Day 15 Update on my 40 lbs Weight-loss Mission

At first, I felt disappointed in myself, and then I quickly shifted my mindset (I’ve built up my ability to do so). I knew the feeling was temporary, and I knew I could learn from my mistake. I’m developing new eating habits that will take time.

It’s officially been 2 weeks since I began my mission to lose 40 lbs by July 1, 2022. If you missed my first update (Day 9), check it out here. If you didn’t see my posts about why I’m setting a big goal, publicly, check out my first post about it.

In this post, I’ll give an update on my current weight and document what I’ve been eating. 

Weight

  • Weight on Day 1 (Jan. 5/22): 178.8 lbs
  • Weight on Day 15 (Jan. 19/22): 170.2 lbs
  • Total lost in 14 days: 8.6 lbs 🙂
lost 8.6 lbs in 2 weeks towards 40 lbs weight-loss goal

I’m really happy with my progress to date! From experience, I know the weight comes off more quickly in the beginning, but losing 8.6 lbs in two weeks shows me that what I’m doing is working (eating the right foods, intermittent fasting), and my progress motivates me even more.

When I first began my mission to lose 40 lbs by July 1, 2022, I calculated that I’d need to lose an average of 6.7 lbs per month. I expect to lose more per month in the beginning and less per month towards the end of the 6 months. 

Due to those expectations, my goal is to get down to 168 by Feb. 1, which will be a loss of 10.8 lbs in 4 weeks. I’m pretty sure I will meet that mini goal.

My Food Record

Part of the accountability I place on myself is to take a picture of everything I eat and post the photos in my update posts. 

I’m not 100% at remembering to take a photo of every single thing, but I have pictures of most of the food I ate. Whether I have a photo or not, I list what I’ve eaten.

Day 9 January 13

  • Coffee: Nespresso (half caf, half decaf), oat milk, homemade cashew milk
  • Leftover brown rice ramen soup with carrots, zucchini, red pepper, onions, mushrooms, lemongrass, cilantro, veggie broth (Better than Bouillon: veggie) 
  • Mandarin orange and apple
  • Salad: spinach, arugula, parsley, dill, broccoli, cucumber, mandarin oranges (packed in juice), grapes, capers; dressing was juice from capers and oranges
  • Potatoes (with a bit of sweet potato) with vegan gravy (I had too much potato! On occasion, I still overeat. It’s an eating pattern I’ve had for a long time; I’m determined to overcome it.)
  • 3 L of water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating at 6:30 pm

After eating too much potato, I had a tight feeling in my chest that came off and one for a few of hours (indigestion, I think; has happened before, and is NOT fun), and my hot flashes came on strong.

To me, this was my body’s way of telling me it was out of balance. My body was disrupted by having to digest too much food.

At first, I felt disappointed in myself, and then I quickly shifted my mindset (I’ve built up my ability to do so). I knew the feeling was temporary, and I knew I could learn from my mistake. I’m developing new eating habits that will take time.

What’s important here is that I didn’t let this setback get me down. Mindset is super important when it comes to reaching our goals and conquering the obstacles or setbacks along the way.

In a future blog post, I’ll get into more details about the specific tools I’m using that have hugely helped me transform my mindset.

40 lbs weight loss goal

I didn’t need a big salad AND that much potato for one meal! I love my potatoes, so often I try to get some in after a salad. I need to learn that if I want potatoes or some other filling food, I need to have a small salad. If I go for the big salad, that’s probably filling enough (especially when I add avocado, which makes it especially satiating).

Day 10 January 14

Today was a Friday, and my husband and I did a virtual online cooking class in the evening. We learned how to make homemade pasta. What a lot of fun! For that reason, I indulged and also ate later than I normally would. 

We also decided to have some Italian wine to go with the experience. Drinking wine led to more drinking later in the evening (Drambuie).

I don’t have any regrets about what I ate or drank because my choices were intentional, and I knew it was for only one day. Of course, I was taking a risk because in the past, that one day of eating foods that are more calorically dense and drinking alcohol would often turn into days or weeks of eating that way.

My goal is to drink very little alcohol as part of my lifestyle, because I know how unhealthy it is. Day 10 (Jan. 14) was the first day I had alcohol since Jan. 2. I’m fine with having booze once in a while, as long as it doesn’t lead to days of consistent drinking.

If you’re interested in learning more about the dangers of drinking alcohol, check out these posts:

  • Coffee: See Day 9
  • Smoothie: spinach, arugula, parsley, banana, frozen blueberries, flax seed, water
  • Falafel wrap: falafel, lettuce, red cabbage, tahini, with guacamole and hot mustard (wrap was from a health store called Vita Health, in Winnipeg)
  • Club soda
  • Bowl of potatoes with chopped kale and vegan gravy (this gravy is made from white beans and is awesome and very low in fat). Recipe is from High Carb Hannah’s Let’s Get Saucy recipe book
  • Crackers with Boursin cheese
  • Piece of flax/sunflower seed bread with butter
  • Italian red wine
  • Homemade capunti pasta with tomato sauce and shredded cheese (Pecorino Romano DOP cheese) The “DOP” is “Denominazione d’ Origine Protetta”, which means Protected Designation of Origin. Read more about this cheese from the Toronto restaurant that offered the course. Normally, you can’t take this course in Winnipeg, even though it was virtual; it was a special event hosted by a third party.
  • Drambuie 
  • 4 squares of dark chocolate: nudie brand
  • 3 L of water
  • Finished eating at 11:15 pm
40 lbs weight loss goal

Day 11 January 15

I went to bed really late (2:00 am) after having an evening fire in our backyard. I didn’t eat late, but I did have a hot cocoa in the late evening (cocoa powder, dates, oat milk and water blended). I didn’t include the cocoa as eating late, because to me, it was really just a beverage. Technically, it DID break the fasting period. I aim to fast after 6:00 pm, but I didn’t include it because it didn’t feel like I was eating something. That approach works for me.

You can read more about what I’m doing with intermittent fasting to help me lose weight and become healthier.

When I went to bed, I felt really light and really good about how the day went, considering I had indulged the night before. 

