A few months ago, I made a post called “How to lose 25lbs in one month” and it was a huge success. Hundreds of health and fitness related websites were linking to my article and my email inbox was flooded with people who wanted to know exactly how I did it. First off, let me say that if you’re looking for the latest and greatest diet fad, you’re on the wrong website. I went back to basics with regards to my diet plan: Counting calories. How did I accomplish this? Through Nutrisystem!
After about 2 weeks of research, I chose Nutrisystem for several reasons:
- They pre-package the healthy food you’re supposed to eat. This means I don’t have to rush home and cook a healthy meal (then do dishes) after I drop the kids off at soccer practice. By dinnertime every night, I’m mentally and physically exhausted. Slaving over a hot stove, then slaving over the dishwasher are the last two things I want to do at that time of the day.
- My research indicated that the quickest and easiest way to lose weight would be to limit the amount of calories that I take in. No exercise, no gym, nothing of the sort. Again, the name of the game was “how quickly can I lose this weight?”
- Being that my family is on a food budget, I have to watch how much money I’m spending on food every month. After some careful math, I realized that the food I was purchasing for myself every month, was actually less than what I would be paying with Nutrisystem. Not to mention Nutrisystem allows for the usage of coupon codes. I used a 40% off and free shipping code which instantly saved me money.
After making the conscious decision to sign up with Nutrisystem, I started off with their “Uniquely Yours” plan. It broke down around $11/day. I could have just as easily gone with the “Basic” plan ($8.75/day) but I wanted a bigger food menu to choose from. Doing the mental math, prior to Nutrisystem, I was eating around $15/day in food. This does not include snack foods and sodas, which added another $2.75/day for a grand total of $17.95/day in food.
I went to their site and used a coupon code for my first month. Then I set a “quit date” (after looking at the tracking information when the food package would be delivered to my house). I made my last grocery purchase (for myself) on the Sunday before the Nutrisystem food was to be delivered. Once I got the food, I read the instructions and set off on my one month journey to lose weight.
During this time I did not exercise nor did I join the gym. I kept to my regular schedule and relied on the healthy food I was eating to do all the heavy work. Over the course of the next 4 weeks, I started to notice a few things about myself. For example, on the 2nd week I started to notice that I was waking up in the morning full of energy. Around 4pm (when I normally would be dragging) I still felt energetic. My mood started to change as well. I noticed that I was a tiny bit happier. I’m not sure if that’s the right word…but I definitely felt good about myself. I think that had to do in part with the fact that I started weighing myself in the morning after the first week. On the 8th day of my new diet, I stepped on the scale and realized that I had lost 6lbs. That was a very uplifting moment and made me realize that I’m actually losing weight.
This all harkens back to a conversation I had with my sister, who’s a registered nurse. We were at a family function and she remarked that it looked like I had gained some weight the last time she saw me. Both my sister and I are really open and close with each other, so I didn’t take offense to what she said. I told her I had gone up 4 dress sizes in the past year and had a multitude of excuses as to “why”. She interrupted me in the middle of me telling her the story of how I had to eat frozen food for a week due to the kid’s soccer schedule that week and told me that there is no excuse for poor diet habits. She said that over the years, she’s noticed that the most effective way to lose weight is to count your calories. Simply put: burn more calories than you take in. how to lose 20 pounds in a month is easier said than done, as most nights I don’t have time to cook a nutritious meal, and during soccer and baseball season, I’m stuck driving the kids back and forth to practice and games after school. If that doesn’t work, you can always fall back and try to lose 20lbs in 2 months. This is probably the most weight you could try to lose in 1 month. It’s much easier to throw a microwave dinner on the table and call it quits. I rolled my eyes and thought to myself: “Oh great, another Dr. Phil made-for-t.v. diet plan”. My registered nurse sister said that she has seen multiple people lose weight using nothing more than Nutrisystem. She also said that she has seen the doctor that she works under recommend Nutrisystem as a viable alternative to rigorous exercise in order to lose weight.
No exercise, no running, nothing but eating less calories than you expend. She said that if I wasn’t able to cook fresh food, then I should at least eat healthy previously-prepared food. Nutrisystem was designed by doctors who realized there was a market for healthy previously prepared food. The meals are catered to a wide variety of diet plans and they even offer an app that tells you what you should be eating and how much of it.
I went home and did some research. I first opened an excel spreadsheet and counted not only how many calories I ate in one week, but how much money I was spending on groceries. I then went to the Nutrisystem website and compared how much 1 week’s worth of food cost. Surprisingly, it was cheaper by about $90 if I were to eat Nutrisystem food instead of the frozen junk food I was buying at the grocery store. With the help of the information on their website, I then calculated how many calories I needed to eat in order to lose weight.
At first, I really didn’t know how much I was supposed to weigh. I thought, maybe I’m supposed to weigh 150+. Maybe a Size 10 is right for me at this age. Wishful thinking, but I knew better. I worked part-time for an insurance company at the time and was able to get their weight tables used to determine a healthy weight based on height. This gave me a range. I then went onto the internet and found a program that would also use my body frame and activity level to get the range a little more narrow. This gave me a range of 123 to 135. I decided to shoot for 123, figuring if I fall short – I’ll still be in good shape. At this point, I needed to lose 26 pounds.
My next step, and this is the critical part, was to determine how many calories I needed to consume to become a 123-pound person. When most people think of a calorie-counting diet, they immediately think of cutting their calories back to an unsustainable amount – like 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day. That’s the first place people go wrong. All you need to do, is determine how many calories your “future self” will be eating when s/he weighs that ideal weight. This is much easier than you think and is a critical part of the program.
