The lazy nerd’s guide to weight loss

February 25, 2014 | 64 comments

The bad thing about committing yourself to writing a post a day is that it inspires you to write about subjects that you might normally have the good sense to avoid, like weight loss. I know that this topic isn’t everyone’s thing. Joe, for example, stares at the nearest exit like someone trapped in a room filled with skunks (and spiders…and menacing clowns…that is also on fire) every time I bring up what he refers to as “weight loss chat.”

However, I have poured a tremendous amount of time and thought and energy into this subject over the years, which makes it easy post material for me, which means that it’s time to break out the weight loss chat here at casa Conversion Diary!

A while back I lost 30 pounds that I’d carried around since my first pregnancy, and I kept it off — not because I’m naturally skinny or I like to exercise or I have great self control, but because I made a huge push to get rid of the weight, and I learned a lot in the process. I studied and researched and kept journals and just about melted my phone from analyzing it all with a friend, and eventually I found a way to get it done that works for me. Now I have six kids under age ten and I weigh about what I did when I got married.

I can’t tell you what foods you should eat, what exercises you should do, or exactly what program will work for you. What I can offer is a brain dump of every lesson I learned on my own journey. I can share the general principles that helped me finally meet my fitness goals after years and years of trying.

These ARE the running pants that come in "long".

These ARE the running pants that come in “long”.

If, like Joe, a piece of you dies every time someone starts on weight loss chat, I recommend perusing the writing of some of the other bloggers who are updating every day this week, like Heather. Oh, wait, she’s talking about weight loss too. Then maybe Kristen, who admits that she’s not really a Lent person, or Christy, who asks if being overwhelmed by the demands of family life makes her a bad friend.

But if you want to see a list of the ideas that helped one lazy nerd lose 30 pounds and feel better than ever, here you go:


24 weight loss lessons I learned the hard way

1. The ultimate goal should be freedom — freedom from foods that drag you down, freedom to be as fit as you want to be, freedom to love others more than you love a number on a scale. If you’re trying to lose weight just to fit into the cute pair of jeans in time for the high school reunion, it’s not likely to lead to lasting results.

2. But it’s fine to have mixed motives. If you’re mostly seeking freedom from attachments but can’t help but occasionally imagine doing an enthusiastic fist pump after slipping into that dress you haven’t been able to wear in 10 years, that’s okay. Few people can go into an endeavor like this with perfectly pure motives.

3. You have to start from a place of surrender. The more you approach the process from a place of complete openness to new habits and new information, the more successful you’ll be.

4. Get it into your head that this is possible. After years of failing to lose weight despite my best efforts, in the back of my mind I began to believe that this was impossible. Then I did a thought experiment in which I imagined being thrown into a forced labor camp and working all day while being given only a few morsels of food, and I realized that I would, in fact, lose weight. I still didn’t know if I’d be able to do it in my real life, but it was surprisingly refreshing to remember that it was physically possible.

5. If you’ve tried and failed to lose weight a whole bunch of times, chances are that you’re eating at least a few foods that are throwing your system out of whack, either by causing an addictive response or by making you feel bad.

Beef stew with oven-roasted veggies. Mmmmmm.

Beef stew with oven-roasted veggies – a staple dinner around here.

6. Spend a couple of weeks keeping a daily food log that tracks what you ate along with two other factors: 1) how you felt physically, and 2) how much control you had over your eating (i.e. how easily you could stop when you began to feel full). Look out for food that make you feel bad and/or that your system reacts to like it’s crack cocaine. You will probably find this to be a revealing exercise.

7. When you give up foods you’re addicted to and/or don’t tolerate well, you don’t miss them. I once proclaimed that a life without fettuccine alfredo is not a life worth living, only to realize from keeping a food log that pasta is an addiction food for me. Now that it’s out of my diet altogether, I’m not even tempted by it. Seriously!

8. You’ll probably fall off the wagon a bunch of times as you attempt to give up foods that don’t work for you. Don’t beat yourself up about it; just take a moment to be mindful of how you feel. After the 836th time I noticed that having a huge sandwich and a Coke for lunch ruined my entire afternoon, I began to intimately associate that meal with feeling like a murderous sloth, and it became easier to make better choices.

