Monday Mission: Can Real Food Help You Lose Weight?

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Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to determine whether you’re at your ideal/healthy weight…or not.

real food weight loss

If the answer is “not” then you get a “part B” mission, OK?

This mini-series on real food weight loss and exercise was inspired by a few events in my house in the last few months.

First, my husband counted calories for Lent, remaining under 2000-2500/day. We learned a lot about the food we eat.

Second, during the same time span, a friend of mine who is doing some running training brought up a real food protein question. She had been told by other ladies at her gym that within 15 minutes of finishing a workout, one should have X amount of protein. Since she would barely be out of the shower and certainly nowhere near her kitchen, the common recommendation is of course a protein bar or shake, but she knew she didn’t want to mess with all that soy. We started brainstorming high protein sources found in traditional foods (and which ones are packable).

Finally, success in shedding my own last few pounds of baby weight (sort of) pushed me to open up a conversation about real food weight loss on the KS Facebook page, and now I’m excited to be able to share some real food weight loss success stories from KS readers who stepped up to the plate and told me their tale. They are awesome.

Your Ideal Weight

I’m sure there are myriad weight calculators and formulas out there to help you determine your ideal weight, BMI, muscle tone and width of your pinky finger.

Frankly, I’m not going to look them up. (Feel free to speak with Dr. Google if you need numbers.)

I quite like the measuring stick mentioned by one reader in a comment on Facebook: Do your pants fit?

Obviously that doesn’t count if you bought new pants, but I think ideal weight is something you can peg within a few pounds just by guessing, if you’re honest with yourself.

Are you at your pre-baby weight? Do you feel comfortable in jeans? Can you go for a walk without getting totally out of breath? Has the number on the scale (if you have a scale) been generally holding steady or moving in an upward direction the past five years? Ten years?

If you’ve got a few pounds or more that you’d like to see hitting the pavement instead of your middle, let’s make a goal today.

(This is “part B,” by the way.)

Your mission, if you’re in this group, is to set a weight loss goal for yourself, something you think you can reach by a deadline you choose – a month, the end of summer, the end of the  year.

Don’t shoot for more than a pound a week, since slow weight loss is healthier anyway, and you want to set reasonable goals. Better to blow your numbers out of the water than to get discouraged because you’re not making it.

Write it down. Type it out. Use permanent marker. Put it in your phone. Stick it to your fridge. Stick it to your kid’s forehead.

Whatever you need to do to remember your goal, do it now.

(No, not when you finish reading. Now. Unless you’re nursing a baby. Then you should just read and enjoy and set a lazy, hazy goal for when said baby is 9 months old or older – nine months to put the weight on, nine months to take it off.)

We’ll wait.

Just get used to the idea that you’re making weight loss goals when it’s not even trendy and the store ads aren’t chock full of exercise equipment and quick fix weight loss chemicals…it’s May, not January, for Heaven’s sake! But any time is a good time for getting a little healthier, and I’m guessing most of us have either a little something to lose or some improvement that could be made in our fitness or dietary habits.

SUMMARY of posts in this series:

See all of the series on real food weight loss HERE.


Many thanks to puuikibeach for the photo for the real food weight loss image there.

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30 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    Thanks for posting this! My baby is 7 weeks old and I can’t wait to get this baby weight off. I needed the reminder that right now I need to focus on nursing my baby, eating healthy, and getting sleep! I do go for a walk everyday, but I’m used to my intense cross fit workouts, which I haven’t done since finding out I was pregnant. There is a time and place for everything. I will lose my extra 20 lbs but I don’t have to lose it all tomorrow.

  2. Heather says

    My “baby” is almost 3 and I finally got around to trying to lose the baby weight when I saw the scale inch up to my 9-months-prego-weight. I’ve lost 18 pounds since January just by weaning myself (mostly) off sugar. I still have 8 pounds to go and I’m finding it really hard, both to lose and to keep denying myself sugar, so I’m calorie counting. I think calorie counting is ridiculous because a giant ice cream cone is less calories than a tiny handful of almonds, but I know which is better for me! I just don’t know how else to keep myself accountable and have something measurable.

