Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Losing weight - the heathy and easy way!

I'm sure I have posted something about this before... because I do have a tendency to repeat myself at times, but here goes.  This was initially going to be a rant, but then I decided that I might actually give some advice that has worked for me in the past couple of years  (After writing this, I realized that I was recently reading another blog entry called "the anti-diet" that has a lot of the same principles if you want to check it out:

One of my pet peeves is when people assume that I'm thin because I either have a fast metabolism or I starve myself.  OR, it's ONLY because I "run so much" (in reality, I don't run THAT much, and I tend to lose weight when I'm running less), so I'm going to write down what it is that I've done.  First, I do not just have a fast metabolism.  I have been slightly chubby.  I've never been obese, but at not even 5'1" and 126 pounds, there was a time people couldn't look at me and say I wasn't eating enough (I still don't think somebody could look at me and say that, but I guess I look smaller in some of my uniforms, but anyways...).  At this point, I'm about 5'1" and 110 pounds.  Not a huge difference, but when you are so short, that's a pretty big difference.  So here's what I ACTUALLY do as a real, mostly-healthy (in regards to eating anyway) woman.  If you talk to most "naturally thin" women, this is similar to how they eat as well... Most of them DON'T starve themselves, and most of them aren't out exercising for hours every day.

1) First IMPORTANT - very very important point is PORTION SIZE.  I DO tend to eat what I want, which is why some people assume I must just have a fast metabolism.   The trick, however, is a) I don't do it ALL the time, and b) I limit portions.  Portions are REALLY important, as you CAN eat what you want and stay thin if you limit how much of what you eat.  Example:  I eat a lot of ice cream.  However, it's in small portions.  In my freezer I have several types of ice cream, and I eat them after both lunch AND dinner some days, but the trick is that the portions are SMALL.  I have MINI snickers bars (90 calories each) and MINI drumsticks (120 calories each).  Even if I eat a mini snickers and a mini drumstick in one day, that's still only 210 calories.  That's less than most people drink in their coffee drinks.  Which brings me to point number two.

2)  I RARELY drink anything with calories in it... It's just not satisfying.  It helps that I just don't even like soda.  But to me, the 110 or so calories (or more, depending on the size of the glass) in the glass of orange juice in the morning just isn't worth it.  I'd rather eat the real orange PLUS a slice of toast for the same amount of calories and feel WAY more satisfied.   As for coffee drinks, I do like them sometimes, but I still limit them.  Again, empty calories!  If I DO drink a latte, I count it as a snack, since it does have some nutritional value with milk/etc. But it's not ON TOP of a snack.  I also don't drink gatorade/sports drinks - even as a runner, they seem unnecessary to me.  Now, if I've just done a long run, I will probably drink a recovery drink afterward, but that's not a regular occurrence - it's if I feel like my body actually NEEDS those extra calories.  The one thing I will drink fairly regularly (still not all that often) is V8 type drinks as snacks, and sometimes I'll have an acai berry drink, but this is only occasionally, and only if I've been running more frequently.  Which brings me to point 3 - exercise!

3)  All right, so I do exercise more often than your average person, though not as much as some people who really can just eat whatever they want and run it off.  But you will notice that I said above that I tend to lose weight when I'm not running as much.  It's true, and I'll tell you why (besides blood volume and all that other fun exercise physiology stuff).  When I'm running more, I HAVE to eat more.  It's not a matter of "YAY, I'm running, I can eat WHATEVER I WANT!"  It's more like.... "Yay, I'm running!  I need to MAKE SURE I eat something before I do my long run (this is me, I know a lot of people who are okay running without eating), and I need to make sure I eat something aftewards to recover, and make sure my dinner is big enough to be sufficient for tomorrow" and so on so forth... you get the point.  Calories in, calories out.  I actually have to make sure I eat more when I'm running more, so I don't really lose much in the way of weight unless I'm trying, and it's HARD because I'm hungry constantly if I'm trying.  But that's just running... I was talking to a friend who noticed that the healthiest looking people tend to be people who do yoga, and I think there's a reason for that.  There's a lifestyle around exercise as opposed to just burning calories that tends to bring about overall healthier eating habits, which in turn, brings about healthier weight.