9. You’re going to have to exercise. I assure you that I have tried to lose weight by restricting food alone, and the result was that I discovered that my body can miraculously maintain its weight if I eat more than 0.0005 calories per day if I’m not exercising.

Running in cold rain: still more fun than being in my house during the pre-dinner witching hour.

Running in cold rain: still more fun than being in my house during the pre-dinner witching hour.

10. Don’t worry about having an “active lifestyle.” I once read a weight loss story in a magazine where a woman said that the only way she could stay thin was by spending her free time biking, hiking, and kayaking. It struck terror into my heart when I imagined having to waste my life sweating on a bike in the woods. But luckily for me and all other aspiring brains in jars, I found that you don’t have to clock hours and hours of physical activity to get the job done — committing to thirty minutes of intense exercise five days a week is enough. You can go back to staring at your computer after that.

11. Find an exercise that has a payoff for you other than burning calories — otherwise you’ll throw in the towel after about the third time you almost kill yourself with your workout only to see no change in your weight. As a sensitive introvert whose house is like an asylum for people who don’t know how to stop screaming, I value my jogging time for the fact that I can be alone and listen to my iPod in peace even more than I value it for the health component. An extrovert might find that meeting friends for classes at the gym has a similar non-health-related payoff.

12. You need to set aside a block of time where you can make weight loss your only big project. I recommend 12 weeks. When I finally hit my weight loss goal, I set aside 12 weeks where I was laser-focued on this pursuit. I still did normal stuff like updating my blog, schoolwork, and hanging out with the kids, but I did not work on the book during that time or undertake any other big challenges.

My FitBit numbers on a day when I didn't exercise. I should be a personal trailer who teaches people how not to move.

My FitBit numbers on a day when I didn’t exercise. I should be a personal trailer who teaches people how not to move.

13. During your 12-week focus time, you need to keep a journal that tracks your progress. It doesn’t matter what you measure, as long as you’re measuring something. In my journal, I tracked weight; food intake; exercise; how I felt throughout the day; and what excuse I used if I didn’t exercise. I still refer to it often for insights about diet and fitness strategies.

14. Commit to keeping the progress journal updated no matter what happens with the scale. It will help you learn about what foods and exercise routines work best for you, which will give you an important sense of accomplishment even if you don’t hit your weight goal.

15. Examine your food intake goals on a monthly, not daily basis. The human body is built to handle fluctuations in calories consumed; a rhythm of feasting and fasting has always been a natural part of life.

16. Accept the fact that you’re probably not going to stick to calorie goals on feast days (birthday parties, holidays, etc.) Now accept the fact that when you add up every special day in your family’s life, there are probably a ton of them — I realized that, for us, we have some sort of feast day almost once a week. Incorporate this into your life by planning to eat a little less than you need to on a normal day, so that you can eat a little more on feast days.

17. While it’s good to give yourself permission to ease up on calorie counting on feast days, try to strictly avoid the foods you’ve identified that your system doesn’t tolerate well. Eating them will trigger addictive responses, blood sugar swings, and/or cravings that can take days to recover from. (See my forthcoming book titled How Eating One Cupcake at a Birthday Party Inspired Me to Live Off Doritos for Three Days.)

I was going to add some nutritious food to the store list. I saw that Joe had his own suggestions

I was going to add some nutritious food to the store list. I saw that Joe had his own suggestions

18. If you’re approaching it the right way, trying to lose weight will involve major spiritual warfare — not because holiness has anything to do with a number on a scale, but because you’re attempting to free yourself from attachments that drag you down. We Christians call the force behind this phenomenon evil, Steven Pressfield calls it Resistance. Whatever label you want to use, know that it is real and it is going to try to stop you.

19. For the period you’ve set aside to focus on this project, you have to get into “No Excuses” mode. If you planned to go jogging but you can’t find your shoes and there’s a downpour outside, do an exercise DVD in your house, do jumping jacks in your kitchen, or run barefoot in the rain. If Resistance sees that you’re willing to accept excuses to avoid doing your work, it will bombard you with them until you quit.

