How I Lost 18 Pounds Without Exercising

by Ginger on March 28, 2011

in Becoming Myself

Today is the final day of the Biggest Blogging Loser. 3 months ago, I started the competition along with 100 other women hoping it would give me the motivation to lose the weight I’d been complaining about for forever.

As of today, I have lost 18 pounds. I am able to wear my engagement ring again, jeans I haven’t worn in years, and even a belt that I was sure I’d retired for good.  I am finally starting to see the change, and while I am nowhere near winning the prize money, I have TOTALLY won.

Because we’ve been so sick for so long in this house, I ended up losing almost all the weight through diet alone. If I’m honest, I haven’t exercised since January, unless you count typical toddler wrangling. Which makes me even more excited about my losses, because it makes me hopeful that in the next few months I can get back on the exercise wagon and get to my ultimate goal (and oh yes, I plan to keep it up).

My weight loss is not amazing, or unreachable by other people. It’s not fast, it’s not fancy, it’s not hip. I did, literally, the easiest, most basic things I could do. But it worked.So how’d I do it?

  1. Measure, measure, measure. One of the biggest things that has helped me over the last 3 months is measuring all my food. I have been diligent about it, with very few exceptions, over the course of the challenge. Because of that I now have a much better grasp on what a serving size is and how much of something I’m really eating. It took doing this to realize JUST how out of touch with that information I was. Knowing, and understanding, a serving size has been one of the BIGGEST reasons I was able to lose. (and also? it helped reset my brain so that now I almost *can’t* eat much more than a serving size. Bonus!)
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  3. Track food. I counted calories. I know a lot of people who are doing Weight Watchers. A friend of mine did a food diary. I think that keeping a daily record of your food is incredibly eye-opening. I was able to see when (during the day) I was most likely to snack. I was able to see my ineffective food choices. And I was able to, gulp, really get my arms around just how much I was eating. Even if all you do is write it down, no numbers involved, that visibility on what you’re eating is definitely eye-opening.
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  5. Have a support system. I owe Jennie a huge thanks for starting the Biggest Blogging Loser. I lost the weight but she gave me a support system of other people who were on the same journey. She gave me a group who were able to help me through a late afternoon slump, or talk me down from a swan dive into a vat of ice cream. I’m honestly not sure I would have been able to keep going without that group of support.
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  7. Be accountable. I also have to thank Jennie for building accountability into the competition. Sometimes all that got me to keep on keeping on was the knowledge that come Monday morning I had to weigh in. It helped me know I couldn’t just abandon the plan because it was the weekend–I knew that I had that Monday deadline looming.
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  9. Learn the triggers. We all have those things that lead us into mindless, emotional, or bored eating. For me, those things were the daily 3pm crash, 10pm boredom, and a super stressful day. Once I acknowledge those triggers, I was able to head them off–a handful of almonds at 2:30, giving myself something to do at 10pm, and a few “treats” that I knew were within my calories for stressful occasions. But it took being really mindful and honest about why and what I eat, and finding ways to address them.
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  11. Learn what I really NEED. You know what I figured out? I need protein way more than I ever need anything else. Protein helps my headaches, makes me feel full, gives me the energy to get through the day. When I don’t have protein, I get in trouble. Knowing this means that I know if I have a breakfast that’s got enough protein, no matter how high or low the calorie count, I’ll make it to lunch. If I don’t? I’ll be starving (and grouchy) an hour later, even if I ate 500 calories of carbs. Knowing that about myself really helps me plan my meals and address my needs BEFORE I’m in the meal.
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  13. Have a goal. I technically had a loss goal for the 3 months, but really my goals were to 1) complete the competition and 2)not take a week off during the competition, no matter what. Knowing that goal in my head gave me something tangible–and attainable!–to work towards.
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  15. Eat good food. I would never have made it if I was eating nothing but “diet” food. In fact, I didn’t eat “diet” food by and large. I ate all my favorite foods–pizza, tacos, candy, enchiladas, chicken, sandwiches, soups, ice cream, fruit, veggies, cookies, you name it. I was able to do that by: finding substitutions/different cooking techniques (baking tortillas instead of frying, for example), eating ACTUAL serving sizes, measuring everything that went into a recipe and that went on my plate, and not letting one meal of a “less good for me” food sabotage my entire day.
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  17. Remember it’s just food. When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s easy to get wrapped up in all the numbers: the calories, the losses, and the gains. It’s when it gets into that weird headspace that dieting stops working for me–when I start obsessing is when I start to feel like “what’s the point?” because I’m hyper aware of every little number. I ran into that once during the competition when I felt utterly defeated at how *small* my losses were compared to some of my fellow competitors. I had to get my head back on straight after that–because at the end of the day, it’s just food, and it’s just a number. When I stop remembering that is when I need to reset. I never want “dieting” to take over “living” lest I stop doing one for the other.

