By Erickka Sy Savané

I'm looking at a picture of a friend on Facebook, about to throw up my chips. This girl had her baby around the same time as me, yet she looks like she should be on the cover of Fitness magazine and me, well, that's another story. I've been working on this for four years!

Why is it taking me so long to lose this weight?

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First, I thought it was the cyst. That thing was huge, the size of a grapefruit the doctor said, but then I got it removed and nothing changed. If anything, I gained weight. Then there was the birth control. Surely, it was the hormones making me want to eat the world. But I stopped that and nothing changed. Again.

Honestly, I hate going there, but it’s my diet. Always has been. I love food. I wake up eating cake and go to bed with a bag of Cheetos. There’s nothing like hot bread and butter. When I’m going through a rough patch, I eat. When I’m happy, I eat. I eat. I eat. I eat. So in terms of really trying to lose this weight, I haven’t been trying that hard.

It’s interesting though, because I’ve been skinny before. I spent years as a model where being skinny is the prerequisite. I’ve gained and lost weight enough times to know what it takes. So why am I not doing it now?  

When I really think about it, like, really think about it, I like my life. For years I fought to be skinny because I felt it equaled success. And let’s be real, for most models, anorexia is a goal, as was the heroin-chic look. So when I was skinny, I did great. When I wasn’t I fell down hard, suffering from bulimia, low self-esteem, and all sorts. Now, I’m older, I’m a mom, and for the first time ever I’m doing something that I love, sitting in front of a computer contemplating what makes the world go round, and it has nothing to do with my weight or my looks. In fact, being this weight makes me work harder on my craft because I’m not expecting my looks to get me in the door and carry me the rest of the way. I’m more productive than I’ve ever been. Plus, I look at women like Oprah and Ava DuVernay and they aren’t skinny girls. Yet, they are the ones making serious strides. And I’m not saying that skinny is bad, I still love when I can fit something other than my mom jeans, which have gotten snug, by the way, but I’m not going to knock where I am because I’m not skinny.

Oprah is trying to lose weight, but I’m sure it has more to do with personal choice than feeling like a failure. Who knows, maybe gaining and losing weight every few years is how she keeps it interesting. As for me, I may pick up some brussel sprouts and broccoli because they are my favorite veges, and it's always a good idea to have more greens in your system, but right now I’m going to enjoy my Cheetos and get back to work. This conversation will be revisited once I'm really ready to make changes.  

Do you struggle with losing weight? 
Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife and mom, based in Jersey, City. Her work has appeared in Essence.com,Ebony.comMadamenoire.com and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter and Instagram orErickkaSySavane.com

 By Nicole Bourn

The mantra that we hear most often is we should “eat less and move more.” But if this caused sustainable weight loss we would never struggle while being on restrictive diets and already be thin by now. The truth is we need to eat enough food to get through the day. Most people are surprised to learn that I lost 92 lbs as a result of eating more \ (of the right food). Here's how you can eat a lot and still lose weight?

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The best strategy to losing weight is to add foods that are low in calorie density.

WHAT IS CALORIE DENSITY?

Calorie density is simply a measure of the concentration of calories in a food. The higher the calorie density, the higher the concentration of calories packed into the food bite for bite. This is an excellent indicator of how easy it is to overeat on a food, because the more calories that are packed into a food per bite, the more likely we are to overeat on that food.

Foods that are low in calorie density, like fruits and vegetables, don’t pack a lot of calories per bite. They are stuffed not with calories, but with water and fiber, making them bulky (and therefore more filling), which allows us to lose weight without going hungry.

On the other hand, foods that are high in calorie density, like cake or burgers, are stuffed with lots of calories per bite, with very little bulk (making them less filling), which can lead to overeating and too many calories.

THE 4 CATEGORIES OF CALORIE DENSITY

1. LOW CALORIE DENSITY
All unprocessed or minimally processed fruits and vegetables, such as apples, bananas, berries, kale, zucchini, and bell peppers. You can eat freely of these foods.

2. MODERATE CALORIE DENSITY
All unprocessed or minimally processed starchy vegetables like peas and corn, intact whole grains like brown rice and oats, and legumes like beans and lentils. You can eat a relatively large portion of these foods.

3. HIGH CALORIE DENSITY
More processed plant-based foods like bagels, dry cereal, bread, tortillas, and dried fruit. Limit the consumption of these foods.

4. VERY HIGH CALORIE DENSITY
Nuts and seeds, oils and fats, chocolate, and junk foods. Greatly limit or avoid the consumption of these foods.

The first 2 groups (low and moderate in calorie density) should make up the majority of your calorie intake. But the ratio of vegetables or fruits to starches can also be an important factor.

We all know that eating a large bowl of lettuce might fill up your stomach, but it will keep you hungry at the same. So make sure to combine your low calorie dense foods with some starches from the second category in order to feel satisfied and have enough energy.

You might have recognized that there are no animal-based foods in our 4 categories. This is because you need to remember that these should not be seen as food, since they are very harmful to your overall health and our planet. If you want to eat some chocolate or a burger, then choose the plant-based version like Vegan Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Nibs or Black Bean Burgers, and Beyond Meat Burgers, and you will be just fine.
TIPS FOR APPLYING THESE PRINCIPLES

1. Hunger
Whenever you are hungry, eat until you are comfortably full of food lower in calorie density. Don’t starve or stuff yourself, and don’t eat when you’re not hungry.
2. Sequence Meals
Start all meals with a salad, soup, or fruit. By starting with these foods that are lowest in calorie density, you begin to fill up on fewer calories.
3. Don’t drink your calories
Liquid calories like soft drinks or fruit juice have little if any satiety, so they don’t fill you up as much as solid foods with the same amount of calories.
4. Keep the categories in mind
Non-starchy vegetables are the lowest in calorie density and fat or oil are the highest. Therefore, adding non-starchy vegetables to any dish will always lower the overall calorie density of a meal. Consequently, adding fat or oil to any dish will always raise the overall calorie density of a meal.
5. Limit High Calorie Dense Food
If you use flour products or fats, integrate them into meals that are made of low calorie dense foods and think of them as condiments. For example, add a few walnuts or raisins to a bowl of oatmeal with fruit.

WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU
This basically means weight-loss and maintenance can be in your control. Meaning you don't have to under eat, starve, kill yourself in the gym or miss out on the fun and excitement of food. You can enjoy food, actually eat more and watch the weight melt away just as I did. In 9 months following the calorie density method I was able to lose 92lbs. So can you!

Would you try the low calorie density method to lose weight and be healthier? 

Nicole Bourn, is the founder of Vegan Mom Lifestyle, a lifestyle blog geared towards removing the fear and confusion from beginning a vegan or plant-based lifestyle. She began her journey simply for her own lifestyle purposes, into a healthier her and along the way has helped countless woman and men begin their vegan lifestyle. She is a native of Washington DC, a single mother of four daughters and an inspiration to many. During her journey as a Vegan she loss 92lbs, completely healed herself from both anemia and asthma. Follow Nicole, or Vegan Mom as some might call her, on Instagram, or nicolebourn.com