20. If you’re an American, you probably need to throw out everything you know about portion sizes. When I listened to my body instead of standard ideas about what constitutes a reasonable meal size, I found that I often felt best when I had no more food than could fit in 1 1/4 measuring cups — which makes sense since the human stomach is the size of a fist. Pay close attention to what quantities of food actually fill you up, not what quantities of food you think you should eat.

22. Ask yourself if there are any hidden reasons you might not want to lose weight. For example, a friend of mine who had physical abuse in her background realized that she was afraid of being thinner because she subconsciously felt like it would make her a target for abuse. If you uncover any issues like this, don’t hesitate to get therapy. (I saw a therapist for a while and it was a great experience.)

23. Be patient with yourself. Remember that every time you “fail, ” you probably learned important lessons, too. Keep stockpiling those lessons — think of each failure as one more weapon in your arsenal of knowledge.

24. Look in the mirror. If you don’t see a beautiful person who is worthy of love no matter what size clothes she wears, forget about weight loss for a while. Spend some time talking with friends who build you up, praying, or even getting therapy to help you embrace your status as a beloved child of God. It’s not time to start trying to lose weight until you’re secure in the knowledge that your worth has nothing to do with a number on a scale.

. . .

BONUS – Here are the books I found most helpful:


I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.


  1. Jamie

    I haven’t lost any weight per se, (I only have 5lbs to lose and it can be very hard to lose 5lbs!) but I wanted to say that my New Year’s Resolution was to walk every day and I have kept it up. I am committed to a minimum of 2 miles a day. I fall asleep easier and sleep more soundly. My stomach bloating has gone down a lot. My daytime energy is better.
    The quickest way to get my walk in is to walk the kids to school and take a longer route on the way home. I GO TO SLEEP IN WORKOUT CLOTHES (baggy t-shirt and exercise pants) SO I JUST ROLL OUT OF BED AND PUT TENNIS SHOES ON! Brilliant no?

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      That is BRILLIANT. I had to do all sorts of stuff like that to keep little things like being overwhelmed by changing clothes from preventing me from working out. Love that!

    • Kelly

      I do that too! And when I don’t have workout clothes clean, I do my workout in sheep print pj pants. 🙂

    • Heidi

      This is so smart. If I have to dig through the unfolded laundry pile for a sports bra, t-shirt, and pants, I’m probably just going to turn my alarm off. I’m doing this tomorrow–thanks!!

      Also, this line “As a sensitive introvert whose house is like an asylum for people who don’t know how to stop screaming…” Our houses sound a lot alike.

  2. Joan


    Thanks for sharing your tips! I see several patients each week for weight loss, and several of the tips you mentioned are ones that I recommend to patients too! I’d be curious to hear what kind of food log you used because there are some really fun apps out there (Loseit is one of my favorites) which let you go to town scanning barcodes/etc.! 🙂


    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      I made my own journal by typing it up in a Word doc and having it bound at a printer, but I’ve been enjoying the FitBit app these days. I’ll have to check out LoseIt!

  3. Leticia Adams

    Is it sad that after reading that, I’m curling up in bed to take a nap?

  4. Mira

    I’ve been thinking recently about how I discovered your blog and realized that it was through your Saint Diet! Thank you so much for it!

    Food was consuming so much of my thoughts and I just could *not* control myself around it. Everything revolved in one way or the other around it. As the food was my idol.

    And then I read about your struggles and your thoughts about it and something finally clicked. Ever since – and I honestly say it without a trace of exaggeration – my relationship with food has not been the same.

    Food is now something I give thanks for and enjoy. Food is not something that makes me uncomfortably full. Food is here to serve me and to make my body function. Food is not the most important thing at a gathering. Food is not here for me to abuse it.

    Food is a gift from God that I get to have every day. 🙂

  5. Elena

    …or, just give up grains of all kinds and go total paleo and watch the pounds melt away!!That’s the only thing that really got my weight loss started. Totally agree about exercise though – need to do something to get those endorphins going.