  • Coffee: See Day 9
  • Hashbrowns baked in the oven. I forgot to take a picture after they were cooked, but the brand is shown below. Normally, I would not buy packaged potatoes like this, but they’d been in the freezer for a while, and I’d wanted to try them. Overall, I wasn’t impressed with them, so I won’t buy them again. I’d much rather eat potatoes I’ve prepared on my own (although there is one brand of frozen French fries that I do love).
  • Papaya and apple
  • Sweet potato, black beans, chopped arugula, cilantro, mango, avocado, salsa
  • Homemade hot cocoa (cocoa powder, dates, oat milk, water, blended)
  • 3 L of water
  • No alcohol
  • Finished eating at 5:30 pm
40 lbs weight loss goal

Day 12 January 16

  • Coffee: See Day 9
  • Oatmeal: steel cut oats, oat milk, frozen blueberries, ground flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, cinnamon
  • Apple
  • Potato with chopped kale and vegan gravy
  • Avocado toast
  • Crackers with “Un-brie-lievable” vegan cheese (Brand: Nuts for Cheese)
  • Peaches (packed in fruit juice)
  • Dark chocolate: 4 squares (nudie)
  • Licorice tea
  • No Alcohol
  • 3 L water
  • Finished eating at 5:35 pm
40 lbs weight-loss goal

I always make lots of oatmeal to store extra in the fridge. I label it with the date it was made (with some masking tape–nothing fancy!). It lasts several days; I just pull it out, add oat milk and microwave it when I need it. Super fast and easy!

Day 13 January 17

  • Oatmeal: steel cut oats, oat milk, ground flax seed, banana, peaches (leftover from yesterday), raw pumpkin seeds
  • Avocado toast
  • Vegetarian chili (canned, from Costco)
  • Ramen soup: brown rice ramen, veggie broth, cilantro
  • Red grapes
  • Toast with natural peanut butter (no added sugar or oil…just peanuts)
  • I did NOT get in my 3 L of water today
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating at 5:50 pm
40 lbs weight loss goal

Day 14 January 18

  • Hot water with GTLP shot (ginger, turmeric, lemon juice and black pepper, blended together and frozen in small cubes)
  • Oatmeal: steel cut oats, cashew milk, banana, pear, ground flax seed, cinnamon and walnuts
  • Vegan pea soup: veggie broth, green split peas, onions, carrots, celery, red pepper, dried onion, cumin, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, salt and pepper; made in Instapot
  • Dark chocolate: 2 squares Lindt sea salt
  • Hot water with GTLP shot (see above)
  • 3 L water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating at 7:00 pm; finished my soup at 6, but I caved and had the chocolate just before 7 🙂

That’s it for my 15 Day update.

I’d like to add here that I’m doing many things to help me lose weight and get healthier. Future posts will go into more details about all the things I’m doing.

To recap what I’ve posted so far about the strategies I’m using for success:

  • I’m eating low calorie density foods. Check out my Day 9 post for more details about the calorie density, fat content and nutrient density of key foods for weight loss.
  • I’m doing intermittent fasting. Check out how I’m approaching this strategy for weight loss.

Coming Soon…

My next 3 posts will be about three other key things I’m doing:

  • Water intake
  • Moving my body
  • Mindset

Live your true life,

Alison Carrey

How I’m using Intermittent Fasting to help me lose 40 lbs by July 1, 2022

We need long periods of time for the body to function properly. The idea behind intermittent fasting is to give your body the time it needs to do its job, while also naturally decreasing your food intake throughout the day.

Intermittent fasting is an incredible tool that can help you lose weight and be healthy.

It’s also called time-restricted eating/feeding.

In this post, I want to share how I’m using intermittent fasting to lose weight and become healthier. Before I get to that, though, it’s important that we’re on the same page, and that you have a basic understanding of some of the key concepts.

  • What is intermittent fasting?
  • Why you should try intermittent fasting
  • The optimal number of hours to fast AND the best time of day to fast

After I explain the basics, I’ll talk about the method I use and how I apply it to my life.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

In its very simplest terms, it means that periodically, you fast for chunks of time. Fasting, in this context, is a period in which you are not eating.

A natural fasting period of the day is when we sleep. That’s why we call the first meal of the day, breakfast; we are breaking our fast.

We can add on to the hours we fast during sleep by fasting during our normal day.

So, what does that look like?

During the time you choose to fast, you drink only water. Some people consider things like herbal teas or coffee ok to have during the fasting period.

When they do so, it isn’t true fasting; however, having calorie-free or low-calorie beverages like herbal tea or coffee (not loaded with cream and sugar) during your fasting time can encourage you to not eat.

In that sense, I consider it part of intermittent fasting. If I have coffee or tea during my fasting period, I still consider it a fasting period, as I am not eating.

How can you add fasting hours to your natural fasting during sleep?

Let’s say you eat dinner at 5:30 pm, and you have a snack at 9:00 pm. You take your last bite at 9:30 pm. At this point, you eat nothing else before you go to bed.

You are starting to fast (go without food) at 9:30 pm. After you go to bed, you might drink some water during the times you wake up, but you are not having any midnight snacks.

In the morning, you take your first bite of food at 7:30 am. This means you’ve ended your fasting period.

The number of hours between 9:30 pm and 7:30 am is your fasting window. In this case, that’s 10 hours.

The flip side is the number of hours in a day in which you are eating. In this case, your eating window was between 7:30 am and 9:30 pm, which is a total of 14 hours.

If you repeat this pattern on a regular basis, in a 24 hour period you’re fasting within a 10 hour period and you’re eating within a 14 hour period on a daily basis.

10 hours fasting and 14 hours eating would be considered an intermittent fasting ratio of 10:14 (the fasting period is listed first).

With intermittent fasting, the goal is to have more fasting hours than eating hours. In the example above, there are more hours of eating during the day than there are fasting; not the way we want to go.

There are a variety of ratios you can try with intermittent fasting: 12:12, 14:10, 16:8, 18:6 and so on.

intermittent fasting hours

Some people tighten their eating window even more, as is the case with the 20:4 fasting routine. OMAD is an eating routine that involves one meal a day.

There are still other ways people apply intermittent fasting, such as eating for 6 days in a week, and fasting for 1 day; some people fast 2-3 days per month. You’ll find many other applications of intermittent fasting when you start to look.

For the purposes of this blog post, I won’t get into the stricter intermittent fasting routines or the weekly/monthly methods as I’m not currently incorporating them into my mission to lose 40 lbs by July 1, 2022.

Feel free to investigate them and give them a try. I might change things up down the road. Just be weary, though. Try not to start out an intermittent fasting routine with one that’s too strict; doing so might make it harder to sustain long term.

Intermittent fasting isn’t about dieting; it’s about establishing enough fasting time in the day so your body can be healthy, long-term. It can greatly help with weight loss, but I don’t believe it’s a good idea to use it for only that purpose.

Why you should try Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is beneficial because it…

  • Limits your food intake to a determined time window, which will likely contribute to the decrease of your total calorie intake for the day
  • Reduces the number of hours your body expends energy to digest food
  • Gives your body more time to do the repair and maintenance needed on a daily basis
  • Physically renews your body

When you eat a meal, it can take up to several hours for food to move through your stomach and your small intestine. A lot of energy is required for this process, which also involves other organs like the pancreas, kidneys, liver and gallbladder. Then it passes into your large intestine for the final stages of digestion. 

How quickly a meal passes through you depends on many factors that affect whether your waste comes out 24 hours, 36 hours, or 48 or more hours later (that’s a topic for another post). The main difference in how long this process takes is how much fiber and water you get in your diet.

