It wasn't easy losing more than 50 pounds, but with the holidays here, I'm dreading all the temptation. The cookies, the gigantic family meals, the pies, you name it. So I turned to the experts to talk about the healthy way to lose weight and strategies to keep it off.
The hard part for me is going to be keeping it off. It's like an endless cycle, yo-yo dieting. You lose the weight and gain it back. It's an age-old question: "How to stop the cycle?"
I've tried Adkins, done a 21-day juice cleanse, dieted with South Beach and so many others some with success, but ultimately failure. How can I make this time different?
Clair LeBrun, the senior nutritionist at the George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates, dished with FOX 5 about diet. She took a look at my strategies and my diet. Logging my food and exercise is one she says has proven to work.
"I like what you're doing in terms of tracking your calories and really looking at the food that you're eating every day," LeBrun said.
It helps because people can see where they are getting the bulk of their calories and then can easily see where to make adjustments. For me, that's pasta and rice. Measuring things helps me to keep in check. Filling up a bowl with pasta is a lot more than I need.
"The self-monitoring, whether it's the weight or the food, are the most important things to think about doing," said LeBrun.
That includes regular weigh-ins. You can do it once a week or once a day.
Diet is only part of the solution. It takes regular exercise too. My goal each week is to go to the gym five days a week. My workout runs from 45 minutes, and some days is more than an hour if I incorporate strength training. I've got another 20 stubborn pounds to reach my goal. So FOX 5 asked Maria Bascetta, a certified personal trainer at Crunch Fitness in Chevy Chase, for her help.
"If you put more muscle on your body, you'll burn more calories all day long," she said.
She suggests strength training twice a week, with rest days in between.
Even more surprising, she says you can get the same results with less time.
"We can narrow it down to five or six exercises in your program," Bascetta said.
She did an evaluation and gave me a routine. Instead of hour-long workouts, her plan takes just 30-40 minutes.
"The importance is the quality over the quantity of the cardio. So if you're doing cardio, you're not just walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes. You're doing intervals, you're walking up a hill. You're walking down. Or if you're on a bike, you're pedaling really fast 60 seconds and going slow 60 seconds," she explained.
Losing the weight should be a slow gradual process she says.
"A healthy weight loss two pounds a week is doable,” Bascetta said. “It might not always be the case. It might be 1 or 1 1/2. It's realistic."
Cutting calories too drastically can also hurt, instead of helping.
"Whenever you reduce your calorie intake from especially under 1,200, you're going to slow down your metabolism," said LeBrun.
It's important to get enough protein, which the body needs for energy. If you don't get enough, she says you break down muscles and organs. She recommends 50 to 60 grams, which can be found in a lean piece of meat the size of the palm of your hand, along with a serving or two of dairy and vegetables.
It's one thing to do all that day to day when there isn't temptation everywhere. But with the holiday gluttony, how do you manage? Both experts say go ahead and cheat a little.
"Account for the calories. If you're going to have that brownie, is it worth 300 calories or whatever it is? If it is, you make adjustments elsewhere," said LeBrun.
It's a tradeoff, said Bascetta.
"If you're going to drink -- drink, but don't have dessert. If you're going to have dessert, don't have alcohol," she said.
And cut yourself some slack too.
"Everybody screws up. We all do that. We all fall off the cliff, skip the gym. I skip the gym sometime. You burn out. So you have to be nice to yourself first and get back on track," she said.
If you can survive between Thanksgiving and New Year's, you won't need to make losing weight your resolution.