Over the last couple of months, I’ve lost around 12-13 pounds and dropped two clothing sizes. My goal is to lose about 5-10 more. The weight has come off pretty easily, a combination of watching what I eat and my Peloton spin cycle. The bike has really changed everything, including my attitude about exercise.
It has taken me a while to realize that though I can lose weight, the only way I’m going to keep it off is by regularly doing some form of exercise that I truly enjoy. Exercise is not the key word in that sentence, ENJOY is! If I don’t enjoy it, I’m not going to do it, I don’t care how good it is for me.
A perfect example is biking the Silver Comet Trail. I used to LOVE biking the trail, it was my happy place. I biked 22 miles, 3-4 times a week. I didn’t enjoy the 45 minute drive out to the trail, but I did it anyway because I loved riding the trail so much.
During the time I was biking, I was in great shape. Unfortunately, my biking came to a screeching halt as I began to hear about folks, both men and women, being attacked on the trail. When a woman was killed around the 17th mile marker, a spot I rode through every single time I biked the trail, I quit.
Since I quit biking the Silver Comet several years ago, I’ve never found another form of exercise that I really looked forward to doing until I purchased my Peloton. It has motivated me to lose that stubborn 20 lbs I’ve been wanting to lose since I feel like I have a way to keep it off this time.
Dieting is Boring & Too Much Work!
I don’t like dieting because it’s boring, time-consuming and often a lot of work to manage. So I made it a priority to find healthy foods that I could eat that would require very little preparation. I love to cook when I have family or friends in town or, when I’m cooking for a party or a holiday meal. The rest of the time…not so much. When I’m trying to shed a few pounds, I want meals to be as quick, easy and stress-free as possible.
As I share what I’ve been doing, I’m going to mention a few helpful tips I’ve read/learned over the years that I’ve found to be true for me. Hope you find them helpful, too! Here’s my first tip, something I learned fairly recently:
Tip: I once read that people who lose weight and keep it off, often eat the same foods or meals each week. That doesn’t mean they don’t go out to eat with their hubby on Friday night or join friends for a dinner out occasionally, but the rest of the time, they eat mostly the same foods/meals.
I was really intrigued when I heard that because I’ve never done that. It does make sense, though. If you find a healthy diet that you enjoy and works at helping you maintain your goal weight, why wouldn’t you repeat it each week.
So that’s one of the things I’ve been doing while I’ve been losing weight. I’d much rather spend my free time reading, cycling, gardening or watching a good movie than trying to put together some complicated meal plan each week that will hopefully help me reach my fitness goals. If you love cooking and love planning meals, then definitely do that. I don’t, so I’ve decided to keep it really simple, at least until I reach my goal weight/size.
So, if you’re looking for some gourmet style meals that are super low cal, this probably isn’t the post for you. But if you’re just trying to shed a few pounds without having to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, I hope you find this post helpful as I share what has worked for me.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, so be sure to consult your doctor if you have any concerns before following any diet plan or suggestions. This post isn’t meant to provide advice for you and your diet, I’m just sharing what has worked for me.
What I’m Eating
So what have I been eating? Breakfast is usually a boiled egg, a small bowl of cereal with Almond Coconut Milk and some fresh blueberries. Occasionally, I’ll add in a couple of pieces of bacon. I microwave the bacon on a paper towel on a plate, so clean up is super easy.
These are the boiled eggs I buy, I get them at the Wal-mart Market that’s very close to my home. Each egg contains 60 calories and tons of protein. You can also find boiled eggs in Publix.
Some mornings I eat the egg, as is, other mornings I spread a couple of teaspoons of a spicy mustard like Grey Poupon (10 calories) on a slice of toasted, 40 calorie bread and slice up the egg on top. Of course, you could make an egg salad with the mustard, but I like to keep it simple and just slice up the egg on top.
If I’m not in the mood for a boiled egg, I’ll sometimes scramble or fry up an egg, but usually I opt for the easier route and go with a boiled egg.
Over the years I’ve tried many different cereals when I was trying to lose a few pounds, including those that are supposed to be super high in nutrition, but I always come back to Special K. I love the taste and especially love that it’s crunchy and doesn’t go soggy in milk very quickly. A cup is 120 calories and with the amount of almond coconut milk that I add, it’s around 150 calories for a bowl.
My favorite fruit in the world is fresh blueberries. I could eat an entire pint of them at one sitting, so I pretty much always have them on hand. I usually sprinkle 8-10 into my cereal. There are 85 calories in a cup of blueberries, so I’m guessing that 8-10 blueberries is probably around 15-20 calories, at the most.
I’ve tried eating oatmeal for breakfast in the past, but it wipes me out. I think it messes with my blood sugar. My doctor did a blood sugar test several years and the results showed I was insulin resistant. That didn’t surprise me since both my father and brother came down with Type 2 diabetes in their 50’s. So I feel my best when I have protein with my meals, especially breakfast. It avoids the carb crash I would otherwise get.
