8 Easy Secrets of My 90-Pound Weight-Loss Success

by Christine on July 19th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition, Exercise, Gastric Banding Surgery, General Information

8 Easy Secrets of My 90-Pound Weight-Loss Success

I have lost just about 90 pounds on this weight loss journey so far. My goal is to lose 100 pounds, and I am about 10 pounds shy of my goal. The end is finally in sight!

It’s hard not to compare my weight loss this time versus all the attempts at weight loss that I’ve made in the past. What am I doing differently this time versus previous times? What’s working? What tips do I have for others that want to lose weight?  This post explains exactly what I’ve learned so far, and why this is working for me and other attempts have not.

I want to preface this list with a quick comment about weight loss surgery. 17 months ago I had the gastric banding surgery. Yes, the surgery has helped me lose weight, but NO the surgery is not necessarily a magic tool that has enabled my weight loss. In fact, my surgeon told me that most people who have weight loss surgery aren’t successful at all! Why not? Because some people don’t change their habits, or learn to “eat around the band,” meaning that they are gobbling up ice cream and milk shakes, which may be “easy” to eat, but are smothered in calories. No, the surgery isn’t magic cure-all, but it has helped.

  1. Weight-Loss should be easy. I can’t stress this enough, and I know you’re probably sitting there looking at me like I’m off my rocker. I’m serious though. I’m devoting far less effort and energy into losing weight this time around than last time. Sure, this may be due in part to the weight-loss surgery, but not entirely.  You see, prior to my recent loss, I was: counting calories, measuring food. I was going out of my way to eat healthfully. I exercised a minimum of an hour a day, six days a week. I worked hard to find the perfect combination of cardio vs. weight training. I paid for a personal trainer. I paid for weight watchers. I obsessed over the scale. I tried Atkins, South Beach, Zone, Master Cleanser, and a zillion other fad diets. And you know what? Those fad diets are HARD because they force you to live dissimilarly than your usual lifestyle. Fad diets are hard work.  Let me repeat this: weight loss should be easy.  If you’re spending hours and hours a day actively “working on losing weight” then you need to take a step back and re-evaluate how you’re going about your weight loss. This time around I try hard to make good eating choices, but I don’t always get it right. (In the past, I’d be 100% diligent to my plans, but with ZERO success on the scale.)  I try to get some exercise in, but I don’t always succeed. The point is, I’m just trying to live well and do the best I can, but I’m not obsessing and going nuts over trying to lose weight, and you shouldn’t either. After all, don’t we have families and careers and more important things that we should be spending the better part of our time on?
  2. It’s 80% about the food and 20% about the exercise. When I first started out losing weight, I had all but given up on exercise. I don’t like working out. I don’t like going to the gym. At the start of my current journey, I had given so much blood, sweat, and tears at the gym with ZERO reward that I flat-out burnt myself out. So when this new weight loss journey began, I wasn’t exercising at all. It didn’t matter. I’m no scientist, but just an observation of mine: the more weight you have to lose, the less your weight loss is about the exercise. Instead, focus your attention on getting your eating under control, picking healthy options, eating often (more about that below).  As you start to lose weight, you’ll naturally have more energy and will pick up the exercise factor, as it fits into your life. As you inch closer to your goal weight, you should exercise more and more. Exercise is crucial to weight maintenance, but not so much about weight loss.  Because I’m so close to my goal weight, I exercise perhaps 3-4 times a week, but I don’t freak out about it if I miss a gym session.
  3. Eat small meals, and eat often. I realized about 30 pounds into my weight loss journey that I was no longer eating “meals” at all. Instead, I was grazing. Snacking. All day long. I’d nibble on this, and I’d nibble on that. This is entirely due to the band, and without the gastric band I never would have discovered this important aspect of weight loss.  So this is what my prior-to-weight-loss dieting attempts would look like: I’d either skip breakfast or have some oatmeal. For lunch I’d have a 6 inch sub from subway, with vinegar as dressing. For dinner I’d have some steamed veggies and grilled chicken. Period. The end.  The food choices were seemingly good, but I was eating too much, and only at two sittings. Your body apparently doesn’t like this. Today, I eat 5-6 times a day, but only 150-200 calories of food at any given sitting. I never eat a “meal” anymore.  The great thing about eating small portions of food is that I can pretty much eat whatever I want, and I think the variety is really healthy for my body. I’m less obsessed over eating “diet food” and allow myself to eat “real food” during these mini-meals.  (I eat a lot of soup these days, especially at restaurants, because it’s the perfect portion size!)
