I’ve been on a “lifestyle change” for the last three and a half months and I’m super excited to share my experience with how I lost 30 pounds in 3 months.
What’s A Lifestyle Change
For me, a lifestyle change meant taking care of my body long-term — not just dieting for summer. I wanted to feel like myself again.
Wake Up Call
Over the last year, I had gained about 30 pounds. I knew my clothes were fitting tighter and I felt tired and uncomfortable most of the time, but I didn’t realize how much I’d gained until one day I stepped on the scale and saw a number I’d never seen before. (Yikes!) I needed to make a change, so I decided that day that I was going to lose the weight.
I’m 5’5″ and mostly think of myself as healthy. But after seeing the scale, I set a goal for myself to lose 44 pounds — the 30 pounds that I gained this last year, plus an additional 14 pounds.
How I Lost 30 Pounds in 3 Months
I used to think that in order to lose weight, you had to exercise and eat salads or other “healthy” foods. Everyone always talks about how you need to workout if you want to see any progress, but I found out that, while exercise is great, it’s not your best method for losing weight.
Basically your body is burning calories just to keep you alive — your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). In order to lose weight, you just have to eat fewer calories than your TDEE. That’s it. And you’re guaranteed to lose weight.
I feel like there is a taboo around counting your calories, but I’m not sure why. To me it’s like having a budget for your money — you would monitor your spending and count each dollar, or else you overdraft your account. So it just made sense to me that I needed to count my calories to create a deficit in my total weekly calories.
This video explains it a lot better and goes into more detail:
TDEE + MyFitnessPal
You can find out your TDEE online by plugging in your age, height, weight and activity level. (There’s a calculator here). Whatever your TDEE is, is the number of calories you can eat in a day to maintain/stay at the same weight.
“You can’t outrun a bad diet” totally makes sense now.
For me, I wanted to lose 2 pounds a week. I have used the calorie tracking app, MyFitnessPal, throughout the years, but I never was good at tracking my food consistently. This time around though, I haven’t missed a day and I find that it really helps me to stay on track and know what I’m eating.
With MyFitnessPal, you can create a profile and enter in your stats and it will ask you what your goal is. From there, you can tell it you want to gain, maintain, or lose weight and it will tell you how many calories you would be able to eat to reach your goal.
I was able to eat 1200 calories a day in order to lose 2 pounds a week.
Diet + Supplements
I am someone who gets ‘hangry’ (angry when I’m hungry). It’s pretty hard for me when I haven’t eaten and I don’t even realize that I’m being a little … abrasive. So, I was nervous about what eating only 1200 calories would feel like. I bought some weight-loss supplements online to help regulate my hunger feeling and I stuck to my 1200 calorie/day plan.
I didn’t start eating salads or eating low-carb/no carb. I just ate everything I normally ate, but I counted the calories, and measured out all my portions. It was really eye-opening for me to think about how many calories I was eating before. No wonder I had gained weight!
I did realize quickly though what foods helped me to feel full throughout the day, and what foods left me wanting more. So I just have to decide if those less-full feeling foods are what I want to spend my calories on for that meal. Sometimes they are, but sometimes I make different choices. For example, I had cookies for breakfast today — and they were 340 calories. That’s a pretty big breakfast for me, and not really that filling, but that’s what I wanted to eat. In the past, I would never have thought that you could lose weight while eating cookies — but you can as long as you are counting those calories, and are creating a deficit in your TDEE.
At 1200 calories a day, I feel fine. I rarely feel hangry and I noticed the weight loss right away. My pills definitely help a lot though and I’m still taking them. I also feel like there’s a stigma about taking supplements, and each person is different so you should definitely do what’s best for you. For me, taking supplements helped me to not feel as hungry, and gives me time to make a smart decisions without letting my hunger get the best of me. The pills are caffeine-free which was important to me because I don’t like feeling shaky or anxious like caffeine can make me feel. These are the pills I take if you’re interested (this one & this one).
What I Eat In A Day
So what am I eating for only 1200 calories a day? Well, it varies, but I have some staple meals that I know are aways good to eat. Here’s an infographic of a typical day for me:
Now that I know that my weight loss is easily controlled by the amount of calories I eat, I don’t think about exercise as something I have to do. I still do exercise, but it’s because I enjoy it and I like how my body feels after I workout.
Even though I am burning calories from my workouts, I never track that deficit as more calories I can eat for the day. I still just stick to eating 1200 calories even if I “earned” more calories from my workout.
For exercise, I enjoy running on the treadmill and am now able to run at 5.0mph for 24 minutes. This is a huge improvement from my stamina from when I first bought my treadmill and I’m really happy about it.
Tracking My Progress
I loved seeing the weight drop every week, so I would track my progress in my planner on a tracker I made. Each time I lost a pound, I would color in a square. It was just a visual reminder of how far I came and where I’m going.
Overall, my lifestyle change has been easy. I track my calories and occasionally run on the treadmill, and each week I have lost weight. In the past three months, I’ve had 5 cheat days where I went over my calories, but still tracked everything in MyFitnessPal. The cheat days are nice as long as they are rare, and you can get right back to tracking normally the next day.
I am not a dietitian or a doctor; I just wanted to share my experience about what worked for me. I always felt like losing weight was more of an exercise thing, or eating nothing but celery, but it’s literally as easy as counting and measuring your calories.
Since this is a lifestyle change for me, I will continue to monitor my calories even after I reach my goal weight. Instead of eating at a deficit (1200 calories/day), I’ll recalculate my TDEE and eat at the maintenance level which should be 1550 – 1600 calories.