For a more detailed understanding of the digestion stages (anabolic: eating vs catabolic: repair and expelling toxins, etc.), check out the first six minutes of this video with Dr. Joel Fuhrman (I reference him later in this post). It provides a clearer understanding of why we need to have long, uninterrupted periods of fasting for our health.

The first 6 minutes of this video focus on the anabolic vs catabolic phases of digestion.

Looking again at the previous example I gave of a 10:14 day, if you start eating at 7:30 in the morning, and finish at 9:30 in the evening, your body is basically digesting food the whole day. It never gets any rest.

Plus, that last bite of the day continues digesting for several hours while you’re sleeping (assuming you’re not up till 2 am). When that happens, your body is actually getting only a few hours a day when it is not digesting food (most of that time is during the last few hours of your sleep). 

A few hours is not enough time for all the work your body needs to do to maintain and repair all the cells and processes in your body. During the fasting stage, your body also gets rid of toxins and breaks down unneeded fat, abnormal cells, etc.

We need long periods of time for the body to function properly. The idea behind intermittent fasting is to give your body the time it needs to do its job, while also naturally decreasing your food intake throughout the day.

The one misconception out there about intermittent fasting, however, is that you can do the fasting hours at any time of day. You can do that, but it is not optimal for health or weight loss.

The Optimal Number of Hours to Fast AND the Best Time of Day to Fast

An expert in the area of nutrition and fasting is Dr. Joel Fuhrman. His book, Fasting and Eating for Health, has been around for almost 30 years, and has served as my bible when it comes to fasting. 

dr. fuhrman eating and fasting for health

Dr. Fuhrman recommends we fast from 12 to 18 hours a day. This means you’re eating within a 6-12 hour window. 

As I mentioned, it takes several hours for your body to digest the food you give it. Some foods, like fruit, are digested more quickly, while heavier, richer foods like processed foods, meat and dairy take longer.

This means that if you eat your last food shortly before bed (especially heavier foods), then your body has to work at digesting your food while you’re in the early stages of your sleep.

Since sleep is an extremely important time for your body to repair and maintain itself, it is more ideal to including some of your fasting hours before bedtime.

This leads us to the optimal time of day to start fasting. Your fasting window should begin a few, to several, hours before you go to bed. 

Remember, we eat food for energy. We don’t need energy when we go to bed; we need it throughout our day. Finishing eating earlier in the day is best. Dr. Fuhrman recommends we finish eating by 5 pm.

5 pm might seem crazy, right? Most of us are eating until much later.

Instead of trying to change your eating patterns overnight, challenge yourself. Start with one day a week where you end your eating by 6 pm. Then build up to 5 days a week. If you want to step up your challenge a bit, then move to 5 pm as your deadline for eating.

It seems impossible at first; I know! But once you apply intermittent fasting to most days, you’ll be amazed at how awesome you feel and how naturally easy it becomes.

How and Why I use Intermittent Fasting

I want to share what I’m doing because I believe it’s helping me lose weight, and I’m feeling healthier. Think about how you can apply some of these ideas to your own life.

When you try intermittent fasting, it’s important not only to do it in optimal ways for your body, but also in a way that will work for your lifestyle.

6:00 pm Rule, with Training

My current daily goal is to not eat after 6:00 pm. I’d like to work towards Dr. Fuhrman’s suggestion of finishing my last meal at 5:00 pm, but I’m not there yet.

If you’re thinking of trying to end your eating by 6 pm, start with a time you can be successful with. You might not be ready for the 5 or 6 pm challenge right now.

If you’re snacking most nights at 8:30, make 8:00 pm your deadline for a week or two. Then move it to 7:30 pm. Stick with that for a while until you’ve mastered it, and then move your eating deadline to 7:00 pm. 

You can train yourself using the gradual approach until you’re where you want to be. I’ve used this method in the past, when I used to snack a lot in the evening, and I found it highly effective.

Warning: Don’t push yourself too hard too soon; you can set yourself up for failure. If you snack often at night, and then set a 5:00 pm food deadline, you’re likely setting yourself up to fail, or you’re setting yourself up for only short-term success.

Your ultimate goal is to develop your intermittent fasting habit in a lasting way for long-term success.

Something important to mention is that none of us are going to be perfect. Please don’t aim for perfection; shoot for personal progress.

The best way to think about intermittent fasting is to do it as best as we can for most of the time. My goal long-term goal is to do 18:6 at least 5 days a week. I’m happy with where I started, where I am and with the progress I’ve made because it’s about me, and not something out there to achieve.

Right now, I have an alarm that goes off at 4:00 pm to remind me to eat before 6:00 pm. When the alarm goes off, I can think about what I’m going to eat for dinner, and I have the time to prepare a meal if I’m not eating leftovers or something simple.

I try to sit down by 5:00 or 5:30 to eat. Your schedule will be different, so you’ll need to adapt intermittent fasting to your routine.

Building from 14:10 to 18:6 with the Zero App

Most people can start with 14:10 when it comes to intermittent fasting. It’s a good place to begin. A tip to get you started, or to at least make you more aware of your eating and fasting windows, is to use an app.

After I take my last bite of food of the day, I open a free app called Zero. I click on Begin Fast, and the app calculates how many hours until my next meal. The time for my next meal is determined by the number of hours I’ve selected as a fasting goal (you can choose count down or count up as your timer).

After fasting through the evening and night, I use my app again, and click on End Fast when I eat my first meal the next day. That’s how the app keeps track of my fasting times.

intermittent fasting app zero

The app reminds me of my goal and helps me stay focused on my goal. The app doesn’t mean I meet my goal every day though.

When I began my mission in early January to lose 40 lbs by July 1, 2022, I selected 14 hours as my fasting goal. I loved the idea of eating before 6 pm, but it wasn’t a real focus. I wasn’t there yet. I just wanted to successfully fast for 14 hours.

As the days passed, I built up my fasting hours. I next selected 16 hours as my fasting goal, and now I’m at 18 fasting hours.

Over time, I could see I met my goal more and more often because I consciously worked toward it and used the app to help me.

For the last three days, I’ve been successful at 18:6 or better, but I won’t be disappointed if there are days when my fasting hours are fewer than 18. I’m developing a long-term habit, so all I need is progress and success for most days of the week.

Here’s a screenshot of my January progress, as of Tuesday, Jan. 18/22 around 4 pm. The grey days show I did not meet my fasting goal, and the green show the days I reached or exceeded my goal.

intermittent fasting goal 18:6

Another thing the app does, is send me a recap of my progress for the previous week. I just received mine a couple of days ago. I like seeing my progress. 🙂

A note about the Zero app. You don’t have to worry about recording your fast start or end times, on the spot. You can edit the times. If you stop eating at 7:00 pm, but forget to Begin Fast, you can edit your start time when you remember to start it later.

