Monday, March 5, 2012

Simple Weight Loss Boost

Do you know anyone who appears to be thin no matter what they do? I sure do.  One of the thinnest people that I know orders waffles topped with ice cream every time he goes out to brunch.  People like that used to drive me nuts, then I realized three things:

1. Getting stressed out about another person’s weight (or lack of weight) was going to do nothing to help my cause.  I have learned that stress, anger and self-pity only lead to unhealthy habits.

2. Thin doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.  I wanted to be thin AND healthy, which meant I had to change bad habits (like eating ice cream for breakfast).

3.  These “naturally thin” people must be doing something special, and figuring out what they do differently could help me reach my weight loss goal.

There are hundreds of factors that determine what a person weighs and thousands of articles discussing the significance of each of these factors.  I have read a lot of articles over the years, but one of them was so different from the others that it sticks out in my memory.  This article talked about how some people are thin, not because they spend hours at the gym, but because they are more restless than others.   The results of studies done by Mayo Clinic suggest that thin people are naturally more inclined to move throughout the day than obese people.  Could this be the secret of those “naturally thin” people?  

Whether this article shows the secrets of the “naturally thin” or not, it made a big difference in the way I live my life.  During one of my weight loss plateaus I realized I needed to make some kind of change in order to continue to lose weight.  I turned to the ideas in the Mayo Clinic study and began increasing my activities of daily living (in addition to my time at the gym). Sure enough, I started to lose weight again.  Now I am in the habit of being active in my daily life and I tend to take the path of most resistance instead of least resistance.  This is one of the factors that I believe has helped me to keep the pounds off for so many years.

Here are some of the things you can do to boost your daily activity level:

  • Walk around your neighborhood while you are talking on the phone
  • Walk or bike to the grocery store and carry things home in a backpack
  • Use a hand held shopping basket to do your grocery shopping instead of a push cart
  • Go for a bike ride, hike or walk with your friends instead of meeting for a drink
  • Park in the furthest parking stall instead of the closest
  • Always take the stairs (I live on the fourth floor of my apartment building and I take the stairs 95% of the time, even with groceries)
  • Get up during TV commercials (feed the cat, get some water, stretch)
  • Dine out at restaurants within walking distance
  • Keep your cellphone out of reach so that you have to get up to answer it
  • I have started listening to Pandora “workout stations” at home when I need an energy boost.  I have found that I am less likely to be sedentary when this music is playing.
  • Don’t ask other people to get things for you even if they are closer, get up and get it yourself
  • Take time out to play with your kids, pets, friends
  • Stand while you are waiting for something, you will burn 50% more calories than if you were sitting
Don’t forget that these things are in addition to the time you spend doing your normal exercise routine.  Cardiovascular exercise and strength training are still important for weight loss/maintenance and your overall health!


  1. Hey! I love your blog and all of your tips. Your story really is amazing. I know it took you a long time to lose the weight. I am really desperate... I am a size 12, actually. My size 10 jeans are really just too tight. I feel pretty terrible about it. I'm confident in myself as a person, and I think I am beautiful, but treating my body this way cannot in any way be healthy. I have terrible sugar/bread binge eating habits. Could you maybe share how you went about losing weight? I exercise several times a week but I think the biggest thing for me by far is diet. How do you eat, and how did you eat when you were in the process of losing weight? Did you go by calories or did you use a different strategy? Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

    1. I'm so sorry I did not get back to you sooner. I was in Europe for two weeks and for some reason my replies were not posting to my blog properly. I am excited to hear about your desire to become healthier and am happy to answer any questions that you have for me.

      I believe that calorie counting is a very difficult subject, which is why I have yet to touch upon it on my blog. It is certainly not for everyone, as it can lead to an unhealthy obsession with diet and it is also a time consuming process. I did not truly calorie count for the first year of my weight loss. I would read labels and make low calorie choices, but I did not track exactly what I ate everyday. At about 15 lbs away from my goal I really started to have trouble loosing more weight and that is when I began calorie counting. I found a program called and I still use it today for weight maintenance purposes. I used a calorie goal of about 1,200 calories/day for my weight loss. Calorie counting is an excellent way to monitor what you are eating and keep yourself in check. I have had friends find weight loss success through calorie counting, and I believe it is one of the most effective methods for weight loss.