    • Lynne

      I lost 40 lbs a couple of years ago, after the birth of baby 7. I must say that I pretty much agree with everything on your list except this: “When you give up foods you’re addicted to and/or don’t tolerate well, you don’t miss them. I once proclaimed that a life without fettuccine alfredo is not a life worth living, only to realize from keeping a food log that pasta is an addiction food for me. Now that it’s out of my diet altogether, I’m not even tempted by it. Seriously!” I fersure am a carbaholic. When those things are out of my diet I don’t binge, don’t crave, and lose weight with relative ease. BUT, they do tempt me. Not always overwhelmingly so, because I manage to keep them out of my diet most of the time. But it’s not like I can look at a chocolate chip cookie and feel ambivalent about it. I want.

      If you need someone to write a chapter for the forthcoming book, I’m there. In fact, maybe we can be coauthors. I want one of those gold bling necklaces of my own. 😉

      p.s I love your shoes! Are they vibrams or what? I have some like this and have really enjoyed them. Not sure I’d like the toe spaces, though. Do you?

      • Lynne

        whoops–didn’t mean for this to go here!

  6. Jenny

    Jen this is so good. I recently consented to the reality that Doritos will only and always make me lose my sh*t, and that I cannot simply have ‘a handful.’ Ever. Therefore, banned for life.

    Ironically, this was what really sealed the deal for me:

  7. Jeni

    Good advice. I wrote about weight loss Monday! 🙂

    I’m down 27 lbs since New Years!
    Not too shabby.

    I do understand how 7 in 7 may cause someone to skip any discernment about embarrassing posts…namely posting embarrassing pictures of oneself…as I may or may have not done today…

    <3 Jeni

  8. Laura

    See, I hear what you’re saying… But I’ll be hanging out on the couch with coffee and a book while you go for a run 😉

  9. Lisa Schmidt

    I find great value in all of your tips, Jen, but #24 I think is the most profound for me.

    “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

    No, I don’t think so because I cannot stand naked in front of mirror and say yes to that question. Much room for personal spiritual growth here. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience.

    • Jamie

      Remember Lisa that the Devil wants Gods beautiful people to believe they are ugly. Whenever you catch yourself having ugly thoughts about yourself, mentally ball it up and throw it out. You are GOOD. Only good. You are a creature and vessel lovingly made by God almighty. PROCLAIM IT SISTER!
      The devil tempted Eve first to separate her from God. I believe the Devil is constantly poking at women trying to lure us away and affect us spiritually and in our relationships.

  10. Becky D.

    I totally agree with what you’re saying. I’ve managed to lose about 25lbs in the last 6 months. It’s easy and hard. Easy in that it involves eating better and exercising more so I can do it. Hard because of many of the things you mentioned. I’m still getting to realize how I really can’t eat lots(okay much at all) of sugar/carbs and I’ve found once a week is my pasta limit and that is a small bowl/regular servings not a big olive garden meal. I’m trying right now to recover from the chocolate from Valentine’s. Yes it’s been almost 2 weeks. A few days of chocolate kisses and peanut butter cookies with them in them and the cravings came back all nasty. I’ve also found the only way to do it is to exercise. I’ve been doing a lot of home DVD’s since it’s been below zero/below freezing/snowy/icy forever here. Same thing I’ve been doing T25. 25 minutes and it’s done. I’m so looking forward to walking OUTSIDE. I actually signed up for a 5K in May. I really liked the Saving Dinner book you recommended. I need to buy it. I kept it from the library for many many weeks.

  11. Kathleen

    I know I need to do this.. My health is bad and i’m about 10 pounds over weight. I never used to need to diet. I was just thin.. Now it’s a struggle. Between this post and a post by Sole Searching MAMa yesterday, if God speaks through the blogosphere, this is just another sign that this LEnt I need to commit to this.

    I do think what you said about not having too much going on while you commit to the weight loss is so true. I work part time homeschool volunteer and try to pray every day. Exercise and planning healthy meals have fallen to the wayside. I eat two salads everyday, but I also shove chocolate in my mouth in the afternoons when I am tired and stressed. Thanks for the motivation! Praying for others who are planning to start this! I don’t have a blog right now, but maybe I would start one for this process. Not that people want to read about what I am eating and weighing in..

