Last week I wrote an introduction to my weight loss journey, and discussed what brought me here in the first place, and my frustration in the past with this whole process.
Today I want to discuss what has actually been working for me, and how I came across that in the first place.
Plus I'd like to talk about how I did last week with it being my birthday and having lots of opportunities to make poor choices. But, I feel like I did a pretty good job overall. 🙂
Our First Attempt
So I mentioned that we started this whole thing after vacation last month, officially beginning on September 7.
And I alluded to the fact that our first attempted solution had failed.
So first I'll mention that I'm not big into cooking. Well, okay, I don't mind it in certain contexts, but I don't have a lot of time or patience for it, and don't want to be cooking every day.
A lot of what got us into trouble was just eating a lot of prepackaged foods that had a lot of calories.
Well, that, and we'd regularly have a discussion like this:
Me: “So what do you want for dinner?
Christine: “I don't know, nothing really sounds good that we have in the house.”
Me: “Yeah, me, neither.”
*Endless repetition of the above, until at last…*
One of us: “Want to order in?”
The other: “Sure.”
So that was happening twice or more times per week, because either we didn't prepare and didn't have anything easy on hand that sounded good, or simply didn't want to spend a lot of time and energy cooking.
So, with that in mind, it was a few weeks before we went on vacation. While watching TV one random Sunday, when I saw one of those commercials for Nutrisystem.
In case you don't know, Nutrisystem is a program where they send you all the meals you'll need for an entire month. So basically you get 3 meals per day plus 1 or 2 snacks.
For some reason it happened to catch my attention this time, though I had successfully ignored it plenty of times before that.
So I read about some people's experiences with it, and it didn't sound all that bad.
I figured it'd be a good option for me because there'd be literally zero cooking involved, besides just heating stuff up.
Eventually I talked to Christine about it, and we both decided to give it a try.
I was a bit unsure, for a few reasons.
Firstly, because it kind of felt like a cop-out. I wanted to learn how the law of attraction fit with all this, and find my own easy way of successfully losing weight. Following a system like this didn't feel like that for me.
Basically, as silly as it sounds, I knew eventually I'd be sharing my success with all of you. And, it didn't seem like much of a breakthrough to say, “Yeah, I just went on Nutrisystem and everything worked out.”
Secondly, though, I knew that it would only last for a time, and then I'd be right back to having to figure out how to shape our lifestyle so we could continue to be healthy, without relying on ordering in all the time.
But, I figured it'd at least give us time to figure all that out, so I went ahead with it.
Well, the food arrived the day we returned from vacation, and I was looking forward to beginning the whole process the next day.
Now with Nutrisystem, the first week is the toughest because they want to kickstart your results by having you eat much less than you normally would, like around 800-900 calories per day.
Keep in mind again that I'm 6'0" (183 cm) and 332 lb (151 kg). Eating 800-900 calories was never going to happen for any serious length of time.
So that Thursday and Friday, our first two days, we did pretty well. The food wasn't horrible, and I wasn't overly hungry. It was a bit tougher for Christine, who was far hungrier.
The first night was the hardest. I felt pretty weak before going to bed. We were allowed unlimited non-starchy vegetables, but vegetables will only fill you up so much, lol. It's basically a lot of volume with little actual caloric energy.
Saturday, our third day, was when I started to break a bit. I knew I wouldn't last at that level of intake.
I had first contacted Nutrisystem about my concern on Friday, but they basically said a bit of weakness was normal.
But Saturday I tried again, and the agent I got that time said I should actually be eating more because of my weight.
Well, duh. Seems obvious. Not sure why the first person missed it.
So I got a new plan of action for Christine and me, which we successfully followed on Saturday and Sunday.
I was now having about 1500 calories, and Christine maybe around 1100 or 1200.
The Breaking Point
But with the additional food we were allowed to eat came additional complexity I hadn't planned for.
See, when they tell you to eat food other than the food they give you, they divide it into four basic categories:
- “Powerfuels”: lean proteins
- “Smartcarbs”: Low glycemic carbs
- Vegetables: Any non-starchy vegetable
- “Extras”: Items between 11-35 calories, like condiments and so on
They told me that after the first week, I should be having 5 powerfuels, 4 smartcarbs, 4 vegetables, and 3 extras.
