Lately, I’ve received a lot of questions asking how and what I ate to lose 25 pounds back in 2015. And the short answer is: everything! 🙂 Now, I know that’s not specific at all and probably not helpful, so I thought I’d share a few more details.
I do want to preface this post by saying that I am not a professional. I’m still learning a lot about food and what fuels me, and what works best for me might not work best for you.
2014 –> 2016
Losing weight in 2015 wasn’t something I was new too. In fact, my weight had been fluctuating for years and years. A while back, I lost twenty pounds, but unfortunately for me, losing weight wasn’t the hard part – it was maintaining my weight loss that I found most difficult. After reaching my goal weight, I always felt like I was invincible and could eat anything I wanted – yeah, right! So, I unfortunately always gained the weight back and it was pretty much a yo-yo for my weight for years and years. One year I would lose twenty pounds, and then I would gain it ALL back the following year. This process repeated itself way too many times.
I am very fortunate and thankful to have an extremely supportive, healthy, and active family who always does their best to support me and help me reach my goals. They are, and always have been, very supportive of me whenever I wanted to lose weight, and are extremely supportive of the healthy lifestyle I have created.
2013 –> 2016
I don’t follow an eating plan and have never been vegan, paleo, vegetarian, etc. I have nothing wrong with anyone’s eating styles, but eating intuitively is how I ultimately lost 25 pounds and kept it off. It is what works best for me. Plus, I love all types of food and can’t imagine limiting myself. The only time I have ever given up a certain type of food was Lent 2016. I gave up refined sugar (baked goods/sweets/dessert) and cereal.
Honestly, my eating hasn’t changed much from when I was losing weight in 2015 to maintaining it now. The small daily changes I made turned into habits, which have turned into a healthy lifestyle.
So, here we go.
Something I grew up doing with my family, and something that I continue to do with Kyle is to sit down every morning and eat breakfast. I never eat breakfast on the go. Yes, sitting down means getting up a little earlier and spending ten to fifteen minutes in the kitchen prepping, but taking the time to slow down and start my day in a calm manner is how I like it. No rushing out the door, no eating while driving, no spending money on Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts food, and no feeling hungry when I get to work and gobbling down on faculty room treats.
Below are some breakfasts that I love to eat during the week and on the weekends. I make sure to include protein, carbs, and fruit in every breakfast, especially during the week so I feel fueled and ready for a busy day at work.
Grapefruit, whole wheat English muffin with avocado and two eggs
Half a bagel with avocado and pumpkin seeds, two eggs, and strawberries
1/2 cup McCann’s Non GMO Irish Oatmeal with a sliced banana, 2T PBFit, chia seeds, and two clementines
1/2 cup Kodiak Cakes with a sliced banana and 1/8 cup sugar free maple syrup
Two thin slices of whole wheat toast, 1/2 avocado, two eggs, and one clementine
Whole wheat English muffin, 2T PBFit, chia seeds, two eggs, and two clementines
Fruit, 1/4 cup unsalted almonds, and a Chobani coconut yogurt
1/2 naan with 1T unsalted peanut butter, one egg, one clementine, and mixed berries
*Please keep in mind, these breakfasts are different than what I eat in the morning before a long run or race.
In addition to food, I drink 32 oz of ice water, a mug of hot lemon water, and black coffee (no cream, no sugar) every morning with breakfast. I used to add Half & Half to my coffee, but in 2015 I decided to stop cold turkey for my weight loss and have never gone back.
I use 1/2 a lemon to make lemon water and heat it up in the microwave.
In addition to drinking 32 oz. of ice water with breakfast, I bring my water bottle to work. I am constantly drinking water at work (and constantly using the restroom), and make sure to refill my water bottle when it’s empty. Drinking water is so important! I usually drink ~100 oz. of water a day as it helps control my appetite, and hydrates me during work and workouts. Now, I’ve heard that 64 oz. of water is plenty for one day, but personally, I feel best when I drink more.
During the week, I pack a sliced apple for my morning snack. I eat my apple when my students are eating their morning snacks. I plan it this way because knowing myself, if I didn’t have an apple I would probably be munching down on whatever snack the school has provided my students. (However, every now and then I do enjoy a bag of goldfish or some graham crackers) 🙂
On the weekends, I don’t usually eat a morning snack because I eat breakfast later in the morning. If I am hungry, I try to reach for fruit or 1/4 cup unsalted almonds.
