Sometimes I think it would be easier to lose 45 pounds, but all I have wanted for the last many years is to lose 5.
I’ve tried exercising more, eating less, giving up alcohol, sleeping more, but my weight stays the same. Some might find that enviable, but not I considering my weight loss goal is small, though on my short 5’3” and shrinking high waisted frame 5 pounds would make a huge difference.
We live on Boston Harbor, across from Hanover Street in Boston’s Italian North End, with close to 100 Italian restaurants in 1/4 of a square mile. Every day thousands of people walk the streets with string tied boxes of Mike’s Pastry cannolis or sip their cappuccinos while eating biscotti at Caffe Vittoria. They fill their plates with pasta, meatballs and pizza while I head to CVS to pick up more shampoo. My fantasy is simple: “If I could eat and drink all day long, anything I want, never gain an ounce, I would be the happiest person alive.” But I can’t.
Even if you consider yourself “active” your metabolism slows down as you age, making your daily exercise routine more or less a necessity for a strong mind and toned body but not conducive to weight loss. And that is why I who exercise every single day though well short of running a marathon never lose any weight.
So after years of new trainers, more yoga, row classes, light weights, slow jogs, Peleton cycling day and night, liquid lunches, I began in earnest counting everything I ate or drank as accurately as I could. My mantra became, “bite it write it” as I recorded on my lined pad everything I put in my mouth using my smart phone calculator and Google search.
I once took a Mindful Eating class where you meditated on every bite, totally present to the senses. This is how I now eat all day long knowing each calorie is worthy of appreciation. A round of applause for that perfect 60 calorie per cup cantaloupe or just 1/2 a ripe 240 calorie avocado. Standing ovation for one 78 calorie scrambled egg and low 45 calorie toast. Before long you know the calories of every food, though I made a referal list early on.
My goal: Lose 1 pound a week, as most experts agree this is sustainable for long term weight loss, so 5 weeks to lose 5 pounds. My calorie count allowed to achieve this: 1250 per day. I found my daily allowance by plugging in a few numbers into Myfitnesspal.com and giving myself an active lifestyle.
Here are the top 5 ways to help accomplish your weight loss gain while counting calories:
l. Drink fluids all day long (water, coffee, tea, club soda (not diet sodas with their chemicals). Best to avoid alcohol to lose weight (which you undoubtedly already know). Save the booze for just weekends or to celebrate after week 5. Vodka and tequila are lower calorie choices FYI at 65 calories per ounce, just under one shot. A glass of wine can run 140-200 per glass.
2. Create your eating plan in the morning, adjusting as you go, but always have your chosen foods close at hand in your pantry/fridge. You will quickly learn the foods that give you the best bang for your buck so to speak: melons and cottage cheese great, pasta and some meats not so good. Nuts and dried fruits are the worst, since just a few nuts or dates add up to half a meal.
3. When dining out just prepare by looking at the menu before you go and decide what to order based on calories. Get ready by eating light that day outside the restaurant.
4. Make your plate as creative and appealing to the eye as possible with variety and color. Don’t hold back on things you love as long as they fit into the calorie count. A few olives (and I mean a few as olives are like 10 calories per olive) or slices of fruit make the meal more enjoyable. Skip the nuts (26 calories for one walnut) and most cheeses (Swiss cheese is high at 100 calories a slice but parmesan is only 22 calories a tablespoon).
5. Keep busy. The more time you are engaged in things that interest you, the less you will focus on what you are not eating or those dreaded hunger pangs, which are the worst between lunch and dinner.
At age 65, my weight may be the only part of aging I can control.
And now for the results (drum roll please):
Weigh in only once a week (do not weight yourself daily)
Starting weight: 129
Week 1: 127.0 (I finally lost 2 real pounds)
Week 2: 126.8
Week 3 124.2 (almost 5 pounds down) OMG OMG OMG
Week 4 123.4
Week 5 123.2 (final)
Now I can simply maintain my new desirable weight, something I know I’ve proven competent at. Or worse, gain it all back with one hardy meal at Bricco’s on Hanover Street, hold the cannoli.