The 1 Simple Thing That Finally Worked to Lose 70 Lbs After Failing for Years
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When I gained 60+ pounds after marriage and having my first son, it was 3 years of trying over and over again and failing before I finally got it off. Here’s how I finally lost 70 lbs after trying and failing for years!
- From 207 to 137
- My weight story.
- What didn't work: Fad Diets (Keto, Master Cleanse, All of it)
- What worked: A Tiered Calorie Restriction
- 2000k, 1800k, 1500k, 1200k. (k=calories)
- Start at 2000k/day (Mostly Portion Control)
- Dropped to1800k/Day (Still portion control)
- Dropped to 1500k/day (making better food choices)
- Finally down to 1200k/day (healthy choices)
- I had gone from 207 at my heaviest down 70lbs to 137lbs!
- How To Start Your Own Tiered Calorie Restriction Plan:
- 1: Get your Tools
- Download my free printable custom habit tracker made specifically for this diet! Click here!
- 2: Weigh Yourself.
- 3: Know your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
- 3: Start at a higher calorie per day plan and start tracking.
- 4: Track your weight for a few weeks and when you plateau, drop down the calories.
- 5: Stick with it until you hit your goal!
- Tips to help:
From 207 to 137
(**Update 6/2023 I’ve written a complete post on how I’ve been able to maintain my 70lb weight loss after 4 years and 2 more pregnancies here!**)
My weight story.
I had maintained 130-140 lbs all through high school. But after getting married, having a kid, and developing super unhealthy eating habits in that first year after, I wasn’t even close to 140 lbs anymore.
It was the summer of 2017 when I had my big, rude awakening.
Due to horrible eating habits I developed after getting married and being pregnant, and a non-active lifestyle, I had gained quite a bit of weight very quickly. But after returning home from a family trip to Costa Rica in the summer of 2017 and seeing all the photos, I truly realized just how much I had let myself go.
I didn’t even recognize myself. I had gone from a 145 lbs at marriage to now 207 lbs and totally sedentary. I didn’t eat well, I didn’t go to the gym, heck, I didn’t even go out walking.
Seeing myself, I knew something needed to change.
But that was much easier said than done.
Attempt 1: Summer 2017
That next month I committed to meal planning and eating better. I stuck with it for 3 whole months! Then gave up when family came to town to visit. I had lost almost 20 lbs (yay!) and was weighing 190, but still far from my goal of just getting back to my pre-baby weight of 155lbs. Only to gain it all back.
Attempt 2: December 2017
I tried again that winter to get ready for my cousin’s wedding, getting down to 185 (go me!) but with the holidays and a horrible miscarriage, I gave up again.
Attempt 3: April 2018 and…. stuck.
In the spring of 2018, after another miscarriage, I decided to have another go. Only to be stopped again that May when we moved to Vegas for the summer and got pregnant again.
I remember feeling so hopeless. What was I suppose to do now? I can’t lose weight while pregnant, and after two miscarriages all I wanted was a sibling for my son and a baby that I wouldn’t have to bury, but I was so miserable with myself. I felt gross and ugly, and not ME!
Up until this point in my life I had never stuck with any fitness/diet regimen for longer than 3 months. Which meant that I literally had ZERO evidence that I was capable of losing the 60+ lbs that I had gained since getting married.
And now being pregnant I felt stuck again.
I didn’t even have an option to lose weight, and the possibility of losing another baby was enough to make me never want to try again. But also, I was terrified at the idea that I started this pregnancy at 180lbs! What would I be delivering at?! 220lbs??
I had tried over and over and over again to lose weight for 2 years only to gain most of it back. So I decided to give up and focus on my pregnancy and I’d try again in 2019 after my baby was born.
But that Christmas (2018) at 33 weeks pregnant with Mickey weighing 197 lbs, that I came up with a game plan.
I was 2-ish months away from delivering my son and decided enough was enough. No more excuses. No more starting when it was most convenient. No. I was starting my health/weight-loss journey then.
What didn’t work: Fad Diets (Keto, Master Cleanse, All of it)
I found out early on into my weightloss attempts that fad diets like Keto, or the lemonade detoxes, or anything that says you CAN eat some things but NOT others didn’t work for me.
