Losing Weight When You Physically Can’t Exercise: Doreen’s Journey

Losing Weight When You Physically Can’t Exercise: Doreen’s Journey

Kim Westerman
by Kim Westerman
Share it:
Losing Weight When You Physically Can’t Exercise: Doreen’s Journey

Doreen Gee has enjoyed walking her entire life. Even into her 50s, she took almost daily jaunts in her hometown of Victoria, British Columbia. But everything changed as she approached 60. Severe osteoarthritis in both knees affected her quality of life, her relationship to her body and, especially, her weight.

By her 62nd birthday three years ago, she found herself 60 pounds overweight and in near-constant excruciating pain. The only way forward was dual knee replacements. Gee realized she needed to make a change.

The simple solution was that the closer she could get to her ideal weight before surgery, the better the potential outcome of her knee replacements would be. The easy answer was changing her diet — if only it were easy. She admits she was “not into dieting,” but the time had come to take it seriously. She first learned about MyFitnessPal by way of the Arthritis Society, a Canadian nonprofit organization devoted to patient education.

When she started tracking her calories and exercise, she couldn’t even walk a block due to severe pain in her knees. Within weeks of sticking to a restricted-calorie diet, she shed some of the weight and felt better physically — and more motivated psychologically — almost immediately. Steadily, she began losing 12 pounds per week.

Her real revelation, however, came when she began the practice of recording her food intake every day, which she describes as a learning experience. “I thought I was eating healthful foods, and I was, in part,” she says. “But in recording my intake, I woke up to how many calories I was consuming, especially in healthful foods like nuts and cheese, but in quantities too large for my optimal daily intake of 1,200 calories.”

For the remainder of 2014, she diligently followed the program and became instinctively aware of what foods were best for her body and for weight loss. “Recording my meals helped me stay accountable,” she says. “It works like clockwork. If you stick to the program, the weight comes off. It’s that simple.”

When she consulted with her surgeon ahead of her first knee replacement, their conversation helped her begin to realize just how much weight is tied to overall health — more specifically, how obesity is linked to poor health. She got the message. By the time she had her first knee replacement surgery in July 2015, she had shed 30 pounds. Daily exercise and physiotherapy were crucial to her successful recovery, and she found them more manageable after losing weight. But she still wasn’t able to walk very far because she needed a second knee replacement.


> This Stay-at-Home Dad Put Numbers to Work to Lose 110 Pounds
> How MyFitnessPal Empowered Me to Beat My Eating Disorder
> 10 Great #TransformationTuesday Successes on Instagram
> Jesse’s 95-Pound Weight-Loss Journey Started with Prom

But then came the challenge of the second surgery in January 2016. Her recovery was more intense, which made her rehabilitation process more arduous. So did her day job: As a freelance writer, Gee spends most of her work hours sedentary. That didn’t help her bounce back physically (though plunging back into her work helped her mentally). By last October, she had gained back the weight she had lost and was virtually unable to exercise again.

Recommitting to the same weight-loss plan required more work, but Gee took the plunge: It’s the only process that had ever worked for her, she says. She quickly realized the discomfort in one of her new knees eased when she lost weight, and she was tired of her weight draining her of energy. So she began again. After her recovery from her second surgery, she was able to start exercising more immediately, which further bolstered her spirits. She began with brief walks down the block and increased her time and distance daily. Within a few weeks, as her knee healed, she was walking for pleasure daily.

Today, she has since lost 20 pounds, is down a pants size and is able to walk to her local rec center for Zumba classes regularly. She thinks of her new knees as “deserving less weight on them — the miracle for me is to be able to walk again.”

What she likes best about integrating MyFitnessPal into her life is that it focuses on balance, not deprivation. She has been able to decrease her intake of sugary, nutrient-poor foods while increasing protein and fiber and rebuilding her physical stamina.

Now, at 65, she feels like she’s regained her health in many ways. “Life is already better because I’ve lost the weight,” she says. “I plan to stay healthy for as long as I can.”

About the Author

Kim Westerman
Kim Westerman

Kim Westerman is a freelance travel, food, coffee and wine writer and a longtime writing teacher with an interest in mindfulness and contemplative studies. She lives with her wife and two young children in Berkeley, California.


41 responses to “Losing Weight When You Physically Can’t Exercise: Doreen’s Journey”

  1. Avatar Anne Wozniak says:

    Awesome inspiration! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Avatar Anne says:

    1200 calories is never a healthy intake. It is far too low. I wish the diet industry would stop using this stupid number like it should rule people’s lives. This is not an optimal intake.

    • Avatar Christin says:

      I’ve even seen things online saying things like women should not eat more than 2,000 calories a day.
      That’s a load of bull! My weight loss for activity level is 1,800. Then add about 700-1,000 (some days it has been more) exercise calories. That’s a lot of food!
      Went on low carb low sugar diet for my husband because he’s been diagnosed as a diabetic. Though I don’t know much about diabetes. But in two days of cutting back on my sugar and carbs, still eating 1,800. I’ve lost 1.5 pounds in two days.
      And I also have osteoarthritis in both my knees. But doing only walking and lifting and light zumba, the proper shoes for my knees and proper compression sleeves for both work and my workouts, my knees have gotten better. There are many things I can do now that I couldn’t before and no pain.