This is stuff we have to purchase extra in addition to Nutrisystem, which is already quite expensive. Plus, some items have to be cooked, like fish, which is a powerfuel on Nutrisystem.
So that Sunday, September 10, Christine went grocery shopping to get some food that could meet the above requirements.
And, proceeded to spend $144!
Normally our monthly grocery cost is around $300-$350. She had just spent 40% of that in one shopping trip, and that was in addition to $550 we had collectively spent on Nutrisystem.
So essentially at this rate, we'd be spending $800+ on food every month, between Nutrisystem and extra grocery items.
It was at that point that I started to think, “If we have to buy all this extra stuff anyway, and even cook some of it, what the heck is the point?”
And, long story only slightly shorter, that was the end of Nutrisystem.
Oh and plus, as we ate more of their food, we started to get tired of it after only a few days.
I mean, some of it was legitimately pretty good, like the pizza, and one of my favorites, Rotini and Meatballs.
But a lot of it just tasted, well… processed.
And look, I'm used to processed food. My mother never really cooked very much when I was younger, so it wasn't a new concept.
But this was just, overly processed. It's hard to explain, but I just didn't feel nourished on it.
So, that was it. We had to ship back the non-frozen items in order to get even a partial refund (which I'm still waiting for).
The Solution At Last
All right, so that brings us to Monday, September 11.
I wasn't quite starting from square one, because even before quitting Nutrisystem, I had started independently tracking my calories with an app called FatSecret.
Recall from last post that I had done calorie counting in the past, being quite successful with it for a time.
Well, that was my trusty go-to when I wasn't sure what else to do.
To be fair, it was a lot easier this time, because now I have a smartphone and can use their app. Logging a meal for me only takes about two minutes tops. Unless it's a recipe we made ourselves, then I have to create that, but only one time and then it's done.
But, I still wanted to ensure that I would stick with this for the longterm.
Finding the Solution
So again, it's Monday. I'm just sort of trying to figure out what to do next.
Actually, I was trying to figure out how much I should be eating. FatSecret is notoriously generous with their calorie estimates, telling me to eat 3200 calories to lose a pound per week (not likely).
So I just happened upon an article that was part of a larger guide on dieting and losing weight.
The book that had initially gotten me on to calorie counting almost 10 years ago now was something called The Hacker's Diet. It taught basically that a calorie is a calorie1, and all you need to do is to eat fewer calories than you burn and you'll lose weight.
And, I found that to be true. That first time back in college, I only slightly changed my eating habits, eating a bit less as well, and lost weight almost effortlessly.
This guide I came across two weeks ago now was very similar, but more extensive in what it covered, in my opinion.
So I spent the day reading that guide, which was free.
And when I got to the end of it, the author mentioned that he now had an even more extensive weight loss guide with all of his updated recommendations.
I'm going to give the link in a minute. But first, let me say that there are no affiliate links in this post. If he offered an affiliate program, I'd totally take advantage (*hint, hint*), but he doesn't.
Anyway, I clicked through and ended up at the sales page for Superior Fat Loss.
Without much hesitation, I bought the book, because the free guide had been so valuable that I figured the book was more of the same.
Anyway, I really don't want to spend time gushing in this post (actually I do but am restraining myself).
But basically, that 400+ page book, which took me like 3 days to read, gave me the confidence to continue this journey, knowing I'd be able to stick with it.
That's because he addressed each and every one of my concerns that had previously gotten in my way.
- He confirmed that a calorie is a calorie2, and so I don't have to be super strict.
- He gave ideal macronutrient recommendations to maintain muscle while losing weight and just make sure I stay healthy.
- He gave an easy way to calculate how many calories to eat per day.
- He dispelled some misconceptions that I still held, and gave proof for each.
- He explained why it's hard to stick with a diet after a few months, and how to deal with that and still continue to lose weight.
- He gave recommendations for how to best maintain muscle while losing weight.
- He gave advice about dealing with plateaus.
- He discussed how to deal with occasional overeating.
- And a whole bunch more.
Anyway, after reading that book, I feel equipped to deal with anything that might come up.
How I've Adjusted to This New Lifestyle
Like I said in last week's post, I know I'm only 3 weeks in now, but that book addressed any possible situation I could imagine finding myself in, so I feel far more confident than I have in the past.
