in a pond? To exercise. Be it rounding the block or driving to the YMCA, I am determined to burn a few hundred calories.
But I must be my own Yoda. “Use the Force, Katie.”
It’s great advice, actually: Do or do not, there is no try. Don’t think about it, just do it. When I think about going to the Y, I often talk myself out of it. I’ll go later. I’ll do some crunches while I watch TV tonight, I promise. It might rain. It’s raining. It did rain. Ooo, my weekly StumbleUpon email just arrived. I should probably clean instead. Pitiful.
There was one day just before Christmas when I finally tired of the filth that was my house (why clean in December when you can shop for presents?) and I cleaned for 3½ hours straight. That was a good workout. “The Force is strong in this one.” Unfortunately, that kind of cleaning bug only hits me on a solstice.
So I try not to think about it. Just do it. (Yes, Nike, I will accept sneakers as payment.) There is always something else I could do with that time, but nothing else I should do. And all of the stuff that needs to get done still gets done because exercise increases my energy. It’s kind of magical. Like Yoda.
“He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31
He is the REAL Force.
Images are from:
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
Right or left? Chicken or fish? Stairs or elevator? Sneak a piece of chocolate now when your kids might catch you and you’ll have to share or later when they’re asleep but you’ll probably end up eating the whole bag?
Decision making is part of life and a new study could shed light on how exercise helps us make decisions more quickly. I say could because the results might take a while: scientists are studying snails to try to pinpoint the link between exercise and decisiveness. That’s right, folks, snails. You know, the first animal you think of when you hear the word “exercise”.
The scientists put the snails into uncomfortably shallow water, “forcing” the shell-haulers to walk around the tank looking for deeper digs. Then they put the snails on dry land to see how long it takes them to make a decision (right or left? stairs or elevator?) and act on it. Apparently, snails who have been walking for a couple hours decide faster than snails who’ve been been soaking in deep water for hours. Why study Speedy Gon-mullusks? Their nervous systems are simple and straightforward so scientists can draw conclusions quickly.
The thought of snails with sweatbands and Spandex shell coverings is funny, but do you have a better reason than that for bringing this up, Katie? Barely. I mean, yes! And here it is: if exercise can improve the mental capacity of a snail, then imagine what it can do for us! Exercise-even walking at a snail’s pace-not only strengthens bones and muscles, helps fight heart disease and a host of other medical woes, improves sleep, and boosts energy, it also increases blood flow to the brain which helps the brain work better and-as the snails will testify-faster. Some of us feel like snails when we exercise, but this escargot study is showing that it’s not the speed that counts, it’s the fact that you’re moving. If you don’t want to exercise for your body, do it for your neurons.
One more cool thing and then I’ll share a snail joke.
I learned about this snail study on a radio show called The Strong Road (think Car Talk but about the Bible). I was a guest on the show on Sunday September 18th (you’ll need to know this when you look up my interview in their archives). The snail story was part of their (tongue in cheek) Biggest News Story of the Week. You can listen to the show anytime on the APH Radio app (download, look for The Strong Road, then choose 9-18-2016) and more info is available on The Strong Road Facebook page.
We talked about my Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating book and how the Bible plays into weight loss. I come in around minute 16, but they discuss the book earlier than that as well. They seemed to get distracted after reading the first word of the title: “We have a special guest coming up on the show today. She’s written a book called Sex….I love it already, who cares what the rest of the title is.” Funny guys. I have a new favorite radio show to listen to while I cook!
And now for the joke, courtesy of http://www.manandmollusc.net/jokes.html.
A guy goes to a Halloween party with a girl on his back.
The host asks him, “And what are you?”
The guy says, ” I’m a snail.”
The host says “And who’s that on your back?”
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Psalm 145:8