To be perfectly honest, I don’t have a weight problem. I weigh about 5 pounds more than when I got married 25 years ago, and that includes having two babies. My clothing size hasn’t changed since college.
Seriously. I have some clothes that I still wear from college.
How do I manage my weight?
I keep it simple.
I weigh myself every Monday morning, just after I take a shower but before I get dressed (after all, we all know how heavy clothing is!). If I’m at or under my target weight, I don’t think about watching what I eat all week. If I’m over, even by .2 pounds, I watch what I eat.
Now I know this might sound more like weight maintenance, but there’s nothing that says the same thing won’t work for losing weight as well.
Need to lose 10 pounds? Set your target weight to 10 pounds less than your current weight and watch what you eat to get there.
I’ll be the first to admit that my science isn’t strong on this! My doctor told me that 90% of weight loss is what you put in your mouth and my favorite Uncle Augie says that the best exercise to lose weight is pushing yourself back from the table.
Of course, anecdotally, it’s also worked for me for decades.
So what does “watching what I eat” look like?
Weight Loss: Breakfast When I’m “Watching”
Most work days I eat a hard boiled egg at 7:30 a.m. and a Greek yogurt at 9:30 a.m. This is coupled with a mug of tea or two. These are easy and portable, not to mention totally doable if I’m travelling for work (hotels usually have these at their complimentary breakfast).
When I’m at home for breakfast, it’s usually a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats or Chocolate Mini Wheats.
Weight Loss: Lunch When I’m “Watching”
I rarely go out or even use our cafeteria at work for lunch. So that means I have to bring a lunch from home. I often have left-overs from dinner the night before because I actually cook extra to HAVE leftovers for lunch! We have these plastic containers at home that are just about right for a lunch-sized portion. That makes is super easy to grab and go in the morning.
If I don’t have left-overs, I keep a few frozen Healthy Choice Steamers or Green Giant vegetable blends in the freezer. Sometimes I will just empty a can of Healthy Choice soup in a bowl, pop a lid on and call that lunch. I add a fresh fruit or a vegetable to the main course, throw in a Kind bar as a somewhat healthy sweet treat, and call lunch done.
Weight Loss: Dinner When I’m “Watching”
No joke, dinner is the hardest meal for me. I usually don’t feel like cooking on work days because I’m just tired after working all day and driving home. So I do go out to eat fairly often, particularly on week nights. There’s a whole section on eating out below for just that reason.
But let’s be wild and crazy and assume I am eating dinner at home.
This has to be a conscious effort to eat more meat and veggies and leave the starch course as a small side. I’ll eat one roll, or take a small scoop of potatoes or rice. Spaghetti (a family favorite) is hard, as the pasta IS the main course. So I try to eat a big salad first, and then a small portion of spaghetti.
Weight Loss: Dining Out or Getting Take Out
Dining out can be the biggest challenge when you are watching your weight, yet is a complete reality in our crazy-busy lives.
I have five “rules” I follow when eating out and trying to watch my weight.
- When going out for a “big” meal, i.e. with friends or family as a social event, remember BAD. BAD stands for Bread, Alcohol, and Dessert. If you’re watching what you eat, pick one. For example, enjoy the bread but skip drinks and dessert. Or have that drink, but pass on the bread and dessert. At least you get to indulge in one way, which can be important in social settings.
- Immediately, when I get my main course, I cut everything on the plate in half and push it to the side. Or ask for a box right away and put half in the box. The typical American restaurant serves WAY too big of portions! If you’ve eaten a lot of the bread and perhaps a side salad already, you should not feel compelled to eat everything on your plate in one meal. Sometimes I’m full before the meal even gets there! I have no problem boxing it up and taking it home. That’s where my lunches come from (see above). Sometimes I can get two lunches out of my restaurant left-overs!
- Pizza is another family favorite. I love me a good barbecue chicken pizza! When I’m watching my weight, I cut down from 2 or 2 and a half pieces to 1 and a half. Notice that I have no problem cutting a piece in half. Usually someone in my family is more than happy to eat that other half. Alternatively, it becomes my lunch the next day. Do you see a pattern developing?
- Fast food is a rarity in my house these days. But occasionally on a road trip we will stop. My rules around this are pretty simple. Eat a main (like a burger or chicken strips) and skip the fries, which is my favorite method. Or order the large fries as the meal. And always drink water instead of the soda. Never, ever, ever super size anything!
- Submarine sandwiches follow the cut it in half rule. Buy a foot long, eat half and save the other half for lunch.
I find that following these tips allows me to get my weight where I want it to be, without giving up eating out. Not eating out is not an option for me some nights! And if I do go out for lunch, all these rules still apply.
Weight Loss: “Watching” Misc
When thinking about how I maintain or actually lose weight, some extra thoughts popped into my head. Hard to categorize, but they may be just the hack you were looking for:
- I go on a lot of cruise vacations and cruises are known for their over-abundance of food. When I’m on a cruise, I weigh myself before the cruise and eat and drink whatever I want on the cruise. No lie, I have come home 5% heavier! But I start over with weighing myself on Monday and watching what I eat. I just end up watching for several weeks to get back to my target weight!
- Snacks, particularly in the evening, can be killer. I like chips (can you say Cool Ranch Doritoes???) a lot. I never grab the bag to eat from, though, I take a handful and put it in a bowl. Popcorn is a favorite as well. It gives me crunch and salt, without a lot of fat and calories added. I try to have Kind bars around, too.
- I rarely bake at home, so the only dessert in my house is ice cream. When I’m “watching”, I only get ice cream on Sundays. Otherwise, in the summer, I can eat it every night. But I do try to put it in a small bowl instead of a cereal bowl!
- I know this is weird, but what the heck…I have been known to spit out food that isn’t to my standard. Tried a piece of chocolate that wasn’t good? Spit it out. Why take in the fat and calories if it isn’t going to be amazing? Piece of steak have too much gristle? Why force it down with all that fat that’s horrible for you? Spit it discretely into a napkin or tissue. Your friend pours a new wine she loves for you and you hate it? Dump it discretely in the nearest plant or make a quick trip outside or to the kitchen to get rid of it. If everything we put in our mouth matters, only put in stuff that’s good for you or brings you real joy. And if the joyful stuff is bad for you – control your portion.
This post ended up being way longer than I thought, for such a simple thing as weigh yourself weekly and take action based on what you see. But the devil is in the details, and there are a lot of details in weight management!
These things are really just part of my life now, so I never say “I’m on a diet”. I get asked a lot how I never seem to put on weight, so now the cat is out of the bag.
Which weight management tip above are you going to try this week?
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: I just burned 2000 calories! And that’s the last time I leave brownies in the oven while I nap…