There is also, however, the calorie-burning component of exercise.  I've recently taken up actually walking for exercise.  It does not burn as many calories as running, and takes way longer, but it's easy to do anytime of day, AND because it burns less calories, you tend to be less hungry than after a run, so it's easier to control food intake (which is way more important than anything else when it comes to losing weight).  I noticed in Afghanistan that I lost a couple of pounds, which I'm sure had SOMETHING to do with my lack of alcohol consumption, but also had something to do with the fact I made it a point to walk everywhere (I wasn't running much because I hurt my knee).   Of course, I am totally a fan of running, and I also think weight-lifting is great, as it gives you definition so when you DO lose the weight, you don't just look like a stick figure, but you actually look GOOD in that bikini instead of "skinny fat."

4)  BALANCE is KEY.  I know this blog entry kind of makes it sound like I do eat what I want, when I want.... And while that's true, it's not 100% true.  I still have to pay attention to what I'm eating, because as my relatives can attest to (this was back when I was YOUNG, and DID have a crazy fast metabolism), I can eat a LOT of food.  Like, an entire pizza, followed by dessert.  This was when I weighed like 80 pounds.  If I did that whenever I wanted NOW, I would probably be pretty large.  So if I DO eat a really unhealthy meal, the next day, I will probably make it a point to eat healthier.  Not starving myself... I USED to do that, back when I was ten pounds heavier.  And then I would get really hungry and end up over-eating that night.  My mom actually visited me in New York before I headed to Afghanistan, and she noted that the way I ate for the most part was pretty healthy - and yummy!  Sauteed veggies with chicken sausage and rice, all nice and seasoned up...  Cooking with cooking spray instead of oil or butter when I could helped a lot...  It all took maybe 5-10 minutes to prepare, but it was filling and tasted great.  Knowing that I eat like that most of the time helps me to not feel SO guilty when I go out to eat a giant bowl of pasta and wine and follow it with dessert :)

5) Eat food with SUSTENANCE.  This point slightly contradicts point number one, as point number one states that you can eat whatever you want if you monitor your portions, and that is totally true.  However, there are certain things that you can't just eat a few of and be satisfied.  There are also certain things I won't keep around the house, because if I do, I will eat way too much.  An example is chips... I was reading in some health article somewhere that chips (and similar foods) are the number one common eating habit of obese people.  Not ice cream or fast food or eating out... chips.  I can tell you why: because when someone opens up a bag of chips, it's REALLY hard to stop eating them, and you aren't really getting any nutritional out of them, so you still need to eat MORE to feel like you've actually had a meal.  And the more often you eat them, the more often you crave them, and it becomes not just a "one time" thing, but an all-the-time thing.  One serving of Doritos is like 140 calories... not that many calories in reality.  But how many chips is that?  What, around 8-10?  That's hardly ANYTHING - of course you will want more!  It goes back to substance...  Do you want 10 Doritos, or do you want a mini-bagel with a little bit of cream cheese?  Because a mini bagel is about 100 calories, and if you are careful with your serving of cream cheese, it won't be 200 calories of cream cheese on that bagel, and not only that, but you'll be satisfied and not feel the need to eat a lot more.  Or another example is cheese... Sometimes, I'll feel like a snack at night (I TRY not to eat late, but sometimes if I've been particularly active that day, it just happens, and I don't feel guilty), I'll try to figure out... okay, what can I eat that will take away this nagging hungry feeling without adding tons of calories?  I COULD grab a handful of crackers and want more and more... OR, I could slice up some cheese with a few crackers.  Guess what, after that cheese, I don't feel like I need to eat more.  Sure, cheese is really fattening if you get the good stuff (that I like), but because it's so rich, I don't need to eat a ton of it to feel satisfied.