I’m sure there are tons of fasting apps out there, but Zero is the only one I’m familiar with. It is very easy and convenient to use.

I use intermittent fasting because it helps me feel lighter when I go to bed. In addition to the better food choices I’m making, when I go to bed I don’t feel bloated or full. I love that feeling.

When I wake up, I feel good too, because I am living my life aligned with what I believe in. I am living my life taking one step at a time toward my goal of losing 40 lbs by July 1, 2022.

I also use intermittent fasting because it controls how much food I eat, indirectly. If I make a rule not to eat after 6:00 pm, then I won’t be snacking in the evening, which has been a habit in the past (popcorn!!).

Ultimately, I’m an intermittent faster because I know it’s good for my body, it feels good, and it’s helping me lose weight.

If you’re struggling with your weight and want to take steps towards a healthier lifestyle, intermittent fasting is one tool that can help get you there.

Live your true life,

Alison Carrey

Day 9 of my 40 lbs Weight-loss Mission: What I’m Eating

Once you understand the concept of calorie density in more depth, however, and you take a closer look at the foods you eat, you’ll realize how knowing calorie density can help you lose or maintain your weight.

I decided to describe my commitment to my weight-loss as a mission for an important reason.

Normally, I might call it my story or my journey, or even my transformation. Those are still appropriate words because the next six months will reveal my story, the specifics of my journey as well as my transformation (before and after, both physically and mentally).

When I do lose the 40 lbs, I’ll probably look back on the time as my story/journey/transformation. But now?

It’s a mission.

Mission has multiple meanings, but for me, any of the following definitions fit with my determination and commitment to lose 40 lbs in the next 6 months.

  • a strongly felt aim, ambition, or calling
  • a specific task with which a person or a group is charged
  • a pre-established and often self-imposed objective or purpose
  • any work that someone believes it is their duty to do

Some other words with similar meanings are assignment, undertaking, operation, quest.

The words we use are important because they have meanings that feel different for each of us. For you, mission might sound like an astronaut’s space trip and might not work for you. I considered using quest, but it didn’t feel quite right. I think I associate it too closely with fantasy books/movies. You might love quest.

When you set a goal that’s important to you, choose the words that feel right. The main point is to not grab any word. Thoughtfully choose the right word. Select one that is meaningful to you, and that will remind you that your goal is important and that will motivate you to accomplish it.

Mission feels right for me, and honestly, who doesn’t want to say mission accomplished when the mission has been successful? I do. 🙂

Now that I’ve explained why I’m using mission, let’s move on to the first update on my weight loss. The information I share in each update may be different. I might include certain topics in each update, while others will be more spontaneous. 

The content of my updates will depend on what I think is valuable for you, what is top of mind for me, and what will help me continue to develop the habits that are getting me results.

Some of the topics I plan to share in my updates:

  • Weight I’ve lost
  • Current weight
  • Food I’m eating
  • Nutrition or Food-related Concepts
  • Exercise I’m doing
  • Mindest focus
  • Tips
  • Strategies
  • Tools

Note: If there’s something you want to know, or if there’s a topic you’d like to see me address, please leave a comment.

Let’s move on to my first update. 

Day 9 Update on my 40 lbs Weight-loss Mission

  • Weight on Day 1 (Jan. 5/22): 178.8 lbs
  • Weight on Day 9 (Jan. 13/22): 172.2 lbs

Total lost: 6.6 lbs

weight-loss update Day 9

The numbers on the scale are hard to see, but they’re there! Sometimes the numbers on my scale are not well lit up, but you can see them if you look closely. I did not take a photo of me or the scale on Day 1.

weight-loss update day 9

I’m pretty tickled pink with my first eight days. Of course, the weight often comes off quickly at first, right?

I’m doing a myriad of things to drop the weight, but for today’s update, I’m going to focus on the food I’ve been eating (and not eating).

What I’m Eating

I’m eating mostly clean, whole plant foods. This means I don’t usually have processed foods or animal-based foods like meat, dairy or eggs.

Whole books are written on why whole plant foods are the healthiest foods for you, and how they can also help you lose weight, but for today’s purpose, I want to go over three key concepts related to the food I’m choosing to eat. 

1) Calorie Density 

2) Fat Content

3) Nutrient Density

Calorie Density 

The foods that I’m eating are lower in calories compared to other foods of the same weight. This means they have a lower calorie density. 

When I talk about calorie density, I’m NOT talking about total calories. Instead, calorie density means the number of calories in proportion to size of the serving. Specifically, it relates to how concentrated the calories are in a given weight of a food.

Let’s compare some commonly eaten foods, and their calories per 100 grams, to give you a better idea of calorie density.

100 grams (3.5 oz or 0.22 pounds) of…

…cucumber is 12 calories

…banana is 56 calories

…potato is 77 calories

…black beans is 130 calories

…chicken breast (skinless and boneless) is 161 calories

…beef (ground, lean) is 250 calories

…cheddar cheese is 400 calories

…butter is 710 calories

I used Fitbit or nutritionix.com for the above calorie data. The calories shown may not be exact, but for our purposes, being precise is not that important.

Each of the foods in the list is shown in the same amount, 100 grams, but each of them has a different number of calories. Some of the foods are less calorically dense than others, and some are more. The cucumber is the least dense (lowest concentration of calories) and the butter is the most dense (highest concentration of calories).

Let’s look at calorie density in another way, to make it more practical to apply in your life.

Imagine 500 calories of food in front of you. If you have 500 calories of salad greens, vegetables and fruit in a bowl, they would fill up a large bowl, but if you had 500 calories of cheese in your bowl, it would take up much less space in that bowl.

The Forks Over Knives website provides a good infographic that shows how calorically dense foods take up very little room (small amount of food with lots of calories), and how foods that are less calorically dense take up more room (larger amount of food with fewer calories).

calorie density

When you look at the food in the image, which foods do you think will help you lose weight?

The foods with a low caloric density. The fruits and veggies.

The image shows different foods inside stomachs for a good reason. If you sit down and eat 500 calories of salad greens, vegetables and fruit, you’ll feel full because your stomach will be filled. 

If you eat 500 calories of cheese (very easy to do!), then you’ll feel less full because your stomach will be only partly filled. If your stomach is only partly filled, you’re likely to eat more food, and therefore, more calories.

What’s the most calorically dense food?

Oil, butter and lard.

If you avoid oil/butter/lard alone (that means foods fried in oil, or oil added to your foods, or oils in processed foods) you’ll be saving yourself a ton of calories and likely lose weight. 

You can find many calorie density charts online, and most of them refer to foods in terms of calories per pound. Non-starchy vegetables come in at around 100 calories per pound, and oil wins with 4000 calories per pound.

