tips & tricks: how I lost 30+ pounds of sexy.

(I don’t exactly know why I added “of sexy” to the title, I just felt like it made the title less spam email and more real. I don’t actually think it was sexy.)

One topic that came up when I did my reader survey was about my weight loss. Some of you had questions or wanted more details about my journey. I first shared some before and after pictures in December which shocked a lot of people. I’ve gained quite a few new readers since I’ve lost weight (unrelated, I believe/think/hope) and I don’t think, with that post, some people were ready for all that jelly.

But since I’ve brought it to people’s attention, I’ve had questions (and lots of praise and encouragement which is just the best) so I’m going to share some of the things that worked for me. Not because they will magically all work for you, but maybe one of them will help you on your journey. Or maybe none of them will, but you’ll get encouragement or pointed in the right direction. Who knows.

I joined Weight Watchers online June 1st–the first day of summer break. I refuse to go to meetings and don’t have time for them even if I was willing to go. I had a Blackberry smartphone at the time and thought I could do it all through my phone which would have been so convenient and perfect. Except that the WW app was only for iPhones and Androids so I did everything via my desktop computer until I got an iPhone in October. (This was actually the only reason I finally got an iPhone. I really loved that Blackberry…)

Any eating out was planned ahead and I knew exactly what I’d be eating and what I’d order before I left the house. It was safer that way for me.

I followed the points plus plan where every food has a value. I could eat most fruits and vegetables for zero points with an emphasis on eating a lot of those (obviously) and less of everything else.

I could say that I just moved more and ate less, but it wasn’t just that. I had been going pretty regularly to the gym for eight months before I started WW. I had lost a little weight from working out, but hadn’t changed my eating habits so the loss was fast and minimal. Adding my new way of eating with visits to the gym (3-4 times a week for about an hour: always 35 minutes of cardio plus weights, alternating days between upper body and lower body) got my weight loss happening again and kept it going. Even weeks when I didn’t work out at all because life got too busy, if I was still following the WW plan, I lost. Averaging 2 pounds a week, sometimes more and sometimes less. A couple times, I lost three or four pounds in one week. Also, there was a couple times I didn’t lose anything (I might have lost ounces, but my scale is pretty low-tech and doesn’t show ounces so I don’t really know). I just kept chugging along, trusting all my hard work would eventually pay off.

The food thing: what worked best for me was eating the same things over and over again. I’m typical type-A personality and, knowing that, I ate the same kinds of foods in a routine (I just love a good plan, schedule, or list and so that helped me be successful). Eating the same things often helped with portions and, for me, too many choices meant I ate too much. This way there wasn’t any time spent standing in front of the pantry or refrigerator wondering what to eat. I also stopped buying diet food because I always eat more of it because I think it’s better for me (which it’s probably not). At the grocery store, I stopped convincing myself that I could buy something I love to eat (and shouldn’t, ie Double Stuffed E.L Fudge cookies) and only eat a little bit of it. I don’t have the self-control and I just set myself up for failure when I think I can buy that stuff.

So I found things I liked to eat and were low in points, then I just ate them all the time. Exciting? No. Boring? Probably. But I’ve always eaten like that. I find something I like and I eat it often until I hate it. I go in cycles.

My favorites:

Add Greek yogurt, peanut butter, and sea salt to the above picture and that about sums up what I ate/eat most days. I go through bags of those sandwich thins like water; sandwiches, toast, mini pizzas, folded like a tortilla, etc.. Those things were my secret weapon. Plus, a crap load of fruits and veggies. Like I said, not a lot of variety and choice, but that’s what I need to be successful.

As I’m typing this, I wonder if this will actually be helpful to anyone. It seems so silly, but this is how I lost 33 pounds. And it’s what I’m currently doing to lose more.

You know what the worst feeling ever is? Telling people how much you weigh.

Especially telling people that you used to weigh 204 pounds. And what’s even more embarrassing is that is not my heaviest. During college when I liked to drink way too much and then eat Taco Bell at 3:00 AM, I weighed 220 pounds. I’d like to laugh about that and possibly make a joke, but really, I got nothing.

I currently weigh 171 pounds. I gained three pounds around the holidays (a mix of Christmas, being too busy to exercise, and something I’ll explain next week) and have spent the past two weeks getting back on track.

Currently, my goal weight is 160. I am only eleven pounds away from my goal weight and that seems crazy. I was in 8th grade the last time I weighed 160 pounds and, unfortunately, I’m not exaggerating when I write that. I weighed 160 pounds in 8th grade.

I want to be healthy and fit, not skinny and bony (that’s my husband’s job; he’s got dangerous elbows). I have an athletic build and I’m almost six feet tall, I don’t want to look sickly and I think that 160 will be good for me. I want to feel confident, make healthy choices, and live a long time (mostly just to annoy my children and husband). So that’s what I’m focusing on (living a long time, not annoying my family. That part just comes naturally).

I have good eating days and bad eating days. Before when I had a bad day, I let it carry into the next day and the next day. Now I can make an unwise choice at one meal and not let it negatively effect my next one. That’s a major key to my success, learning to forgive myself and move on.