I realized that for these diets to work for me, I would need to be able to stay on them for A LONG TIME. And even stay on them for life to keep the weight off in most cases.
For me, I knew that I personally was never going to go my entire life without eating a specific food.
I was going to eat cake at birthday parties.
I was going to have a slice of pizza.
If it’s Halloween, I’m going to eat a Reese’s.
There would always be a time when I would slip up. So if I had to be on a strict to carbs or no sugar or no something diet for the rest of my life, it just wasn’t going to happen. Life would get in the way and I’d cave and be right back at square one.
So after dabbling into fad diets, I moved on real quick.
What worked: A Tiered Calorie Restriction
I read a book once that said the actual process of losing weight it simple, just consume less calories than you burn. Which is true (it takes burning 3,500 calories to burn a pound). If you continue over time to consume less calories than you burn in a day then you WILL lose weight. The actual process is simple. Doing it is the hard part.
You can eat less food to consume less calories than you burn, or increase your exercise and activity levels to burn more calories than you consume, or a combination of both.
For me I had always done some sort of calorie restriction for weightless in the past. Usually limiting myself to 1500 calories a day (which is how I lost weight in high school and any other time in my life).
The hard part was going cold turkey from my horrible eating one day to only 1500 calories the next.
Sometimes I could do it, but other times it would be too hard too fast and I’d mess up and give up. But when I implemented a tiered calorie restriction plan it was so much easier to stick to and ultimately lead me to lose 70lbs! Here’s what I did.
My Diet Rules:
- Only eat a specific amount of calories a day.
- Weigh myself once a week (Sunday) First thing in the morning after going to the bathroom, but before consuming anything. Can’t weigh myself more than that one time on Sunday.
- Track everything I eat in a calorie counter app.
- Weigh everything. No eyeballing. (I did everything in grams because I found it to be the easiest.)
Related: How to Count Calories to Lose Weight
2000k, 1800k, 1500k, 1200k. (k=calories)
I hadn’t planned to do a tiered calorie restriction, in fact I had planned to do my regular jump to 1500 calories a day after my baby was born. But I decided that my bad eating was a habit and needed to stop right then that Christmas while I was still pregnant so I set a plan that I could start then.
*Disclaimer* Always talk to your doctor before starting any kind of diet or exercise regimen while pregnant. I spoke with mine before starting my restriction.
Start at 2000k/day (Mostly Portion Control)
Instead of jumping right to a 1500k/day diet right then, I started with a 2000k/day diet plan January 1, 2019 until I gave birth. That way I was still consuming enough calories to support my baby while still giving myself a limit so I couldn’t overeat.
Looking back, the 2000k a day portion of my diet plan was the perfect way to ease into weight loss.
At 2000 calories a day I could still eat all the foods I wanted even thinks like chocolate or pizza. I just had to control portion sizes.
So instead of eating 3 pieces of pizza, I could only have 2 or instead of a whole chocolate bar, I would limit myself to only a piece. It was so much easier to go from what I was eating, to the same food just a little smaller than it would have been to go from what I was eating, straight into small all veggies, clean eating, no sugar, blah blah blah.
Instead I could ease out of my sugar and other cravings instead of cutting them cold turkey.
Starting at a higher calorie restriction also helped me get use to tracking what I was eating and logging it.
Starting any kind of diet is hard, so if you aren’t use to keeping track of what you eat and are grumpy since all you want to do is eat cake but you’ve put yourself on a strict diet, it can be easy to give up when you forget to log a meal!
At a higher calorie restriction, I felt like I had more patience to remember to track and log my food because I wasn’t constantly hungry.
What about exercise?
During this time I was not exercising at all. Just the normal day to day with a toddler. Walking around, cleaning, picking him up, grocery shopping type of things.
Dropped to1800k/Day (Still portion control)
A week after I had Mickey, I cut my calories from 2000 a day to 1800 and stayed on that for the next 8 weeks.
I had been doing 2000k/day for 5 weeks now and was now use to keeping track of what I ate and logging it. And since 2000k was so high, I felt it was easy to stick to and got use to only eating that many calories each day.