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says


      Regular ice cream or a low-fat something or other? Yes, nuts are high cal, but you do have to include the rule “only real food” when you count calories. It was successful for my husband, but there’s always a way to make something fail, you know? We’ll touch more on this later in the week!
      :) Katie

      • Heather says

        It was an ice cream cone at IKEA. I know, I know, not the best real food place to go. I’m taking baby steps away from the SAD and it was a slip up. I have noticed my body tells me something is wrong now if I eat something processed or full of sugar.

        • Heather says

          I am very interested in how you do real foods while calorie counting. The app I’m using (myfitnesspal, which I love for the ease of use) tells me to eat 1200 calories a day, and it’s hard to stay full! I eat a lot of broccoli and salad, which fills me up, but fruit adds up way too quickly and so does yogurt, quinoa, beans, or other things I’d like to add for variety.

          • says

            Heather, Yowza, 1200 calories? That is so tiny! :( My DH was shooting for 2000-2500 calories, so that 800-1300 extra is a ton of food in comparison.

            We eat a lot of beans, eggs are only 60 cal, and he would measure out quantities at dinner, but I didn’t change the way I cooked at all. DH would skip cheese in eggs but add lots of peppers and onions instead, and he started using less dressing and adding mustard to salads for flavor. BUT, I think dressing should be fine b/c it’s fat and that burns off quickly.

            Maybe you want to try low-grain/no-grain instead of that sad 1200 cal/day. I would be sad and hungry on 1200!
            :) Katie

  3. says

    With baby #1 I took me so long and SO much work to lose the baby weight. I was eating slightly better than the SAD at the time. With baby #2 I was almost to pre-pregnancy weight by the time he was 3 months, and now that he’s one year old I’m almost to pre-wedding weight! All I did was eat nourishing food (however much I wanted), ate a huge salad for lunch or supper, and exercised. I started out just jogging 4 times a week, but now I’m doing Insanity with hubby, which is actually fun!
    Eating real food has made such a huge difference for me. It’s so funny because my fat intake is MUCH higher now than with baby #1;)

  4. Peggy says

    I’m older…in that age range where weight no longer comes off easily. I ate a real food (WAP) diet for three years and lost only five pounds. I journaled my food, counted calories and grams of macronutrients, and exercised quite diligently. However, I have a long way to go healing my body from various ills, and I think those three years accomplished much toward that end.

  5. Lonnie says

    I am a male so no problem with baby weight. So just a bunch of excess FAT to loose. Wishing ALL the best of luck!

  6. Susan says

    I knew I had a few pounds to lose, but that was not the initial motive. I have been healing my leaky gut and candida after reducing or eliminating most processed foods, sugar and gluten. I also showed reaction to dairy and eggs, so those are out too for now :-(. No calorie counting but eating lots of veggies, nuts, coconut oil, olive oil on everything, pastured meats, etc. 20 pounds has literally melted off and I have stabilized at my pre-kid weight. Feeling so good that I have also stepped up my exercise, getting so much more toned and that is helping with the motivation to get and stay healthy.

  7. Amy says

    I too have decided to go down this path of weight loss this year.

    I have actually hired a personal trainer, and have noticed a big difference. However the weight isn’t dropping so fast…and I’m OK with it.
    My trainer would like to “see” the weight come off, and I am just happy that my clothes fit they way they should.

    We are now in the process of discussing my diet. She would love me to add supplements, additional proteins (soy, whey, etc). It ultimately comes down to the fact that I want to eat FOOD, not something that has been processed with the best micro-nutrients and packaged to look like food.

    All that to say that I’ll be looking forward to reading your posts.

    Thank you for sharing knowledge to all of us struggling with weight!

  8. Amanda says

    I’m so excited about this series! I just started using a free app MyFitnessPal and love it. I had a baby 5 years ago and was back in my normal size within 2mths (except for shirts due to nursing). But within the last year, I lost my job and found out some other things that got me a little down. Stress=weight gain for me…protein is hard for me too after a workout.