  12. Kelly Kaczmarczyk

    The link mentioning seeing a therapist is not working.

    • The other Becky

      It is now.

  13. Ruby Baxx

    Bless you Jen for coming up with this. Probably the most realistic article on weight loss. It breaks my heart when people look for just one solution to all their problems. With weight loss, you have to attack it from all different angles. Diet, exercise, habits, supplements, change of routine, etc. As the saying goes, if you keep doing the same thing, don’t expect different results. Really awesome work here. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Erin

    I’m a nutcase (so says my mother-in-law) and forced my family to give up MSG because of how it eats your brain. Little did I know that giving up MSG meant giving up basically everything that we didn’t cook ourselves from scratch. Nothing from a can, no condiments, no boxed foods. It was a radical change, but I will say that I haven’t had to worry about my weight in the past three years. It just stays off on its own. I know it’s largely because we have to cook everything and thus wind up binge-eating less, but I would encourage everyone to look into how MSG (and a bunch of other crazy additives) messes with insulin response. Just eating purer food can really help reduce cravings and keep puffiness at bay.

  15. Amelia @ One Catholic Mama

    I disagree with #7 and #20. My experience has been that if I eat *plenty* of nutrient-rich foods….lots of protein, healthy fats, vegetables I can easily handle junk in moderation without giving in to cravings or suger swings. It is when I eat *just* junk that I feel like crap. But, as long as I eat healthy food first, I can easily handle it.

    As far as number 20 goes, while I agree you need to be careful about portion size, I also think it’s very important to make sure you are getting *enough*. Eating too little can really mess up your metablism, espeically I think once people get to be in their mid-30’s or so. And, while I think most people eat way too many carbs and starches, I think they eat way too little protein/healthy fat and vegetables

    • Caroline M.

      It’s so personal. That’s what aggravates me about most (not Jen’s) articles about weight loss and health and nutrition: they forget that there aren’t universal rules for most of this stuff. For my mom, tomatoes are not a healthy food because she has acid reflux. For diabetics, too much fruit can be problematic. For me, any trace of gluten makes me a prisoner of the bathroom for a day.

      Great post Jen! I like how you connected the War of Art and general resistance to inertia to weight loss.

  16. Sonya

    I love the tips – thank you! If you need an idea for another post, I would find it super helpful to do a week in your life for what you eat – breakfast, lunch, dinner. I always find it hard to find fast, kid-friendly, healthy meals so any inspiration is appreciated!

  17. Elisa | blissfulE

    I have the same problem with finding pants that are long enough! I read Amazon reviews until a genuinely tall person comments with sufficient fervor that the pants are, indeed, LONG. 🙂 I also shop in thrift shops by looking along the bottom of the racks, to see what’s long (shirts and trousers), then check the size.

    You look terrific in your photos, and it’s really great to see the thinking and changes that have gone into maintaining a healthy weight for you, especially as a mother who, like me, has given birth many times! Your recommendation of The Perfect Health Diet changed my and my family’s eating patterns for the better. Thank you!

  18. Marisa Tenney

    I actually just wrote a weight loss (or lack thereof) post today, too! I love your suggestions and I’m definitely going to give them a try. 🙂 Thanks for posting!

  19. Nella

    I reject this information. Just kidding, well, I agree with exercise, I reject anything regarding food. Which is the next mountain I will be climbing. Dumb health. Dumb delicious sugar. The most annoying thing is that this is all important even if weight loss is not an issue for you. Weight has never been an issue for me, but post cancer, health sure is. So I have to pay attention to dumb delicious food. Boo. Obviously my attitude needs some work.

  20. Smoochagator

    It occurred to me as I read your post that you are writing about weight loss from a standpoint of actually doing the work and reaching a goal, and today *I* wrote about weight loss from the standpoint of just starting out… And yet I wrote like a complete know-it-all. *sigh* This seven posts in seven days experiment is doing little more than revealing all of my character flaws. THANKS, JEN. 😉

    On a (more) serious note – love this post, love your insights, thank you. You’re an inspiration to me.