I first learned about calorie density from Chef AJ, in her videos on Youtube. She’s a chef who lost 50 lbs and has kept it off for many years now. Her calorie density chart is my favorite. She’s well known for saying, “Eat foods to the left of the red line.”

calorie density chart Chef AJ
Photo of the back cover of The Secrets to Ultimate Weight Loss
by Chef AJ, with Glen Merzer

When it comes to foods we think of as fattening, most of us would include ice cream or cheese in that category. We’ve heard and used that term many times before. If a food is fattening, it’s calories are highly concentrated and is basically calorically dense.

Once you understand the concept of calorie density in more depth, however, and you take a closer look at the foods you eat, you’ll realize how knowing calorie density can help you lose or maintain your weight.

Does this mean you have to eat salads all day?

Absolutely not! When you see the food I eat (photos later in this post), you’ll notice they’re filling and satisfying foods…you don’t have to eat like a rabbit to lose weight.

To take advantage of less calorically dense foods, focus your meals on greens, non-starchy vegetables, starches like potatoes and grains, and then add some legumes. If you eat meat, dairy or eggs, reduce the amount because those foods are more calorically dense.

Fat Content

The reason most foods are calorically dense is because they have a high concentration of fat. Although refined sugar is a big culprit as well (soda pop, baked goods, candy, etc.), it’s the high levels of fat that often creates the problem.

All our food energy is made up of fat, protein and carbohydrates (called macronutrients).

Fat has 9 calories in each gram, whereas protein and carbohydrates each have only 4 calories per gram. So, obviously, fat packs more of a wallop in calories per gram.

Let’s have a look at an 8 oz portion of salmon.

8 oz (227 g) salmon 

= 468 calories

= 28 g of fat (252 calories)

= 50 g of protein (200 calories)

= 0 g of carbohydrates (0 calories)

If 252 of the 468 calories come from fat, the salmon is 54% fat (252/468 = 0.54). That also means more than half the calories in that salmon are from fat. That’s a high percentage of fat for a food that most of us think of as a lean food.

You might be thinking that you’d never eat 8oz of salmon (I used to, easily…love salmon!!). It doesn’t matter how much salmon you eat; it will still have 54% fat. 

If you eat only 4 oz of salmon, you’ll get…

  • 234 calories
  • 14 g of fat (126 calories)
  • 25 g of protein (100 calories)
  • 0 g of carbohydrates (0 calories)

If 126 of the 234 calories are from fat, the 4 oz of salmon is still 54% fat (126/234 = 0.54). 

When you’re deciding on what to eat to lose weight, it doesn’t mean you can’t eat salmon, but if you do, you should make it a small amount of your meal compared to the rest of your food. Create a big tasty plate of greens and veggies, and top it with 2 oz of salmon instead of having 6 oz of salmon with a little bit of veggies on the side.

By the way, have you tried to determine which food has the highest fat content?

Oil, butter and lard. They’re all 100% fat. Yikes!

Make the majority of your meals with lower calorie dense foods, which are lower in fat (veggies, fruit, grains/starches and legumes). Add higher calorie-dense foods, which are higher in fat, sparingly (avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut, meat, dairy, eggs).

Want to lose weight more quickly? Leave out the calorie-dense, high-fat foods altogether.

In my post, Do you Make this Mistake when Reading Food Labels?, I share further details about understanding how much fat is really in food products, and how reading food labels with that knowledge can help you make more informed food choices.

Nutrient Density

In addition to choosing foods that are low in caloric density and low in their fat content, I aim to eat foods that are higher in their nutrition value. This means they have a higher nutrient density. You can probably think of a few foods right off the top of your head that are really good for you.

When I say nutrients, I mean they’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. If a food is dense in nutrients, it’s usually going to be lower in fat and not have any added sugar.

Nutrient dense foods are generally whole, plant foods that are low in calorie density. I’m referring mainly to greens, veggies, fruit, whole grains/starches and legumes.

My Food Choices

If I’m going to consume calories each day, which of course, I must, and I’m ultimately trying to lose weight in a healthy manner, then I want my calories to be worth eating.

I don’t want to waste 200 calories by adding some fatty salad dressing to my beautifully healthy greens and vegetables that can nourish me.

When I’m hungry, I choose what to eat. I can put a frozen pizza in the oven or I can look in my fridge where I usually have potatoes or rice already made. Then I can chop up and add some veggies or greens as well as some flavoring, and I’m good to go. Or, I could make a big salad with my favorite greens, veggies, fruit, avocado and chickpeas.

Sure, it takes more time to prepare healthy food that helps you lose weight, but WOW, does my body show me how much it prefers that food. More energy. Getting rid of fat. Better sleep. 

Frozen pizza, along with many other foods, is made with highly refined grains. The result is a food that is very low in nutrients. If you want to lose weight, I’d encourage you to avoid highly refined grains. Go for whole grain food products when choosing products made from grains.

Right now, I’m not eating highly refined grains (although I did on Day 1), but I do occasionally eat brown rice ramen or pasta or a high quality whole grain bread. Not often though, because there are other foods that are much higher in nutrients, which I prefer to eat.

Of course, I want to be satiated when I eat, so I can’t just eat kale and cucumbers all day. I wouldn’t get enough calories. Starches, like potatoes and peas, are satisfying to me, so I make sure to eat lots of starches.

Don’t panic! Starches are a central focus of a healthy diet, and they will help you lose weight.

Not all carbs are bad. I’ll have to do a separate post on this, but don’t be fooled by the misinformation that carbs are bad. They’re only bad if they’re highly refined. Aka: sugar and most flour.

As long as you don’t add butter, oils and other calorie-dense, high-fat foods to your starches, starches are not contributing to weight gain–unless you’re eating way too much for the size of your stomach.

A Look at What I’ve Been Eating

I’m working on taking a photo of everything I eat.

In the first week, I missed a few photos. Also, I was eating some foods in the first few days that I’m not eating now. I think in my mind, the first few days were sort of transition days, so I still ate a few unhealthy foods.

My goal is to not eat after 6:00 pm on most days. As you’ll see, I’ve reached that goal a few times and am getting closer to making it a habit. Your body needs time to digest your food before sleep. 

I use salt and pepper on potatoes and some other foods, but I won’t list the salt and pepper on my food lists.

Full confession: On Day 5, I overate at a family dinner and did not feel good after. That’s ok because one day is not going to deter me from my mission. It’s about steady progress, not perfection.

Day 1 Jan. 5

I spent a lot of Day 5 reorganizing my kitchen cupboards. It was so satisfying and a good way to kick off my new healthy eating lifestyle. Because I felt physically wiped by dinner time, and the stove top was covered with stuff, I opted to use the oven for dinner. Found a veggie pizza in the freezer and caved for convenience.

