Saturday, April 17th, 2021

Common Sense Weight Loss Tips That Work!

Published on September 25, 2009 by   ·   23 Comments Pin It

Many of you have shared your frustration with not being able to lose those last 5-10 lbs even though you consume a healthy vegan or mostly vegan diet. I’ve screamed and hollered about Eat to Live and Skinny Bitch, both of which have helped thousands of people achieve their ideal weight. But recently I’ve discovered a tool that has helped bring home some of the lessons from both books in a way that nothing else has. Within two months I’ve been able to release 4 of the 6 lbs. of what I call “married weight” that I’ve gained since our wedding two years ago and just couldn’t get seem to get rid of any other way.

lose it

LoseIt! is a free iPhone application that helps you set a goal weight and tells you how many calories per day you should aim to consume to reach that weight within a certain amount of time. It provides a database of foods to choose from (plus the ability to add your own foods) with approximate calorie counts per food. After each meal, you enter what you’ve eaten. Similarly, you enter every workout/jog/hour working in the garden, etc. to give you calorie credits for that day.

Now, before you start furiously typing your comment below to tell me that calorie counting ignores the nutritional values of foods and that a whole foods vegan diet is all you need to achieve a healthy weight, let me just say that a.) I know and b.) I know. And that’s why truly healthy eaters have a leg up. We won’t be tempted to substitute a low-calorie, nutritionally devoid snack for a nutrient-dense, albeit slightly higher calorie snack. We know better! And that’s why an application like this is great for nutritionally aware people.

It has forced me to be aware of what I put in my mouth and hold me accountable for it. It put me in touch with what Dr. Fuhrman calls “true hunger” instead of mindless, emotional eating. I hate true hunger. I loathe it. I even fear it. The good news is that I know that even if I’m approaching my calorie limit for the day, I can always find something to eat that will fill me up and nourish my body without adding too much to my calorie load.

Here are a few things I’ve learned from the experience:

a.) 1 lb. = roughly 3500 calories.

b.) I can eat endless quantities of vegetables and leafy greens, and they will barely make a dent in my calorie count. 1 tomato = 35 calories. 5 cups of spinach = 34 calories. 1.75 cups of eggplant = 34 calories.

c.) I cannot consume endless quantities of salad dressing, Earth Balance, Vegenaise, nut butter or bread, so I limit my portions of those.

d.) “CSA pizzas” are my friend. I take a tortilla, brush a little olive oil on it, spread pizza sauce on it, pile on the local, seasonal veggies, sundried tomatoes, and herbs from my CSA that week, and sprinkle it with Parma when it comes out of the oven 12 minutes later. Great, healthy meal for less than 300 calories.

e.) Sometimes calorie bombs come in small packages. 2 tbs. of my favorite hazelnut chocolate spread =   260 calories. Yikes! That’s more than a veggie burger.

f.) Sometimes calorie bombs come in fancy cocktail glasses. 1 pina colada = 526 calories. Ay caramba!

g.) Whole Foods hummus has only 50 calories per serving, while Sabra hummus has 70.

h.) Baked tofu is a delicious and nutritious snack, with 90 calories per serving and 15 grams of protein.

i.) I need to move my butt. If I don’t exercise seriously–as in jogging, swimming, lifting weights, etc. 3-4 times a week, I will not release poundage (and I will not have a runner’s high or a swimmer’s buzz, which is worth it alone).

j.) I used the “nutrients” feature to track my protein intake for 3 weeks and saw that I got an average of 60 grams per day, which is well above the 45 grams that is recommended for my size, gender, age, etc. Booyah!

k.) Sometimes my weight will fluctuate for no apparent reason, and that’s okay but is worth paying attention to. Eating salty things like popcorn, for example, will make me retain water and gain weight. I opt for the “kids meal” at the movies now, which comes with a kid-sized popcorn. Tee-hee.

l.) It’s easy to “waste” calories on drinks. 1.5 cups of cranberry apple cocktail = 250 calories. (Another veggie burger!) It’s better to drink herbal tea or seltzer/water with a hint of fruit.

m.) I can make my husband’s friend Ali feel better about ordering the veggie burger with us at lunch because he only consumed 243 calories, as opposed to the 423 calories if he’d ordered the cheeseburger.

n.) I don’t have to do this forever. After doing for a while, I feel like I “get it” and know what I need to do.

