Friday 5 March 2021

Counting calories to lose the weight gained after stopping smoking.

Weight gain is easy, losing it is harder. We all know that.

I've spent this week counting calories to try to understand how I can best lose the 8kg in weight gain since I stopped smoking back in December.

According to my BMI I am over weight. I'm 5ft 7in and in mid February I was weighing just over 76kg. I've always weighed between 70-72kg for most of my life, but with some additional exercise and a house renovation during lockdown, I'd dropped to 68kg, where I felt my most comfortable, was happy with how I looked and how my clothes fitted. 

I'm not happy now and if it wasn't for lockdown I'd be having to buy new clothes for going out in.

I googled a few things, starting with my medication 'can it cause weight gain?' well medication doesn't cause weight gain, it causes an increase in your appetite, the weight gain comes from what you put in your mouth, however, my medication started in November, Beta blockers, does cause weight gain *sighs* Iron infusions also cause weight gain. I've had 2 iron infusions since October.

But that is no excuse, I've been more sedate with my activities and had bursts of exercise when I worked at the golf then did nothing for a few weeks in between, followed by isolation on my return to the UK and in general just eating the wrong foods, snacking and more snacking.

I decided to investigate the best way to lose some weight, then maintain it, without going on a special diet, just plain and simple lifestyle choices. After all for most of my life I've weighed between 70-72kg. I've snacked, had takeouts, have a sweet tooth, enjoy chocolate, sweets, cakes, ice cream alongside a normal diet and moderate exercise in the form of dog walking, gardening, housework etc.

So that's how I came to count calories. If I can cut 500 calories a day I can expect to loose 2kg a month. I've lost 1kg in the first 3 weeks, but that's been with increasing my exercise, longer walks and joining in daily with Joe Wicks exercises for seniors, yes I know, but I have coordination issues, I need a slower pace. 

Here's what I've been eating, how I'm counting and why I'm so giving up cake and sweets and allowing myself the occasional bar of chocolate instead.

I'm already on a wheat free diet due to my migraines and a bleed in the small intestine and I don't have citrus drinks/fruit due to dental and bone implants.

Calories in hot drinks come from milk and sugars. If I make a latte at home it's 110 calories as it's a smaller cup.
Swopping apple juice for no added sugar apple squash saves almost 90 calories per glass.

Weighing out ingredients gives you an idea of how much you are eating. There are 109 calories in 30g of this fruit cheese, slightly less than cheddar. How many times a day do you just snap off a piece of cheese to nibble on?

I weighed the amount of butter, sugar and mix used to work out how many calories each pancake contains.

I don't always get to eat all my calories anyway.

It gets a bit complicated keeping note of everything you eat. I started day 1 recording items as I ate them, Day 2 I planned a bit more as I knew roughly how many calories were in a lot of things and Wednesday/Thursday and over the weekend, I'll be planning the calories, snacks and drinks to achieve 1500 calories a day.

I followed the advice to have a breakfast every morning, but that makes me want to eat more during the day as once I start eating I want to keep on going.

A typical example of Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Non fat yogurt, tsp honey, banana. Low fat bacon, gluten free roll with butter and brown sauce and Chicken breast, carrots, hummus and beet root salad, all contain similar calories.

And here come the extra calories. A slice of cake and 5 boiled sweets. This is the same as 2 and a half Crunchies, almost 6 milky way bars or 10 kitkat fingers. I do have some banana bread I made in the freezer that I omitted sugar from and it works out at 80 calories per slice.

There's so many other things I've discovered about food that I will continue with after the weekend when I finish counting the calories as it's so time consuming.

I'm starting a list of the most common foods I eat and their calorie content, I'm already reducing the amount of butter/oils I use in baking/cooking and cutting out sugar in drinks. Weighing dried products such as rice and pasta before cooking not only keeps the calories within the RDA but cuts down on food waste also. I often meal plan to help with reducing the amount of trips I make to the supermarket anyway and with meal planning I can swop meals around, reduce quantities of cupboard and freezer items if I want to eat a bar of chocolate or treat myself to a glass of wine.

To lose the weight gained I need to cut out cake and sweets, alcohol, chunks of cheese from the fridge as I pass. Staying up late makes me snack, eating too early makes me eat all day. Writing everything down makes me more honest with myself about what I'm eating, weighing foods and working out the calories makes me think twice about having that extra snack or eating just the one bag of sweets. I'm drinking a glass of water before each meal as it does make me feel a bit fuller. 

I aim to lose a further 2kg this month, increase my exercise and improve my diet. I won't be counting calories next week, I'll just be reducing portion sizes and thinking twice before I eat or drink something.

Do you have any tips on maintaining a healthy diet, losing weight and exercising you'd be happy to share with me?


  1. Gosh it looks like such a complicated process. I've counted calories in the past too. I used to really stress about it x #PoCoLo

    1. it is complicated and a pain in the back side, i just need a kick start to get going in the right direction

  2. Intermittent fasting seems to work best for me!

    1. I tried but can't keep up with remembering what I'm supposed to be doing

  3. I think it's useful to do for a short while as it's so easy to cook/dish-up larger portions than we really need, and get used to that. But calorie counting in the long-term can't be beneficial. Good luck #PoCoLo

    1. short term is really good for me, I just need a kick start to remind me how to eat healthily