Those 5 weeks of 2000k prepared me to actually start making changes, and since my baby was no longer inside me, it was safe to cut my calories a bit and start losing weight. Plus keeping track of my calories while pregnant helped me to only gain a few extra pounds the last 5 weeks of my pregnancy instead of potentially more if I had kept overeating. I ended up delivering Mickey at 200lbs.
After delivering Mickey, I weighed 191 lbs. So in order to know how many calories I should consume to lose weight, I had to first calculate my Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. This is the number of calories your body burns while at rest depending on your gender, age, weight, and height. Then you can add in your activity level and see roughly how many calories in a regular day you burn.
So for me, as a 5’9″ 23 year old female weighing 191 lbs my BMR was 1687.
Which meant if I did nothing, but sleep all day that is what my body would burn.
But if I add in a sedentary lifestyle meaning little to no exercise but more than being in a coma like eating, sitting, keeping track of a toddler, grocery shopping, etc, my body would burn about 2,023 calories each day.
So now knowing that I burn about 2,023 calories a day without I decided to drop my calories down to 1800k/day. And since my burn number is higher than my consumption number, this would allow me to lose weight.
I only dropped my calories by 200 for a few reasons:
- I again didn’t want to cut cold turkey to something incredibly hard. Only dropping by a little bit would only mean cutting out a granola bar a day. But it was still low enough for me to lose significant weight.
- I was still breastfeeding so I still needed to eat enough to keep my supply up!
- I was burning extra calories because of breastfeeding. An average of an extra 200-500k burned a day so I didn’t need to drop my daily calorie intake as much to still see good results.
So knowing that I burn about 2,200-2,500 calories a day just living and breastfeeding, setting my calories intake to 1800k a day would allow me to burn 2,800 calories a week or .8 – 1.4 lbs a week without any exercise.
During this time of 1800k/day I still felt like my focus was portion control.
I could still eat all the foods I was eating before just now it was smaller (actually normal-sized now 😅) portions, and less snacking. I still had snacks, I just wasn’t eating like a monstrous vacuum anymore.
Dropped to 1500k/day (making better food choices)
I stuck to my 1800k/day plan for 8 weeks, until my weightless plateaued. (Which is also how I decided to drop from 1500k to 1200k but we’ll get there.)
I would log my weight every Sunday morning and after 8 weeks of losing on my 1800k plan, I logged in week 9 to see I had gained 2 lbs from the previous week.
Now keep in mind that depending on my period and water weight, that my weightless would fluctuate but a gain of 2 lbs after 8 weeks of losing told me it was time to drop down again. You see, as you lose weight your BMR will also go down. And at week 8 of 1800k I was weighing 177.6 lbs so I had lost 13.4 lbs, and it was easy!
So it was time to drop, and I decided to drop down 300 calories to a 1500k/day plan.
By this point I had been tracking my food for over 3 months and been very good at staying under my calories. It was a habit now and easy to do, so by now I was already thinking about meals and planning calories everyday.
Now that my portions were under control and I wasn’t eating when I was bored, it was time to look at the foods I was eating.
2000k-1800k was about portion control, 1500k-1200k was about the kinds of food I was eating.
This was the time I needed to swap out foods for lower calorie foods. Instead of regular spaghetti I made spaghetti squash spaghetti, (which is delicious btw). Instead of pot stickers and rice I would use cauliflower rice. Instead of 2% milk I bought skim milk.
- I’d buy the low calorie eggs waffles with sugar free syrup and add some strawberries for a total breakfast under 200k.
- My pot sticker and cauliflower rice with low sodium soy sauce was less than 200k and so delicious!
- I got 35k per slice bread, and low calorie sliced cheese and made bomb sandwiches that would normally be 300+ calories only 170 calories!
- I ate apple slices or low-calorie popcorn instead of potato chips too.
This was the time to get creative! And unlike other fad diets, no food was off the table, so it was easy to find ways to make any meal a low calorie meal.
Why this felt so easy:
I felt it was so much easier to change up the kinds of foods I was eating at this stage in my process vs the typical unhealthy straight to healthy eating that you typically see with starting a diet because at this point I had:
1: Gotten use to tracking what I eat and controlling that.