      • Avatar Debbie says:

        What is your percentage of body fat? You don’t need to share your answer here, but osteoarthritis is often caused by metabolic changes due to having a higher percentage of body fat. There are many other reasons for osteo, however. I’m certainly not implying anything either way, so please don’t take it that way. I’m only asking just because there wasn’t enough information provided to discuss what you said.

        The average woman can’t consistently consume 2,000 calories per day without gaining weight. But someone who’s a professional tennis player, for example, would likely need more than 2,000 calories per day. There’s a lot of factors that go into determining how many calories to consume to maintain a healthy weight, including metabolism.

        I was pre-diabetic. I completely reversed it by losing weight, exercising, and changing my diet. I cut out soda, even diet soda, potatoes, rice, and pasta, and I ate more fruits, vegetables, and plain Greek yogurt. I ate clean and always ate protein with every meal and snack. And yes, I used MFP daily. I still do. I’ve logged in for over 600 days now.

        I still have more weight to lose because, I too, have osteoarthritis in my knees brought on by being overweight and my golden retriever. Yes, my rambunctious golden playfully tackled my knees back in 2005, tearing the meniscus in my left knee. I mentioned it to my doctor back then, but all she did was give me pills. I should have insisted on PT. It wouldn’t have helped, so then I should have had x-rays and an MRI. Instead, proper treatment (surgery) wasn’t received for over ten years.

        And yes, hindsight is always 20/20.

        Anyway, I’ve got a spot of bone-on-bone osteo in my left knee because I didn’t get the torn meniscus fixed for ten years. My gait is still off, which is killing my back. And eleven months after I got the meniscus fixed, I had surgery in January for a torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder, which occurred back in 2013. I’m still recovering from that and am currently in PT. Again.

        So weight loss got stymied temporarily with each surgery. But now I’m getting back into exercising again.

        Can you recommend a good Zumba shoe? I need some better shoes too, because proper support is essential. Thnx!

        • Avatar Christin says:

          I really don’t know a good shoe for zumba. All mine is done at home on carpet in my bare feet. Big screen TV, game console and YouTube. But it’s light, no jumping around.
          I’m about 25-26%, but that’s going off online calculators and measuring tape. But I have genically bad knees from my mom’s side of the family. Many people claim bad knees are solely from weight gaim, my knees have been dislocating since I was a lil girl (and I was underweight) Now they’ve stopped, but I have Osteoarthritis.
          I can’t do sports or run period. All I do is walk, lift and my light zumba and I burn, burn, burn.
          Some days I’m hitting a 2,800 calorie day if I been to work (walking and lifting) come home and walk up hill on my treadmill and do 30 mins to an hour of lifting.
          I rarely calorie count, but watch what I eat. Healthy fat and carbs, LOTS of protein, green veggies. Don’t eat fried foods, potatoes, things like that. But some people consider me a strict eater cause I only eat certain foods at certain times then have a shut off time when I stop for the evening, but the evening time is when I go all out and feast. And Saturday is my anything goes day, all measured eating goes out the window. If I see and want it, I eat it.
          I do get tested and last year had numbers so low was told they didn’t register on the meter. So I put down as having the health age of an 18-year-old, when I was 33. Now I will be 34 in April, and my health age got bumped up to 21 cause my Glucose showed on the meter at 107. So now I have to pinpoint what caused it and correct. Have added new foods in my diet which are higher in carbs and sugar, so I gotta see what caused my spike.
          Still a few pounds over weight, but not too worried about it. Even at my screening and doctor’s office my weight is never mentioned, being I’m an all out healthy person.
          I also hate sports and would like to run, but can’t. My knees won’t allow it. But I’m doing way better than my family and don’t need knee surgery as of now due to my compression sleeves. But I do wear Hoka One One Bondi 4 to workout in. I also have Equines Deformity in both my feet which causes the Plantar Fascitiis and so I have to wear hinged plastic braces on both my feet at work.
          They keep up with me where I still can walk and lift at work.

          Each individual woman has their very own mark for how much they can eat. Some more, some less. We’re all different. But putting a specific number on how much all woman should eat is something that shouldn’t be done.

          • Avatar Deby Decker says:

            For a good shoe of any kind try Vionic!!! Great shoes. Expensive, but worth every penny. I’ve got boots, casual shoes, sandal and dress shoes from them. You have to go online to find them. I’m an R.N. and worked 12 hr shifts at a busy inner city hospital. Shoes do make a differance.

          • Avatar Nancy says:

            Yes, Vionic the best, worth the price. The only shoes I can wear and my bunions not hurt. Can walk for hours.

