On December 16, 2021, my husband and I began calorie counting for weight loss. He had been losing weight without it to that point, but to get to the next level of his weight loss journey, more was required. I didn’t necessarily need to lose weight, but I wanted to see if I could. And I wanted to see what my body might be like if I lost ten pounds.
I’ve never been able to lose weight on any diet I’ve tried throughout the years. At 5 foot 4, I was around 150 pounds throughout high school and only ever got as low as 145 in college. With very little muscle mass, because my main hobbies were reading books, playing the flute and watching TV (sports were a thing to be avoided at all costs). In the years following college, I stopped weighing myself, but I continued to be sedentary and ate a typical American diet consisting largely of fast food.
When I first started to run, in my late 20’s, I did lose some weight. But that only lasted when I was running 6 days out of 7 most weeks. Once I got a new job, the running schedule changed and I started trying other forms of exercise at the gym I got access to via that job. My weight, once I started measuring it again, was once again fluctuating between 145 and 155. CrossFit likewise didn’t have much impact on my weight – except the year that I was training for a Spartan Race – I bulked up to 160, but I didn’t care because I kicked that Spartan Race’s butt.
I did get down close to 140 during a CrossFit nutrition challenge, but I don’t really count that, because it was a month of low carb and the weight just came back. So, I didn’t really expect calorie counting to work for me. I had a deeply ingrained belief that my body just didn’t want to lose weight so it didn’t.
We used the internet to find sources that would estimate our calorie expenditure based on activity level, and each picked a target daily calorie total. I ended up with 1500 calories per day, which I expanded to 1800 to 2000 if I did CrossFit or ran. I got Ambrose signed up to take a resting metabolic rate test to determine scientifically how many calories he should be eating each day to go into a deficit for weight loss. He found the experience so enlightening that he insisted that I sign up as well. My results lined up well with the totals I’d chosen, so I stuck with that, but added more protein into my CrossFit routine on the advice of the test administrator.
At first, there wasn’t a lot of movement on the scale. I even gained weight, though I’ve learned over the years that I tend to gain about 5 pounds while I’m on my period, which then goes away with as little effort as it came. But slowly, slowly, the numbers trended down. I hit 145, and I kept expecting a plateau. Although there were runs of higher weights on occasion, again and again, the lows kept getting lower. And the highs kept getting lower!
On December 16, 2021, I weighed in at 149.4 pounds.
On December 16, 2022, I weighed in at 133.6 pounds.
I lost 15.8 pounds in a year, and I’m ecstatic. It was slow, but I feel like that just makes it more likely that it will stay off. I’m not done yet. I’m curious where I’ll end up staying with this calorie regime (definitely not planning on lowering it no matter what). I’m kind of looking forward to trying to add muscle at some point, regaining a bit of weight for more strength.
My diet is now largely defined by trying to accommodate my IBS, but I think the exclusions I ended up making over the course of the year helped me with this weight loss. I tried to eat foods with pronounceable ingredients and to avoid “natural flavoring” in ingredients lists. Part way through the year, I stopped eating yeast, which meant no more bread (no more toast!). And then I stopped eating yogurt, because it can have yeast. I miss both bread and yogurt, but the yeast exclusion makes me feel better.
In addition, Ambrose and I stopped eating fast food and drastically reduced our consumption of any restaurant food. We no longer drink alcohol, another big calorie source. We did have cheat days, here and there, and we also ate much more while backpacking. Pretty much all rules were off for backpacking, and the first full meal after the trip. That means an at home, eat as much as you want meal, not a snack in the car on the drive home (nor a restaurant, because we avoid those largely due to sodium concerns).
I’m amazed that this worked. That I fit in a size 4 dress in September. It gives me confidence that I can get my first bar muscle up at the age of 40. Yesterday, I hung from a bar by my hands for 2 minutes, unbroken, and then did 2 sets of 4 pullups. CrossFit and running both played a role in my weight loss as well. I’ll admit, I was also sometimes motivated to work out because I wanted to be able to eat more. I don’t know that calorie counting would have worked at any other point in my life. This was the right time for me, and I’m so glad I tried.