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A No-Nonsense Approach to Weight Loss

Updated on July 13, 2012

Calories Burned - Calories Eaten = Caloric Loss or Gain

There I've said it. I've outted the proverbial elephant in the room. Now i need you to understand, I'm not a svelte personal trainer or an 80% owner in a fitness facility trying to over simplify the arduous process of losing weight. I'm a 46 year old, hard-working, perpetually, hopeful, dieting mother of 3.

I'm just like you. I've tried low-carb diets that left me cranky, slow-carb diets that have left me flatulent, no carb diets that have left me homicidal, every purportedly magical pill from Acai, to fat-burner, to thermogenic. I've tried juices, cleanses and I've hung on Dr. Oz's every word and bought nearly every supplement in search of the easy formula to sustained weight loss. I've run 100 miles in a month, I've sweated in hot yoga, and I've had sustained period of devout, health club visitation. I know how you feel because we are kindred spirits.

Here then, is the simple, albeit not easy, answer then to weight loss. Eat less than you burn, consistently, every day. Everything else listed above are just tools to help you in that endeavor. The first step, I've discovered, is that you truly need to decide to lose weight.


decide late 14c., "to settle a dispute," from O.Fr. decider, from L. decidere "to decide, determine," lit. "to cut off," from de- "off" (see de-) + caedere "to cut" (see cement).

To truly "decide" means to cut off from any other avenue. I don't know about you, but this is where my "fail" occurs. I may "decide" to lose weight, and I may even do well for a while, eating less than I burn and shedding a few pounds. Inevitably, however, my "decision" wavers and something else takes precedence, it could be work getting in the way of exercise or an event throwing me off the eating less than I burn idea. It could simply be discouragement causing me to throw my hands up in despair then reaching for my fork in disgust.

To write this Hub, I had to do something very difficult. I had to go back to a free program I've used for the past few years called, to assess what's gone wrong in my weight loss endeavors. What I found wasn't pretty.

Be Accountable

To Yourself First. is an excellent, free site that provides easy food & activity logging, weight and nutrition tracking and all sorts of reporting. Its an excellent way to be accountable to your weight loss plan and to yourself. I went back to look at my history for the past 4 years and was struck by several things.

  1. I noticed how short-lived my food logging has actually been. The longest period in the 4 years was a 3 week stint.
  2. When I was logging my food and activity, i did lose weight. When I stopped, I gained.
  3. Sadly, when I first started with Fitday in 2007, I was 140 lbs desirous of losing 5 lbs. I am now, 152 lbs desirous of losing 12 lbs. Oh what a difference 4 years has made.

I have decided to commit to logging food and activity for 90 days on Fitday to see what sustained accountability will do for me.

To Others. Share your weight loss plan with someone. Your significant other, your friend, a weight loss support group, someone. Studies have shown that people who share their weight loss goal with other's have significantly higher success rates than those who keep their goals to themselves.

Set Short Term and Long Term Goals

It's important to set both short term and long term goals. We are goal-striving creatures and need measurable, attainable goals to help us progress. Examples of some short term and long term goals might be. "I will lose 12 lbs in 90 days" = long term goal. "I will eat 600 calories a day less than I burn" = excellent short term goal. if your weight loss goal is a significant amount, set short, mid and long term goals; i.e. Short Term = "Eat 600 calories less than I burn daily", Mid Term = "Lose 10 lbs in 90 days", Long Term, Lose 50 lbs in a year". Set rewards for attaining your goals, something that gets you excited, but make sure your reward justly fits the accomplishment.

Plan to Succeed

This no-nonsense approach to weight loss requires planning, as does any worthwhile endeavor. The planning starts with the grocery store and your week. Planning your menu for the week is a huge key to success. Having readily on hand, foods that will help you achieve your short term goals is so important. These days, processed, convenient foods abound to help us get meals on the table in a modicum of time. Who hasn't thrown burgers on the grill and macaroni and cheese on the stove? Cheeseburger, macaroni and cheese and a soda is over 1000 calories in a sitting, convenient, yes, goal oriented, no. Take a weekend day, plan your meals for the week, breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner, and shop for the week.