  9. Sofia says

    Perfect timing. I lost 10 lbs of baby weight ( my daughter is 3 now) and toally following a whole food diet with no processed food, no soda and healthy fats. But I think I went overboard with cookies/muffins using sucanat!!!!! Now weight wise, I would like to lose another 4-5 lbs, but more than that, I need to lose the excess fat I am noticing on my belly and back area.

    Definitely going to be a part of this series so help myself.

    Thank you for starting this.


  10. says

    So glad you included the caveat for nursing mamas. Our newest baby is 8 weeks old, and every attempt to resume normal exercise so far has resulted in low milk production! I am excited to continue this series, though, and hear some of your recommendations for the coming months.

  11. Antonina says

    At the risk of making everyone sigh and maybe even be offended that I would even ask… Does anyone know of any good plans for gaining weight that include normal exercise and real foods (instead of protein or other supplements)? I have always been petite, but while nursing, I struggle to consume enough calories to stay above 100 pounds. My health (especially my fertility) is always better when my weight is up. Any tips?

    • Cori says

      Avocado, nuts, fattier meats, adding olive oil to smoothies are good…I had the same issue while nursing…and I haven’t been able to eat dairy since my nursing 14 month old has an intolerance, so cheese is out. Now that he’s older and not nursing as much, I’ve put on some weight and now I don’t have to constantly be choosing the fattier foods.

    • Sharon says

      I started having an extra snack of a glass of milk with a handful of nuts, when I was trying to put on a few pounds. I think it helped (slowly).

    • says

      Thanks, y’all! Nuts and meat are good suggestions. I guess I should have mentioned that I can’t do dairy for the nursing toddler’s sake, so smoothies and milk and cheese and yogurt are out, which used to be a good portion of my daily calories.

      • says

        Yes, nuts are very highly caloric and good brain food for baby, esp. walnuts. I always figure if reducing carbs/grains helps take weight off, maybe carbs can put some on for you. Baked potatoes w/lots of butter, heaping bowls of oatmeal (good for milk supply too, esp. paired with quinoa) with walnuts, coconut oil, berries, etc.

        Ok, now I’m hungry. 😉

        • Rita says

          Reading your comment I had to reread your name and make sure it wasn’t something I wrote! haha I completely understand where you are coming from. It is hard for me now that my nursing toddler is 18 months everyone keeps telling me to wean her but I’m not ready to do that yet. Although it would be nice for it to be easier to put on some weight.

          Katie, I was looking at my email while sitting down with my breakfast of a heaping bowl of oatmeal with lots of walnuts, maple syrup, dried cherries, and clarified butter! lol Thank you for the great suggestions. :)

  12. Rita says

    I’m excited about this series too! I have had a little bit of an issue the other way than what is typical…after my first baby I was down two pounds from when I had him after number 2 I had to give up dairy and now I’ve lost another 6 lbs and I didn’t really have it to lose. Its been hard for me because everything that is suggested for weight gain is like what your friend had with post workout snacks. Protein shakes, soy whatever, or dairy. I try to eat a LOT of meat and that has got me to the point where at least I’m no longer losing lbs. I think. Anyway, timely topic, as usual for me too! Thanks Katie!

  13. Jamie says

    For a long time I had five pounds of extra weight that just wouldn’t go away. I always chose low fat and low Cal foods and it didn’t make a difference. When I started learning about real foods I started eating butter, full fat dairy, and coconut oil (all no nos in the standard American diet) and those pounds vanished and I’m very lean. I’m a big promoter of real food for many reasons. I’m excited to see the results of your challenge.

  14. Karen says

    I’m in for part B. I grew up with a primarily real food diet, then when trying to lose what once was baby weight, got sucked into the low fat/low cal/food pyramid hype. Then I quit smoking. Yeah. You know what happened.