          • Avatar george.anaya says:

            I was paid 104,000 thousand dollars last year by freelancing from my house a­­n­­d I was able to do it by work­ing in my own time f­­o­­r few h on daily basis. I used a business opportunity I found online and I am so happy that i was able to make so much money on the side. It’s newbie-friendly a­­n­­d I’m so happy that i discovered this. Check out what I did… http://libr­.­ae/59cTv

          • Avatar Debbie says:

            My niece has had knee problems since her teens… she was injured accidentally by another cheerleader, but she has flat, narrow feet, and I noticed her gait needed correcting. So yeah, knee issues can be caused by many things.

            How much someone can or can’t eat is definitely different for each person. For example, if someone has lost a lot of weight, their metabolism slows down, which makes it hard easier to regain, etc. There’s so many factors, that it’s not one formula fits all. But it can be used as a guideline.

            Your glucose—was that fasting? If it was after eating and within a certain timeframe after a meal, I wouldn’t be concerned. It will naturally go up. You can always get retested while fasting.

            If it was 107 while fasting, I’d recommend getting your A1C tested just to see what that number is.

            I was pre-diabetic. My A1C was 6.1. Finally got it between 5.4 and 5.6. What’s your husband’s, if you both don’t mind me asking? My glucose while fasting was… shoot. Can’t recall. I’d have to look it up. I’d say it was 106. Went down quite a lot since. I think it went down to 92?? Gee, I’ll have to check.

            I’m struggling to stay awake. I worked out at the gym and did more than I’ve been able to do since my surgery. So that was cool. But I’m sleepy now! ☺

          • Avatar Christin says:

            That was while I was Fasting, but more than likely was due to the extra sugar and the fact I haven’t been lifting as much lately.
            Forgot what he told me, but it was up there.
            Still waiting on the meter, he went to get it but they were closed, early. So now he has to wait till Monday.
            I’ve noticed the low sugar /low carb thing works some, but it effects my lifting being I need sugar and carbs to fuel myself before a workout.
            So I’m just holding in there for now till it gets down.
            And he’s already doing better, his went down to 140 in a few days without fasting, but on medication. Thanks to an employee who has her own meter.
            Still waiting to see what mine will be.
            Once mine goes down, and to where I want it to be, I’m more than likely gonna to stick to a low sugar/low carb diet on none lifting days, then go all out on lifting days.
            The fact I can’t run put a damper on me and what my life will be like when I’m older, but I came across a lady in her 50s who had a broken ankle and couldn’t do jack on her feet. But she was fit as ever because she took up lifting.
            So I thought that was a good idea, tried it, and it worked. Laid off the pressure on my knees, got proper foot wear, compression sleeves, lifted more. Knees got better and I got fitter.

      • Avatar RYAN says:

        You really think you’re burning 700-1000 calories a day in exercise with walking and light zumba?? You need to re-think your numbers there.

        • Avatar Christin says:

          No. You don’t know how to read apparently. It’s my job which is very physical. Just walking and lifting. I timed myself at unloading 900 lbs in 7 minutes. All 50 lbs and higher.
          So do that, walk about 12,000-14,000 steps, lifting anywhere between 3,000-4,000 lbs a day, get home, and go on a dog walk still. You burn some calories.
          Then on a good half day I still walk 10,000 steps, come home, house work, lift and treadmill, or light zumba, more dog walks.
          Ever heard of a Reverse Diet? I lose weight on it. But it has to be a dedication of the right foods and controlled lifting.
          You apparently have never heard of women being on that type of diet where they can eat as much as a man can and either maintain or still lose weight.
          I eat more than my husband and I’m still losing weight, pound by pound.
          But weight loss for me takes longer cause there are times when I have to put everything on hold and maintain my weight for a long time from work and home.

          • Avatar RYAN says:

            Then don’t say things like, “I’ve even seen things online saying things like women should not eat more than 2,000 calories a day.
            That’s a load of bull!”
            Activity level has everything to do with how much you eat a day. Also, 700-1000 calories a day is still WAAAY overshooting your activity level. In one sitting, a 165 pound person will burn 700 calories by running 10 MPH for 30 minutes. Picking up boxes and walking a little is not the same total energy expenditure. I’m sure you’re losing weight, but you could lose much faster by bringing your calorie consumption down and widening your deficit. (10000 steps is barely 1.5 miles), (lifting doesn’t burn many calories).
            Are you a competitive body building cutting weight for shows? If not, why are you trying a “reverse diet” and why are you restricting calories enough to even need to try that? Do you think you’re “damaging” your metabolism? That doesn’t actually happen fyi.
            A consistent diet is the key to losing weight. Eat less than you burn, and you lose weight, simple as that. Start at 1500/day. Lose weight? Great! To fast? Bump to 1800. To slow? Drop to 1300. Reevaluate and adjust. Not complicated.