I decided against an exercise plan for the simple fact that I didn’t want to be responsible for managing both a diet AND exercise plan. I figured one was hard enough. I’m not a very motivated kind of person and I realized from previous experiences that if I started to exercise, I would usually wind up eating more to overcompensate and I would wind up gaining weight instead. I would first perfect the calorie counting method, then after I reached my target weight, I would embark upon an exercise plan in order to tone up my body.
So how does one go about eating like a 123-pound person? Well, first you have to figure out how many calories will sustain your body at 123 pounds given your height and activity level. I again, consulted the internet. There were fewer sources out there back then than there are today, and I have no idea what the one I used was called, but here is one supplied by the American Cancer Society that is easy to use. Simply enter your goal weight and be honest about your activity level. I would choose sedentary. That way, you don’t have to lift a finger if you don’t want to and any exercise you do get would just be icing on the cake. OH! That was cruel – sorry! Moving on to the next step.
I started an Excel spreadsheet with each day listed at the top and the meal times at the left side. The calorie number I was given back then was 1425 calories per day. I divided that up into 300 calories for breakfast, a 100 calorie mid-morning snack, 300 for lunch, 150 for an afternoon snack, which left a whopping 575 calories for dinner. In this spreadsheet, I would log my actual calories for each day. I kept the sheet on a floppy disk, updated it every time I had a meal or snack and took it back and forth with me between work and home. I counted everything, and ate nothing that I couldn’t get the calorie count for.
I have an Android phone and there is an app on there called “S Health”. It stands for “Samsung Health”. It came free with the phone and there is a section on there that allowed me to enter in the food that I eat for each individual meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner). The food in the database of the app came pre-loaded with calories and nutritional information, including Nutrisystem food. I then made it a point to religiously enter the food I ate into the app, so I could more efficiently track the amount of calories that I ate. I kept in the back of my mind that I would not undertake a new exercise regiment, and was very conscious of that fact. I realized that with my new diet, I would most likely see increased gains in energy, and that could lead to me wanting to go for an evening jog.
Another paradigm shift was realizing how small the difference was between a 150-pound body and a 123-pound body. This is the reason why keeping a log is so important and sticking to your allotted amount of calories is so important; the number of calories between the two are so small! One piece of cake or candy, or anything similar really will “blow” your diet. It could mean starting all over, which is what most people do and become tired of. Who wouldn’t! If the reward for something is failure, we soon lose interest in doing that thing.
For me, right now, an extra 100 calories per day would add 7 pounds to my weight in about a month. One hundred calories is nothing – and yet everything! You can use that calculator I gave you above to play around with different weights and calorie ranges. You’ll notice very little difference in the amount of calories you can consume at various weight levels. This is why so many people fail on diets – especially calorie-counting diets; they fail to track their calories honestly, and fail to exercise their self-discipline long enough to notice results. This is also why fad diets work at first, but then eventually fail. Fad diets usually have you consume or eliminate one particular food group, which causes you to drop your caloric intake for a few days or weeks. Gradually, however, you resume your original caloric intake, just with different foods. The diet stops working and you stop the diet. But if you earnestly count your calories, and you really want to lose weight, my system will work for you.
In short, after only 30 days I had lost 25lbs. I was really amazed at how easy it was. I thought that I would be waking up in the middle of the night, starving for food. In reality by just eating healthier, I had realized increased energy and stamina. After the initial weight had been lost, I set out to create a maintenance plan that would ensure that I stayed the same weight without having to count calories. In part, I used Nutrisystem food and some other easy-to-prepare fresh foods that I found in the grocery store. I learned that I could prepare soups and other healthy meals, then freeze them, then de-thaw and re-heat. The benefit to this was there there are no unhealthy food additives (like you get in the store bought grocery food).
Debra’s 7-Step Plan for Achieving Your Ideal Weight
- Make a commitment to yourself to become healthy. Use a daily affirmation like, “I think and eat like a 123-pound person.”
- Research your ideal weight. Some people know the weight at which they feel their best. If that’s you, use that. If not, find your ideal weight by clicking here.
- Look into how many calories will sustain the weight you desire to be. Click here to find out.
- Focus on weight-loss only for now. You’ll add exercise when you’re ready.
- Keep detailed records:
This is the most important part. You cannot guess or be “close enough” on this one. Your body’s habits are off – or you wouldn’t have a problem to begin with. You must use your mind to retrain your body. If you cheat on this, you’re only cheating yourself and your diet will fail. Don’t do that to yourself. You deserve to be healthy. If you find yourself thinking about cheating, go back to number one and strengthen your affirmation with a reason. “I think and eat like a 123-pound person because I want to live long enough to see my grandchildren graduate from college.” Remember, being overweight is an illness that will kill you.
“Save” calories ahead for special treats. To “cheat” on your diet legally, use your tracking system like a bank account. Save up enough calories to indulge yourself at a future event. Don’t allow yourself to consume the calories first, then pay for them the follwoing week. That doesn’t work and is another source of failure. Pay for them in advance and only use up what you’ve saved for – think of it like a pre-paid calorie card!
Surround yourself with only supportive people. If someone says to you, “Wow, what happened to you? You look bad! Have you lost weight? Why? You didn’t need to lose any weight – you looked terrific before, not you look sick.” Just ignore them. They’re either jealous, or have a very twisted view of what a healthy person is supposed to look like.
Here are some frequently asked questions about dieting:
How to lose 20 pounds in 3 weeks?
How much weight can I lose in 3 months?
How much weight can you lose when you work with Nutrisystem?
How do I lose 10lbs fast?