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Two Secrets to Losing Weight (Even Over The Holidays!)

OATMEALpicI’m vanquishing bad habits and losing weight.

Because I was such a Skinny Minnie who could eat anything I wanted until I turned about 40, it’s been tough for me to change my lifelong habits of snarfing anything sweet, cheesy and gluten-laden I can find lying around.

I’m pretty good about exercising, but diet has been a challenge.

There’s a truculent 6-year old who resides in my stomach stomping her feet and throwing tantrums that she can’t have two cheese quesadillas chased by chips and guacamole every night.

I’ve reined in my expectations of what I consider to be my “perfect” weight.

I’ve settled on a healthy weight. But as I move closer to the big 5-0, the pounds can creep up like Ninja assassins in the dead of night.

A couple of weeks ago, I realized my clothes weren’t fitting and I decided I wasn’t willing to move up a size.

I’d tried to get control of my eating in the past and would manage for a few days, then just go back to my old ways.

This time I was determined to make a permanent lifestyle change. And I seem to have found my winning combination:

1. My Fitness Pal App.

(This is not a sponsored post). I’d tried Weight Watchers in the past and realized I didn’t like the Point system because there just aren’t enough damn points.

What I love about my Fitness Pal is that I track my calories, and because I’m willing to lose weight slowly (.5 pounds a week), I’m allotted a surprisingly generous number of calories per day.

My weight climbed up to around 146 and, in one month, I’m back down to 140 by  eating 1660 calories a day.

I may try to drop 5 more pounds and then head into maintenance mode, which will be closer to 1800 calories/day. You can get a lot of bang for your buck with that number.

One pitfall in using my Fitness Pal App, I found, was that I’d diligently track my calories right up until around 5 p.m.

Then suddenly I’d have TA- Tracking Amnesia.

I’d forget all about tracking, right up until the following morning after stepping on the scale.

I realized that had to change. So what I do now, if I know what I’m cooking for that evening (and, if we’re honest, how much wine I’ll be swilling), is track my dinner points in the morning.

That way I know exactly what I have left for the day.

I’ve learned that if I stay within my limit, I’m going to lose and/or maintain the weight I desire.

Two positive side effects from tracking my calories.

The first is that now I’m learning exactly how many calories are in the food I eat.

I’m not fixated, it’s not an obsession, but having been skinny for so long, I truly had no idea that eating three slices of pumpkin pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner was fattening. I’m not kidding.

The second positive side effect is that I’m learning about my body.

When you can eat anything you want and not gain weight, eating becomes mindless.

You get used to feeling really really full and that becomes the norm. Now I know what it feels like to be satiated, not over-stuffed.

Initially, I felt panicky letting go of that over-stuffed feeling. But as the days go by, my body and mind are shifting slowly to enjoy feeling less full.

By day’s end, going to bed unstuffed, I feel a bit like Jesus. Minus the selfless healing of others.

My next weight loss/maintenance trick:

2. Eat Oatmeal most mornings.

This has been a revelation. I thought I was doing things right by following the advice of many weight loss professionals by eating a large breakfast.

This would often look like:

  • A 3-egg omelet with cheese, veggies and meat.
  • Two thick slices of whole wheat bread slathered in butter and jam.
  • A cup of mixed fruit
  • A 16-ounce cafe latte with two packets of sugar.

And I do think I could have gotten away with my breakfast-as-my-biggest-meal routine, if I hadn’t followed it up with starchy lunches, dinners and, like Hobbits are prone to do, Desserts 1, 2 and 3.

I know, given my intake I should be entering Sumo wrestler competitions.

I appreciate the fact that, at age 48, my metabolism is still an over-achiever, but that sneaky felon Menopause lurks nearby and I have to weaponize before she pounces.

Oatmeal is my weapon.

I make it really gorgeous, topping it with slivered almonds, dried cranberries, fresh banana, brown sugar and a little milk.

It’s fast and easy to cook and really delicious. It somehow resets my metabolism and keeps me feeling satiated longer.

Good House Keeping says,

“Studies show that you can curb your appetite by eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. But how well does it really work?
Researchers at the VA Medical Center and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis tested the theory against the ultimate diet challenge: the buffet table.
They gave 14 volunteers one of five cereals before sending them out to the smorgasbord.
Those who’d had the highest-fiber cereal ate less than those who didn’t have as much fiber in the morning.”


Add nuts to your oatmeal and Good House Keeping says,

“Yes, nuts are fattening: A handful of peanuts is about 165 calories.
But research shows that people who snack on nuts tend to be slimmer than those who don’t.
A study from Purdue University found that when a group of 15 normal-weight people added about 500 calories worth of peanuts to their regular diet, they consumed less at subsequent meals.
The participants also revved up their resting metabolism by 11 percent, which means they burned more calories even when relaxing.
Health bonus: Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids. And researchers at Loma Linda University recently found that eating 10 to 20 whole pecans daily can reduce heart disease risks.”

So, that’s the path I currently walk. I feel healthier, sexier and my clothes fit.