          • Avatar Christin says:

            And yet again, I need a reason to be on a Reverse Diet?
            Because I want to be. I see better results in muscle eating more.
            Do I want to be skinny?
            I’m a woman who actually prefers being THICK.
            Thick, fit and healthy. And it’s working by approval of my yearly Bio Screening done by my health insurance company (whom also provide free health coaches and nutritionists which both gave my eating habits the clear)  AND cleared by MY doctor.
            I don’t want to be skinny fitting into a size two pants.
            Most women want that, I don’t.
            I’m a size 14 with about 15 pounds or so to lose and still fit and THICK.
            And the faster you lose weight, the more saggy, loose skin you have. For anyone wanting to show off legs and arms, it’s actual best to go slow, apply lotion with vitamin E daily and moisturizing body wash with vitamin e.
            I’ve lost about 40 pounds or less in about four years and no saggy or lose skin. Tone as can be. 
            You eat, you lift, you gain muscle, muscle burns fat. I can’t do cardio to burn fat. So therefore, I lift. Works for me.
            And there women who have fallen into the mind set where “women can only eat so many calories a day”.
            With that, they weren’t seeing great  results, like me. So they threw that logic out the window, bulked up their eating to man sized portions, eating certain foods on their own macros intake and got into power lifting.
            Total transformation!
            Now I don’t wanna look like a female body builder, plus my knees won’t be able to take the weight of power lifting, so I’m on a lighter intake.
            But it is possible for women to eat more and not count how much they’re burning. It’s something not all women are in to cause they wanna look petite, which is their choice.
            I don’t want to look petite. I like having muscle with some fat, as long as it is all within the guidelines of a doctor. And for mine, so far, so good.
            Mine got a surprise when she asked where I had been going for my results and I told her home.
            There’s more to fitness than burn more to eat more.
            I’m not saying for people to stop doing what they’re doing. But there is such a thing where people can burn less, eat more and see results. They’re just gonna be on the thicker side. And it’s not fast like cardio.
            It really does exist.
            And I do cardio. Treadmill faces the wall, full incline, walk a warm up to 3.0-3.3, go for 30 to an hour, headphones on, but it’s relaxing to me. I LOVE my treadmill time.

          • Avatar Christin says:

            And I commend Ms. Doreen for losing weight despite the fact she can’t exercise due to her surgeries.
            I’m lifting because I have the same thing in both knees, it’s been a genetic disadvantage for me since I was a kid.
            Then, from weight gain as well later on in my adult life.
            But with joining MFP, watching my calories. Which for my activity had set me at 1,700 for weight loss.
            Then I found my calling with lifting. Switched to a higher calorie intake over 2,000 and started seeing more results with me body, would lose about a pound every 1-2 months and the pain in my knees slowly subsided.
            But as of lately I couldn’t lift much, and gained 6 pounds. Switched MFP back to weight loss with my lower weight, even with the added 6 pounds.
            My weight loss got bumped up to 1,880.
            I’m following the baseline between 1,880-2,000 and lost 2 pounds in a few days.
            I haven’t been lifting the past two weeks. So my weight has maintained at the two pound loss.
            It’s not cardio (much), I’m not consistently counting how much is going in and going out, but I do read ingredients etc.
            But it works fine, for me.

          • Avatar Lisa says:

            Women’s and men’s bodies are different, we get it. There’s more to fitness than walking, zumba, treadmill, etc. Try lifting some free weights, have you done that? Not the machines, the actual free weights. That is NOT powerlifting, a sport you’re not qualified to do. You need to educate yourself a bit more before you go on the attack. Women need to lift weights, it builds bone density. You like that, right? You can be a lump or a pencil, but with your attitude and knowledge base, you’re surely a pain in the rear.

          • Avatar Christin says:

            I just said lifting.
            Learn to read before you post.
            I lift free weights. And free weights can be used as power lifting when adding a couple hundred pounds.
            Again, I cannot power lift.
            You didn’t read anything, you’re just wanting to start something.
            And I have a bone density of 8.7 from lifting FREE WEIGHTS.
            Anything else? If you have any more questions, I’ll gladly ask my doctor, health coach and health nutritionist.
            I get defensive cause I don’t believe this bull crap where women have to starve themselves.
            Many women take their number seriously and punish themselves for going over a day. I feel horrible for them.
            I’m not saying to go out and eat whatever, but tomorrow is a new day. It’ll be okay.
            It’s sad to see women act like that, they stress out so much over going over 1,400. Then if they don’t lose that pound by their due date, here comes the starvation.
            I’m over weight as well, but the weight has slowly been coming off over the years. And still losing, but I’m not starving myself to get there.
            One week I lose an ounce, the next I maintain. Then the next I lose a pound.
            A year later, I’ve lost only 10 pounds, but my clothes have shrunk, I’ve gained so much endurance, heart is in top shape from being so active while still being overweight.
            But like heck I’m gonna starve myself and let a number rule me.
            Mind you I do read ingredients and stay away from junk food, but still eat it on special occasions.