During the week, I eat lunch at my school. My school does a great job providing students, faculty, and staff with an array of lunch options – soup, hot lunch, salad bar, sandwiches, etc. I almost always stick to the salad bar, but I add a ton of ingredients to make it fun, delicious, and colorful. Every now and then I grab a bowl of hot soup with crackers. I try to make a majority of my lunch vegetables and protein.
Mixed greens topped with zucchini, carrots, quinoa, broccoli, cauliflower, red peppers, banana peppers, tofu, cucumbers, and chicken
Mixed greens topped with cucumbers, chicken, banana peppers, quinoa, zucchini, carrots, red peppers, dried cranberries, and chickpeas
Salad from the salad bar at Whole Foods
The afternoons are the hardest part of the day for me. I’m not sure if it is because I start to get tired and all I want to do is lay down and relax (I’m a huge morning person), but from the hours of 4:00-6:00pm I get the munchies for cereal, granola bars, cookies, and chocolate. To avoid this, I save my workouts for the afternoon. My lunch at work always keeps me full and fuels me enough for my afternoon workouts, whether it’s strength training or a speed workout for marathon training, so when I get home I head straight to the gym or out for a run.
After my workouts, I sometimes refuel with a protein shake. I am currently loving Kashi GOLEAN Dark Cocoa Plant Powered protein – it’s delicious, nutritious, and I recognize all the ingredients. If I do have a protein shake, I usually add ice, skim milk, one scoop of protein, spinach, a frozen banana, and chia seeds. Sometimes I add other things to jazz it up, and you can see a different protein shake recipe here. Usually, my protein flavor is chocolate so that satisfies my sweet tooth.
If I don’t have a protein shake, I usually have 1/4 cup unsalted almonds, a Larabar, or veggies with 2T hummus. I almost always follow serving size recommendations, but of course there are those days when I eat more than what is recommended. Don’t we all? 🙂
Dinner is fairly easy to make during the week because I meal prep on Sunday evenings. I usually make the same things for Kyle as I do for myself, but I adjust the dinners so I’m catering to both of our wants. For instance, if I make turkey taco boats for Kyle (we love Taco Tuesday), I usually make myself a turkey taco salad for myself. (I have the recipe for my turkey taco salad here). If I make breakfast for dinner, I make Kyle two or three eggs topped with cheese, sausage, and one whole wheat muffin, but I make myself a veggie egg white omelet (I include spinach, peppers, onions, and mushrooms) and sometimes half of a whole wheat English muffin. Lastly, if I make Kyle cheeseburgers, I usually serve him two cheeseburgers with buns while I eat one burger with sriracha mustard and without cheese, a bun, or ketchup. So, that’s how I differentiate dinners for us.
I also serve Kyle’s dinner on a larger plate, and my dinner on a smaller plate. This helps me control the portion size of my meal.
Sweet potato fries, spinach, and a 99% lean turkey burger with sriracha mustard
Spinach salad, two turkey taco boats, and corn
Spinach salad, yellow squash, and 99% lean turkey burger with sriracha mustard
Two spicy stuffed bell peppers, 1/4 cup brown rice, and avocado
Spinach salad, salmon, green zucchini zoodles with tomato sauce, and 1/4 brown rice.
Salad, chicken and veggie kabob, and corn on the cob
Sautéed kale and salmon drizzled with lemon
Like breakfast, Kyle and I always sit down for dinner unless I have grad school class. I usually don’t get sweet tooth cravings after dinner, so it’s very easy for me to go without dessert. However, if I do, I usually make myself a cup of decaf tea or drink a can of sodium free lemon lime seltzer, and stay out of the kitchen.
I have made the dessert below a couple times.
Sliced strawberries with fat free Reddi Whip and mini dark chocolate chips
Watermelon is another healthy dessert, especially during summer
Meal prepping has helped me immensely over the past couple years. Not only does it keep me on track during the week, but it saves A LOT of time. I tend to meal prep on Sunday evenings, and make a majority of my dinners for that week. Some ways I prep on Sunday evenings include: hard boiling eggs, washing and cutting fruit, baking chicken, cooking brown rice or quinoa, and washing and slicing veggies.