In conclusion, if you want to look like a super model, this probably won't work for you and you will likely still have some fat on your body, but that's okay, because human beings have fat on their body. Especially women... we weren't designed to be sticks, we were designed to have babies, which means we're going to hips/thighs/breasts/etc. (not to say that if you're naturally thin there's something wrong with you.)  If, however, you just want to lose some weight without feeling like you're completely missing out on all of your favorite foods, or if you are tired of trying to do everything "perfect," losing a few pounds quickly, then gaining it back, then go ahead and try out some of these principles.   Of course, I'm not a nutritionist nor weight loss expert, I'm just posting what has worked for me to stay at a healthy weight after several years of making the same mistakes that most people make when trying to lose weight.

Feel to leave comments if you have any questions!

A couple of other things I thought of after writing my initial post (and talking to my mum):

 - When you DO start cutting out certain foods (which I have) you start to realize you don't like them as much.  Fast food is an example (as the blog I posted above stated) - once you just stop eating it, you stop wanting it.  You feel better when you don't eat them, and they just don't taste as good anymore.


  1. I agree with the fast food part! Sometimes Ill crave a whopper or a big mac and then, ill eat half and feel like im about to vomit! Once you stop eating those things and start eating relatively healthy, then when you go back to eating the overly processed, unnatural fast foods, your body automatically rejects them! :x I havent been able to do much cardio the past 2 weeks due to my motorcycle accident and ive also realized that my hunger level has dropped substantially...but at the same time, im so bored most of the time with my studies or map making, that ill snack when im not hungry out of boredom!!! Any suggestions for this? good blog :)

  2. Yeah that is a rough one! I hate eating out of boredom, but it's sooo hard to stop. The best things I do are a) don't keep a lot of snack food around (though I know you don't live alone, so that's not always easy), b) keep the food that is around in a seperate room! I know at West Point it was harder for me to resist the urge to munch because everything was in ONE spot, whereas now I keep the food in the kitchen, and nowhere else. That helps keep eating seperate from other stuff - like how people suggest using the room only for sleep and nothing else. Same idea :) Oh, I also drink a decent amount of tea (no sugar or anything in it). The warm liquid allows me to consume something without it actually being calories. And last but not least, if I simply feel like I MUST eat even though I'm not hungry, despite trying everything (ha, that time of the month), and nothing else is working, I will make something low in calories that seems filling and feels like a lot of food. For example, I like vermicelli noodles that you can get at Asian food stores with bean sprouts and whatnot. They're like 100 calories for a small packet, but feel like a lot of food. Soups and whatnot are good for that. They take longer to eat, so you don't keep reaching for more food - plus 100-200 calories for something that feels like a meal versus 200-300 calories for a small snack is wayyyy better I think! Hope that helped!

  3. Hi Nina, When I was you age (I am now 55) I had a type of epilepsy that I would describe like yours- small seizures, a minimal number of tonic-clonic. I went off meds at about 23 and was pretty much feeling fine unil at 33 I had a tonic-clonic. Started having them off and on and then more on than off for several years while the docs were turning me into a guniea pig for new meds. Now I am doing great with a combo of lamictal and keppra- which I am being weened off, and I do not like it, either. Now, my son at 17 had his first. We thought he was stabilized by his lifestyle during his first semester at college kept him from having an interest in discipline re. meds, sleep, and alcohol (the three muskateers of danger.) After multiple seizures which we did not know about, he did leave school after the first semester so that we could all work together to get him stabilized. Things are going pretty well now, and he is on straight lamictal. I think the meds are fine and the only time he has had a seizure is when he will not regulate his sleep. I tell him to get a good night's sleep CONSTANTLY. He also beleives that his seizures are only affected by sleep and that he should not be taking meds.
    What I wanted to talk to you about, though, is the military. Adam has wanted to be in the military for a long time, now, but is discouraged and depressed that the military will not take him becuase of his epilepsy. Will the military take him in any kind of support role, even though he us under medication? How are you able to stay in the Army??
    Mike from Bedford