How I Lost 40 Pounds in 2010

So last week, on New Year’s Eve, I posted the above image of myself on Facebook and Flickr.

It’s rare that I’m proud of myself. I consider most of what I do to be remarkably easy (if you have the right personality and skill set, of course). But there are two things I’ve done, both in 2010, that are so friggin’ hard I’d give myself a medal if I could. One is staying sober (260 days and counting!). The other is committing to and achieving healthy weight loss.

Emphasis on “healthy.” Stick a pin in that.*

On April 18, 2010, I decided to change my life in quite a few ways. I decided once and for all that I would never, ever touch alcohol again. I decided I wanted to be a better, less selfish partner — my actions and attitudes had ruined every past relationship I’d attempted. And I decided that along the way, heck, why not try to get my health back?

I had accrued around 40 pounds of extra weight, enough to look chubby. Folks who were kind said I wore it well, but it certainly didn’t make me feel good. I’m not talking about cosmetics, either. It didn’t feel good to heft myself around, to try to jog down the street, to climb stairs.

Another thing that happened in 2010: I turned 29. And it’s true that as you get older weight loss becomes a lot more difficult. In fact, when I committed to losing those extra 40 pounds, I had no idea exactly how hard that would be. It was so. Freaking. Hard. I felt like I had to fight for every ounce of fat I lost and muscle I gained. It was at least 10 times harder than the (albeit unhealthy) weight loss I’d achieved earlier in my life.

*As an older teenager and young adult, I’d resorted to unhealthy weight loss a couple times. That’s the kind of thing young girls do when your life is out of control and you can’t fix your problems; you try to control and “fix” your weight. Of course, your weight ends up becoming a problem in itself as your obsessions grow and your BMI dwindles.

At one point, while eating between 70 and 200 calories a day, I got down to a cool 98 pounds, dangerously underweight for a 5’7″ lady, before I discovered that I was still miserable and ugly on the inside, that I’d never, ever like what I saw in the mirror until I liked me.

So this year, I got my life in order to the point that I now like myself just fine. As for what I see in the mirror, I have the suspicion I’ll never perceive that quite correctly; but what I do have now is health. I love that block-long sprint to catch a bus and that quick jog up a flight of stairs.

For those of you who tuned in because you want to know my “secret,” here it is…

Drum roll…

Diet and exercise. No, really.

It’s so, so simple to figure out how to lose weight. Most people just don’t man up and do it. With the exception of those with glandular and other medical problems, weight loss is simply a matter of commitment. Like I said before, it is so freaking hard, hard enough that most of it talk about it, complain about it, plan for it, and never actually do it.


Set a reasonable but effective diet and exercise program for yourself, and stick to it. Don’t cheat. Don’t slack off. Don’t get discouraged that you didn’t lose as much this week as you did last week. Just keep going; once you’ve been doing it for long enough to make a habit out of it, you’ll stop missing the cheeseburgers and chocolate cake because your health will have become more important.

To make sure I was sticking to a healthy weight loss plan (as I have the tendency to undereat and over-exercise), I used FitDay, a thorough and free tool for calculating the calories and nutrition of everything you ingest and the caloric expenditure of everything you do throughout your day — even sleeping.

At this point, I’ve been eating between 1,200 and 1,300 calories and getting some kind of exercise almost every day since April, and I’m about ready to tone that down while continuing to tone my muscles and all that fun jazz. I’ve reached a healthy weight, so for me, eight months of diet and exercise was enough. I’ll still be eating sensibly and working out at least three times each week, though.

Here’s to my health and yours in 2011 — and Happy New Year!

34 thoughts on “How I Lost 40 Pounds in 2010

  1. Hey Jolie! Congrats to you! You look fantastic. I had a similar epiphany in May last year and am down 27 lbs since then. Looking to drop another 20 by May of this year. Most importantly, I feel great! Happy New Year!

  2. I am so glad you discovered the “secret’ for finding and maintaining a healthy weight for yourself: diet and exercise. I have the extraordinary privilege of coaching others to weight loss and health maintenance, and in a strange way, it’s a relief for many to know that if they simply stick with it, they see results. Congratulations for your 40 pound loss, and best to you in the new year for a healthy, happy life.

