On the Flat Belly diet, I learned a lot about healthy fats and how truly fabulous dark chocolate can be. It taught portion control, as well. That's a lesson that I seem to have to learn again and again and again. Years ago, I started out with Weight Watchers to lose baby weight--that's when I first learned what the difference between a healthy amount of food and an unhealthy amount looks like. The difference can be surprisingly small. That little extra creeps up on a girl, then gets to be a bad, bad habit.
My weight really started to jump early last fall, about the time I started my WalMart/Sam's clothing project. (I seriously think the two issues were connected--but I'll explore that soon on a Wardrobe by Sam blog update.) The winter holidays turned into a sugar-fest and I found myself grazing on cookies, chips, and...way too much dark chocolate. I even bought a *gasp* four pound bag of Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Chips at Sam's Club to keep on my kitchen counter for handy eating. At one point I decided to make it a little more of a challenge and put them in a glass canister--but it wasn't quite enough of a challenge. I ate just as many.
From September to March, I gained--wait for it--a truly stunning ten pounds! My fat jeans needed fat jeans. My eyebrows started looking spotty (and my blond eyebrows need all the help they can get). My calves and thighs acquired cellulite dimples. Thank goodness I didn't have a book to tour. My confidence was at a very low ebb.
"No one wants to hear the skinny girl talk about how fat she is," my husband says. I quote this often because, despite my weight gain, I'm still w/in my acceptable BMI range. But I'm right on the border of overweight and my cholesterol isn't so great. Though I don't know that BMI is such a great generic guide. The Wii Fit tells my husband that a perfect weight for him would be 140 pounds! Um, that's what I weigh now. He's a big guy. I bet his bones weigh 135.
So, about three weeks ago, a good friend told me about Livestrong.com. I popped over to investigate, and I was wildly impressed. They've got amazing tracking tools and terrific advice and support groups. I gave the site my particulars and told it how much I wanted to lose, and it calculated a calorie goal for me--I set it up to help me lose 1.5 pounds per week. So far, it's working great. I love to see the graphs, and I particularly enjoy logging in my fitness activities.
But beyond the calorie goal, what I really appreciate is the way it tracks fat, carbs, sodium, sugar, etc. in all my meals. Even recipes that I put on the site. It's a total-health approach that specialized diets always miss. (You can also track yourself on specific specialized diets there, too.) It helps if you know a little something about nutrition--good fats vs. bad, what your cholesterol intake should be, why whole grains are good choices--but if you don't, they have tons of information. One other good thing is that you can forecast your meals. If you know what you're having for dinner, you can plan lunch accordingly.
Best part is that it's mostly free. Everything I want to do there is free, anyway. You can get it ad-free for $45 a year, but the pop-ups don't bother me. I do click through the ads occasionally so the advertisers keep sponsoring. It seems the right thing to do.
I seriously suggest you check it out if you're thinking of dieting. I'm pretty much on track--I've lost about 4.5 pounds since April 5. And that's including a couple big indulgence days. My screen name there is Lolly_B. I think my information is public. Hope it encourages you!