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“How I Lost 33 Pounds and Spent Less Than $30”


Mary Ellen over at Whisk Together has a very informative and detailed post on how she lost 33 pounds and has kept it off for 3 years. To do so, she only spent $30 extra out of pocket.

Visit her blog for all the details on the plan she put together and how she made it work, even when she has young children.

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  • Elizabeth says:

    It’s great she was able to just keep to diet and exercise. I wish it had been quite so simple for me. So my advice out there to folks is that if you read it and think to yourself you’ve tried all that then seriously talk to your doctor!

    I’ve lost nearly 40 lbs over the last few months (though myfitness says 21 lbs because back when I started to try to lose weight I weighed much less than my peak which was 215 lbs and a size 20! I’m now 170 and a size 16!) but have spent a lot more then that finding out I was pre-diabetic so now on medications (one cost) and have PCOS which means more meds and it’s hard to lose weight. So I’ve spent more then that greatly changing the family diet to a more diabetic friendly diet (aka cutting carbs to 180 & increasing dietary fiber to 25g/day). Carbs are cheap to purchase, cook with and make! aka pasta, breads, starchy foods like potatoes, etc which is where the pitfall is and why my food costs went up. In the end though if the cost is attributed to a healthier lifestyle and no a fad diet I think it’s well worth it! I say to anyone that’s had issues losing weight with diet (portion control) and exercise to please see a doctor! I struggled for a long time and after being diagnosed in Nov. and having the dietitian help me in March I’m now doing a lot better over all!

    • Such great advice! Thank you for sharing! And I’m grateful to hear about your weight-loss success! Way to go!

    • I feel so honored that you posted my story! Thank yoy Crystal. I hope that this may help other.

    • Elizabeth, your progress is great! It is so hard to go down a dress size and proud of you that you did it.
      I agree about the food and money choices. I do think it all evens out or even saves money in the long run like you said.

    • Claudia says:

      @Elizabeth, I feel you. I’ve known about the PCOS and having focused the past 8 weeks on working out and semi eating healthy I only lost 2.5 lbs. Very frustrating. My MD says that I need to completely eliminate altogether, S carbs (starches: potatoes, carrots, watermelon, pineapple), as well as grains and sugars. This is sooooo hard. She said with my exercising that is the ONLY way I will see a more significant weight loss.

      • Flo says:

        My best results are avoiding animal products and processed foods. What you save by not buying meat and dairy is astounding, and then when you add up the unbought snacks, drinks, etc., wow! The other thing I do is weights at least twice a week and (because of my knees and other joints) work up to long bike rides. Once I pass the 60 minute mark, the winter weight finally starts leaving. I don’t know why the weight room bikes don’t do the same; maybe it’s the sunshine and fresh air or maybe it’s the different food in the summer–fresh and local for much of the summer and fall. I do eat whole grains, legumes, leafy greens, nuts, fruits; I love the taste now, especially with Indian, Asian, and Mediterranean seasonings

        • Libby says:

          We primarily eat plant-based at our house as well except for about 2 times a week where we do eat meat but I found that the biggest difference was just making everything at home…I found fool proof recipes that were easy and quick as we have a busy life….

          • Kathleen Roquemore says:

            I would love to know some of those quick and simple recipes. That’s a huge issue for me since I hate to cook. Thanks.

    • Ana chavez says:

      Exactly!!!! With the evil PCOS is sooooo hard to lose weight. By changing the way I eat I have been able to lose 12lbs and counting. Ohh yes I do cook more healthy stuff than before but am losing weight and not using meds that’s at the end don’t resolve your problem and gives you side effects.

  • Jennifer says:

    This was a very inspiring story. Thanks for sharing Mary Ellen. What you did makes a lot of sense. And obviously works 🙂

  • CJ says:

    I love that she stayed over 1200 calories (very important for women who are counting calories not to starve themselves)! Also for people looking for workout videos – there are many free workout videos on YouTube. You just have to look for an accredited source such as the YouTube channel BeFit which also has Jillian Michael workouts and more (for free) Also if you want to view your video on a larger screen, you can hook your laptop or computer up to most televisions by simply using an HDMI cable, very easy to accomplish This way you can have hundreds of workout videos such as cardio and yoga, at your disposal for FREE!

    • Those are great ideas! I have even been able to preview and try videos out first through YouTube like the Butt Bible. Then, I can decide whether to buy it.
      HDMI is also great for going on the big screen.

      Amazon Prime had many Jillian Michaels videos absolutely free as well.

    • I’ve also previewed a few exercise DVDs before buying by getting them from our local library system.

    • Libby says:

      I LOVE the BeFit workouts! I use the Jillian Michael ones to get back into shape after having our daughter!! So true to cut on costs instead of gym!

  • Renee says:

    Great article. Like the author, I use the Lose It! app., but I never thought of dividing up my calories the way she did. I think that following her plan will make my weight loss journey a lot easier. Thanks, Mary Ellen.

  • Marianne Hardy says:

    I wonder if you can actually list the breakfasts and lunches you ate.(or better yet link to those recipes on your blog!!!) I eat the same breakfast almost everyday. Lunches I’m not as good at. Congratulations on your weight loss and maintaining. Thanks for sharing

    • Thank you for the idea! I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested. I did want to make that though. There is a email registration at the top right of my blog to receive updates of future posts.

      Breakfast and lunch is almost always one of a handful of meals here, too.
      I remember eating a lot of breakfasts that were 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup of milk and 1 banana. Or I just substitute oatmeal with egg, or banana with another fruit. Or almond milk with regular milk. I don’t think almond milk was nearly as popular 3 years ago…. I just switched stuff around with similar caloric and nutritional profiles. It stinks at first, but once you enter it into LoseIt, the program remembers and you can pull the old meal into that day or that recipe that you saved back into your calculation.