Curious? If you have an iPhone and want to lose weight, download the app for free. If you have a Blackberry, you can find similar applications such as the Diet Organizer. Have neither? Use CalorieCount right from your computer.

And seriously; read these books now:

Have your own favorite weight loss tip? Don’t keep it to yourself–let us know in the comments area below!

Marisa Miller Wolfson is the director and writer of the award-winning documentary Vegucated. Watch this film for a life-changing/ body-changing/ heart-changing experience:


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Readers Comments (23)

  1. Kevin says:

    I started using LoseIt a couple weeks ago. It is really helpful when trying to lose weight. Awesome app, really makes me look at most foods completely differently now. Crazy to think a smart dog is half the calories of the bun I usually eat it on (trader joe’s whole wheat.). I’ve lost around 8 lbs in 4 or so weeks thus far.

  2. Carolyn says:

    I wish i got an exercise high! i get an exercise low…when i work out i just want to sleeeeeep forever not do anything else!

  3. LH says:

    The above plan, counting calories for three months (using a notebook and calorie counter and calorie king) until I began to understand the caloric value of my intake, taking into account nutritional value, and doing actual exercise (stationary bike + plus calisthenics 4 – 6 times per week) helped me to lose that extra 10-12 lbs that I’d been carrying for years. I felt deprived of tastiness sometimes, and occassionally still do when I go back into diet maintenance mode, but the glamour of looking and feeling fit in my early 40s is TOTALLY worth it and the increase in daily energy from continuing with the exercise is a BOON worth the daily sweat.

  4. LOVE these tips Marisa, and OH so true! I too love the ‘Lose it’ iphone app…they have so many vegan foods already in the database, it’s great.

    I hear the calorie-counting skeptics all the time too (and used to hate counting myself). But at a certain point it becomes absolutely necessary to keep track. In the end it all comes down to simple math…calories in, calories out. Eat too many and expend too few, and the extra calories invite fat to have a party on your butt.

    Go girl, you look great!!

  5. elaine says:

    My sister (a doc) has a colleague (also a doc) who used this lose it! application and lost 30 pounds in 6 months (which is a reasonable rate if you want to keep it off and not suffer while going through the process). Now, apparently, a bunch of docs at their hospital are loseit! and getting great results. Makes me want to go buy an iphone just for that damn program!!

    • a. n. mouse. says:

      You do not need to buy an iphone for this app. I have it on my android (and it has helped me lose about 30 lbs over about a year).

  6. Marisa says:

    Wow! Glad to see so many others having success with the app. I had started to resign myself to the fact that those extra 6 lbs were “my new adult weight.” It’s great to know that with a little work and focus, anything’s possible. Finally hit my goal weight and it feels amazing. Now I know exactly what I need to do, and I never have to be bigger if I don’t want to be. It’s always a choice…

  7. sarah says:

    i lost 15 lbs by eating less and exercising more…..can you believe it?

  8. Eric says:

    I lost about 12 lbs in 2 weeks 7 months ago and haven’t gained any of it back. I didn’t even need to lose it, but was happy it went and i weigh what I weighed back in high school (i’m 35). I don’t keep track of a damn thing that I eat. Know how I did it? I WENT VEGAN!!!! :-)

  9. Ana Berry says:

    Love these tips! I am a newly turned Vegan tho always have been one at heart- and find all these tips to be so true and so helpful. Keep writing and keep being an inspiration Marisa!!

  10. kevin says:


    I lost a ton of weight when I first went vegan too.. but I gained it all back and then some once I started discovering more and more vegan junk food and such :)

  11. Christine says:

    Really good tips. I’m a big fan of Eat to Live. The six-week plan is a great way to get back on track if you happen to veer off the healthy-eatin’ path. I start Tuesday. ;)

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