I love food. I didn’t get to 269 lbs without having some love and appreciation for food playing into my life. When I decided to eat healthier and lose weight, I had one major consideration in picking a “diet”: I had to be able to allow myself treats and splurges in a healthy and sustainable way. That is what initially drew me to Weight Watchers. The biggest selling feature of their program is the fact that there is no food that is off limits or off plan.
Now that I’m simply calorie counting, it is even easier to fit any food into my new lifestyle. I have learned to eat less healthy foods in moderation and with restraint. I have learned to love healthier foods that I used to avoid. But what has remained constant is that I still love food. I have no desire to deprive myself, go hungry, or eliminate any one food or food group from my diet.
I also wanted a “diet” plan that would be simple for me to implement and maintain. The idea of making one big lifestyle change now and then maintaining that new lifestyle for the rest of my life held great appeal for me. I first heard about this philosophy of weight loss on Fat 2 Fit Radio and was immediately attracted to the simplicity and the fact that I could eat a healthy amount of delicious food and still lose weight. Earlier this year I committed myself to the Fat 2 Fit approach to losing weight and gaining fitness.
Adding to the body of evidence quickly building and leading me to eat a little more was Jillian Michaels. Reading her book Master Your Metabolism really opened my eyes to the way that our body’s metabolic systems work and all the ways in which we prevent them from working most effectively. Listening to her podcast, I heard her advising callers to focus on the caloric deficit created by food and exercise each day rather than the raw numbers of calories in/calories out and to keep that deficit in a range that won’t lead your body to work against your weight loss efforts.
I’ve read the analogy that your body’s metabolism is like a furnace. Imagine one of those old coal or wood fired furnaces. That furnace needs fuel to work effectively. If you give that furnace too much fuel, you’ll smother the fire and the furnace won’t be able to do its job. If you don’t give that furnace enough fuel, you’ll starve the fire and the furnace won’t be able to do its job.
I feed my furnace well. On my least active days I eat around 1600 calories. On my most active days (the majority of the week), I eat closer to 1800-1900. I aim for a daily caloric deficit of 500-1000 calories. I keep the days of 1000 calorie deficits to a minimum. [To calculate caloric deficit: (maintenance caloric intake for current weight – calories consumed in a day) + calories burned through exercise]
I’m eating a diet that is comprised of nutritious, natural, healthy foods. I eat plenty of food in my day, making some people question if I’m really “on a diet” or not. And I’m still losing weight. Since January 1 of this year, I have averaged a loss of 2 lbs per week, a healthy and sustainable rate that I am more than pleased with.
The best part of all this is that I will just continue living my life this way for the rest of my life and will maintain a healthy, fit lifestyle and body. I can still eat any food that I want to fit into my day and I do not feel that I am starving or depriving myself of the food that I love so much.
Unfortunately a cultural norm still exists that someone trying to lose weight should be starving and depriving themselves. The first instinct many people have when they hit a weight loss plateau is to eat less or further restrict their food intake. I’m trying to add my one small voice to the choir encouraging people to eat more to weigh less.
Seriously – check out the Fat 2 Fit podcast for more information about their philosophy and approach to weight loss. This podcast has changed my life and taught me so much about a wide variety of topics related to exercise, nutrition and weight loss. It’s an amazing resource for anyone looking to life a healthier and more active lifestyle!