          • Avatar Christin says:

            And everything I’m doing that everyone is disagreeing with is doctor approved. She had asked me where I was going for having seen such GREAT results.
            No where. It’s all done at home. Treadmill, light zumba and lifting. Then I also have a job that is more walking and lifting. That doesn’t mean all out weight loss, it means having a healthy heart from moving and none stiff joints because I’m moving all parts of my body basically.
            Walking around in Walmart after eating is even healthy. And no, you don’t burn all you ate. You’re up, you’re moving, you’re walking. That’s what’s healthy.
            Only tid bit is that I still gotta lose some weight.
            My knees have gotten better since laying off the hard core stuff. As much as I like cardio boxing and squats, it’s something my knees don’t agree with.
            But here in the next few months I’m going back for a check up and see about getting a referral for a couple of visits for physical therapy so I can perform proper knees exercises to keep my knees strong.
            Being healthy doesn’t straight up mean counting how many calories are coming in verses what’s going out.
            Lay off the the wine and junk food, drink more water, eat more salads, eat more protein, get up, get out and have fun. Walk through a park, a museum. That’s healthy as well. Just as much as counting calories, but it doesn’t have to rule our lives.

          • Avatar Rae says:

            “(10000 steps is barely 1.5 miles)”
            This isn’t accurate at all. I’ve measured both my Misfit and my phone’s pedometer (S Health) against both track distance and treadmill distance. There is some slight variation, but 2k steps is ~ 1 mile, so 10k is about 5. Generally speaking, walking a mile will burn about 100 calories, so with 10k steps, you’re burning about 500 calories more than just sitting and doing NO walking. In your example, a 165lb person running 10mph for 30 minutes is still running 5 miles. They’re burning more calories because they’re obviously working A LOT harder than someone at a 4mph pace.
            Agree that a consistent diet is key, and you’re probably right about Christin overestimating exercise calories, because we almost all do. Based on her description of her day, though, I can easily see her burning 700-1000 above BMR if she’s on her feet and lifting/carrying heavy boxes all day.

          • Avatar Lisa says:

            No, he didn’t misread your post. You say, “… But doing only walking and lifting and light zumba…” You have a warehouse personality.

    • Avatar Ellie says:

      If you want to lose 2lbs a week, you need a calorie deficit per day of 1000 kcal. An average height and weight woman could easily have a TDEE of 2200, so 1200 kcal is the perfect amount for that rate of weight loss which is considered a steady and healthy weight. This is not an optimal intake for everyone, but it will be the optimal intake for some people. What’s misleading and far more damaging is the blind focus on 2000 kcal per day regardless of your weight, height or activity levels.

    • Avatar Debbie says:

      It depends on your height, activity level, how much weight you want to lose per week, and your current weight. That’s the formula. The key is to never eat LESS than 1200 calories. 1200 calories is for losing weight, not maintaining it. Parenthetically, women can rarely eat 2,000 calories without gaining weight unless they are into marathons or other demanding sports. Weight loss is also determined by the individual’s metabolism and thyroid function.

    • Avatar Martha Swaim says:

      When I was age 19-24, I was able to maintain my weight of 120 pounds on a 1200 calorie diet. I did not own a car. I walked or rode my bicycle everywhere, including to work, grocer, laundry, friends. Then I injured my foot and began a yo-yo diet that has lasted forty years. I have been on diets as low as 500 calories, I have tried vegetarian, vegan-(McDougal), low-cal, low-carb-(both Stillman and Atkins). I am currently on low-carb vegan and am back to my weight in 2001 when I injured my hip and knee. I am still on 1200 calories.

    • Avatar Doreen Gee says:

      I think that you miss the point of the “My Fitness Pal” system. It is actually a very ingenious weight management program, as opposed to just another diet! I have never felt deprived while using My Fitness Pal. The program focuses on packing the most nutrution possible into those 1200 calories. By tracking all of my fat, carb and sugar intake, I can put as much nutrition into those 1200 calories as is humanly possible. If I want to eat healthy, I have to! On the surface, 1200 calories seerms that I am not getting enough nutrition but in realty, the opposite is true: I have never eaten better in my life! The other brilliant part of My Fitness Pal is that the more I exercise, the more calories I can ingest. So, My Fitness Pal is a very clever process for me to get fit and in shape. Plus, one of the biggest benefits of this program is that I have stopped eating cake, muffins and cookies – which are very bad for my health – and started eating more fresh fruit and veggies. For the first time in my life, I am realizing how incredibly delicious these foods are. Most of all, I am very grateful to My Fitness Pal for helping me to kick my addiction to white sugar, which is one of the biggest threats to anyone’s health

    • Avatar Melissa Painter says:

      Actually, my nutritionist recently put me on this and my MD said it is perfectly fine. I am eating plenty of food, maybe more then before but the choices have less calories and are much healthier. More fruits & veggies then I’ve consumed in years! And I’ve lost 12 lbs in 4 weeks.