2: I had the motivation of my weight loss from my previous months to keep me going! I had proof that I could stick to something and that was super motivating. Plus I was on a roll making me way more motivated to keep it going. I could see it was working!
It was the start of this time that I started to implement a workout plan. I would go to the gym 3 times a week and walk on the elliptical for 1 hour. Occasionally I would do some weights but I mostly just did cardio.
Finally down to 1200k/day (healthy choices)
After 4 weeks of 1500k/day, I had another gain week plateauing and finally dropped to 1200k/day. By now I was 167 lbs. Down an extra 10.6 lbs in just those 4 weeks!
I was on my 1200k/day plan the longest and never dropped lower than 1200. Even when I plateaued I would just keep going, knowing that I was burning more that I consumed so the next week I would show a loss if I just continued.
At this stage I had developed the self discipline needed to maintain a 1200k/day diet plan. Something I wouldn’t have had, had I tried to go straight into 1500k or 1200k cold turkey.
Those 2000k, 1800k, and 1500k weeks were absolutely essential to me sticking to my 1200k plan but also my diet in general! It built the self discipline needed to maintain any diet, which is the most important part.
By now, I knew exactly how many calories were in my favorite restaurant meals, I knew exactly what to order to still have date nights with my husband and how to estimate calories in a meal when my in-laws would cook for us.
I was a master at it all and had come up with all kinds of meal ideas and snack ideas that I could eat, feel full, not restricted, and still stay under my calories.
By now I was no longer breastfeeding my baby (supplemented then stopped mid 1500k plan). And was instead keeping up with a regular exercise plan. Still doing my hour of cardio 3-5 days a week with a little weights when I felt like it.
Finally I hit my first goal: pre baby weight of 155 lbs! Wahoo!
But I was a roll so I decided, why go just pre baby? Lets drop the extra 15 and go for pre-marriage weight of 140 lbs!
Finally in September 2019, I weighed in hoping to hit my 140 lbs goal when I weighed in at 137.6 lbs!
I had gone from 207 at my heaviest down 70lbs to 137lbs!
When I read the scale that said 137, I looked at myself and felt so proud. I remembered that summer of 2017 and bawling because I didn’t recognize my 207lbs self and now I had not only made my goal of 155lbs but I had crushed it and was down back to my high school weight.
I remember the weeks and nights of failing to control my eating and feeling like the idea of ever even being less than 185 lbs was impossible. That I would just be this self conscious blob of my old self for the rest of my life. But now I had done what I had tried over and over and over again to do and completely crushed it.
This time I didn’t give up. I didn’t fall off the wagon, I freaking DID IT! And I truly believe that it is all due to the tiered calorie restriction that I did.
The baby step approach to losing a large amount of weight was the only way to do it. It works, and it the only way that worked for me.
If you want to know if I’ve been able to keep the weight off after 2 more kids and 4 years later, you can read about that here!
How To Start Your Own Tiered Calorie Restriction Plan:
1: Get your Tools
What you will need to start your own tiered calorie restriction plan:
- A food scale. To weigh out your food. I recommend this one from Amazon!
- A bathroom scale. To weigh yourself weekly. This is a good cheaper one.
- An app to track your weight and food. I used the fitbit app to track my weight but this calorie counter app to track my food. However, you can do both in either app or another app like MyFitnessPal.
- Or a pen and paper will work to track your calories too but it is a lot more tedious!
2: Weigh Yourself.
To know where to go, you have to know where you are.
Start with getting an accurate weight. Your weight will fluctuate throughout the day with your lowest weight being first thing in the morning before any drink or food and with an empty bladder. So first thing in the morning, go to the bathroom then weigh yourself to get your starting weight.
From then on, pick a day, and only weigh yourself once a week! No exceptions!
3: Know your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
How many calories does your body burn in a day right now?
*Tip: Unless you already workout regularly (3x a week+) just stick to the sedentary little to no exercise calories burned. Then you can add in your calories burned as a day by day basis when you work out.
If you only burn 1800 calories a day right now, there’s no point in starting at 2000k/day. This will only make you gain weight. Instead, start your tier at 1800k/day.
3: Start at a higher calorie per day plan and start tracking.
I would suggest starting at the base calories that you burn in a day. So if you burn about 2,000k a day just doing your normal day to day, start at a 2000k/day diet plan. If you only burn 1800k a day start at 1800.