  21. Agnes @ Restless Until I Rest in Thee

    What an amazing and timely post Jennifer! I was just about to start working on my own post about conquering laziness and exercising for this week’s 7 in 7 linkup. I hate the way I’ve been feeling lately. I have not been exercising all winter and just dumping food into my body like into a dumpster, and I have been hit with this tremendous fatigue and laziness that I barely even want to roll out of bed. I really need to reflect and pray about conquering my body and break out of this miserable state. Your post was very eye-opening. Wonderful and practical tips that I shall take to heart, in the next few months especially. God bless!

  22. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    First, THIS: “It struck terror into my heart when I imagined having to waste my life sweating on a bike in the woods.” Hilarious.

    Second, I hear you loud and clear about #11. The gym I joined includes 2 hours of childcare a day. I not only work out, but I SHOWER IN PEACE. Heck, even if I just mindlessly peddle a bike while I watch The Today Show, I’m getting my peaceful shower. So worth it.

  23. Amy

    I love these suggestions. I have done most of these at one time or another, but I especially like the journaling idea. I’ve found that after my third child and hitting 37 it has been so much harder (when it used to seem much easier) and I find myself getting discouraged more easily. This is good motivation to get back at it yet again 🙂

  24. Ellen

    This is great! I’m all fired up and ready to lose weight the right way right now, but I’m pregnant, so womp-womp. 😉 I’m just wondering, how long do you give yourself after each baby to get back on the weight-loss bandwagon? I get that this post is all about lifestyle change, but when I was postpartum with my daughter and I would try to minimize my portions, my milk supply would go way down. I’m afraid I’m one of those people that needs the fat to feed the baby, but do you think that’s just an excuse?

    • Sarah

      That’s the same excuse I always use! However, the times I’ve put forth a true effort to be healthy (not just lose weight), my milk supply actually goes up. I just started (a big-name weight-loss/healthy lifestyle program), & the extra drinks, dairy, fruit/veggies it requires of nursing mothers (gives us extra points, too!) actually have increased my milk supply. Plus, you still need the prenatal vitamin to be sure you & baby are getting all you need. Realizing that this healthier eating & tracking what I eat is affecting my baby is a big motivation for me. Eating healthier can start during pregnancy (what I had to do since I started off overweight) & just keep going. It’s not a “diet” but a lifestyle choice. (still convincing myself of this–it’s a process.) The thing that’s hard is the slow progress, but as my husband reminds me, slow & steady is what keeps it off. Now, if I can just get motivated to move more… 🙂 Good luck!

  25. Julie

    This is great. I’ve been thinking for a while that I really need to focus on examining my daily life to make improvements in areas that have been stumping me. Including weight.

    On that count, I have a sneaking feeling that one thing that might help me is to keep a homemade baked good in the house at all times. (Makes sense, right?)

    See, I’ve noticed that I crave a sweet, homemade baked good every afternoon. I rarely have it on-hand so I substitute with cereal, yogurt, candy… lots and lots of stuff until I just feel disgusted. Never satisfied. If I actually had what I craved available, I think I could eat a little bit and move on.

    I think. Thanks for your great advice. Now to process it all.

  26. Nancy

    Note: This generally applies mostly to pre-menopausal women. During and after menopause, the body changes completely and the blithe assertion that “yes, you CAN lose weight”…..doesn’t work anymore. It’s very, very difficult. So if you want to get to a certain weight – try to get there well before menopause and then maintain healthy and active habits.

  27. priest's wife (@byzcathwife)

    ….this is a lot to digest (haha)…but thanks for the tips- my biggest challenge is meal-planning- I don’t do it

  28. sarah mc

    LOVE the pic of your FiveFingers! (At least, I’m assuming that’s what they are, since they look like a pair that I own!)

    I’m a (kinda crazy) runner, and can’t stand it when something keeps me from getting out for a good run at least every other day… I hate cardio machines and generally don’t like working out inside, but totally agree with #19 – no excuses – when it comes right down to it, sometimes I have to force myself onto the stair master if getting out for that run isn’t an option. 😉

  29. Catholic Bibliophagist

    “When you give up foods you’re addicted to and/or don’t tolerate well, you don’t miss them.”