  3. Avatar Debbie says:

    Good article. I think what many people don’t realize is that obesity is far more detrimental to one’s health than they might think. Everyone pretty much knows that obesity can cause heart attacks or clogged arteries. But the very fact that someone is obese may bring on nasty metabolic changes, such as diabetes, chronic inflammation, and arthritis.

    I was reading that it’s not the stress on the joints that causes arthritis, it’s the metabolic changes. That was an eye-opener. Doreen used My Fitness Pal to log her meals. I’ve personally benefited from logging my food and exercise to help me reach my fitness goals.

    Even if you don’t want to lose weight, logging your food is still incredibly helpful. You may think you’re eating a healthy balance of macros and micros, but 9 times out of 10, you’ll find there’s something that needs tweaking. Most people that log their food are amazed how much sugar, fat, and calories they actually consume.

    MFP doesn’t differentiate between ADDED sugars and what is naturally found in food. Since food labels do not reflect that information yet, MFP can’t either. Unfortunately, it’s the same with B vitamins.

    It’s important to note that if you’re eating clean and sticking to fruits, vegetables, and dairy, there will be naturally occurring sugars in those foods. Those are not harmful. (However, if you’re needing to manage blood glucose, there are extra steps you need to take to ensure there are no untoward spikes.) I always eat protein with every meal or snack to help my body deal with naturally occurring sugars.

    One of the real dangers to healthy eating is processed foods that are almost always laden with added sugar and sodium, not to mention additives, preservatives, and food coloring.

    But there’s another danger that is often overlooked: adding too much sugar or salt yourself to what otherwise would have been a healthy meal.

    For instance, when I began making my homemade vegetarian soups, I diligently logged all the ingredients. To my surprise, I discovered that I was using entirely too much salt. It sure didn’t taste too salty!

    So I cut back drastically on the salt and threw in a lot more spices to give my soup more flavor. I also add one or two tablespoons of Bragg’s nutritional yeast to each bowl of soup for additional B vitamins and flavor. I’m not a fan of nutritional yeast’s taste except in my homemade soups. Luckily, then, it’s a flavor enhancer.

    A friend of mine has strict dietary requirements for his various ailments, and he’s always prided himself that he’s been eating clean for years. However, he was adding two tablespoons of maple syrup to his daily breakfast of oatmeal and berries. Maple syrup is sugar. Even though he was eating egg whites with his breakfast, he still was consuming a big load of simple carbs. This practice was detrimental to his health goals.

    I advised him to stick to steel cut oats, not rolled, to lay off the maple syrup entirely, and add a tablespoon of chia seeds instead. The chia seeds provide antioxidants and healthy fats, which helps slow absorption and keeps you feeling fuller longer.

    Not sure you want to log your food? I didn’t either. It sounded like such a drag. But the experience was far more rewarding and less a hassle than I had assumed. I’ve been logging my food for over 600 days now.

    Try MFP for a month. What can you lose, except those bad habits that have prevented you from being the healthiest you’ve ever been?

  4. Avatar Debbie says:

    My latest blog post—I cited this article and provided a link to it, also. ☺

    Can An App Really Help You Lose Weight? My Fitness Pal is a free app that I utilize daily to record my food and exercise. Not only does it help tweak my diet, but I’ve found the daily …

  5. Avatar Charlee Tiseo says:

    I have been stuck on my weight loss journey at 1200 calories (and 909 days)for over a year.
    I did a metabolism medical study thru the hospital and found out that the calories and workout program I was following faithfully … I was starving my body. Who knew? I was eating healthy(no bread no sugar no potatoes NOTHING WHITE!)working out 5 days a week and my body was storing absolutely everything I ate because it thought I was starving it!! I did the study they raised my calories to 1700-1900 depending on how many calories I burned that day(easting back half of the calories burned with good fats and proteins that keep me burning calories all day long). The weight has started coming off again and I am never hungry.

    • Avatar Terri says:

      I have to agree with you Charlee. I have always maintained a low calorie count 1200 or less but I have a sedentary job and I am a dreadful sleeper. I am 61. I gained a lot of weight. I recently joined a gym and have a personal trainer 2 times per week and I also started attending a Zumba class 3 times per week. The gym advised me to eat 2000 calories per day. I was terrified I would gain a ton of weight but amazingly I have lost between 1to 3 pounds every week and now after 10 weeks have actually lost 23 pounds…who knew. They also advised me that I was keeping my body in a constant state of starvation and that my body in fact was holding onto every bit to survive. I have also tried to increase my sleeping time though this is more of a struggle for me as this is also a key component to weight loss. I do track my meals and I have macros of 30 fat 35 protein and carbs. I also have arthritis in my knees and I have to be careful of what I do but I have found good shoes definitely helps with Zumba. I do think calories vary by person and activity but I also think 1200 calories per day is not enough and you do need to feed your body with good nutritious food that may have more calories ( i.e. Avacado) but are filled with nutrients that provide your Body with vitamins, antitoxins and all the things needed to help bones be strong and to help you heal and keep your body healthy. It is too bad that there is so much body shaming and focus on being skinny by eating nothing. Love yourself no matter what your size. Do the best you can as anything is better than nothing. Also you would be amazed how many calories you can burn doing a good Zumba class.