      I do, however, only recommend calorie counting if you can do it without becoming completely obsessed with your diet. At times I found that all I could think about was calories, and trust me, nobody wants to be that person talking about calories during a dinner out with friends. Eating healthy should be something that enriches your life and not something that takes away from it. There can be a fine line between being on a diet and having an eating disorder. These are subjects that I plan on addressing in future blog entries. It sounds like you are a very confident and level-headed person (which will really help your weight loss process) so this probably will not be an issue for you.

      I have found that the easiest way to loose weight (in terms of diet) and keep it off is to eat similar things every day. The less you have to think about what you are going to eat, and the more readily available healthy food is, the more likely you are to stick to your diet.

      Here is an example of a day in the life of my diet:

      Breakfast (~120 calories)- 1 C nonfat plain yogurt or ½ C nonfat plain yogurt + ½ C high fiber cereal

      Lunch(~300 calories)- Tuna wrap (with Dijon mustard instead of mayo) on a Trader Joe's brown rice tortilla (I like these tortillas because they are low calorie but not artificial tasting) or a black bean and rice burrito on a Trader Joe's tortilla.

      Snack (~100 calories)- Baby carrots, apple, Kashi TLC bar

      Dinner- (~500 calories)- I make dishes that contain lots of vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins (see my post on low calorie cooking at home).

      Late night snack (~100 calories)- If I need a little snack before bed I like air-popped popcorn or a square of dark chocolate.

      This may sound boring, but there are lots of ways to spice up healthy foods to make them more delicious. Things like herbs, spices, citrus, salsa, mustard and vinegars are very low in calories and full of flavor.

      As far as sugar cravings/binges go, this is one of the hardest subjects of all. What I have found is that if you decrease the amount of sugar in your diet, over time, you will crave it less. This includes sugars not just in sweet treats but also the hidden ones in processed foods. I have outlined some methods for dealing with sugar addiction in my last blog entry "Fighting Sugar Addiction". An important thing to remember is that we all make diet mistakes and you cannot kill yourself over them. It is important to recognize the mistake, but not dwell on it. When I have a bad diet day I acknowledge it and then I work to make it better by adding an extra 15 minutes to each workout the following week.

      I hope this helps! I will continue to post more information now that I am back from my trip. Thank you for contacting me and please keep reading!


    2. Thank you! I actually went off processed sugar on March 16th and I've lost 10 pounds just by integrating healthier habits!!! :o) I won't be off the stuff forever - I'll allow myself cake on my birthday, and maybe a few treats during the summer or on holidays, but 95% of the time I'm happy without the sugar and without most bread.

      Again thanks for your help and congrats on maintaining your own healthy lifestyle!!! My size 10 jeans fit really well now... some are even getting a bit big! Hah

    3. Yippey!!! I am so happy for you Abby. Doesn't it feel good to see the weight coming off?!? You must be working so hard! I am glad that you are allowing yourself some treats though. Life is too short not to have cake (and maybe some ice cream) on your birthday. Plus, cake tastes so much better when you know you've earned it ;).

  2. I always envy the people who are naturally thin. They eat like a horse without have to worry about any weight gain. And yes, they don't gain a pound no matter how much they ate. I have friend like that. But as what you state in no#2, thin doesn't necessarily healthy. I have browse around your blog and so motivate by your weight loss picture. Do you mind to share your story in my blog? I collect articles and weight loss story in my blog to inspire myself. I believe by sharing your story, many many people would inspire as well.

    Best regards,
    Healthy Beautiful Blog

    1. Hello! Sorry it took me so long to reply. I was actually in Europe for a few weeks and for some reason my replies were not posting correctly. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog! I would love for you to share my story on your blog. My goal is to reach as many people as possible.

      Keep up the good work :)

  3. What was your daily calorie allowance when losing weight? I am 5'5 and exercise 6 days a week, I have been struggling for months to lose the last 10 pounds. Any insight?

    1. Hi Jill! I am sorry I did not get back to you sooner. I was in Europe for two weeks and for some reason I was not able to reply to posts over French Wifi.