Finally Found A Good Replacement for Dairy Milk
I’ve been having intestinal issues with dairy for many years, but I loved my milk so much, I didn’t want to give it up. I was also worried I wouldn’t get enough calcium in my diet if I gave it up. I had tried soy milk in the past and did not like it at all.
When I heard Peloton Coach, Steven Little, remark during a spin class recently that he has felt so much better since giving up milk, I decided to try some of the other alternatives that are out there these days. When I saw on the carton that Almond-Coconut milk actually has 50% more calcium than dairy milk, I decided to give it a try.
I am so hooked on this stuff! It is so good! I thought I had tried it before. Has it been improved over the last few years?
I love both the original flavor and the unsweetened and buy both. Sometimes I mix them together if I want the milk I add to my cereal to be a little sweet. The original is almost too sweet for me, so I’m amazed it only has 50 calories in a cup.
Mid-morning I often have about 6 ounces of ice-coffee. I don’t care for hot coffee, but love iced coffee even in the wintertime. The only hot drink I ever like is hot cocoa. I drink my coffee with two teaspoons of Land of Lakes Half and Half. So breakfast often looks like this:
Boiled egg: 60
1 cup of Special K with about 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond-coconut milk and 8-10 blueberries: 158
2 slices of bacon: 50
Coffee with cream: 40
Total for breakfast: 308 calories with the bacon, 258 without
Some mornings I change it up a little as mentioned by eating the egg with mustard on a slice of toasted 40 calorie bread…just depends on the mood I’m in. I usually only have bacon once or twice a week. If I’m in a big hurry in the morning, I may just have the boiled egg with my iced coffee, then mid morning go back downstairs and eat a bowl of Special K with blueberries.
Tip: Skipping meals is a bad idea! It slows down your metabolism so you burn less fat, and if you let yourself get super hungry, by the time you eat you may be so hungry that you grab anything you can find. That’s my tendency if I’ve skipped a meal. Breakfast is very important since it cranks up your metabolism and gets you off to a good start for the day.
I try to keep each meal at around 300 to 350 calories. That along with snacks puts me at around 1,000-1,200 calories each day.
You can’t control that which you don’t measure.
Tip: I write down every single bite of food I eat, no matter how small. I once heard someone say, “You can’t control that which you don’t measure.” That could apply to many things in life. For example, what would happen if you spent as much money as you liked each day without ever checking your bank balance? You would find things out of control pretty quickly, right? When you’re trying to lose weight, you need to keep up with the calories you’re consuming each day. It’s too easy to sneak a nibble here or there, and those nibbles add up faster than you realize.
Yesterday I was shopping in Steinmart. When I was checking out, right beside the register they had small packets of shortbread cookies for sale. I love those things! They were very small packets, each containing just two cookies. I’ve been doing so well and haven’t had any desserts other than fruit in over two months. I decided to treat myself to one.
On the way home I ate one of the cookies in the car, saving the other one for another day. I almost had a heart attack when I got home and read the label. That one little shortbread cookie contained 100 calories!!! If I had eaten both, I would have consumed 200 calories! I threw the other cookie away as soon as I read that package. lol I love cookies but right now I have my eye set on losing 10 more pounds and eating cookies that are 100 calories each will not get me there.
To help me keep up with how many calories I’m eating each day, I made a very simple little chart. I tried using the “My Fitness Pal” app that everyone seems to love, but I didn’t enjoying using it. I just prefer to go old school and write it down.
At the very bottom of the chart, I always jot down how many calories I’ve burned in my cycling class that day. I average riding 4-5 times a week and burn anywhere from 300-450 calories depending on the length of the class.
Lunch is usually a half can of Albacore tuna, eaten plain or with some mustard mixed in. Or, it could be salmon left over from the night before, added to a salad.
Once in a while I may add a tablespoon of mayo to my tuna, but mayo is very high calorie and I don’t like diet mayonnaise. So I normally stick with mustard. I sometimes make a tuna sandwich using two slices of toasted 40 calorie bread, just depends on the mood I’m in.
Along with the tuna, I eat as much broccoli as I want. I buy these Green Giant Steamers at my Neighborhood Wal-Mart Market. I’m sure they are available elsewhere, too.
3/4 cup of this cooked broccoli is only 20 calories. That means you could eat the entire bag, which is around 2 1/2 cups of broccoli and only consume 60 calories! I steam a couple of these bags at the time and keep them in a big bowl in the refrigerator. If I get hungry late at night or really any time during the day, I run down, heap some broccoli into a bowl, zap it in the microwave for about 15 seconds and eat up. It’s a healthy snack and the calories are minimal!