  6. Avatar Laura says:

    Stop counting calories, and lets focus on whole plant foods, like vegetables, legumes, starches, fruits and occasional nuts and seeds. check out WSLF Diet, you’ll never need to starve yourself again! 🙂 Carbs are not the enemy, I am slim, fit, all thanks to whole starch plant based diet. Don’t restrict – replace 😉

  7. Avatar David Jones says:

    It is surprising how much healthy food you can pack into 1200 calories. Vegetables and salad with smaller portions of protein and carbs, can be very filling. Tracking food choices as well as macros and nutritional value ensures a healthy way of losing weight. Also the need to regularly re-evaluate your food choices as you lose weight and increase mobility is important. Short sighted comments are not helpful. I’ve lost weight on 1200 calories and at the time I had limited mobility. As soon as I was exercising I increased my calories accordingly. I also used multivitamins to supplement shortfalls in my diet. The amount of fruit and vegetables I ate each day was staggering and a 350 calorie salad was difficult to finish not just the size of the portion but the amount of chewing was tiring and jaw aching. So for those of you who doubt the healthiness of a1200 calorie eating plan need to prove your theory or change your mindset. No offence meant. Also studying metabolism and exercise has helped me stay on track. My advice plan , lose weight and exercise. Replan regularly as you get fitter. Also have a plan for eating healthy on less calories if you’re injured or stressed so as not to put the weight back on. Never feel guilty for the odd slip in eating. Also be aware of friends and family who are feeders and will push you back into bad habits. The best quote I’ve read was exercise like a beast eat like a beauty. Take care guys , keep fit and keep losing. Also keep inspiring.

  8. Avatar Virginia says:

    Congratulations Doreen! You look wonderful and are an inspiration to everyone who must deal with age and physical challenges on top of the usual hard work required to improve our health, strength and energy.

    To my fellow commentators – your sincerity and dedication to pursuing health (and helping others to do the same) is impressive. It is a good idea to remember that every person is a complex individual. We each go through a journey of discovery as we listen to good information, apply it to ourselves and then learn what works for us and what is less helpful. Best wishes to all of you.

  9. Avatar Christin says:

    I’m not a diabetic and I already take cinnamon. Either in powder or the capsules.
    What more than likely done it was the honey or granola. Or both.
    Last year I wasn’t eating honey, granola and greek yogurt (with live active cultures). But the yogurt I was experimenting with different flavors. But stuck with the Great Value brand plain Greek yogurt as it has live active cultures, with little sugar and carbs when taken half a cup a day.
    Serving size says a cup, but the half cup I found works good for me.
    Those live active cultures work well for my gut and lady parts. Better than taking all the pills and creams. So getting rid of that type of yogurt is the last thing I want to do. So I may end up switching to that Oinkos zero.
    I’m the kind of person where antibiotics do more harm than good, because of my gut.
    My husband though is the confirmed diabetic just now. So I’m gonna be helping him along his journey and eating with him.
    For instance, if I eat chocolate or ice cream (when my Glucose is better), it’s gonna have to be at work. And he already went through all the junk at home.
    We’re getting a meter today and since I registered a 107, I’m gonna be use it on and off to track my glucose. But I’m not gonna use it every day since it’s for him.
    My MFP name is Blackdawn_70631 if you wanna request.
    I could use some tips on what diabetics go through to help out my husband.
    He just found out a few days ago when we done our screening.

  10. Avatar Carrie Connolly says:

    I had peaked at a miserable 219 lbs (I’m 58, 5’6″) on Jan. 2016. Worse than that, I was pre-diabetic, cholesterol was high and my body (including arthritic knee) hurt all the time. Seems like I had added 7-8lbs/yr after having a family..I’m a stress (emotional) eater, too. Fast forward to what happened-February 2016, I started using FitnessPal app and walked in the door of a local (very supportive) gym. In one year, I’ve lost 39 lbs and have maintained. This has always been the catch! But, I don’t diet, I track and observe my choice of food. I track AMOUNT..serving size does matter. I eat about 1300-1400 calories a day (water is essential!). I, recently, had a lung cancer surgery (I’m good!), but, just walking as much as my body allows for last 3 mo. With watching food intake, I’m staying about 179-180lbs. Once I can get moving more, I’d like to work on maybe 20-25lbs and get stronger, like I was last year. Thanks all..its about being honest with one’s self and leave the judgement at the door!!❤

    • Avatar Christin says:

      I’m just an inch taller than you and was at the same weight. Just wait till you lose more! But you got this, and that’s how you’re supposed to eat. Watching in moderation.
      Hope you can jump back into your regular routine shortly. ❤

  11. Avatar Alexandra says:

    Good morning,
    I was hoping that someone could answer my question. I am 53 and in menopause, I have been on my fitness pal since January and have lost about 22 pounds but I have been stuck at that weight for about 3 weeks and can’t lose anymore weight.
    I have been on about a 1200-1300 cal diet and have stuck to that with no cheating.
    Thank you for your help.

