Because I found it extremely helpful to read blogs when I was trying to lose weight, I wanted to write a post about what worked for me in regards to eating. I wouldn’t say I was on a diet because I didn’t follow a certain program, menu or book. I did track and limit calories, tried to eat healthier in general, and ate 3 small meals and 3 snacks each day.
I think I mentioned a time or twelve in these Sincerely Shredding posts that I used a free online tool to calculate how many calories I consumed and burned. I signed up for a MyPlate account within the first week that I started the 30 Day Shred workout. Studies show people are more successful with losing and maintaining weight when they keep a food journal.
MyPlate is such an easy program to use and there are many other versions out there that do the same thing as far as calculating calories. If you use an online program (or an app for your iPhone), I’d love to hear what works for you.
What I like about MyPlate is that it tells you how many daily net calories (the amount of calories remaining after what you burn throughout the day) you can eat in order to lose a certain amount each week. I decided that I was happy with a 1.5 pound/week weight loss so I was given a budget of 1,600 calories each day, based on my current weight and height. After burning, say for example, 240 calories in my 30 Day Shred workout, I was allowed 1,840 calories.
Now, what I really like about MyPlate is the “calories remaining” status bar. After inputing what I ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I like to see how many calories I have left to spend on my all-important 10 pm snack. If the status bar says I have enough calories remaining, I do a little happy dance every night.
Yeah, I know there’s this “rule” that you shouldn’t eat after 8 pm (or 7:30 or 7 pm, it seems to change every year, doesn’t it?), but I’m here to tell you I had a snack at 10 pm every single night and still lost weight. So, rule schmule.
However, maybe it should be disclosed that I’m a night owl and stay up until midnight or later and I also have my own set of rules. The first and foremost, I choose not to wake up until I absolutely have to and breakfast is never before 8 a.m. And I’d prefer a butler to be in the kitchen to serve me an omelet.
I became obsessed with tracking my calories and inputing my workouts from the get-go. It became a necessary element of fun for me and provided a nice distraction from opening the pantry door and tearing open a bag of Tostitos Scoops before I started cooking dinner. I soon figured out that I was more of a boredom-snacker than I thought I was because if I distracted myself with MyPlate, I would come to the surprising decision that those extra calories weren’t appetizing. There just wasn’t enough in my budget for my 10 pm snack if I ate them. So forget it.
10 pm snacks are the bomb. Did I emphasize that enough?
So what did I usually eat at 10 pm? Well, let me first tell you what I usually ate at other times. I have to warn you, I’m pretty boring. I’m a fixer, not a cook. But I’d like to think that I’ve improved a lot in my fixin’ these past few months.
For breakfast I ate Quaker oats with a cup of whole or 2% milk, a teaspoon of brown sugar, cinnamon, and an 8 oz glass of orange juice. Or an omelet with 1 whole egg, 2 egg whites, salt, pepper, and 75% reduced-fat Cabot cheese (it melts great) and some fruit.
Some mornings I went a little gourmet and had scrambled eggs with sauteed veggies on top. I copied this from one of the breakfasts we had in Harpers Ferry and I made it just this morning. It had zucchini, mushrooms, roma tomatoes, and feta cheese. It was delish. And only 170 calories.
For lunch I usually ate a turkey sandwich on a Martin’s Whole Wheat Potato Roll (yummy, fiber-ific, and only 100 calories) or a salad. I became an awesome salad fixer. Fell in love with Annie’s Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing (only 35 calories for 2 Tbsp). Also fell in love with half an avocado, lite honey mustard dressing, and FOUR TOSTITO SCOOPS in my salad. You heard me, four whole scoops. lol. But they did make the salad tasty. I also made salads in a glass pie plate. For some reason they tasted better.
I usually ate too light at lunch. Before, I would skip lunch altogether so this is progress. This is an area where I can improve, though, as far as adding lean protein so that I’m not as hungry in the afternoon.
For snacks I ate yogurt (greek yogurt is pretty tasty and it has less calories and 2x the protein), granola, fruit, and cut-up veggies with Sabra hummus or Wholly Guac.
I became a fan of cut-up veggies and arranging them on bright-colored Ikea plates.
Dinner was a little trickier because I had to learn how to cook lighter meals. I’m used to making a lot of easy, comfort foods like casseroles, Mexican or Italian fare, and cheesy goodness in a tortilla or pasta shell. At first I had to stay far away from these recipes but now I’m able to make them and keep the portions small. We tried many recipes with whole grain pasta and we’re just not big fans yet. But we are eating more chicken, brown rice, vegetable dinners or fish, brown rice, vegetable dinners. The idea is to keep meat portions small (because, really, I almost get a day’s allowance for protein pretty easily from eggs, yogurt, and milk) and vegetables big.
Then there’s plenty of room for the 10 pm snack.
Which is usually air-popped popcorn, a tablespoon of melted butter, salt, pepper, and 10 m&m’s.
Shh. But hey, I still lost the weight, right?
If you made it to the end of this post, you can help yourself to 22 m&m’s, too. Thank you for reading all these Shredding posts. Thank you for your comments and encouragement and thanks for sharing what helps you lead a healthy lifestyle, too. I’ve been inspired and have learned so much from you.
p.s. I also wanted to say that I allowed myself an off-day about once a week. I didn’t go overboard but I didn’t have the guilt after eating lasagna, two big slices of Papa John’s with extra cheese, or a big, fat cheeseburger.
I also followed the advice found in the handy Eat This, Not That series. The authors have a great sense of humor and Max has even liked reading the books.