Sometimes I eat spinach instead of broccoli. I bought some black-eyed peas recently, the kind that are fresh and already shelled, but I was shocked how many calories were in one cup. So I’ve pretty much stuck to eating leafy, green vegetables as I’ve tried to shed about 5-10 more pounds. You could eat kale or whatever leafy, green veggie that you prefer. I like broccoli and spinach, so that’s what I’ve been eating.
As with the broccoli, the calorie count is really good for spinach, only 20 calories in 3/4 cup. So, again, I pretty much eat my fill.
Update: Just wanted to add, I do not like the Green Giant Broccoli or Spinach that’s in a cream sauce or has anything added. It’s the plain broccoli and spinach that I buy. I prefer to season my own, if I do season it.
Between lunch and dinner, I usually crave a snack. My favorite snack is a rice cake with a ripe banana sliced up on top.
A rice cake is 35 calories and a half banana is around 50 calories…so that’s an 85 calorie snack. I’m always looking for foods that I can snack on but don’t add a lot of calories to my diet. I love these rice cakes, they are just barely salted and combined with a sweet banana, it’s yummy. You get that sweet/salty taste that I really love.
Sometimes as a snack, I’ll eat a small piece of cheddar cheese. I’ve found that since I’m not drinking multiple glasses of milk all day long like I used to, I can get a way with a little cream in my iced coffee and a small piece of cheese during the day without any tummy upset.
Tip: When trying to lose weight, clear your cupboards of any high-calorie foods that you know you can’t resist. My Achilles heel is crunchy peanut butter. I LOVE a peanut butter and fruit sandwich. I actually haven’t bought jam in a while because I’ve discovered I much prefer to eat fresh fruit on my peanut butter sandwiches. I spread extra crunchy peanut butter on a slice of bread and then cover the bread with blueberries or bananas. Yum! It’s sooo good!
Unfortunately, peanut butter is very high in calories, especially if you get the extra crunchy kind which is the only kind I like. When I have it in the house, it haunts me the way a chocolate cake would a chocolate lover. So when I finished up the peanut butter I had in the cupboard about a month ago, I didn’t replace it. It’s just too tempting, so why torture myself that way.
But what I still do sometimes for a snack is I’ll take a half of a banana, squish it up and put it on either a 35 calorie rice cake or a 40 calorie piece of bread. Then I’ll sprinkle a few nuts that I’ve shelled onto the top.
I like to buy the large packages of unshelled nuts in the grocery store. Then I’ll shell 4 or 5 nuts (it might be pecans or walnuts or even Brazil nuts) and sprinkle them across the top. I think that’s probably fewer calories than peanut butter and maybe even a little healthier. Plus, you get all that crunchy goodness from the nuts. It’s delish and very filling.
Just be careful that you don’t overdo it with the nuts. The calories in the nuts add up quickly so Google how many calories there are in nuts before you decide how many to add on top. I figure that’s healthier and less calorie-laden than the peanut butter would be. And fresh fruit beats jam from a jar any day, at least it does to me.
Dinner is usually a half or a whole piece of salmon that I buy in Whole Foods or a skinless chicken breast broiled with a couple of pats of butter and a little lemon pepper in the oven on a cookie sheet. The salmon I buy is frozen and there are 6 pieces per package for $21.99. It’s wrapped individually so you just cut/tear off as many as you wish to cook.
I usually take one out of the freezer the night before and put it in the refrigerator to defrost. Then the next day when I’m ready to eat, I microwave it for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes at around 70-80% power. I check it and if it needs it, I’ll microwave it another 30-45 seconds or so.
It comes out great this way to me, but if the idea of microwaving salmon is appalling to you, then definitely cook it however you wish. I’m a lazy cook so this has worked great for me.
Update: I’ve tried frozen salmon from several stores and this one that I buy at Whole Foods is the only one I like. The others taste way too fishy. So, if you buy it elsewhere and it tastes terrible, try this one.
I normally eat 1/2 of a piece of salmon (155 calories) and save the rest for the next day’s lunch. It’s really good on a green salad for lunch.
With the salmon, I’ll again have either broccoli or spinach. Sometimes I’ll fix a salad but usually I’m happy with either the broccoli or the spinach mentioned earlier in this post.
Other Things I Sometimes Eat as Snacks or For Lunch
I watched a video recently where a favorite YouTuber I follow was talking about drinking a protein shake. The one she drinks was very expensive, way more than I wanted to spend. So, I went online and did a bit of research and this one appeared to be getting pretty good reviews.
Here is what’s inside below. Sometimes I’ll drink this as snack during the day. Or, if I’ve only had a half piece of salmon and some broccoli for dinner, which is only around 180-200 calories, I may drink the protein shake later that night. Again, I’m writing every thing down on my little chart so I’m keeping track. Update: Apparently, they had a recall on this product because it was found to contain traces of peanuts in it. I’m not allergic to peanuts so I’m going to continue eating it.