  4. Pay attention to your body, not the USDA. Okay, do a little math now. If I’m only eating 150 calories per meal, 6 times a day…that means I’m eating….900 calories a day? Say what? Are you crazy? No I’m not!  So in my quest to lose weight, I scrutinized how many calories a typical woman should be eating, according to the USDA.  They say 2,000 for a sedentary female 19 to 30 years old. BMR calculators told me I should eat 1,774 calories. Well, no wonder I wasn’t losing weight!  I was either trying to eat “just right” and follow one of those crazy guidelines, or pretty much starving myself trying to save as many calories as humanly possible.Now look. I’m not going to tell you to eat only 900 calories a day. I also don’t think you should listen to the USDA. Instead, listen to your own body. I truly believe that every person has their own calorie setpoint that they like to be at. For me, I think that my weight-stabilizing point is around 1000-1100 calories. To lose about a pound or two a week, I need to target 800-900 calories per day. This is the point that works for me, but it may not work for you. You need to experiment a little bit to figure out what your calorie setpoint is, but the only way you can do that is to pay close attention to your body.
  5. Avoid carbs, but don’t eliminate them entirely. I mostly eat whatever I want these days, but there are a few nit-picky little trends that I’ve identified. I don’t know if these really contribute to weight loss or not, but I figure they were worth mentioning.  Because of my gastric band, I avoid carbs. They get stuck in my stomach and it’s quite uncomfortable. Consequently, I just avoid eating bread products, pastries, pasta of any kind, French fries, rice, and things like that. That means no pizza!! Boohoo!! My favorite food is forevermore off limits to me! On the other hand, I don’t completely cut out the carbs. My opinion is that if you’re going to eat carbs, take them from real living plants: rice, potatoes, quinoa, etc.  Stay away from things that are mixed with man-made products (bread, pasta) and are refined, processed, and look nothing like their main ingredient anymore.
  6. Eat real food. Quit feeding yourself “fat-free” and “sugar-free” and “low-calorie” garbage. Look, the stuff is gross and for good reason: it’s not real food.  Treat yourself to real food, and yes, please eat foods that are rich in fat. I’m talking about real cheese. Avocados. Almonds. Eggs. Even indulge in real ice cream on rare occasions, and butter, and olive oil. (You know that candy bars and potato chips aren’t “real food,” so let’s not even go there.) Stay away from foods that are processed and refined and look for food that has real flavor.  Now, remember that I only eat 150 calories at any given sitting, so 150 calories of butter or cheese is not going to go very far. I might eat some hummus with 1 Tbs of feta cheese on tomato wedges. Or peanut butter on an apple slice. Watch your portion sizes carefully, but ahead and eat the real stuff.
  7. Stay away from soda, even diet soda. For that matter, avoid anything with man-made sweeteners, carbonated fizziness (which only helps to EXPAND your stomach), corn syrup, or processed crap.  Okay, I’ll have a beer maybe once a week, which I probably shouldn’t, but as a general rule I don’t consume sodas anymore. I used to drink Diet Pepsi like it was going out of style. No more!
  8. Drink water, but do so carefully. This is a little trick that my weight loss surgeon taught me.  One hour prior to eating, chug a shit-ton of water.  Then while you are eating your meal and for one hour following your meal, don’t drink anything.  The theory behind this is: (1) the water prior to your meal fills you up, and (2) avoiding water during your meal means that you are not physically flushing the food out of your stomach. Because the food remains in your stomach (3) you end up feeling fuller, for longer.  It really does work. Try it sometime.

BEFORE:

AFTER/IN PROGRESS (about 90 pounds lost):

Me (July 2010)

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  • http://www.clydesdaleproject.blogspot.com Big Clyde

    Good tip on the water!