Check out one of my cupboard transformations!

weight loss update cupboard transformation
  • Coffee: Nespresso caffeine and decaf mixture with oat milk and homemade cashew milk
  • Leftover rice and potato with kale, celery, chickpeas (can’t remember what flavoring I put on it)
  • Frozen Pizza: vegetarian: onion, cheese, pepper (2 pieces)
  • Small salad: spinach, celery, red onion, parsley, chickpeas, mandarin orange balsamic vinegar and a bit of Greek dressing
  • 3 L of water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating by 7:40 pm
weight loss update day 1

Day 2 Jan. 6

Did not sleep well last night. Lots of hot flashes. Today there was still some leftover turkey in the fridge that I ate because it was there.

  • Coffee: see Day 1
  • Oatmeal: steel cut oats, banana, frozen blueberries, pumpkin seeds, ground flax, oatmilk
  • 2 white baked potatoes with salsa, red onion and chopped kale
  • Half sandwich: Leftover turkey on one piece of bread with mustard
  • Spinach and cheese Ravioli with tomato sauce
  • Rooibos tea
  • 3L water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating around 7:30 pm
weight loss update day 2

Day 3 Jan. 7

  • Coffee: See Day 1
  • Oatmeal: banana, frozen cherries, almonds, hemp seeds, ground flax, oatmilk
  • Salad: kale, celery, pepper, red onion, broccoli, with a homemade dressing (cilantro, orange juice and chickpeas)
  • Mint tea
  • 3 L water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating around 7:45 pm
weight loss update day 3

Day 4 Jan. 8

  • Coffee: See Day 1
  • Potatoes with vegan gravy and kale
  • Cheese bread
  • Leftover spinach and cheese ravioli
  • Trail mix
  • 3 L of water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating at 6:00 pm

weight loss update day

Day 5 Jan. 9

  • Coffee: See Day 1
  • Smoothie: spinach, arugula, frozen blueberries, bananas, flax seeds, water
  • Rooibos tea
  • Salad: spinach, arugula, mandarin oranges, red onion, cucumber, celery, feta cheese, Greek dressing
  • Veggie lasagna
  • Homemade carrot cake (my sister’s) with cream cheese icing – 4 pieces (each piece was about 2 inches squared)…Felt bloated and full a couple hours later
  • 3 L of water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating at 6:15 pm
weight loss update day 5

Day 6 Jan. 10

  • Coffee: See Day 1
  • Banana
  • Leftover brown basmati rice with black beans, celery, red pepper, red onion, broccoli, chopped kale with a sauce: veggie broth, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, chili garlic sauce, sriracha
  • Flax sunflower bread with avocado
  • Trail mix
  • Peas and corn
  • Mint tea
  • 3 L of water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating at 7 pm
weight loss update day 6

Day 7 Jan. 11

  • Coffee: See Day 1
  • Oatmeal: banana, frozen blueberries, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, ground flax, oat milk
  • Japanese yam with hot mustard and horseradish
  • Red grapes
  • Steamed potatoes
  • Ramen soup:  with carrots, zucchini, red pepper, onions, mushrooms, lemongrass, cilantro, veggie broth (better than bouillon) 
  • 3 L water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating at 6:30 pm

Day 8 Jan. 12

  • Coffee: See Day 1
  • Oatmeal: banana, frozen mango, almonds, pumpkin seeds, ground flax, turmeric, cinnamon, oat milk
  • Green tea
  • White potatoes with vegan gravy
  • 4 squares of dark chocolate (so yummy!)
  • 3 L of water
  • No Alcohol
  • Finished eating at 6:00 pm

I’m very happy with my progress so far. I expect to lose more weight in the first few months, compared to the last few. 

6.6 lbs down, and 33.4 to go!

Live your true life,

Alison Carrey

Losing 40 Pounds in 6 Months

At this point, with older age looming ahead of me, it’s time to stop pussy-footing around! I do not want to be trying to lose weight when I’m 70! It’s time to make changes that are permanent, and it’s time to commit 100% to my health by dropping the extra weight once and for all.

I’m nervous and excited to publicly declare my 40 lb weight-loss goal!

By July 1, 2022, I will lose 40 lbs (18.14 kg, 2.86 stone). 

I started on Jan. 5, so that gives me 6 months. Reasonable and Doable. If I average out the weight loss per month, I should expect to lose approximately 6.7 lbs per month. Some months will obviously be more and some will be less, but the 6.7 lbs gives me a mini- goal for each month.

Yikes! Why the heck would I commit to losing 40 lbs with a deadline AND declare it publicly? Well, there are several reasons.

4 Reasons for my 40 lbs Weight-loss Goal with a Deadline

My Health

I want to become healthier, and I want to be as healthy as possible as I get older. I’m 56 years old, and although I could afford to mess around with crappy food, drinking alcohol too often and being sedentary when I was younger, I no longer have that time.

In the winter of 2020, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. THAT was a wake up call. Even though it made me more focused on my well-being, after my lumpectomy, I still ended up riding my usual roller coaster of the ups of eating well/losing weight, with the downs of eating crappy/gaining weight.

It’s really up to me to be as healthy as possible, so my body can be a terrain where cancer can’t live. I don’t know if the cancer has moved to other areas of my body, if it’s growing, or if it will come back.

All I can do is my best, but honestly, what I’ve been doing has not been my best.

Maya Angelou Quote

In addition to holding off any cancer, I’d like to get rid of other smaller health issues. None are serious, but they bother me. By eating healthy and reducing inflammation in my body, there’s a good chance that some of these issues will be eliminated or just reduced.

  • Hot flashes: These are so frustrating. Usually about 10-20 times a day!! Never mind the sweaty uncomfortable nights! I’m a week into my 40 lbs weight-loss journey, and already my hot flashes are way less frequent and less intense. They improved after only 2 days!)
  • Sore/stiff joints: Especially when I eat poorly, the joints in my ankles and knees get sore. My other joints are often stiff. I want to be able to sit on the ground with my grandchildren, and get up easily, without it being a production of grabbing onto things for support!
  • Poor sleep: My sleep has deteriorated in great part due to my hot flashes. Already, I’m sleeping better, but I’d like to have more restful and uninterrupted sleep.
  • High cholesterol/high blood pressure: Neither is a big problem, but they have both gone up over the years.
  • Dry, brittle fingernails: Even in the summer, I’ve noticed how brittle my nails are. 
  • Hair thinning: My hair has been thinning, and I even have a tiny spot that is almost bald! Chances are, this will get worse if I don’t give my body the healthy food and exercise it wants.
  • Hypothyroidism: I take a synthetic hormone to replace what my thyroid is not producing. This doesn’t affect my life negatively, but I don’t want to take any medications (this is the only “medication” I take). I’m hoping that over time as I get healthier, I can get my dose reduced (I’ve done this before, so I know it’s possible). I doubt I’d be able to stop taking it permanently, but hey, I’m open to that too!