I've changed my eating habits, but not so much that I can't still have things that I want to have.
I have ordered in since starting this journey, but made smarter, more informed decisions, and successfully stayed on track.
The big question is, how have I dealt with the original issue, which was that I don't like to cook much?
Well, in a few ways.
Christine and I decided that we'll try to cook twice per week or so, but also mix it with some packaged food, and occasional ordering in as a treat.
So, we found some better packaged products that can be a balanced part of our diet.
But we've also found some recipes that are fairly quick and easy, and which I don't mind cooking.
Last night we just made this greek yogurt Mac & cheese, which didn't take long, and was actually really awesome.
We also just got a crock-pot, so we can just throw together some ingredients and let it do the rest. That's worked out really well for us as well.
So overall, we're making it work. None of the foods we've eaten makes us feel like we're on a diet, which is important, because we really aren't on a diet.
Being on a diet makes it sound like we're severely restricting ourselves, which we just aren't.
I'm currently eating on average about 2400 calories, and Christine is eating 1700 calories.
Okay, it's been a bit more of an adjustment for her, but for me, I feel very satisfied at this amount of calories, and am rarely hungry.
And yet, I'm successfully losing weight, which you'll see later.
Dealing with My Birthday
Now, the last thing I wanted to address is how I dealt with my birthday last Thursday (September 21).
It was a bit tough because on Wednesday, my father-in-law wanted to have me over for dinner, and we had burgers and fries, plus cheesecake and apple crisp for dessert. 😮
Then on my actual birthday, I wanted to go out to my favorite restaurant.
And finally to top it all off, my mother-in-law also wanted to have me over for dinner on Sunday.
You can imagine it was pretty tough to stay on track.
I took care of this in a few ways:
First, I created a spreadsheet where I also log my daily weights and calorie intake, so I can see my weekly average weight, and also to calculate how many calories to eat.
One feature I have in my spreadsheet is that as I enter my calories every day, it gives me a recommendation of how much to eat the rest of the week to end up at my average.
Because, as long as you end up at your weekly caloric goal, it doesn't matter if some days, you go over or under.
So Wednesday and Thursday, I went way over, then went under the remaining days of the week, ending up almost exactly at my weekly goal.
Second, the author of Superior Fat Loss recommends taking a refeed day every few weeks. A refeed day is basically a day when you eat at maintenance, eating as many calories as you burn. For me that's around 3000 calories.
The reason for a refeed day is to lessen the stress on your body of maintaining a caloric deficit for so long.
So, I let my birthday be my refeed day, which was kind of fun. 🙂
Yes I ate everything my father-in-law offered, being sure to not eat as much earlier in the day. And I also got my favorite foods when I went out for my birthday itself. And, I accepted dessert when my mother-in-law invited me over.
And, I still lost 1.8 lb (0.8 kg) last week. So I'm happy with how I did. 😀
It was a bit tougher for Christine. She struggled last week since her caloric intake has to be far less than mine, and there was lots of high-calorie food around. She still ended in a slight deficit for the week, and lost 0.5 lb (0.2 kg) last week. But hey, it was only a temporary issue, so everything is all good now. 🙂
She told me to tell everyone that it was hell, lol.
So here's our progress for this week.
As I did last week, I am posting weekly averages, because day-to-day weights just aren't accurate, so I average them out throughout the week.
- Start weight: 332.0 lb (150.6 kg)
- Week 2 average: 325.3 lb (147.6 kg)
- Week 3 average: 323.5 lb (146.7 kg)
- Lost this week: 1.8 lb (0.9 kg) (0.55%)
- Lost in total: 8.5 lb (3.9 kg) (2.56%)
- Start weight: 251.8 lb (114.2 kg)
- Week 2 average: 242.9 lb (110.2 kg)
- Week 3 average: 242.4 lb (110.0 kg)
- Lost this week: 0.5 lb (0.2 kg) (0.21%)
- Lost in total: 9.4 lb (4.2 kg) (3.73%)
How About You?
Now it's your turn. I'd love to hear what else you want to hear about my or Christine's journey so far, or even how we got here in the first place. We'll continue sharing with you how we're doing and the insights we have along the way, but your comments, encouragement, and questions are always appreciated.