So, what do you think? Any tips and tricks to add? I’m really bad about taking other people’s advice (as my friend Christine recently told me) but I’m willing to listen…just this once. :)


  1. says

    I lost 30lbs from Weight Watchers and I do attend the meetings and really love them.. Not all meetings are created equal, but I found a wonderful vibrant leader who makes me feel like I have gone to the comedy club each week. I am still ten pounds away from my goal… Congratulations on your journey! I think it is very helpful that you shared some of your favorite foods. I also was someone who went to the Y several days a week but getting a handle on the eating was key to my success! Good Luck on you continued journey!

  2. says

    I’m so very proud of you Mary! I can remember you telling me just how crazy/inspiring I was for posting my story and now look at you!!!! You look beautiful, and confident, and healthy. My only advice would be to not take too much advice. I know that sounds so counterproductive. However, what I have discovered is that weight loss is not a one size fits all deal. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. You have to find what works best for you and stick to it. That’s not to say there aren’t foods i’ve found or maybe an exercise video that you will like too. I’m saying that we all have to find out what clicks for us and stick to it. You have and I can’t be more proud! Along the lines of your sandwich thins, which I love too, have you tried the bagel thins and the light english muffins? Might give you just a hair of variety in that department. GREAT JOB!!!!

  3. says

    Congrats! That’s a really awesome feeling. I think we can all relate to the bad/good days. After the new year when everyone was cleansing and juicing…I swear I ate cheeseburgers and tacos for every meal. I had been sick and didn’t have any motivation to cook or grocery shop.

    I am my healthiest when I:
    – meal plan
    – keep a stocked fridge
    – use a rice cooker to make quinoa/lentils/rice
    – eliminate almost all sugar

    All of this you may already do but thought I’d share :)

  4. Anonymous says

    Mary, if you never lose another pound you look beautiful already. Your weight loss is very noticeable and you should be proud. I can’t believe you were already 160 pounds in the eighth grade. Has you already reached your full height? I grew about two more inches while I was in high school. Johanna the Google Impaired.

  5. says

    Thanks for this Mary! Obviously, most people *know* how to lose weight but getting started can be difficult. I like things simple and sometimes it can be hard to figure out what works. You really look great! Oh, and I just added those sandwhich thins to my grocery list!

  6. says

    Congrats on the weight loss! I recently shared my weight loss story too (find it here if youre interested: and its nice to read someone else’s. Especially since Im am trying to lose the last bit of weight before my goal and I must admit since this year started its been so slow going!

    Im sort of the same as you, though, I didnt join weight watchers or anything.. But basically the foods you describe above is a lot of what I ate too. It really is so much more about eating the right amount of calories and eating healthy, than JUST working out. But the combo is killer! 😉

    Congrats on your success! You look fabulous!


  7. Chelsea says

    I just found your blog tonight (WW Instagram for the win!) and just wanted to let you know I love it! I’ve been on a weight loss journey mostly using Weight Watchers for the past couple years with similar starting weights and losses etc. and it’s just great to read about someone else’s path so similar to my own. My next goal is to run a Half Marathon – you’ve got me fired up to make it happen! So, wanted to thank you for sharing your smart, honest writing with the world and so glad I stumbled across it.

    • mary says

      I’m glad you found me too! And I have no doubt you could run a half marathon. It seems so crazy and daring and then you just do it and it’s the BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD. And this seems weird, but I learned so much about myself while running that the benefits are so much more than physical. I’m mentally stronger too. You’re going to love it!

  8. Heather says

    Your blog is great! I am very similarly built (5’9″, “big boned”) and am also the thinnest I’ve been in my adult life (175). And working to loose 10 more. I was 219 a few years ago and lost about 35 lbs by simply only eating when I was truly hungry, keeping my portions small, and praying for self control. Last June I started running. Firmed up but didn’t lose lbs. In August I started counting calories (using the fitness pal app). Although all my food choices weren’t healthy, in general they were more healthy than before because healthy food has less calories so you can eat more of it (duh). I ran my first half marathon this past April (2:11:28 – yay me!) and plan to run another this fall. I am taking my calorie counting seriously again so that I can achieve that 165 goal and hopefully beat my time.
    Anyhow, I wanted to let you know that I appreciate your openness, honesty, and always pointing things back to God. I found you blog from a Facebook link to your “soul mate” post. Good stuff!!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!! They are inspired.

    • mary says

      Thanks Heather! I’m glad you found me. :) And congrats on the weight loss! It seems to be a never-ending battle for me and those last ten pounds are really attached to my thighs and just won’t leave. Ha. Half marathon running is the best and worst feeling ever, isn’t it? Definitely a love/hate relationship.

  9. says

    I joined WW about two months ago but find it hard to track all my latin meals but now reading this and following another lady on Instagram I see that success comes from eating the same easily track able things. I’m about 12lbs from my goal but 20 of my ultimate goal of 160. Im a tall girl too.

    • mary says

      I know it’s not too exciting, but routines were great when I was trying to lose weight. So eating the same things just worked. Do you follow me on Instagram? @themarygrahameats is where I post my food and share other people’s good ideas. I really do think IG has contributed to a lot of my success recently and truly believe that Weight Watchers is the best way to lose weight. Good luck and congrats on the losses so far! Those have to feel great!

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