Dieting in December? Why It’s Working for Me

Jessica Harlan by Jessica Harlan | December 19th, 2008 | 3 Comments
topic: Health & Wellness, Healthy Eating, Weight Loss

This is probably the absolute worst time of year to do so, but two weeks ago I started a diet. The good news is, it’s working. And the plan I’m on couldn’t be easier.

While the bookstores and Internet are filled with complicated diets and revolutionary new weight loss philosophies (some of which I’ve been lured by in the past), my goal this time is simply to reduce my calorie intake. I was inspired by a recent interview I did with a nutritionist, who told me, “To lose weight, all you need to do is take in fewer calories than you burn.” Sounds so easy and basic, no?

To lose a pound, you need to expend about 3,500 calories. I was surprised to learn that it doesn’t really matter if you shave off the calories through eating less or through exercise. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism tracked the weight loss of two groups of people: one that reduced its calorie intake by 25 percent, and one that reduced its calorie intake by 12.5 percent, and burned 12.5 percent more calories through exercise. Both groups apparently lost weight at the same rate.

That’s it. Really. There are technically no “forbidden” foods, no complicated menus or calculations. But I’ve learned fast enough that in order to not be ravenous, I have to make my calories count — choosing a
100-calorie snack that’s high in fiber and protein, rather than, say, four Hershey’s Kisses.

At first the plan confused me. The only other real diet I’ve followed was Weight Watchers, in which every food is assigned a point value, and you have to stick within your point allotment for the day. But with Weight
Watchers, there were plenty of ideas and suggestions for meals and snacks. Now I’m on my own. I’ve become adept at reading labels, measuring servings to make sure I’m not overeating, and logging my daily foods on the Web site Calorie Count, which is a great free resource for tracking your weight and diet.

I’ve learned to actually (gasp!) enjoy a snack like reduced-fat Swiss cheese on a Wasa Crispbread. Or, for dessert, I’ll have one cookie instead of three, or I’ll have a big bowl of popcorn (a dietary bang for your buck, since you can have like three cups of it for only 100 calories!).

Of course, I’m already getting nervous about the upcoming holidays. Will overindulging reverse my hard-won 6-pound loss? My fellow Lime and Gaiam Life writer Joelle Klein has some really great ideas on how you can keep your willpower (and weight) in check during the holidays. … But to be honest, while I’m eager to fit into a smaller dress size, I’m just as eager to enjoy myself with my family for the holidays, without worrying about eating or drinking too much. After all, I can resume my calorie counting as a New Year’s resolution!

Republished courtesy


  1. Several years ago I went on the same journey as you right at the beginning of the Holiday season. As daunting as it seemed at the time, I believe the timing set me up for even greater success.
    I actually had started by joining Weight Watchers online at the time. I already knew the fundamentals of good nutrition, good health and religious runner and yogi, but I needed some extra support to “keep me honest” with my food portions. Even though I knew calorie count for almost every food by the time I joined, just doing something different that enforced “the how much goes in and how much gets burned concept” really seemed to help. It forced me to really take a closer look at just how much I was putting on my plate. In addition, it also enforced my maintaining a daily food journal. Now…. this is something I had always recommended to my clients… but had been really inconsistent about myself. I must say, it really works when you’re trying to get back in touch with just how much your accustom to consuming.
    The beauty of taking this on at the onset of the Holiday season was is that I actually never felt deprived, but I did make better choices through out. By eating very healthy yet tasty foods most of the time, I had room for the occasional indulgence for those special treats I loved. Basically… “I had a plan”! I had a plan to get me through the Holidays feeling healthy, happy and satisfied with no New Years bloat. : ) It also kept me motivated to keep my workout schedule through out, no matter what.
    Once the Holidays were through I felt the even more ambitious about the New Year, and never dreaded another Holiday weight gain again. I didn’t have to stay on Weight Watchers very long to get my eyes back in touch with my biological needs either. It was just a matter of getting back into touch with what my body really needs to be at a healthy weight.

    Joy Jackson | December 20th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  2. My own weight reduction program was similar to your own and I began mine a long time ago now.
    I just got used to eating less sweet and other fattening foods and changing to those with more fibre, so making me feel full for longer.
    That together with regular exercise is all you need to successfully lose weight and keep it off.

    Philip | December 26th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  3. [...] that the indulgent holidays are over I’m back to my diet … remember, the one I said was so easy? Well, I have to admit that I gained back four of the six pounds I lost because once I gave myself [...]

Post a Comment

If you want to show your picture with your comment, go get a gravatar!