My Weight

Our weight is connected to our health. If you’re overweight or obese, your chances of getting sick or aquiring an illness is higher. There’s no guarantee you’ll be healthy if you aren’t carrying extra pounds; you can still be very unhealthy and be at a weight that’s suitable for your body height and frame. However, if you lose the extra weight your body’s lugging around, day after day, you have a greater chance of maintaining good health.

Although I’ve chosen 40 lbs as a weight-loss goal, it’s not about a magic number on the scale. I just want to move to a weight that is ideal, or very close to ideal, for my body. I’m estimating what that weight might be based on what I’ve weighed in the past. My ideal weight might be 35 lbs down or it might be 45 lbs down. I won’t know until I’m living in that body with that weight. 

Over the last 12 years or so, I’ve been working at losing 20-50 lbs. I’ve lost some, gained it back. Lost some, gained it back plus more. Lost some, kept it off for a while, gained some of it back.

At this point, with older age looming ahead of me, it’s time to stop pussy-footing around! I do not want to be trying to lose weight when I’m 70! It’s time to make changes that are permanent, and it’s time to commit 100% to my health by dropping the extra weight once and for all.

Here’s where I’m at with my weight.

Starting weight on Jan. 5, 2022: 178.8 lbs (81.1 kg, 12.77 stone)

I started mid week, but I’ll be tracking my weight loss on a weekly basis from Sunday to Saturday. 

My starting weight is about 15-20 lbs lighter than it was in the winter of 2021, but it’s 15 lbs heavier than it was in August of 2021. It’s easy to lose weight, but it’s challenging to keep it off. I hope to end that cycle of losing and gaining.

When I lose 40 lbs (not if), I’ll reach 138.8 lbs (62.96 kg, 9.91 stone). I’m 5 feet, 6 inches tall, and that seems like a good number to me (139, give or take a few ounces). I haven’t seen the 130’s on a scale since I was in my 30’s! Through most of my twenties, I weighed around 125 lbs, but for my goal, I’ve adjusted for my age a bit and think 139ish will suit me. Who knows? My ideal weight might be higher or lower. Time will tell.

40 lbs Weight Loss
40 lbs Weight Loss

How I Feel in my Body

I want to feel vibrant in my body. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. I want to move more freely and feel energized. When my weight is lower, I feel lighter. 

Most importantly, I look and feel like me when I’m not overweight. When I’ve lost a good chunk of weight and see myself in the mirror, I say to myself, “Hey you. Nice to see you. There you are. Thought I’d lost you. Glad to see you.” 

When you’ve been overweight for a long time, you look different than you did at a healthy weight. Your body and your face look different, almost like they belong to someone else. When the weight dropped in the past, I recognized myself in the mirror. That was an amazing feeling.

My goal to lose 40 lbs is not to look skinny or to look good to other people. Looking good might be a bonus, but ultimately, I want to lose the weight to be healthy and feel good in my own body. I don’t want to worry about my health.

My Deadline

I need deadlines for some reason. They just help me when it comes to setting goals. I chose 6 months because it didn’t seem too short or too long.

If I chose 3 months, I’d be under a lot of pressure and then might resort to unhealthy ways to lose weight. Trying to lose weight too quickly would likely lead to weight gain afterwards.

If I chose 8 months or a year to lose 40 lbs, I don’t think I could keep up my motivation. I need a little bit of pressure to get towards my goal and make it a challenge. Although a year would be a terrific time frame to lose weight in a healthy manner (3.3 lbs per month), 12 months is too long for me.

3 Reasons for Public Declaration of my Goal

Accountability

I’ve set many weight-loss goals in the past, but I’ve never shared one publicly like I am now. I’m baring my soul to the world because I think it will help me be accountable.

I plan to report on my progress, along with the tools and strategies I’m using to help me. I’ll give weight-loss updates as well as details about my lifestyle habits (eating, drinking, exercising, mindset, etc.).

Although it will be much harder to do, I want to report on my setbacks too. I expect to make progress, not be perfect.

I plan to post once or twice a week about my progress, but we’ll see. It may be more or less often, and it may be sporadic. I don’t want to add pressure to myself by committing to a schedule.

Support

Whenever I read about others who are losing weight or who’ve lost weight, I feel like I’m not the only one who struggles. It’s helpful to know other people are also battling with their weight, and it really helps me when I see others succeed. My wish is that my posts will support others on their own weight-loss journey.

Extra Motivation

This past year, I set a walking goal of 1200 km (outside walks or walking on the treadmill), and I made that goal public. It’s because I published my walking goal that I pushed myself to finish (I almost gave up in early December, when I was around 1050 km done). Of course, I finished for me, but because I told the world I would do it, that gave me the motivation to finish.

Now you understand why I’ve set my 40 lbs weight-loss goal, why I chose a deadline, and why I made my goal public.

How will I lose the weight?

In a healthy manner.

I have a deadline, but I want to maintain my weight loss when I reach my goal. I will adopt habits to help me establish a healthy lifestyle for the long run.

Stay tuned for what I’m doing to lose the weight, as well as tools and tips that help me.

Live your true life,

Alison Carrey

How I’m Escaping the Pleasure Trap (and losing weight!)

For a long time, I was trapped in a cycle of eating, overeating, dieting, losing weight, gaining the weight back, etc.

Sound familiar?

I thought there was something wrong with me, but as it turns out, I’m more than ok. There’s nothing wrong with me at all. 🙂

It’s the Pleasure Trap! (Learn about the book below).

Or more specifically, it’s the food produced by modern society that was keeping me in the pleasure trap (craving it and then going back for more).

Check out this video to learn how I’m losing weight and getting healthy by escaping this trap.

I learned all about the pleasure trap in the following book.

The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force that Undermines Health and Happiness, written by Dr. Alan Goldhamer and Dr. Doug Lisle, is a detailed and science-based book that will open your eyes to what’s going on in the food around us today. Learn how it’s not your fault that you’re constantly drawn to calorie-dense, unhealthy foods, and discover how you can retrain your body to enjoy nature’s healthy foods.

Check out the Audible version.

If you’re struggling with your weight, give this book a try. It really opened my eyes.

Live your true life,

Welcome to my Journey to Health and an Ideal Weight

Like so many women, I’ve struggled with my weight and attempted to lose weight many times.

Guess what? I’ve been super successful! Losing weight over and over again. 🙂

The problem is…I keep gaining it back. 😦 Currently, I am about 40-50 lbs overweight.

Early in 2021, I found myself in a deep funk. One that lasted for weeks instead of just a few days. I was in a state of what I call an “almost depression”, combined with anxiety and overwhelm.

This month, I knew I needed a drastic shift to get my body and mind reset.

I wanted time to complete a water fast to:

  • reset my taste buds
  • get a head start on my weight loss, and ultimately,
  • to help me begin and maintain a healthier lifestyle that will lead to me feeling vibrant and comfortable in my own body

I know a water fast sounds crazy to most, but it is, in fact, the fastest way to heal your body. Since I had breast cancer in 2020, achieving a healthy weight and having strong health is more important to me than ever before.