    • Evie

      Absolutely agree with different calories for different people to lose weight! I was told over and over for over 30 years, by different ‘experts’ that I should lose on 1,400 calories – what a load of rubbish – I’m just sad it took so long to believe in myself and not someone else! I lose on 800-1000 calories. All those wasted years of trying hard, failing and suffering – feeling like a failure and that I didn’t deserve to lose weight because there was something wring with me!

      Also agree with not obsessing i.e if I some days cosume 1,200 my world doesn’t come crashing down and I DO NOT cut right back the next day – just simply go back to 800-1000 calories.

      Think diet gurus need to realize that what works for them might not work for others!!!!!!! Grrrrrrrrr!!!

      Diet gurus – listen to ‘real’ people who have got to know their own body. Get off your moral high ground, stop making loads of money for basically nothing/experimenting with peoples lives and making false promises! Open your eyes and see we are all different/individuals not robots. Rant over! :) Have a nice day all! :)

      • Evie

        Ps lost 30lbs in my first 4 weeks with little exercise – once another stone gone I will up exercise much more.

  • http://www.clydesdaleproject.blogspot.com Big Clyde

    Good tip on the water!

  • http://responsibility199.blogspot.com/ Patrick

    Thanks for sharing, a great summary of what you held yourself to task on for.

    Hey, a shit-ton… is that an actual measurement? I can’t seem to find it on my conversions table.. I see bale, stone, gill… hmm, but no shit-ton :-)

    • http://www.phoenixrevolution.net Christine

      What you’ve never heard of a shit-ton? That’s the weight of one of those massive poos that builds up for days, then comes out like a ton-o-bricks. It’s WAY more than a bale, stone, or a gill! LOL! :-)

  • http://almostgastricbypass.blogspot.com/ Allan

    Sounds like a piece of cake !!! My bad, you make it sound very simple.. Thank you very much for the inside info…

    • http://www.phoenixrevolution.net Christine

      It should be simple. Even Sean said so, today. I was pleased that we had the same advice! http://losingweighteveryday.blogspot.com/2010/07/day-669-good-choices-regardless-of.html He said:

      Why did I make this so complicated for so long? Because it gave me an out. It prolonged having to deal with those issues. And now, I realize–it’s not an issue at all. Learning to eat in a responsible way, making good choices, and maintaining our resolve with everyday food–in everyday situations, no matter the circumstance or schedule, that’s just living. That’s being normal. Keep it simple! I’ve been saying that from day 1. Someone just e-mailed me requesting menus I use, just to get them started. I don’t have a menu! I have some favorite foods I enjoy, but I don’t have specific menus. Keep it simple. Eat what you like, and nothing you don’t. Just understand what you’re consuming, read the label for the calorie count and serving size–if it doesn’t have a label—go to Calorieking.com I understand where this menu request comes from, because I used to think that way too… Just show me exactly what to eat and when to eat it, and if I can lose weight like that, by golly—I’ll do it! But this approach doesn’t fix anything. It gives temporary results at best. I’ve been there. But why is it so tough? Because there isn’t a substitute for real mental change concerning our food behaviors and habits. And the only way to make these real profound changes, is to deal directly with our food–the food we enjoy naturally, the food at the reception, the food in the fridge—at that dinner party. Remember, it’s really not about the food–it’s about you. Keep it simple. Stop stressing over the food, and just be you—and realize that losing weight doesn’t have to be about deprivation–it doesn’t have to be about eating only certain foods and sticking to some extreme recipe and menu schedule. It doesn’t have to be complicated. And if it is? You’re making it that way. How do I know? Because I always made it that way.

  • http://responsibility199.blogspot.com/ Patrick

    Thanks for sharing, a great summary of what you held yourself to task on for.