    We were already transitioning back to real food, however, I think I had created some other issues with the SAD that have slowed my progress. Glad to hear the one pound per week rate, since that is what I have, for the most part, been achieving for the past few weeks.

  15. Renee says

    Yay for MyFitnessPal! I just started using this app because I needed to get a true reading of how much I was eating every day. I have always resisted counting calories, but I think that at this point with my stubborn pounds it is the best thing to do. I’m using MFP in conjunction with my FitBit to get the full picture of food and exercise. Maybe all these numbers will be motivating! As much as I can, I try to eat real food and good fats, even with decreased calories. It’s just a challenge to make my calories count!
    Can’t wait to read more, Katie!

  16. Abbey says

    I don’t count calories; I don’t really exercise, and I’ve lost 20 pounds over the last two years.

    I started changing my diet slowly. First, I started reading labels and trying to make more things at home. I drink real, whole milk from a farm (you know they give pigs skim milk to make them gain weight for market), real butter, real sugar in the rare baked goods, more veggies, fruits (dried fruits are my favorite). The biggest thing I do is avoid any food that has a label. That led me to seeking out more homemade substitutes with real ingredients from sources that I trust.

    I think trying to “diet” or count calories or other things done with weight loss as the only goal is self-defeating for me anyway.

    Instead, I started by reading labels. Then I tried shopping like my grandmother would. I alternate between kombucha, kefir and other ferments and can’t remember when I last had a commercial soda. Those things really are evil. My husband substituted iced tea for diet cola and almost immediately lost weight.

    It’s hard to believe it’s been about two years but I make almost all of our food, shop bulk and organic, I’ll be hitting the farmers markets soon, and I ended up buying a belt to keep my britches up.

    Thanks to KS for a lot of tips, tricks, and just support over the last year or two, I am more confident in the kitchen but I still have a long way to go on actual meal planning and prep for grabbing something quick. But I’m getting there!

    Real food as a process instead of a defined goal is what works for me and my waistline.

  17. Austin says

    Well, I thought I would post with an update now that it’s been a little more than 7 weeks.

    As I’ve seen others mention before, this post was very timely for me. I had been noticing that my body was softer and rounder. When I finally stepped on a scale, I found out that I was 10 pounds heavier at 11 months post partum than I was 3 months post partum and I was 22 pounds heavier than my pre-baby weight.

    Since this Monday Mission, I have lost 7-8 pounds. More importantly, my energy has sky-rocketed! I think the biggest improvement for me was completely removing wheat from my diet. Someone left a comment on this blog talking about the book “Wheat Belly”. I found the author’s blog and that is where I got the idea to remove wheat from my diet. All of the weight I’ve lost was within the first 3 days of not having wheat. In those first 3 days, I did suffer withdrawal symptoms and cravings. After maybe the first week, I felt amazingly better. I used to just lay on the floor feeling exhausted while my daughter played. Now I run around and play with her. She has yet to tire me out! I haven’t had any cravings for wheat. In fact, I just feel so happy to not be having food that was making me feel so heavy and lethargic.

    Aside from cutting out wheat, I have also stuck to a real food diet. I began making all of our meals from scratch and soaking our grains, legumes and seeds just a couple weeks before removing wheat. A few weeks earlier than that I cut out sugar (before I weighed myself). I also increased my yoga practice. I think these things have also made a difference in the way I feel. I feel so much better now than I did 7 weeks ago.

    Even though, my weight hasn’t changed since initially cutting out wheat, I have still noticed a dramatic difference in my body. I look thinner, leaner and more toned. It seems that every day I see more muscle definition and more bones. I suspect that instead of losing weight, I am building muscle but I don’t know too much about that.

    I still have 10 more pounds to lose before I reach my goal weight. I also think it might be possible that the weight I’m at now is my optimum weight.

    Thanks for your blog, Katie. God bless you.

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      I’m so glad you updated us! Your story made me smile so big…what a great attitude, and I’m sure your daughter is super happy with her new energetic mommy, too! Yayyyyy! :) Katie

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