Although I was hesitant and afraid at first, I’ve decided to share my journey with other women because I know it will help me, and it might help you.

At this point in my life, I realize I no longer need to be afraid of what others think. From now on, I choose to be free to be me.

Check out my video to learn more about my journey and to see where I am on Day 4 of my water fast.

Note: I am not a doctor, nor am I an expert on water fasting. You should not attempt a water fast without consulting your doctor. People with underlying conditions and/or who are on medications may not be suited to a water fast. The best way to water fast is to do a supervised water fast, under the care of an experienced physician (which I have done before). See True North Health Center to learn more about safe water fasting.

Live your true life,

OMG…THAT’s what I Look Like?

If you’re disgusted at your own body, you are basically hating yourself on a daily basis. Learn how living in the present could give you greater peace, less stress and ultimately, a better relationship with your body.

Do you cringe or berate yourself when you look in the mirror or catch a glance of yourself in a store window?

Sadly, you’re not alone.

Too many women, including myself, loathe and despise what they see when they stumble upon their full body image, while previously happily moving through their day.

Now that I’m over 50 and getting a bit wiser, I realize just how awful this ingrained habit is. 

Think about it: the place you live 24 hours a day and year after year is your body! You’re the only one who lives there. If you hate your body, or even parts of your body, you are basically hating you!

That’s just not right, and it certainly CANNOT be healthy!

How can you blossom into a healthier version of yourself if you hate you? It seems like oxymoronic thinking. I hate my body, but I want it to be better. 

Since my late 30’s, I’ve been working at losing weight at one time or another, just like so many other women. Hating my body and wanting it to be different hasn’t helped the process. 

So, what’s the alternative?

Accept your body today, as it is.

What? Sounds crazy. Why would you do that? You don’t want to accept your current body with rolls, cellulite, or other unwanted features, right? 

I’m not saying you have to accept your current body’s state forever; it makes sense to eat healthier foods and move your body more to become healthier. Absolutely, we should try to do that.

What I am saying is that you can learn to feel calmer, happier and less stressed by starting to learn to accept your body as it is. I’m discovering specific ways that are helping me to begin to accept and love my body, and therefore, feel better.

I would love to share all the tricks that are helping me, but for this post, I’d like to focus on just one helpful strategy.

Living in the Present

Most of us don’t fully live and enjoy the present moment. Physically, our bodies exist, but a lot of the time we’re mentally and emotionally somewhere else. 

Where? The past or the future.

Some people live in the past, dwelling on what happened, why it happened and draining their emotions (sadness, anger, resentment, bitterness, etc.) and hours of energy on things that no longer exist. While our earlier experiences affect who we are, they’re in the past.

Don’t get me wrong. Some people have been through a lot in their life and may need to address past events and situations. If you’ve had experiences that require you to work through them emotionally (neglect, abuse, etc.), doing so with a counselor is going to serve you better than dwelling on things that keep you stuck or blaming others for your life.

Most of my past stays there, but for me, it’s the future I seemed to be obsessed with. If I dedicate most of my thinking time to what’s happening later in the day, or next week, or next month, I’m smothered with unneeded emotions: worry, anxiety, doubt, fear, etc. 

Can you guess one of the things that dominates my future thinking? 

Food and Weight: When will I eat?, What will I eat?, What should I eat?, I should eat less, I should eat more greens and vegetables, I should stop eating crappy food etc. 

Past thinking slips in too: I ate too much, Why did I eat that? Why do I always overeat? Why didn’t I choose the salad? etc.

Future thinking is my normal, and it never occurred to me that it was negatively impacting me.

This whole idea of being fully present and not mentally jumping into the future is new to me, so I am, like all of us, a work in progress. Luckily, I made an amazing discovery while practicing living in the present: I feel calmer and less stressed!

Which way of living sounds better to you?

Past Living…sadness, anger, resentment, bitterness

Living in the past leads to energy-draining emotions like anger and resentment.

Future Living…worry, anxiety, doubt, fear

Living in the future creates more feelings of worry and axiety.

Present Living…calm, peace, joy, stress-free

Live in the present to feel more peace and less stress.

Clearly, the Present looks more appealing. I’ve applied living in the present to several aspects of my life to see how it would feel. Here are a few ways I’ve tried.

Falling asleep: I focus on the present by appreciating my warm bed and home. I focus on what my body needs to sleep, and I breathe deeply and slowly. If my mind wanders to the past or future, I refocus or I repeat affirmations like, “I am healthy and strong”, or “I will have a deep, restful sleep.” Plug in the words you need to feel presently calm and to avoid thinking about the past or future.

Eating: Instead of hurriedly putting food together and then, while eating, wondering what I will eat next, I now try to eat in the present. I plan and prepare a meal more thoughtfully. I sit down to eat and concentrate on being grateful for the food, chewing it at a leisurely rate (instead of the usual shoveling it into my mouth) and enjoying the tastes and textures, 

So, how can you live in the present with your body? How can you learn to accept your body where it is, for the moment, and stop beating yourself up about it? Let’s first compare some possible past, future and present thinking about our bodies.

Past: “I’m disgusting. I ate way too much pizza last night. I think I had 6 pieces. I’m such a pig. No wonder I’m so huge.”

Future: “When will I finally get serious about losing this weight? Look at yourself. I’m going to start my diet tomorrow for sure. Otherwise, I’m going to balloon up even more. Yikes!”

Present: “I’m healthy and have a good life. I see that my body could be at a healthier weight,  but that’s ok for today, for this present moment. Although I don’t look the way I want right, now, I’m learning to love myself just the way I am”.

I have done this, and guess what? I feel better. 

It doesn’t mean I accept my weight forever, and it doesn’t mean I’ll never live in the past or future again when I look at my body. It does mean I’m working at loving myself, which includes my overweight body, just as I am, because negative self-bashing is not good for the soul. 

Self-bashing, whether through past or future thinking hasn’t helped me lose and keep off the weight so far. It’s time to try something different.

Ultimately, what I’ve learned is that I can control my stress, and so can you. 

You ARE in control of whether you think about the past or future. Unless there’s something awful happening in the present, in an exact moment (and there rarely is), you can enjoy many peaceful, stress-free moments.

By changing our thinking, we can begin to accept our bodies in the present moment. By doing so, we can feel better, which can give us energy and motivation to make lifestyle changes that, with practice, can stick and ultimately lead to a healthier weight for our bodies.

If you haven’t considered the idea of accepting your body before, try living in the present and speaking kindly to yourself about where your body is right now. Give it some time and see how it feels.

Live your true life,

SignatureAli

Thank you to my daughter for drawing the images for this post. She pointed out that she made a mistake, which works beautifully because it’s a reminder that we don’t have to be perfect at our first try at something.

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