    Imei, RN, MAC, LMHC

  3. It just makes sense, doesn’t it, Jolie? Kudos to you for achieving your weight loss goal. I had once lost 100 lbs and not due to any surgery but with diet and exercise. Unfortunately I did eventually reach a plateau and found myself greatly discouraged and eventually gained about 25 lbs back. I am back at it though and am not going to let myself get discouraged ever again. Great post and congrats!

  4. Great job, and thank you for promoting healthy weight loss. I’m on the road myself to getting back to good health. I once worked out 90 minutes a day 4 days a week and had definition to spare. Sigh. I haven’t tried FitDay but have really liked Diet & Food Tracker by SparkPeople (I get nothing for endorsing them). It just doesn’t believe my calories burned count when I enter my Bikram Yoga practice.

    Happy Healthy 2011.

  5. Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been approaching my goals in a rather half-ass sort of way. Trying to figure out what stupid plan to follow knowing I hate anything over structured and repetitive. But your words were the kick in the ass I needed. I already know about exercise, portion control, bad fat vs. good fat, sugar, carbs, protein, total calories, etc. I need to stop whining about it and get my butt in gear. I’ve been seriously lacking commitment. So thank you again for the boot in the butt and congratulations on your personal progress. Cheers to your health!

  6. Well done! When I was on my diet I was calorie counting for the first month, until I knew roughly how many calories each thing had. Avoided breads, pasta, dairy, alcohol, juices, anything with HFCS, red meat, high-sodium foods, et cetera, and was on 1200 calorie days for about 2 months, with the weekly “free” day to prevent metabolic rate down regulation. (Ate a bit more on workout days). This was my post about that experience:

    Hopefully by the end of this year I will have a similar post on how I gained 25 pounds of muscle. Haha.. one can dream. Following along in the 4 Hour Body, and cooking chicken for pretty much every meal. Need 150g protein/day yikes!

  7. Good for you!! Both of those are huge accomplishments, and you deserve to be proud of them. I hope I can stick to it and lose the weight this year, especially before my wedding in June. It’s even more difficult if you’ve never liked exercise!

  8. Very nice to read. I always admire people when they seem so healthy and more mature than myself, then I find out they’re younger than me 😉

    How do you plan to deal socially with not drinking alcohol? You’re probably going to get a lot of “Holy sh*t, you’re pregnant!” for a year or two. My wife and I are eating vegetarian for at least twelve months, and I’m already thinking about how I’m going to order at restaurants.

    • Actually, the social part hasn’t been a problem at all. Most of my friends and acquaintances are *relieved* I’m not drinking anymore. 😉

      Besides, I still have a glass in hand while milling around at cocktail parties. The difference is the glass is filled with a Shirley Temple instead of a gin & tonic.

  9. Hey Jolie, so proud of you! Not only looking to lose the wait but deciding to stop alcohol. It’s amazing how its integrated into so much of the social fabric of life so its a struggle for sure! Do keep it up and you’ll enjoy a lot more of life…I had the same struggles as you and has been nearly five years for me now.


  10. Thank you for sharing your story and giving more perspective on what drove you to achieve those goals! I love that you highlighted that you focused solely on diet and exercise, not crazy equipment, treatments, etc. It really as simple and complicated as eating right and exercising.

    Congrats on your accomplishments!

  11. Awesome! I am among the few blessed to eat as much as I want and never gain a kilo, but also I cycle like crazy and play hockey – actually I do sports more than I work, study or sleep (sometimes even combined) I believe people should be paying more attention to their body, caring more about it and trying to be in a better form – this helps menthally!

  12. I feel like I just read my own thoughts! I started my get-healthy-plan (and began publicly documenting it) yesterday, and it’s great to see someone who shares my sentiment toward the process + experience. Thanks for the extra bit of inspiration, and congrats! 🙂

  13. Never seen a more “Hear me Roar” pic! You have every reason for that “Yeah that’s right I put the work in and look what I did, I rock” grrrrr face! With your last couple of posts Jolie you are one rocking human! Keep it up, even thou many will not say it but I know you probably have made an inspirational impact on someone, I have to have faith that you have!

    It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know you virtually, hopefully our paths cross in real life, so we can sit down and just have a cup of joe and chat!

  14. Hey, Jolie that is great. I lost 50 since June myself, after a long time of not losing. It puts things in perspective. Congrats on the FB photo too!


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