I’m holding the fort, people. Tell me the lifestyle habits you employ to stay smokin’ hot …

Tags assigned to this article:
Fitness Pal Applosing weightoatmeal


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  1. Donna Hanton
    Donna Hanton 2 December, 2013, 11:07

    I can’t say that I’ve ever been a Skinny Minny, so have used many weapons in the Battle of the Bulge. I too, have had a lot of luck using My Fitness Pal, matching up calories to weight-loss goals and activity level. I also eat oatmeal for breakfast (it’s almost an addiction!)and one of my favourite things to add is coconut milk – the thick stuff out of the can. It’s high in calories, but a little goes a long way, and it’s very satisfying

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 3 December, 2013, 09:36

      I love being able to add all kinds of things to oatmeal. Haven’t added Milky Way bars yet, but it’s a possibility. Might defeat the purpose though.

      Reply this comment
  2. TJ
    TJ 3 December, 2013, 05:46

    I lost about 35 pounds 2 years ago and have kept it off. Fiber is the key, I try to fit it in every meal. Plus, when I want a snack like chips (my downfall) I now keep cooked chicken or turkey in the fridge to snack on. I allow myself a handful of nuts here and there, too. I don’t eat oatmeal, I just don’t like it. I grew up in OH eating it when mom forced it down me in the winter (It’ll keep your belly warm! How does that help when it’s 10 degrees outside?) and I think she burned me out on it.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 3 December, 2013, 09:35

      It’s tough to appreciate oatmeal when you’re a kid. It used to remind me of barf. Somehow I’ve gotten past that early oatmeal trauma.

      Reply this comment
  3. stef
    stef 3 December, 2013, 10:51

    Well…not sure I’d call me smokin’ hot, but I’m getting back there slowly, fighting every step of the way with my old I-can-eat-anything-and-stay-130-pounds-forever, pizza-loving, carb-crazy self.

    And MyFitnessPal is my new best friend. It has literally changed the way me and both my daughters look at dieting. I LOVE it. Easiest and most helpful thing I’ve ever used.

    That, and the new gym membership that I get to use (swimming! yay!) today for the first time. It was my gift to all three of us this year. 😀

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 3 December, 2013, 19:29

      Best thing I’ve used too. Though I think it means I’m done eating for today. At 4. Sigh.

      Reply this comment
  4. Serena Belva
    Serena Belva 11 December, 2013, 11:55

    I think it’s great that the app has made you more mindful and is working for you in a positive way. My experience was not so good. I was very diligent about using MyFitnessPal for about 3 months and I limited myself to a 1200 calorie diet. I realized I was berating myself and feeling crappy any time I went over my allotted 1200 calories. I was trying to lose 20 lbs to get back down to an unrealistic weight. I blame the stupid applauding the “thigh gap” trend that is happening and all the fitspo on the Internet. I finally abandoned the app because I felt like it was making me go crazy. I was literally agonizing over every.single.bite that I ate. I also tried Interval Fasting during that time and it made me gain weight (though my husband dropped 15 lbs).

    Now I am trying to be mindful of carbs (especially gluten) and sugar, eat lots of veggies and raw foods, exercising 5+ days a week (weight lifting, running, hiking), and staying off of the damn scale altogether. I doubt I have lost much, if any weight but I am happier and less neurotic than when I used that app. I noticed yesterday that my jeans were looser (yay). The one thing I would feel triumphant if I could cut it out is alcohol. It really is my undoing. I really wish I could do the oatmeal thing for breakfast. I try to force myself to eat it for breakfast but it makes me cranky. I relate to TJ’s comment about it. My husband eats oatmeal constantly. I wish I liked it! I like hearing what works for others.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 11 December, 2013, 15:20

      Hi Serena — I completely get how crazy the Fitness Pal can make you feel. I initially was trying to do 1250 calories and realized that is only appropriate for six year old cats. I loosely try to keep it around 1700 a day, which I can do. But I hear you. Monitoring food is truly annoying.

      Reply this comment
  5. Amelia
    Amelia 17 December, 2013, 11:26

    I am not a fan of tracking calories in daily life, but I think it’s good to periodically get a handle on what exactly you’re eating…just so you really know. When I notice my pants getting tight, I always keep a food journal for a few days to see what’s up.

    My own favorite trick: eat vegetables way more often than other things. I salt & season & add a little oil/butter to my veggies so they actually taste good. Then veggie-eating doesn’t feel at all like a chore, but rather a treat.

    Reply this comment
  6. jill johnson
    jill johnson 23 January, 2014, 07:41

    I don’t count calories or use any type of program. I eat pretty much what I want but I must say what I want is usually not that bad for me. I have a close friend who loves to cook and we eat together often. Thankfully she likes and has taught me much about healthy food and we often share a plate so that cuts down on portion size when we go out. As far as exercise goes, I learned a long time ago that I was too lazy to leave my home and go to a gym,so I always workout in the privacy and comfort of my own home. I use a Jillian Michaels DVD and my treadclimber. It only takes me about 45 minutes and I like to watch the food channel while I’m doing it. 😉 I feel like I’m in pretty darn good shape for my age, despite the spike in body aches and pains. But that’s what the wine is for, right??

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 23 January, 2014, 08:17

      Jill I can attest to the fact that you’re in great shape. Which makes my tummy hate your six-pack a little. Sigh.

      Reply this comment

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