One day recently I realized I pretty much always have chapped lips…and for no reason. This isn’t since I started trying to lose a few pounds, it’s been this way for years. I Googled and read that not drinking enough water each day can cause that.
I’m a terrible water drinker. I thought I was doing okay until I started filling up a pitcher each day and trying to drink the whole thing by the end of the day. The pitcher holds approximately 64 ounces which is right around the recommended daily amount. Oh, how I struggle to drink it all each day, but I have to say, ever since I’ve increased my water intake, no more chapped lips!
There’s an app you can add to your phone that will remind you to drink water. I added it to my phone but removed it because I just don’t want something prompting me all day. I like the pitcher idea because it’s a visual reminder I see all throughout the day here in my office, unless I’m gone all day like I was yesterday.
(Read more about this Infusion Pitcher here: Fruit Infusion Pitcher, Love This Thing)
I also like to keep a pitcher of unsweet tea in the fridge, although lately I’ve been concentrating on drinking more water. I avoid fruit juices since they are high in calories, spike your blood sugar and are not very filling. I’d rather eat an orange or two than drink 6 ounces of orange juice. I just find that way more satisfying.
Some Thoughts and Observations
Recently I was thinking about adding yogurt to my daily repertoire. When I looked at the label in the grocery store, I was shocked that one small yogurt contained 120 calories. I don’t know about you, but I never find yogurt very filling. It’s like eating a sweet dessert, it goes down really fast and I’m starving again in no time. I try to concentrate on eating foods that are more dense and fill me up without adding tons of calories.
When eating out, I focus on eating some kind of lean meat like chicken or fish and plenty of veggies. About once a week I’ll treat myself to a hamburger if I’m in the mood. I only eat until I’m full, which sometimes is just half the hamburger…depends on the size of the burger. So I don’t deprive myself of something if I’m absolutely craving it, but I do limit how much I eat of that food and I make sure to record it down on my chart.
Tip: Eat slowly because it takes your brain about 20 minutes to register when you’re getting full. If you eat too quickly (something I’m guilty of) you’ll go from hungry to feeling stuffed before you know it.
What To Do When You Have an Off Day and Blow Your Diet
There are always going to be days when you don’t stick to your diet. I’ve had those days. The important thing is to acknowledge it, think about what happened to cause it so you can learn from it, then realize that one off day doesn’t undo all the work you’ve done so far. You just get up the next morning and start fresh again. The worse thing you can do is get down on yourself and give up. Just move forward and focus on the day ahead.
Diet Drinks or Anything with Artificial Sugar
I can not drink sodas or anything with artificial sweeteners. I’ve noticed when I do, I get joint pain, especially in my hands. Since I gave up diet sodas, my joint paint is almost gone. If you have joint pain and drink a lot of diet drinks or eat foods with artificial ingredients or sweeteners, try avoiding those for a couple of weeks and see if it helps. I heard on the radio today that more people are suffering now with arthritis than ever before. It’s like an epidemic! I can’t help but wonder if it has to do with diet sodas and the other artificial ingredients hidden in some foods. Eating whole foods as much as possible is definitely the way to go. I hate cooking so I do resort to the prepackaged veggies, but eat whole foods whenever you can.
My Energy Level
I have tons of energy, especially now that I’ve shed 13 lbs. One day it dawned on me, for every 5 lbs I lose, I’ve just sat down a 5 lb bag of sugar I’ve been carrying around!
Next time you’re in the grocery store, or if you have a 5-lb bag of sugar in your pantry right now, go pick it up and hold it. Switch it from hand to hand and feel its weight. Just losing 5 lbs is the equivalent of getting that bag of sugar off your back, hips, knees and legs, not to mention how much good you’re doing for your heart.
Weight comes on us so gradually, it’s not like someone just walked up one day, handed us a 5-lb bag of sugar and said, “Here, hold this and don’t put it down even once for the next 5-10 years.” If someone did that, we would probably hit them in the head with that bag of sugar. Yet, we walk around every day carrying multiple bags of sugar with us everywhere we go, in my case, 4 bags/20 lbs. I’ve gotten rid of two of those bags, have two more to go!
Finally finding a form of exercise I love (live and on-demand spin classes on my Peloton) I feel like I now have a way to permanently sit down those bags of sugar, hopefully forever. I really do believe that’s the key to losing weight and keeping it off: finding some form of exercise that you enjoy and doing it often.
It’s just too hard to maintain your ideal weight through diet alone, at least it is for my metabolism. I’m hypothyroid and insulin resistant, so that probably has something to do with it. As mentioned before, both my father and brother came down with Type 2 diabetes in their 50’s. I’m determined to not follow in their footsteps.
Hope this post answers a few of the questions I’ve received and I hope some of the tips I’ve shared will prove helpful if you’re trying to shed a few pounds, too.