After years of stressing about diets and weight, I’ve stopped all the fad diets and weird food limitations. When I find my weight creeping up, I practice the following Lazy Girl’s Guide To Losing Weight.
Losing weight can actually be simple—eliminate 500 calories a day from your caloric maintenance level and you’ll lose a safe 1-2 pounds per week, depending on your current weight.
1. Calculate your personal maintenance level over at FreeDieting.
2. Subtract 500 from that number to lose weight.
3. My Fitness Pal can help you calculate how many calories are in your favorite meals.
4. Weigh yourself once a week.
5. Take a photo of yourself in your underwear—front and side—once a week.
6. Adjust as needed. Don’t overthink this; you don’t need to do that anymore.
7. As you lose weight you will need to recalculate based on your new weight.
When I’ve been self-indulgent and some unwanted weight has crept on, I (A) calculate my appropriate calorie target, then (B) establish a running deficit of about 20% over a period of months, and (C) make sure to get enough protein (.6g/day per pound of bodyweight is probably fine).
It’s not particularly difficult to satisfy these conditions, and you can make it work with a wide variety of foods. You can stop thinking in terms of Paleo, low-carb, vegan, vegetarian, Mediterranean, Atkins, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, fasting, juicing, cleansing, Jenny Craig, macrobiotic, Medifast, Pritikin, Slimfast, cabbage soup…you-name-it.
Just subtract 500 calories every day from your personal maintenance level.
There. All done.
What does this look like in real life? Here’s what I’m currently eating on a winter weight loss program that clocks in at around 1,400 calories a day. In the summer, I’d switch out the lunchtime baked potato for a big salad. To keep things fast and simple, I use MyFitnessPal to enter all my favorite meals, then tweak them to fit my calorie goals, and finally pick and choose recipes as the mood strikes. Easy peasy.
BREAKFAST: Green tea chai and a smoothie
LUNCH: Baked potato topped with steamed kale and salsa (or lentils, or curried vegetables)
DINNER: A bowl of soup or stew (made with legumes, potatoes, vegetables) with a piece of avocado-toast
EXERCISE: A long walk with occasional resistance training
I’m vegan, so my meals reflect that, but this system works for any type of meal you prefer. It’s about understanding that weight loss equals eating fewer calories than your body is burning. Period. That’s all you need to know.
* Prioritize sleep.
* Use small plates, bowls, and spoons.
* Drink lots of water.
* Eliminating processed foods—sodas, refined sugars, booze, flour products—will really speed things up.
* Allow for restaurants, parties, etc., by eating very low-calorie breakfasts and lunches, which will allow for the majority of your calories to be eaten for dinner. Then when you’re out, don’t booze it up or order appetizers and dessert, but enjoy yourself in moderation. You’ll be fine.
* Just be consistent with whatever meal plan you have set up, check in at least monthly, assess if things are working or not, make adjustments as needed, then stop over-thinking and worrying.
* Be kind to yourself. Eat nutritious foods. Stick to your program. You’ll succeed.
* Caveat: Yes, plateaus can happen. Bump up your water and exercise. Take a cheat day. Be sure you’re not letting calories creep up. Lower calories by 100 or perhaps you need to re-calculate because you’ve lost weight…keep the faith 🙂