For me starting at 2000k/day was perfect. If you feel like your amount of calories you burn in a day is too low a number to start at, I highly suggest starting at 2000k. Just remember you don’t want it to be too easy. It shouldn’t be miserable but it should challenge you.
So set a number and start tracking. Weigh out all your food and track it in your app.
Calculating calories properly:
I found that it was easiest to get the most accurate calories by weighing in grams.
Every food with a label has the calories listed out in portion sizes in grams.
You can see on this can of Pringles it says that 1 serving is 150 calories. And there are 6 servings per container so the entire can of Pringles is 900 calories.
It also says that one serving is 1oz or 28 grams which is approximately 15 chips. You can count out 15 chips and just eat those but for me I’ll typically pour some onto a plate and eyeball it. So here’s how to calculate the exact calories.
- Set out your food scale and set the units to grams.
- Set a plate on to your food scale and tare or zero it out so that you are only weighing your food, not your plate.
- Then add your food to the plate, weighing it in grams.
- On a calculator take the serving size amount of calories (ex: 150 on the Pringles can) divide it by the serving size in grams (ex: 28 on the Pringles can) and times it by the weight of your food on your plate (in the picture below I have 10 grams of pringles) So for the Pringles example you would do 150 ÷ 28 x 10 which equals 53.5714286. I round it up to 54 even and that is how many calories of pringles are on my plate.
Formula: Amount of calories per serving ÷ grams per serving x the weight of the food on your scale in grams = the total calories of the food on the scale.
The benefit of just always weighing your food is sometimes serving sizes say something like “approximately 1 cup” but it’s inconvenient to measure it out in a measuring cup or something like it. Weighing it out just makes everything easy and you KNOW you have the right calorie calculation not just an approximate.
Related: How to Count Calories to Lose Weight
4: Track your weight for a few weeks and when you plateau, drop down the calories.
After sticking with my 2000k/day plan, I dropped to 1800k/day, then 1500k/day, then finally 1200k/day. Always after plateauing in my weightless.
Keep track of how much you are losing week to week. When you find that you either don’t lose anything or gain weight even when you have been staying in your calories, it’s time to drop down.
**Or if you feel like you have a handle over your eating and are ready to drop down for faster results, you can drop then too. But don’t be too anxious! Proof that you can stick with your calorie plan all 7 days a week without any slip-ups for at least 2 weeks before dropping down.
In the higher calorie plans, you’ll find that its more about portion and frequency of eating control. You can typically eat the same foods you always have, just smaller sizes and less often. No more snacking on junk all day!
Once you get into the lower calorie plans you’ll find its now about the kind of food you are eating. Since you’ve controlled your portions and frequency of eating to a normal rate, it’ll be time to make healthier decision and get creative with low calorie food options!
Not a bad time to search Google and Pinterest for the best low calorie snacks, meals, and even restaurant options!
5: Stick with it until you hit your goal!
Once you get down to 1200 I suggest staying there and adding in exercise if you plateau/gain instead of dropping calories again. At a certain point you need to make sure you are still getting a balanced meal and not just eating a cucumber a day.
The last thing to do is stick with it until you hit your goal! Adjust your plan as you go and add in exercise to help it go faster!
Tips to help:
- Let your spouse and family know of your calorie restriction so they can be supportive. It sure makes it a whole lot easier when your Mother in law makes veggies instead of fried chicken when you come over for dinner!
- For me it really helped to have a zero calorie snack that I could have whenever I felt snacky! A can of diet soda was my saving grace so I always kept the fridge stalked with Diet Dr.Pepper but another good option is dill pickle slices as they are zero calories as well, I’d even ad a dab of yellow mustard to them which is also zero calories!
- Drink lots of water, this keeps you full and hydrated!
That is how I lost 70 lbs in 2019 after trying for years to lose weight! All without ever restricting what foods I can or can’t eat! I hope this helps!
Read about how I’m doing 4 years and 2 more babies later and how I’ve been able to maintain my weight loss here!
Also, If you want a little bit more, follow me on Instagram: @CassScroggins and check out my weight loss story highlights on my profile for more details!