      Freezer meals helped me with dinner because it could all be calculated ahead of time by myself, or through a company if I did a freezer meal workshop.

  • Abra says:

    This helps me so much. It is very practical and has inspired me to start somewhere. Thank you!

  • Bobbi says:

    Thanks for a great post. I am trying to lose weight and have discovered a few interesting things in the process. I am actually saving money by eating healthy. Although fresh fruits, vegetables and healthy diet food can be expensive, by not buying the processed foods, cookies and snack foods, my weekly shopping trips cost less. Another thing which took some getting used to was couponing. I am a major couponer and enjoy getting the deal. I realized that coupons were making me fat! I would get excited about a great deal on cookies or free chips or thirty cent gummy bears and head over to the store. Then of course all this free stuff was in the house so I would eat it. It look some doing but now I realize that not every great deal may be a great deal for me. I used to think it was all about the “get”, but now even for free, I pass on the chips. It’s an interesting process but seeing the weight slowly drop off keeps me going.
    Thank you for a great site.

    • Totally agree and thanks for commenting! Produce co-ops in our area also help reduce the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as some yogurt and eggs.

      I had to stop couponing on food when my son had terrible stomach pains for a week. Later, I realized that it was from the free FiberOne Protein bars I purchased at the store. We immediately threw them away and his stomach pains were gone. The inulin that they put into those bars causes pains in many people as I found out from a google search. 🙁

    • Libby says:

      Don’t you wish there were more coupons for fresh fruits and veggies??? ugh….lol my biggest wish!

  • Erin Schine says:

    Great Job!!! I am wondering what books you recommend reading?

    • Thank you for visiting and the kind comments! Money Saving Mom does have the best readers.

      The books I read are also throughout the blog. But…. the blog has over 300+ posts, so I won’t make you go through them! The books that had the biggest impact on me were:

      -Which Comes First: Cardio or Weights? by Alex Hutchinson

      -The First Twenty Minutes by Gretchen Reynolds (I liked Which Comes First better, but this had some great info)
      You can find a summary on my Oatmeal Raisin Granola Bars post:

      -“Food Rules” by Michael Pollan. I like his journalistic approach to the subject

      -“Why Calories Count” by Marion Nestle

      Those were my 4 most influential books. From there, what I do with most of my books I read, I go to the “works cited” or “bibliography” or whatever they title it. Then, I go and look up those studies and read the abstract and study done. I find a lot of really cool information in the works cited area!! But I love reading studies 🙂

  • Susan says:

    I know I already commented on the blog itself, but this is such a great post that I’m still thinking about it. :). One other helpful expense might be a kitchen scale to weigh your servings so you can enter them in LoseIt. After a while you might get to be like my husband who can “feel” how much his food weighs down to the ounce! I’m not there yet, though. 😀 Thanks again for such a helpful post.

    • Oh goodness, I do that! I need to mention that in the next post! I bought my kitchen scale to weigh my flour (thanks to Alton Brown’s suggestion), but later used it to weigh my food. Crazy what “1 serving size” is!

      In “Sugar Fat Salt”, I read that serving sizes were based on consumption during the 1970’s.

  • Debra C says:

    After I stopped breastfeeding my first child, my weight got up to 220. I started out doing workouts with a Wii Fit and using a food journal to see what I was already eating. My caloric intake varied wildly. One day, I’d feel like I ate a ton, but I’d have as few as 800 calories. The next, I’d feel like we ate hardly anything but what we ate was fast food and my calories would be over 2000. So I spent a year getting my eating more consistent and continuing to work out. Because I have PCOS, I only lost 10 lbs that first year. It was very frustrating, but some of the medications for PCOS can cause liver issues if you take them for too long, so my doctor didn’t want to prescribe them just to help me lose weight.

    After that first year, I found and started following their food plans (which helped me to make the calories I was eating healthier) and using their workout plans. In the next four months, I lost 30 more lbs, and that rate made me much happier. At the end of all that, I started doing the Couch to 5k, but ended up having to quit the running because I got pregnant again.

    I’m now back at a larger weight, but it’s because I’ve had two more kids, worked for a year (which really threw off both my eating schedule and my workouts), and gone through a very stressful last two years. I;m currently breastfeeding #3, and I’m hoping to avoid the post-breastfeeding weight gain this time around. There are some free fitness classes in the area that I’ve been making it to about once a week. And after we find a place to live, I’ll hopefully be able to set up the computer in a place where I can use online workout videos again. I’ve found that once I start working out consistently, I don’t even want to eat junk. I hate to waste a workout by eating a candy bar afterwards. This time around, I’m going to keep going and get even lower than last time. My goal weight is 165, which should put me in about a size 12 (I’m fairly tall and broad of build, so I don’t really have the bone structure for anything smaller than a 10). I look forward to being able to fit into the few size 12 items that I’ve kept around all these years.

    • I agree with not wanting to eat junk when in a routine of exercise. I think once our bodies are doing what they are supposed to be doing, and also getting those happy endorphins flowing from exercise instead of the dopamine rise from sugar spiked foods, then we tend to generally stop craving as much of the bad foods.
      Don’t get me wrong – I still eat caramel gelato 🙂 But, it’s a treat and treated as such.

      You really do move from “I can’t have it, but I want it” to “I can have it, but I don’t want it.” It takes time. But once that mindset is set, then you feel …. it’s hard to describe. Free-er? I don’t want to say happier. I think happiness comes first, then success. Studies have shown that over and over.

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