I'll go into diets another day, but here is a good rule of thumb. Whole, natural foods are best, with a focus on green vegetables and light meats. Make sure you have plenty of both on hand. For snacks, make sure you have peeled and sliced carrots and celery at the ready. Hummus is a great choice for perking up those veggies. Roasted veggies is another great snack choice. Simply cut veggies like squash, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli etc, put them on a tray and lightly spray with olive oil. Sprinkle potassium salt and a little pepper or garlic and roast in a 300 oven for 30 - 40 minutes. Fruit sounds like it would be a great choice, but make sure you log it; you'll soon see how calorie laden fruit can be.

Try to steer clear of starches like bread, pastas, corn and potatoes. I know, I love them too. You can replace pasta with spagetti squash, and potatoes with sweet potato. Make sure you have plenty of chicken breast, turkey, pork and eggs on hand too.

90 Days

Commit to 90 days. I'm committing to 90 days starting yesterday. I will log every morsel that passes my lips. My short term goals are consuming 600 calories less than I burn each day, 30 minutes of some form of aerobic exercise, and increasing my water intake to 8 8oz glasses each day. My long term goal is to be 140 by my birthday in July. I've decided to be accountable to myself and you. This is Day 1. Take the journey with me, start wherever you are, I know we can do this!


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    • susiebrown48 profile image

      susiebrown48 5 years ago from Clearwater, FL

      I wrote this a year ago and did manage to get down to 148. The birthday and ensuing vacations and holidays undid much of the great work so I'm back on the bandwagon again! I'm checking out Weight Watchers 2 days in LOL.

    • g-girl11 profile image

      g-girl11 5 years ago

      It is true, we know what we need to do, but it's a matter of setting our mind to it and doing it!

      I'm still working on it. I see that you had a 90 day goal. How did you do?

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      It can be irritating Susie, not fair. As one grows older basal metabolism falls which means what I could eat and get away with without having to go to gym everyday has changed. I have to take in fewer calories and work out more to stay in a certain weight range. I will be relegated to a salad or two with my usual bowl of gruel on the side. Consumption and enjoyment of food is among one of the few pleasures that remain for us mere mortals.

      Your hub has inspired me to sally forth and continue on a worthwhile goal. Thanks Muchly

    • Casey White profile image

      Mike and Dorothy McKenney 6 years ago from United States

      Susie: My mother always said there is only one diet that really works: "If it tastes good, spit it out." Great article. I hope you will continue writing, as you are a great addition to this site.

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      It's so good to see an article about losing weight put in such simplistic terms - a simple mathematical formula! And how true that is. I hope that you find your 90 days rewarding and feel happier and healthier by the time your birthday comes around. I will enjoy following you.

    • susiebrown48 profile image

      susiebrown48 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL

      Thank you for the kind words William. I've not tried Zumba yet, because my gym is an Anytime Fitness, which is accessible 24/7 but lacks classes. I was eyeballing Zumba for our Kinect, you may have inspired me to purchase it! I applaud you both for going!. Don't worry Robin, you and I can do this. As I finish my tuna sandwich sans bread and a bowl of cabbage soup, and finding them both filling and delicious, I have faith we can do this! I'm completely stoked because yesterday, keeping track of everything, I made good choices and actually consumed 1200 calories less than I burned! Try Fitday, its completely free, and so easy to use.... I try entering my food BEFORE I eat it, this way if I"m making a bad choice, like 1/4 cup of almonds instead of celery (204 calories vs 26 calories) I can adjust before its too late. Good luck to you both, I'll be checking in.

    • bbnix profile image

      bbnix 6 years ago from Southern California

      OK Susie. We're sitting here this morning, the wife and I, and talking about you - we agree with you about the frustration.

      We've recently rejoined a gym, and have loved it, especially the Zumba. Wow, what fun that is - not many guys, but what the hell, I like it. I've also been riding my bike, which I love as well.

      I'm losing weight, but Robin's having a tougher time, so now we're going to work on our diet math. Good luck on your goal - we'll all work at it together, and for the long haul too..

      Thanks for the important hub, my friend...