    Very true! I no longer crave sweets. (Type 2 Diabetes was my motive for cutting them out of my life.)

    However, I am haunted by nuts.


  30. Emily D.

    This is prescient, because I am just like you (except I will never run….Emily and running does not happen). I need to exercise and I need to care about food,and I just don’t want to. This is just what I needed.

  31. Lynne

    FYI: thinking of you this morning at 6:30 when it was dark and freezing and I did NOT want to get out of my bed. Thanks.

  32. the other Becky

    There is one common problem that I don’t see addressed here: sabotage from family members, especially husbands. I saw the note about Joe needing patience, but if he is seeking patience he is at least probably not trying to undermine your efforts. I have known several women who recognized the changes that they would have to make, but their husbands were very insistent that nothing change. Same meals, same available snacks, same fast foods, same desserts that got them into the state they are in. I am guessing that your husband is more supportive, but I wonder if some of your readers might have something to add to address this problem.

  33. renee

    Great post, Jen! Very inspiring. I liked that you made the connection to addictive foods. There is a great assessment here:
    I found it helpful for identifying those elusive behaviors that lead straight to out of control eating.

    Love your blog!

  34. Catholic Mutt

    LOVE this list! I have found many of the same things to be true in my own life. I don’t tolerate gluten and dairy well, and for someone who used to be convinced that carbs and dairy were the only two food groups, it’s been a big (but gradual) change in my diet. I feel so much better (and, not going to lie, clothes fit so much better) that I absolutely don’t miss any of the foods I used to love. Except occasionally pizza, but I can make a really good gluten and minimal dairy pizza, so it’s okay. Also agree that there has to be more reason for working out than just “fitness”. I have found things that I love for other reasons, and now I am actually active compared to the complete lump on the couch that I used to be!

    • Tiffany

      haha, carbs and dairy, so true. I remember being a Gas Station Vegan for a few years. ( I guess those big pumpers of nacho cheese and some Skittles qualify as addictive foods for me )

  35. Karen

    Excellent lessons. I work with people who lose weight only to regain it and the discouragement makes them afraid to try again. I plan to share your list of very ‘real’ tips with my co-workers and clients. I love #10. Very funny!

  36. Michelle

    This is excellent advice. I gave up sugar and white stuff after reading one of your blog posts. For that, and grace and timing, I am eternally grateful.

    Since 98, I have invested a lot of time and money pursuing nutritional healing. The blood type diet was very helpful, but not practical. Anyway, there are so many “experts” out there to choose from. Ultimately, and thankfully, I have been led to Trim Healthy Mama. What a blessing. It reminds me of why I am glad to be Catholic (i.e. the work of the magisterium). Why would I want to start from scratch to learn and understand what these amazing sisters have already done and are now sharing.

    Beware, if you hate desserts, this diet is NOT for you. Just kidding, but so long as I get the alternative sugars down, I can still have what I have always wanted along with a freedom from the fear of food.

    BTW, I am only maintaining weight. My husband and daughter are losing slowly, the way you are supposed to.

    Now I must go, since I have to put my cheesecake into the fridge!! Later, I will have it topped with strawberry sauce.

  37. Sarah

    These are wonderful! Read this after “Mama Knows…” & while that one is where I am, it was also good to read yours & see where I want to be. Thanks for the pointers! ps–What’s #21?

  38. Tiffany

    I think I have that red cookbook around here somewhere! I love that cookbook! thank you for the real reminders … and I did choke on my coffee about the bicycle terrors. I’m related to some people like that (“60 miles before breakfast, I always say!”) and my confusion is just vast as to how.

    Oh ~ MARRIAGE. 🙂 you’re a kick in the pants

  39. Kerri

    Thank you for the great tips! I have found that most of my friends and myself that have been successful at losing weight and keep it off followed tips like these. It was more about moderation/portion control that a diet. Also I love the point about how you WILL mess up, but just to keep going. When we mess up it gives us a chance to evaluate what happened and do it better next time. Not give up for months upon months. Thanks again for the simple, non crazy health and fitness tips!