  12. Avatar Lisa says:

    You go, girl! We’re proud of you Doreen. 😉

  13. Avatar Patricia says:

    At age 60 I was also a couch potato bc of the pain I was in. I was 60 pounds over weight and couldn’t stand it anymore. A year ago I had double knee replacement at the same time. I was determined to make this work. With the help of my fitness pal to get me starting to eat right and lots of determination to get off the couch, I won! I lost 60 lbs and have taken over 2 million steps since my surgery. My reward, a full sleeve tattoo and lots of new clothes!

  14. Avatar Yvonne Richardson says:

    I wish I could lose weight I slipped a disc in my back I’ve been like this now for 2 years just turned 36 yesterday was a walker jogger personal trains in the Water Swimming exercising was 306 pounds went down to 166 2008 developed the thyroid condition in the weight came right back I eat good keep a low calorie diet low sugar healthy fats and still try to get around even if it has to be using a carriage in the supermarket I feel so bad definitely depressed don’t have a social life like I used to I just feel like my life is just about over I just wish that there was something I could do about it

  15. Avatar Cathy says:

    I am also in need of both knee replacements because of arthritis. Being overweight is not helping either. My doctor will not do the surgeries until I lose some of my weight. He said in the past few years they gave been finding out that being overweight complicates the recovery by up to 65%. I have also been struggling on losing the weight without being able to do much exercise. I can barely walk because of the pain in my knees. I would love to see more blogs about people being in this situation and how they have found to lose the weight.

  16. Avatar Antigone Klima says:

    When weight is your only fitness measurement, you’ll never be healthy. This focus on weight instead of fitness is just plain dumb. Almost as stupid as this BMI nonsense, or that all women’s waist sizes must stay under 36”. Saying “you must eat 1000 calories a week less to lose weight” is so blatantly simplified as to be meaningless. There are so many other factors to consider. None of these single number, tweet-sized, weight management tidbits work for everyone or in the long run.

    Two people with the same exact caloric deficit may well lose weight at different levels. What about basal metabolic rates? What about underlying, undetected conditions? How do their medications impact weight? How easily does the person build muscle? How “stubborn” are their fat cells?

    And this focus on BMI is utterly laughable. If the only numbers going into the formula are height and weight, then it’s still just a height and weight chart. Period. It can’t be anything else. If all you care about is the BMI, you can be incredibly fit and be listed as unhealthy, or incredibly unfit and be deemed healthy.

    Then there’s my personal favorite, no woman’s waist size should be over 36”. Really? What if she’s pregnant? Or her system retains gas instead of expels it? Plus, this inherently takes “health” down to a single number, regardless of whether you’re 5’10” or 4’9”.

    Until the whole person is taken into account, and wellness is the real measure, the fitness industry is just one giant shaming machine aimed at making you feel so bad about yourself that you’ll buy their lies and products to meet some meaningless goal that has nothing to do with how you feel or how long you’ll live.

    Sure, people feel better when they lose weight … society’s programmed them to! Yes, some physical things improve when weight is lower. Some things get worse, too. But nobody ever talks about those. Things like “skinny women” are much more likely to have bone density problems, osteoporosis, or look older as they age because there’s little or no fat on their skulls to support a youthful appearance, and so on. There’s a lady at work who’s three years older than me. She’s viewed as the picture of health because she’s so skinny and eats “very healthy”. And yet everyone thinks I’m about 15-20 years younger than her because her face, body, and skeleton literally sag, and her bones break on a regular basis. Meanwhile I get derided for being overweight even though every single internal marker of health is good to excellent.

    All this being said, this isn’t an excuse to weigh over 300# or eat cheesecake and French fries all the time. It’s difficult for most women to be healthy over 200#, although some athletes over 6’ tall are. It’s also hard to be healthy under 100#, although some women under 5’ are.

    I remember one season of dancing with the stars when a runway model was on there. Her partner was shocked by how unfit she was. She’d eaten so little for so long that she didn’t have the muscle strength or stamina to do anything, and she was practically in tears when she gained a pound of muscle because she believed it would kill her career.

    Tell the “beauty” and “fitness” industries to sod off and be the best you that you can be, regardless of the short-sighted, over-simplified, and shaming messaging.

    Using tools like fitness pal can help you toward your health goals. Don’t sully it by using it to attain someone else’s goal for you that’s based on their ideals of what you “should be” rather than the reality of what you can and want to be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Never Miss a Post!

Turn on MyFitnessPal desktop notifications and stay up to date on the latest health and fitness advice.


Click the 'Allow' Button Above


You're all set.