As a note: I am not a doctor, dietitian, or psychologist. These are the things that worked for me, but you know yourself and your own issues better than me. Take these with a grain of salt and dose of YOUR perspective if you have issues that go beyond “hey, I need to lose a few pounds.”

As always, you can find more lists every Monday over at ABDPBT!

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

KT March 28, 2011 at 6:02 am

Congrats on your weight loss! Exercising will be a good way to continue losing weight. 🙂

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Ginger March 28, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Thanks! That’s what I’m hoping–or even if I don’t lose more, at least toning up more!

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Erica March 28, 2011 at 10:30 am

For me, it’s definitely diet more than exercise that keeps me healthy. But exercising regularly helps keep me relaxed and helps me sleep well, both of which mean it’s easier to choose good food options. So just in case you end up not seeing a huge difference once you start exercising, keep in mind that it helps in other ways!

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Ginger March 28, 2011 at 9:21 pm

That’s a great reminder. Even if I don’t lose more, I’m hoping it helps with things like my energy level, how clothes fit, and my sleep. But yeah, it may not be about the weight!

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Jennie March 28, 2011 at 11:09 am

Such a great list! I’m proud of all of us, and I’m so glad you’re proud of you, too.

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2girlsonabench March 28, 2011 at 11:10 am

Congrats! We agree with everything you say here, we’ve both been on Weight Watchers and tracking your food as well as just modifying how much you eat makes such a world of difference. We never deprive ourselves, but just make a choice like “if we’re gonna eat this bag of chips, we can’t also have cookies and wine and etc.” 🙂

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Ginger March 28, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Exactly. Deprivation is the fastest way to make you give up! Better to make choices–it may not be sexy, but it works!

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The Lungos March 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Congrats on the loss! Stick with it!

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Lisa March 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Congrats on the weight loss!

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Kris March 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Congratulations!!! Good for your for sticking with it. Man, it’s freaking hard. We started a new diet/lifestyle/fitness thing last week and I’m proud that we’ve made it a week so far. Tracking your food is really eye opening, I was eating a lot of calories and not even thinking about it.

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Ginger March 28, 2011 at 9:35 pm

The first few weeks were the hardest, and the most shocking. I’d look up the calories of a favorite anything, and be shocked by the number. Once I was able to reset my thinking, it got much easier.

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Alexis March 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Amazing! I agree that the tracking an measuring is key. FWIW I did not find that the exercise makes the weight go any faster, but it really helps the inches disappear. I can surely tell when I am getting fitter vs. thinner and it is the working out that really does that bit.

Great job Ginger!

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Ginger March 28, 2011 at 9:36 pm

I’m hoping mostly that the exercising will…smooth things out, as it were. Get rid of some of the lumpiness :o)

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clara March 28, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Hey good job! Now is the perfect time to exercise – Spring! Yay!

Portion sizing is insane, isn’t it. I remember the first time I weighed the amount of pasta I was about to cook and realized that on average I eat five servings of pasta. Yes, I’m half Italian but still. I’m half Not Italian and that half has a much slower metabolism!

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Ginger March 28, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Yeah, I think portion sizes were one of the biggest (no pun intended) eye openers. Pasta was bad, but things like cereal and sauces were also pretty shocking. That alone has made a huge huge difference!

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ABDPBT March 28, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Congrats on the weight loss! These are all good tips, the only one I would add is don’t don’t forget about how much vegetables can help. I always have to remind to eat more vegetables when I’m trying to lose weight, because they can really take the edge off the hunger — they take up so much room in your stomach.

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Ginger March 28, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Yes, vegetables! I don’t know how I forgot this, considering that many of our meals were 2/3 veggies (and a lot of my snacks too). They’re definitely a key!

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Heather March 28, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Good for you! Do you have a website that you used to learn about portion size?

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Ginger March 28, 2011 at 9:41 pm

I used MyFitnessPal.com (they also have an iphone app) for all my tracking. It had some portion size info built in to the database, and there’s a good community there where you can ask questions and see if other people know. But really for portion sizes I just got really really good at reading labels, measuring & weighing my food and being really really honest about what I was putting on my plate.

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Perpetual Breadcrumbs March 29, 2011 at 7:51 am

Congrats to you! You’ve done great–especially in not giving yourself any time off from the program. I doubt I could have done that.

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Ginger March 29, 2011 at 8:56 pm

That really was the reason that the competition (even though I was never in the running for the prize) was so helpful. That and I wanted to prove to myself that I could finish something for once DAMNIT! 😉

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kate March 29, 2011 at 8:15 am

YAY!!!!!!! This is amazing. Congratulations! It shows that every.little.bit.counts. 🙂

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Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks March 29, 2011 at 10:27 am

What a great accomplishment – and some great insights we can all learn from!!!!

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Elizabeth March 31, 2011 at 1:33 am

Congrats! The weight loss is impressive, but the fact that you’re feeling even more amazing is the best part!

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