  40. Jenny Ryan

    Gosh, WHY IS IT SO hard. Bleh. Thanks for these pointers. I want to get it done!

  41. Kim F.

    Hi Jen, thanks for all these great (do-able) tips. I’m still working on those last 10 pounds after baby #5 (Only to discover this morning that baby #6 is on the way. Now I’ll be on the morning sickness weight loss plan…which I don’t recommend). I wanted to ask if you would share the recipe for the beef stew with oven roasted veggies. The picture is making me drool! I googled it and the all-recipes version had peas…gag!

  42. Deanna

    I have been on a health quest since July and getting stuck now. I think a journal may be helpful as will Lent, I’m sure. 😉

  43. Eva

    One would think that going vegan for Lent would help me drop a good couple of kgs but from experience I’ve learn that I can make ABSOLUTELY AWESOME vegan cakes and the like so meh, not so much. 🙂

  44. Liesl

    21 must have lost so much weight that he checked out of the list!

  45. Sarah M

    Very helpful post! I find that I need to focus on weight loss before it can happen, so I loved the suggestion to devote a period of time to it. For some reason, being solely focused on all the kids’ and dh’s needs is not the time to focus on weight loss, because it won’t happen. I’m not sure why being busy meeting everyone else’s needs vs. being busy but mostly focusing on weight loss in the foreground makes such a difference, but it does. I’ll wait until this crazy busy winter ends and then start. Thanks for inspiring me!

  46. Lindsey @ Running in Circles

    Love this post. Love talking about exercising. Don’t actually like to exercise.

    I enjoyed eating like a high school boy during this last year while I was nursing my hungry son, but he’s weaned now and I’m watching my scale numbers slowly start to creep back up. Time to re-institute portion control, and also to get back into an exercise routine. Blerg.

    Thanks for the motivation and practical tips!

  47. Kira

    Whoa. You are the second person to recommend The War of Art to me this evening. THAT is clearly a meaningless coincidence, and should be disregarded.
    Kidding. I just requested it from the library.

  48. Kayla

    Great advice, Jen! I really liked #15 — I had never thought about it that way before, but it makes sense for all those fit people out there who you do see indulging at a celebration. I like that mindset!

    I also like #18, which is the whole reason I decided to do a sugar detox. I was going to wait until Lent, but just really wanted to start ASAP. A campus minister once told a class I was in how he gave up caffeine because he didn’t want to be dependent on anything but God (at least that’s how I remember it). It really hit home for me, and years later encouraged me to *really* try to change my relationship with the foods I ‘couldn’t live without’.

  49. Amy Caroline

    AMEN! I recently lost 70 lbs and it took a lot of willpower and exercise. Exercise can be a big mood elevator too, which can help the whole process! Of course, I am now pregnant, so I am trying to keep calm and try not to give into every craving for coconut ice cream and peanut butter that strikes me.

    Wish me luck!

  50. Betsy

    This definitely struck a chord with me. I’ve talked with my husband a LOT about my food issues. I already know that I have an addiction to chocolate in particular and sugar/sweets in general, but the thought of giving up those things entirely scares me. I’ve definitely thought “what’s a life without chocolate/sweets?”
    I’ve never considered keeping a journal with how my mood is affected by the food I eat. This has definitely given me a lot to think about.

  51. Christian

    If only wives could see themselves through husbands’ eyes.

  52. Barbara

    This is great because I am on this horrid effort to shed lots of L-Bs. For a while I just couldn’t, and then found out my thyroid was low. Since then it’s been about a 1/4lb per week if that, but it is coming off. I find that lack of sleep will crush any effort I make at eating well because exhaustion demands sleep or calories. If I have a bad night of sleep, I try to catch 20 minutes of snooze during the middle of the day. It seems like nothing, but it makes a huge difference.

  53. Adina Ariel

    I’m inspired. Thanks for writing this up Jen.

Connect With Me On Social Media or Explore My Site



The "THIS IS JEN" podcast is on Facebook & all podcast apps


- Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play (audio)

- Get weekly bonus episodes on Patreon

- Sign up for my email list to be the first
to know about new tour dates