My Sunday night meal prep does depend on what I plan on eating that week for dinner. I plan out all dinners a week in advance so I know exactly what I’m making and when it will be eaten.
Other Tips I Keep in Mind:
- I never sprinkle salt on top of my meals, and whenever there is a low sodium or unsalted option, I go for it. (Unsalted almonds, unsalted peanut butter, low sodium soy sauce, sodium free seltzer, etc.)
- I try to keep my meals as colorful as possible. Color is easily added with fruit and veggies 🙂
Making veggie chicken stir fry (though I don’t fry any of it!)
- I bring my own dinner if I have grad school class or somewhere else to be when I usually eat. Not only does packing my own dinner for grad school keep me in line with my goals, but I also save money (cha ching!). I can’t imagine buying dinner out two to three nights a week when I could easily make myself something healthier and cheaper at home.
Veggies, salad, and chicken packed in tupperware to bring to my night class.
Half baked potato, spinach with carrots, pumpkin seeds, and turkey, and a Premier Protein
- If I’m going on a road trip, I always pack healthy snacks so I’m not tempted to buy anything at gas stations. Some healthy snacks I pack include: 1/4 cup unsalted almonds, nonfat Chobani plain Greek yogurt, apples, clementines, seltzer, black coffee, and water. Road trips are pretty much the only time I drink soda, so if I’m wanting a diet coke, I’ll stop and buy one.
- I always choose brown rice over white rice, and whole wheat bread over white bread.
- EXERCISE! I usually exercise six days a week with one complete rest day.
- Never, ever give up. There were weeks when I would gain a little weight, and be up a little more weight the following week. It was so discouraging, especially when I felt I was doing everything right. But instead of throwing in the towel, I put my head down and continued on with my healthy habits.
Do I treat myself?
I know this post focuses on how I plan out and prep my meals, but yes, I do indulge! Like I said in the beginning, I ate EVERYTHING to lose 25 pounds and maintain this weight. I’m human and am still learning a lot about food and what fuels me the most on an average day and while I run. I’m typically not strict with dinner on Saturday nights. Kyle and I love wings, pizza, and Mexican food, so we often go out for those types of foods. If Kyle and I are out and I want a burger, I get one. If I want fries on the side, I order them. Keeping Saturday night as my time to be more lenient helps me stay on track during the week. I also usually always have dessert on Saturday nights – chocolate, Halo Top, froyo… Yes, I have goals but who doesn’t want a little dessert? 🙂
However, to make sure that I’m staying on track, I weigh myself once a week. Same time. Same place. Same scale. If I’m up a little, I don’t freak out. I know the human body fluctuates and I check back in the following week. Over the past two years, I’ve learned that my weight fluctuates within a 3-pound window. So as long as I’m in that window, I’m fine with whatever the scale reads.
Cake day at work. Can’t ever get too much frosting.
Both slices were mine 🙂
Love Lenny & Larry’s cookies!
Dinner the night before hiking Mt. Washington
Can you tell I like chocolate? 🙂
Dinner date at Buffalo Wild Wings – one of our favorite spots
Halo Top is a great ice cream substitute! Lower in sugar and fat, and high in protein and fiber
I do slip-up during the week. Some days (and weeks) are just not good. Like I mentioned in the beginning of the post, my weight was yo-yoing for years. One year I would be down twenty pounds, feeling really confident in my skin, and then another year I would be up the same twenty pounds and feeling less comfortable in my skin. It was 10x harder in college with parties and the dining hall. Even with 25 less pounds, I sometimes struggle with emotional eating and stress eating. After Robert passed, food became a comfort for me at college. Because I focused all of my attention senior year of college on classes, my on-campus job, and looking for full-time jobs, I didn’t put my health first.
2014 –> 2016
I hope this post has helped give you an idea of how I ate to lose weight, and how I continue to eat to maintain my weight. In my opinion, maintaining weight is more difficult than losing weight, but keeping your goals in mind, surrounding yourself with supportive people, and ultimately creating a healthy lifestyle will get you there. Remember, it’s a lifestyle, not a diet!
Please feel free to comment below if you have any other questions.