    Hey, a shit-ton… is that an actual measurement? I can’t seem to find it on my conversions table.. I see bale, stone, gill… hmm, but no shit-ton :-)

    • http://www.phoenixrevolution.net Christine

      What you’ve never heard of a shit-ton? That’s the weight of one of those massive poos that builds up for days, then comes out like a ton-o-bricks. It’s WAY more than a bale, stone, or a gill! LOL! :-)

  • http://almostgastricbypass.blogspot.com/ Allan

    Sounds like a piece of cake !!! My bad, you make it sound very simple.. Thank you very much for the inside info…

    • http://www.phoenixrevolution.net Christine

      It should be simple. Even Sean said so, today. I was pleased that we had the same advice! http://losingweighteveryday.blogspot.com/2010/07/day-669-good-choices-regardless-of.html He said:

      Why did I make this so complicated for so long? Because it gave me an out. It prolonged having to deal with those issues. And now, I realize–it’s not an issue at all. Learning to eat in a responsible way, making good choices, and maintaining our resolve with everyday food–in everyday situations, no matter the circumstance or schedule, that’s just living. That’s being normal. Keep it simple! I’ve been saying that from day 1. Someone just e-mailed me requesting menus I use, just to get them started. I don’t have a menu! I have some favorite foods I enjoy, but I don’t have specific menus. Keep it simple. Eat what you like, and nothing you don’t. Just understand what you’re consuming, read the label for the calorie count and serving size–if it doesn’t have a label—go to Calorieking.com I understand where this menu request comes from, because I used to think that way too… Just show me exactly what to eat and when to eat it, and if I can lose weight like that, by golly—I’ll do it! But this approach doesn’t fix anything. It gives temporary results at best. I’ve been there. But why is it so tough? Because there isn’t a substitute for real mental change concerning our food behaviors and habits. And the only way to make these real profound changes, is to deal directly with our food–the food we enjoy naturally, the food at the reception, the food in the fridge—at that dinner party. Remember, it’s really not about the food–it’s about you. Keep it simple. Stop stressing over the food, and just be you—and realize that losing weight doesn’t have to be about deprivation–it doesn’t have to be about eating only certain foods and sticking to some extreme recipe and menu schedule. It doesn’t have to be complicated. And if it is? You’re making it that way. How do I know? Because I always made it that way.

  • http://nwanonymom.blogspot.com/ Sarah

    Thanks for sharing! Very insightful.

  • http://nwanonymom.blogspot.com/ Sarah

    Thanks for sharing! Very insightful.

  • http://amandakiska.blogspot.com Amanda

    Great post! Very imformative.

  • http://amandakiska.blogspot.com Amanda

    Great post! Very imformative.

  • http://islandbandit.blogspot.com Island Bandit

    Thanks for sharing. It all makes sense.

  • http://islandbandit.blogspot.com Island Bandit

    Thanks for sharing. It all makes sense.

  • http://freckleonthenose.blogspot.com freckleonthenose

    Once again, very helpful! Thanks!

  • http://freckleonthenose.blogspot.com freckleonthenose

    Once again, very helpful! Thanks!

  • jen

    Totally agree with number 4! I think this has taken me so long to figure out…trainers tell you to eat about 1200 calories and I know thats too high for me so yeah totally agree with you and i have to stick to 800-900 calories as well to lose weight

    Thanks for the tips!

    • http://www.phoenixrevolution.net Christine

      Thanks Jen! Love you to pieces!

  • jen

    Totally agree with number 4! I think this has taken me so long to figure out…trainers tell you to eat about 1200 calories and I know thats too high for me so yeah totally agree with you and i have to stick to 800-900 calories as well to lose weight

    Thanks for the tips!

    • http://www.phoenixrevolution.net Christine

      Thanks Jen! Love you to pieces!

  • http://fab50.blogspot.com Fab Kate

    I think that so many of us have a history of making it harder than it has to be because we’re stuck in a “fat mindset”. We don’t see eating good food, having active lifestyles, and drinking water instead of soda as anything but luxury and torture… which is odd, because it’s really just the opposite after you get rid of those sugar DTs.

  • http://fab50.blogspot.com Fab Kate

    I think that so many of us have a history of making it harder than it has to be because we’re stuck in a “fat mindset”. We don’t see eating good food, having active lifestyles, and drinking water instead of soda as anything but luxury and torture… which is odd, because it’s really just the opposite after you get rid of those sugar DTs.

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