Previously, I have focused a lot on counting calories. I use a free online website and it works for me. Counting calories does a few things for me. I tend to go big on portion sizes and this really helps me control it--especially if I've counted the calories before I eat the actual meal. It also gives me a sense of accomplishment--I may have been hungry, but by golly! I hit my calories for the day.
Exercise has also been included in the plan, but it has been spotty exercise and here and there. Then, when something changes in my life or I get too stressed or it has taken too long and I've hit a plateau I tend to start slipping and before I know it I'm not exercising anymore and I'm eating way too much--fast food, chocolate, chips, chocolate, large portion sizes at dinner, chocolate, donuts, chocolate, cookies, chocolate, ice-cream, chocolate. Did I mention chocolate?
So here is my new and improved plan. Are you ready? I go back to counting calories. Right now I'll aim for 1400-1600 calories a day. Before I've been hitting between 1200-1400 calories and I think that may be a little low. You do not want to lose weight too quickly. If you are losing too much then you are also losing muscle mass. Muscle mass helps you lose weight--A TON OF WEIGHT--and if you lose muscle mass that can really hurt you in the long run. From everything I've researched you should not lose more than two pounds a week--if you are doing what I'm doing. There are some diets out there such as HCG, which is supposed to prevent that muscle loss. But I'm just counting calories.
I also focus on keeping my fats down and eating vegetables and fruit. I don't need to worry about the protein side of things, because I'm always a little TOO good at getting my protein! And, just a side note. I do NOT deprive myself of my favorite treat of all time--chocolate. I just do not eat very much of it. And when I limit myself like that, I tend to appreciate the little I get much more than the bagful I eat when I'm not being good. I also will take multi-vitamins to help make sure I'm getting everything I need.
Exercise, which has never been huge in my plan before is now taking a larger part. I'm now attending taekwondo twice a week. In addition, I will be biking to and from work which is around 5.5 miles total. Not too much, I know, but still it is better than nothing. Plus, I'm hoping that working hard on the way home (all uphill) will help me snack less when I get home.
My husband and I usually manage to watch something--a movie or hulu--for at least an hour or two in the evening. During that time I'll get on my rowing machine and exercise for fifteen minutes. I know that isn't much and I'll see about building that up later, but for right now I feel pretty good about the cardiovascular side of things and biking, taekwondo, and the rowing machine will also help me gain some muscle mass. I'm planning on doing pushups and situps. Later, I'll try to incorporate more muscle building exercises into the plan (and yes, I'm going to do them every other day to give my body the chance to heal). Oh and stretching, but that isn't so much a diet goal as a taekwondo goal. I NEED to be more flexible!
Now, for something that may sound a little strange. SLEEP. Unfortunately, this is part of the plan that I will not be able to incorporate as much as I want to. Sleep helps you lose weight. If you are trying to lose weight, get PLENTY of sleep. If you are the kind of person who needs 8 hours, make sure you get AT LEAST those eight hours. I lost weight so much faster when I was sleeping 9-10 hours a night. I'm one of those people who needs more than eight hours. Sigh.
My diet starts full force next week. That's when I start school back up and get onto a schedule. I'll blog more then and weigh in (eek, I so don't want to do that) and also include my measurements. One of the things I'm focusing on is measurements versus weight. You can lose inches, but not lose weight. Even though muscle mass weighs more than fat, it also takes up a lot less room than fat. So doing both--weighing and measuring--can give you a truer picture of what is going on with your body.