Jennifer Dome, a 32-year-old New Jersey native, is a writer and editor living in Birmingham, Ala. She writes about her weight-loss journey and love for fashion at Stellarfashionandfitness.com.
I’ve been on my weight-loss journey for some time now, and I’ve had to face the facts: I really am what I eat.
What I mean is, when I watch what I put in my mouth more carefully, I have a significantly easier time losing weight without exercise on a consistent basis. When I indulge too much, or fall off the wagon for a few days, I gain weight back. I’m never perfect, and I believe wholeheartedly in allowing a treat once or twice a week, but I strive to follow a few simple guidelines to help me eat healthfully each week.
Here are my top five tips I’ve used to successfully shed pounds and maintain my healthy weight:
1. I count calories. I don’t follow a certain diet regimen because I want to change my overall eating habits for good – not just for a few months. I found tracking my calories is the best way to keep myself in line. My range, at 5 feet, 7 inches and about 230 pounds, is 1,600 to 1,800 calories a day. Everyone’s body is different, and the amount you exercise each day plays a part. Try logging in to an online calorie counter, like Discovery Health’s basal metabolic rate calculator, to see what your calorie range should be. I also use an app on my smartphone called LoseIt! that helps me track calories on the go.
2. I eat protein at breakfast. I’ve noticed that eating a fulfilling breakfast is crucial in helping me stick to my calorie limit each day. And to do that, I eat protein — usually scrambled eggs or turkey sausage — at breakfast. Together with oatmeal — or a low-sugar and high-fiber cereal — or a thin bagel with peanut butter, the eggs or turkey sausage keep me satisfied until lunch.
3. I try to choose satisfying snacks. I’m not going to deny it. I have a major addiction to chocolate chip cookies. While I don’t believe in cutting them out forever, I know cookies are not a snack that will do me any good, nutritionally. What I need each afternoon is something to get me through the day until dinner and give me fuel for an evening workout. I try to choose foods like a banana and almonds, carrots with hummus or a low-calorie snack bar. And, I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I also drink a lot of water. It definitely helps me feel full and stay hydrated for exercising.
4. I’m a low-carb dieter after 5 o’clock. I could never give up pasta or bread. But I do find it helps me lose weight when I eat fewer carbohydrates after 5 p.m. I’ll cook a lean protein, like chicken, for dinner with lots of veggies and then have fruit with yogurt for dessert (or sometimes sugar-free chocolate pudding!). I need carbs earlier in the day to help fuel my workouts, but I manage without them in the evenings, and that’s helped me shave off the pounds.
5. I allow treats on the weekend. I can’t live without pizza. And I don’t want to. When I embarked on this weight-loss journey, I told myself that I would work on my bad food habits but concentrate on eating well 90% of the time while allowing a few indulgences 10% of the time. This gives me the freedom to enjoy myself at a wedding, or grab an ice cream cone every now and then. But I usually restrict it to the weekends, and it’s not an all-day, all-weekend kind of thing. When I’m under control, as I always strive to be, I can eat a treat or two each week and still lose weight.
What are your weight-loss secrets? What types of food do you see as fuel — for life in general or working out?