Before we get into this post, I am not a doctor or trained dietician etc etc so if you choose to follow what I did, be sure to check with a medical professional first. Having said that, I am a believer in using data to help accomplish goals and I am in the research business. I combined research, data and some discipline to lose about 25 lbs in 3 months and reduced my body fat % from about 25% to 20%. On top of this, I increased my cardio performance. I am not a believer in “fad” or extreme diets. Things like cutting out carbs or eating only vegetables are not consistent with my philosophy on food as a medium to advance culture and build relationships between people. If I did do some kind of extreme diet, I would no longer be Food Finance Travel! I decided to do this post to show that it was possible to reach these goals without resorting to diets that are hard to stick to in the long run. So, how did I accomplish what I did? Here it is:
- GET A FITBIT – I cannot recommend this enough. Not having a way to track your body stats is like driving a car or flying a plane without instruments. Would you drive a car or fly a plane without knowing how much fuel you have left or how fast you were going? Obviously not so you shouldn’t “drive” your body that way either! I will incorporate how I used the Fitbit throughout this post.
- Run a calorie deficit (everyday!) – To me, the process of weight loss is simple. You need to consume less calories than you burn. That’s it. Calories in need to be less than calories out (after you reach your target weight, you can adjust the proportions of carbs, protein and fat to accomplish other goals like building more muscle). This is where the Fitbit comes in extremely handy. The Fitbit tracks your calories burned and you input the food you are eating to measure the calories to make sure you are running a deficit. It also helps if you know a bit about cooking and portions. Because I was in the food business, I am able to breakdown meals when eating out and enter ingredients and weights into the fitbit APP. For example, a Bolognese pasta is really just ground meat and pasta. So when you order this at a restaurant, the main things you need to enter into your app are the quantity of beef and pasta (there are other things in the sauce like vegetables but the main driver of the calories is going to be the pasta and meat). Most places will do 2-4 ounces of meat and 4-8 ounces of pasta. I suggest you buy a scale and start weighing your food. Eventually, you will get good at eyeballing portions.
- Portion Control (measure everything)- This is related to #2 above. Whatever I was eating, I would make sure I entered it into the app right away to get an idea of the calorie count. If I was at home, I would make sure to weigh out raw ingredients and portions. As the title of this post suggests, nothing was off limits (almost, more on that below), I just made sure calories in was less than calories out, daily.
- Burn extra calories – Everyone burns calories just living. Breathing, moving etc all use up energy. Therefore, even if you did not exercise, you will burn a certain amount of calories everyday just existing. This is called your Base Metabolic Rate (BMR). To find out what your BMR is just google BMR calculator. Once you have your BMR, I would supplement this with physical activity to increase daily caloric burn. I started doing Muay Thai three times a week, lifting weights and doing more cardio on the alternate days, and then increasing physical activity wherever I could. Whether its walking instead of taking a car, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, every bit helps. For example, last night I went for a 27 minute walk home from dinner instead of driving and according to my fitbit, I burned 206 calories. You can also make things fun by challenging yourself. When I first started Muay Thai, I could not jump rope for 30 seconds without being out of breath and feeling light headed. Now I can go for minutes without hardly breaking a sweat. Seeing improvements such as this push me to push myself more to see how much more I can accomplish daily. Bonus: drop and do a few push ups throughout the day.
- Cut out easy calories – When I said nothing was off limits to eat, I still ate things like dessert, but I made a conscious effort to limit sugar and alcohol intake. To me, these are easy calories to avoid. Drink sugar free drinks or better yet, stick to water. Drink your coffee black etc. For the first 2 months, I cut out alcohol completely. To give you an idea of the impact of alcohol, an 8oz glass of wine has about 200 calories. If you drink 5 glasses, that’s about half the daily intake of calories of a person right there. Even though I didn’t drink for 2 months, I still went to events, and it was actually funny to me how many people started off conversations with “where is your drink” or “lets grab a drink”.
Using the above was how I was able to travel to numerous countries in the past 3 months and still experience local cuisine without restricting myself or feeling restricted. I still ate gelato and pasta in Italy, I just made sure calories in < calories out, everyday; and actually travelling helps because when I visit a new place, I find I am walking 2 to 2.5x the amount I do at home because I am exploring a new place.
So there you have it, my “simple” guide to losing weight. Note, I am not affiliated with Fitbit but I have to stress again how useful it is for helping achieve my goals. Aside from the above, the other functions I found useful were:
- step counter
- calories burned by exercise, BMR, activity etc
- sleep tracker
- meditation audio
- exercise tracker
- heart rate monitor
- blood oxygen monitor
- weight tracker
- calorie intake tracker
For $100+, its probably the best investment you can make in yourself! Here is an example of running a daily caloric deficit:
Breakfast 180 Calories:
Greek yogurt (1oz)
Tangerine (half in the yogurt)
Peanut Butter (2 tsp)
Multigrain Toast (1)
*I usually eat this same breakfast everyday I am not travelling; some days I will add a hard boiled egg
Post Workout Snack 107 calories:
protein bar (1/3)
turkey jerky (30g)
Lunch – Dim Sum 1,098 calories:
*I usually dont have this many calories in one meal but I used this example to show you that you dont have to restrict your diet to lose weight and its ok to have what you want
*this is also an example of how some knowledge of cooking can help you track calories; while the fit bit might not have “siu mai” in its database, you can eyeball it as 1oz of a pork meatball.
Dinner – Italian 423 calories
I knew I had a big lunch so I controlled the portion on my dinner.
Total calories in 1,808
Muay Thai (1 hr): 529
Walking (1hr 40 mins): 723
Total calories out: 3,570
Caloric surplus (deficit) = 1,808 – 3,570 = (1,762)
According to my research, 1lbs of fat is about 3,500 calories so according to the above, I would have “lost” 0.5 lbs on this deficit. Note that this is not a typical day for me. Although I do eat what I want, I am conscious of the nutrition aspects also and try to balance protein, carbs, and fat, as well as vitamins and minerals and fiber etc. All of this info can also be determined in the Fitbit app!
Anyway, I hope this post inspires you to go after your physical goals as well and while it is hard and does take some effort, it is entirely possible in a relatively short period of time without compromising much “pleasure”.
4 thoughts on “How I lost 25lbs in 3 months eating whatever I wanted”
thanks for posting this! I think a lot of us readers/viewers make the assumption that food bloggers/vloggers are just eating all the time, so it is refreshing to hear that you indeed have health on your mind despite crushing fine dining on the regular.
as a follow up post, can you describe how you maintained the discipline to exercise regularly? we need to get inside your mind! lack of discipline and lack of a plan are probably the biggest culprits for weight loss failure
Hi, the key to exercising regularly is finding something you are passionate about. In my case, I love muay thai and want to get better at it so its easy to show up each time.