How Can I Lose Weight?

First of all, let's stop focusing on HAVING TO LOSE WEIGHT. Ok, so we're fat. Do you know how we got this way? 


Hmmmm....most likely we overloaded our bodies with sugars and other carbs and created 'greedy' fat cells. Yes, I can relate to this. Can you? Our bodies can only process a certain amount of carbohydrates at at time. I'm pretty sure that my eating a full quart of ice cream in one sitting was probably a bit over the limit of what my body could handle. Did I do that? Yes. And, shamefully, not just once. Have you heard the saying:

You really can't - I tried.

It's so true. I tried to do this the holiday season two years after I got down to my ideal weight. I worked out very hard, as usual, 5-6 days a week, but I also indulged in all the holiday cookies and pies and treats I wanted. My neighbor, Nina, makes the most incredible gingerbread houses.

Nina's Fresh Bakery - Jupiter, Florida

I ate two. Entire houses. I did this partly because I felt like I could eat anything I wanted to since I had lost 25 lbs and had maintained my weight for over two years. I also did it because a friend suggested a 30-day Paleo challenge that started after the New Year. I had heard about Paleo and thought I'd see what it's all about. I figured by now, even if I gained a little weight, I'd know how to reel it back in. 

Well, to my horror, in just a month and a half, I packed on 8 lbs. of fat and was overall 10.5 inches larger than I was in October. Why was I so shocked? Because this was WHILE working out INTENSELY 5-6 days a week! Surely this had to account for SOMETHING! Did I work my ass off for nothing?? I thought, "Well, this sucks!" But imagine if I had done NOTHING at ALL in the form of exercise? How much more I would have gained?? Anyone's guess.

Anyway, here's what happened. The challenge started. The first 3 days SUCKED! Really bad. I had a severe headache, I had cravings, and I got angry and almost quit. I got the hang of it and found some good recipe sites, and after the first week I started to feel better. Then we had the first week weigh-in/measurement. In 7 days, I LOST 5 lbs and 6.5 inches! In 14 days, I lost 3 more lbs and 3.5 inches!

So in just TWO WEEKS I had dropped ALL the fluff I gained in that month and a half and I was pretty happy about that! On the third week of measurements, my weight remained the same (which is my natural, stable weight of 122). At the end of the 30 day challenge, I lost a total of 9 lbs and 12 inches! I'm glad I did it, but I was very strict for that 30 days, and honestly it's not something I could sustain for a long period of time. No sugar, no dairy, no wheat, no legumes (whatever).

After the 30 days, I actually started to pack on fat because I found all kinds of 'paleo' cookie and bread recipes. You can get fat eating Paleo. Just because something is 'paleo-friendly' or 'gluten-free' doesn't mean you'll lose weight or stay lean eating it. Eating more calories than your body can use in a day gets stored as fat, and it doesn't matter where those calories come from! 

To lose weight and keep it off for good, it's helpful to know what it takes to lose weight in the first place.

Weight loss (and gain) involves calories. Everything you eat and drink contains calories, and every step you take and every move you make burns calories. Your body needs a certain amount of calories to maintain your current weight and to provide energy to function every day.

To lose weight, eat fewer calories!

If you eat the same number of calories as your body needs in a day, your weight stays the same. This is your body’s Calorie Maintenance Level. It's the number of calories your body needs each day to maintain your current weight. If you eat more calories in a day than your body needs, your body stores it as fat and you will gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than your Calorie Maintenance Level, your body uses your stored fat for energy and you will lose weight.

Here's how you and I became overweight: For a period of time, we consistently ate more calories than our bodies needed. I don't know about you, but I ate those calories in the form of lots of fat and sugar. They were more calories than we needed, and our bodies stored the excess as fat in our bellies, our thighs, our arms and pretty much every other place there is to store fat on a body. Yay us. If we want to lose that weight, we need to stop giving our bodies extra stuff to store. We need to eat fewer calories (or burn more calories with exercise - or both) than your Calorie Maintenance Level.

If your daily Calorie Maintenance Level is 2000 calories, you will lose weight if you eat less than that each day. You will gain weight if you eat more than that a day. So, what is YOUR Calorie Maintenance Level? That's the most important thing you need to know to get started. So, let's figure that out now.

Let's Figure Out YOUR Calorie Maintenance Level!

Your Calorie Maintenance Level is specific to you. Even if you are the same age, height and weight as someone who has the exact same activity level as you, you could still have very different Calorie Maintenance Levels. Here's a quick and easy way to figure out your Calorie Maintenance Level: Current Body Weight x 15.5 = Approximate Calorie Maintenance Level - Simply multiply your current body weight (in pounds) by 15.5. This will be your approximate daily Calorie Maintenance Level. As an example, a person weighing 180 lb. would have a CML of 2790. (180 x 15.5 = 2790) This is an approximate amount of calories this 180 lb. person would need to eat each day to maintain her current weight. Figure out your Calorie Maintenance Level now.

Your current weight _____________ x 15.5 =_______________

OK - so now you know your approximate Calorie Maintenance Level. This is the amount of calories you need each day to maintain your current weight. Do you want to maintain your current weight? If so, just eat about this many calories each day. Do you want to lose weight? Subtract 500 from your Calorie Maintenance Level. If you used the above calculator, take a look at the activity level you will NOW commit to, and subtract 500 calories from that number for your Calorie DEFICIT Level. This is about how many calories you should eat each day to safely lose 1 pound every week.

Here's how we got this number: 1 pound of body fat = 3500 calories. It takes a 3500 calorie deficit to lose 1 pound of fat. If you ate 500 fewer calories than your Calorie Maintenance Level every day, you would reach the 3500 calorie deficit in 7 days. You would lose 1 pound each week. (500 calories x 7 days = 3500 calories).

So to lose the extra weight (fat), simply subtract 500 calories from your Calorie Maintenance Level, and start eating this many calories per day. What number did you get? This is called your Calorie Deficit Level (CDL)

Click here to learn how to eat at your CDL!