March 18, 2014

Tough It Out Tuesday (Week 3)

As usual (at least it’s becoming usual) I am linking up with Allie and Kay for Tough It Out Tuesday!
The Best Of Intentions

I don’t have good news as far as losing weight (although I haven’t gained any) so today’s post will be dedicated to explaining what I did in the late Summer/Fall of 2012 to lose 20+ pounds.

I’m not sure what kicked my butt into losing weight. It might have been my pants not fitting or how I looked in the mirror but something made me want to lose weight. I tried to just “eat less” and not eat “junk food” but it made me just want to eat ice cream even more. I remember one day that August when Thomas and I went to Smart & Final and I went to grab the small, single serving Ben & Jerry container. Thomas, trying to help me, called me a “fatty”. I did not take it well. I did what any girl would’ve done, I gave up (right after kicking his butt!). What was the use? I couldn’t do it.

Then I found My Fitness Pal and Reddit – LoseIt. Combining the support from LoseIt and the easy way I could count my calories on MFP I was able to lose weight. Of course it wasn’t as easy as signing up and posting I had to actually count calories. Sure, MFP is easy to use but I had to find the foods that would not only keep me under my calorie goal (I started at 1360 calories) but that would fill me up and not leave me wanting for more afterward. I came up with good meal plans that helped in my weight loss.


Many people eat cereal for breakfast but I’ve always found that I want more and more and more cereal which will eat up A LOT of calories. I wanted something that would fill me up until lunch time if possible without taking up too many of my calories.

OATMEAL! I compared all the flavored oatmeal’s out there (because I am not one to flavor them myself, although that probably will save a few calories) and found that the LOWER SUGAR version is the lowest calorie version. I cannot eat it with water, so I use FAT FREE milk instead.
I don’t like milk by itself (I always drank chocolate milk as a child) and I don’t drink coffee, so I always have a Swiss Miss hot chocolate (made with skim milk) in the morning. On the weekends I forgo the oatmeal and stick to the milk by itself.  There are “diet” Swiss Miss chocolate powder mix but I can’t stand them.


  • Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate w/ Skim Mile = 158 calories
  • Lower Sugar Quaker Oatmeal w/ Skim Milk = 120 calories


My lunches generally weren’t very exciting. They consisted of Lean Cuisine entrees that were below 270 calories each. I could have higher calorie count ones, but I preferred to keep my extra calories for dinner and dessert. Sometimes I would have left overs that I would bring to work, but 9 out of 10 times it was a Lean Cuisine.

  • Lean Cuisine Entrée – 270 calories or fewer


During this time I had to find alternatives to my usual staple of past and more pasta and even more pasta. My mom is 100% Italian and she grew up on pasta and so did I. Pasta is not great for a diet, at least for me, because I want to eat a lot of it and it is not low in calories.

Usually by the time dinner came I had somewhere between 550-650 calories left so I could afford to splurge on pasta sometimes.

My family is from Argentina and we often shop at a little market that has imported items. One day I found a spinach fettuccine pasta that had 50 calories fewer than most pastas. At 150 calories per 2 oz of pasta I could eat it without problem and sometimes I could double the servings and still only have a 300 calorie meal. I would add I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray that is 0 calories and some fresh (also imported) Argentinean parmesan cheese (from Trader Joe’s) for another 30-50 calories.

Of course I couldn’t eat pasta every day and I needed some protein. Although I love beef it is higher in calories than chicken  so most of the time my dinner meal included chicken. I would buy boneless – skinless chicken breasts and cut them up into bite size pieces. I would cook them in a pan with Pam for it not to stick, some lemon juice and other spices as I saw fit (since most don’t have calories). I would add some Green Giant veggies (35 calories per serving) as a side and I would have a dinner of under 250 calories (sometimes under 200!).  

This left room for dessert! I didn’t over do it with dessert, though. I kept away from ice cream cartons since it is difficult to measure out portions and bought Lil’ Dippers which contained, on average, 120 calories.

Last year I started to make pork chops in addition to chicken. Pork chops are also pretty low in calories and they have a lot of flavor so it is not necessary to add anything to them.

I rarely have Lean Cuisine’s for dinner because I know it will bore me to death.

  • Sautéed chicken in lemon juice with different spices – Calories Vary
  • Grilled pork chops – Calories vary
  • Green Giant Veggies – 35 calories per serving (there are others that are a bit more, but still low)
  • Low-calorie Pasta – 150 calories per serving (although they are not importing this anymore, which makes me sad.)


Of course I do get hungry in between meals. Working a desk job also makes you more likely to want to snack during the day and that is typically a calorie killer. At my job back in 2012 I was a receptionist and there was a lot of activity around me so snacking wasn’t too big an issue (at least not as big as it is at my current job) but I had to have something for in between meals.

I settled on blackberries and raspberries. Only a couple of calories each I could eat one at a time and eat them over a course of a few minutes, tricking myself into thinking I was eating more than I actually was. I also purchased the low-calorie snack bags sometimes, but those are typically 100 calories and I wanted to keep my snacks at under 50 calories. I have added Cutie mandarin/tangerines since they are around 37 calories each. More recently I found Rice Rollers at Costco which due the job at 45 calories each.
  • Blackberries/raspberries
  • Tangerine/mandarin
  • Rice Rollers
  • Popcorn (100 calorie bags, or split a 160 calorie bag with someone)
This all worked for me. At that employment I picked up donuts for the office every Friday and I usually ate one as well and I was still able to lose weight. This is mostly, I think, that I didn’t look at my calories on a day-by-day basis as much as on a weekly basis. This way, if I had a bad day one day I could make it up by eating fewer calories the next.

My parents are not fond of me cooking in the kitchen so it made it hard to continue to cook my chicken and pork chops. I know that once I am in my own home with my own kitchen and without my mom telling me how to clean up, I’ll be back on track to eating healthier and fewer portions so I can drop down to my ‘ideal weight’. I also hope that it will help my fiancée lose some weight and get healthier.

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  1. I love my fitness pal! Such a great and helpful app!

    1. It is!!! I just wish I were more consistent with it these days!

  2. I used to be on MyFitnessPal all the time and then I found it difficult to update with everything else I had going on. Oatmeal is an awesome breakfast! That's what I chose to eat every day and I would add fresh fruit in it. :) Your parents aren't fond of you being in the kitchen? My mom wasn't either because she was worried I'd burn everything hahah!

    1. That's what I'm finding right now, keeping up with MFP has been hard! Ohhh I might add fruit in the future, too. Some raspberries would be yummy! My mom wants everything to be cleaned RIGHT NOW and exactly the way she likes it, and so every time I cooked would be her yelling at me, so not cooking was much easier!

  3. girlfriend: snacks at 50cals isn't enough. your snacks should be about 100-200cals each. something i learned while doing the insanity program: your meals should be around 300cals each so 300x5 meals a day = 1500cals total. then use "food blocks" of 100-200cals per snack to reach your daily caloric target if required.

    -kathy | Vodka and Soda

    1. For me it has been working to keep my calories under 100 for snacks. I have to keep myself at 1200 get the weight off at this point... and I'd rather keep the extra calories for some girl scout cookies at night ;) Thanks!

  4. sounds like you've got a really awesome plan! kudos to you on the mfp. I logged stuff for about 3 days and then gave up. Not because it wasn't working, but because I just got tired of logging stuff before and after every meal! Keep up the good work!