As someone who has seen the negative effects of unrealistic diet plans first hand, I knew I didn't want to go on any extreme diet this summer. I vowed instead to make small changes that were doable and healthy. The first thing I did was just to “detox” for the school year. This meant for me no specific diet, but just to go back to my normal way of eating at home. I made sure to eat more vegetables and whole foods and to convince my mom to let me make more decisions about what I wanted to eat. Now, I determine my own lunches but still eat what she makes for dinner. I am though, now able to make substitutions and additions. For example, when the side might be pasta or perogies, I can now make myself a baked potato and steamed broccoli. Just doing this I was able to drop almost ten pounds in two weeks. I could tell my body was ready to get rid of extra weight not just in the form of fat, but also retained water. I felt a lot less bloated than before.
After this initial loss, I realized I had hit a plateau and needed to actually “diet”. I began using myfitnesspal to log my food consumption. This has seriously helped me so much! Not only do I know how many calories I should eat, but also how much protein, fiber, and other minerals I need to eat and what I get from food. My goal came to eating between 1000-1200 calories a day. This is. REALLY low amount for many people! Please go on the app’s suggestion for your weight and activity levels! I am only 5’ 1” and sedentary so I need to eat way less calories than most people.
My other goals have been to cut back on processed foods, sweets, dairy, and sugar in general. This means I have almost completely cut out desserts and candy from my diet. I thought this would be super hard since I love sweets, but have have made healthier substitutions (such as fresh fruit, apples with peanut butter, and no added sugar Greek yogurts). I also allow myself one cheat day a week which is Sunday's when I go to my grandmothers because she makes the best whole made desserts. So, while I am eating dessert, I know no mystery ingredients are involved in the process. I also cut back on dairy since I'm mildly lactose intolerant and shouldn't be eating it any way and cutting dairy is supposed to by good for acne. So I only eat Greek yogurt which is naturally lower in lactose. I've also concentrated it eating a lot more vegetables; my goal is to have them for both lunch and dinner whereas growing up I might only eat a non starchy vegetable a few times a month. I also make sure to drink 8 glasses of water a day and no juice or tea and coffee with added sugar.
I really though it was going to be hard to do this, but after the initial week I have been very able to keep up. By eating 1000-1200 calories a day I have been able to lose one pound a week (or technically 1.25 a week). Dieting isn't fast and healthy dieting shouldn't be! As I write this I am 134 pounds, 21 pounds less than my heaviest weight last semester and only one pound away from my goal and entering the “normal” weight range for my height in terms of BMI. 132 is the lowest I've ever weighted and my ultimate goal would be to weigh less than 130 pounds which is still on the heavier side of an healthy weight for my height.
Now for the problems I have faced…
My main problem or worry is that this is not something I can keep up starting in the fall. I am going back to school for my graduate degree and I'm afraid the stress will be too much and I will eat badly. I will also be going back to the cafeteria instead of buying and making my own meals and the selection, from what I can tell, will be more limited than before. I really don't want to relapse and have to think this much about food continuously. Because it is annoying logging and measuring food every day and just having to choose can be annoying.
Another annoyance I have faced is the lack of noticeable changed in my body. There is a reason why my mother was surprised with my weight; I hadn't gotten any noticeably heavier or bigger! All my clothes still fit; my stomach was just a little bloated! And so my measurements haven't really changed. My stomach is like a half inch smaller than when it was bloated. Not even my breasts have gotten any smaller (which for many women is the first sign of weight loss). Many people would be happy to look the same at a heavier weight, but I'm doing this for health reasons not just appearance. But, seeing a noticeable difference is a lot more motivating than just numbers on a scale.
Regardless of my final number or look, I'm glad about what I've learned about nutrition and how much my body really needs to eat at that I'm capable of weight loss and healthy choices. Loosing weight and trying to be healthy is a really charged issue with many people trying for bad reasons or in bad ways. Even if I haven't lost as much as many people could, I'm just glad I was able to do this is a healthy way. My next goal is to become more active! Hopefully living in the city for school next year will mean more exercise!