      I know exactly how you are feeling. Those last few pounds are such a pain to loose! For the last 15 lbs of my weight loss I began strict calorie counting on a site called There are many sites/apps to count on, that is just the one I found first. I stuck to a 1,200 calorie/day diet. One of the tricks to calorie counting is to make sure you count everything. It is easy not to count items (like the samples they were giving out at Costco) that you eat without even thinking.

      Calorie counting is very effective, but one needs to watch out because it can lead to diet obsession. This is a subject I hope to address soon on my blog. It is important to make sure that eating healthy is enriching your life and not taking away from it.

      Lastly, I would recommend changing up your workouts in order to get rid of those last few pounds. Try adding something new (like spinning, running, or aerobics) or increasing your current workouts in length, intensity, or add sprint intervals. Try also to be more active throughout the day (go for a quick walk whenever you have a break).

      I hope this helps! Keep reading, as I will be posting more and more tips in the future.

      Best of luck!

  4. Hi! I just found your blog when I googled "weight loss success stories" (searching for some inspiration). Your posts are exactly what I've been looking for! I can't wait to read your past posts. After 3 kids and a 10 lb weight gain for each one, I'm busting out of a size 12. Still, I was shocked to visit my OBGYN and find out that I meet the clinical description of obese (BMI 30). I will regularly read your blog - please feed me more inspiration, real tips, and motivation strategies!

    1. Becky! I am so happy that you found my blog and that you are making healthy changes in your life. I remember the moment I found out that I fit into the "obese" category. I denied my weight gain for so many years, but there was something about not wanting to be obese and a size 14 that woke me up to reality!

      Feel free to let me know if you have any questions. I hope that my blog will help you on your journey!

  5. I always feel like the naturally thin people are very few. I notice my thin friends are a little more active, but not enough to account for "eating like a horse" at every meal. Being in college, I notice that on a day to day basis they tend to have small portions of food, and the food is not energy-dense. It is only during social occassions that they seem to consume quite a bit. But that's my perception of my group of friends. Thanks for your tips on getting more activity in!

  6. Wow. I really have to say THANK YOU.

    I don't speak english very well, so forgive my mistakes.

    I am so happy that I found your blog... Reading it has helped me a lot. For me, talking about my overweight, my true desire to feel good about my self, and my personal struggle with fat can be something like tabu. I got tired of not having someone to share my worries with, because my friends used to tell me hey you look good, you should not worry about that, maybe you have some extra punds, but that's the way you are and you're supposed to love yourself for who you are. I think I have been fighting with this the past six years.
    The last post really got to me hahaha because sugar is my deadly enemy. I have a relationship of love and hate with sweets, 'cause every time I succeded at losing some weight, sweets helped me gaining it all back again. I have the need of eating sweets, it is really like an urge and I always thought that no one could understand that... untill now! And now I know that it is manageable.
    So I wanted to tell you that your blog encourages me to keep fighting. It motivates me so much to see someone who by her own means and will power was succesful at losing weight and kept it that way. You gave me the idea of running!! I started today and it felt awesome! despite the fact that I only made 10 minutes hahaha... but maybe if this week I can run 10, I can run 15 next week and so on.
    So thank you. Please, keep writing.

    1. Macarena,

      Thank you so much for your kinds words! I am very happy to hear that you are finding the blog useful. It is hard to look to our friends and family for support with our weight loss goals, as they will often tell us that we do not need to change. I would be honored to help support you on your weight loss journey. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help!

      All the best,

  7. I like the idea you gave of the "Workout station" on Pandora. Is this an actual station or how did you set it up? Thanks!

    Even though a size 12 is not fat and is an average size for a woman, your blog still is inspiring. I understand a 12 was bigger than what you were comfortable with and that is what women need to remember. Find the size where they are healthy and comfortable. I will be super excited when I get back down to a size 12 but my real goal is a size 8 (I'm only 5'2 so my BMI while wearing a size 12 is still considered overweight). When I get there then I will re-evaluate how I feel.

    Thanks for all the tips. You give some great advice!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words! It sounds like you are on the right track. Congrats!

      Pandora has several different workout stations. If you click on "browes genres" there is a category for workout stations. I usually use "pop fitness" or "alternative endurance". I find them very motivating. I have been running a lot lately and using my phone to listen to the stations. Hope this helps!

      I wish you the very best!!!