While losing weight isn’t a one-size-fits all approach, there are a few tried-and-true tips that can help on your weight loss journey. Blogger and television personality Ree Drummond, a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman, is a testament to the effectiveness of having a multi-dimensional approach.
In January, the 52-year-old food writer decided to take the plunge and made the necessary lifestyle changes to shed unwanted weight. Six months later, she’s thriving. “The biggest takeaway is that dang, I feel so much better,” she recently said on Instagram.
So, how did she do it? Here’s what to know about Drummond’s weight-loss journey and how it’s improved her physical, mental and overall health.
How did Ree Drummond lose weight?
In a blog post outlining her weight loss journey, Drummond started by explaining that being “skinny” was not her main goal.
She broke it down like this: Over the past few years, she gained a significant amount of weight. And in early January, she hit a low point, feeling “tired, puffy, and desperate.” Drummond knew she had to make a change, and with her daughter Alex’s wedding coming up in May, she was feeling motivated.
While the wedding was the initial push, Drummond has a deeper reason to embark on her weight loss journey. “What motivated me the most was just wanting to feel better and have more energy,” she explains.
As of June 15, she has lost 43 pounds. But to Drummond, the number isn’t important. It’s how she feels as a result of losing weight and getting healthy.
“I definitely needed to lose weight for my own preference based on where I thought I should be, but it’s more about how I feel after a few months of regular exercise, more moving, and more mindful eating,” Drummond explains. “Feeling good is really all that matters, and because of that, the weigh-ins are becoming less and less important to me. I’ll keep weighing in every day to have all the information I need going forward, but the number isn’t what I’m paying attention to now.”
Unlike many other celebrities who have tried keto, intermittent fasting, or a specific weight loss program, Drummond lost weight the old-fashioned way: by changing her lifestyle. Here are the approaches she took.
Eating fewer calories
Most experts agree that weight loss comes down to a simple formula: Expend more calories than you consume. And at the end of the day, Drummond’s main goal was to have a calorie deficit. She used online calculators (i.e. CalorieKing.com) to count calories and kept a daily log of what she ate.
“Counting my calories was nothing short of eye- opening, and for me it was essential. I’d completely lost track of the calories I was consuming on a daily basis … and I could tell if it was working by whether I was losing weight over time, and adjusted up or down naturally as I went,” Drummond explains.
Drummond started working out regularly, whether it was walking her dogs or doing exercises at her home gym. No matter how busy she was, she made time for physical activity each day.
“During the past few months, I just chose to be late on a deadline or put off work until the next day so that exercise could happen,” says Drummond. “It was a simple shift in mindset, but it was important!”
Weighing her food
To stay on track with the calories she was consuming, Drummond weighed her food using a digital food scale. This taught her about the importance of portion control.
But that doesn’t mean she was reckless with the food she ate—because as we know, weight loss is about more than cutting calories. It’s eating nutritious, whole foods.
Consuming more protein and eating less sugar
Drummond learned that protein helps you stay full longer. The more protein you eat, the less likely you are to binge eat later in the day or give in to cravings. She went from 15% to 20% of daily calories from protein to 30 to 40% and noticed a major difference.
Along with consuming more protein, she cut down on her sugar intake. She didn’t eliminate it completely, but made smarter choices.
Drummond asked herself, “If I am eating X calories today, do I want to blow 300 of those calories on a doughnut? Or do I instead want to spend 50 of them on a piece of good dark chocolate to get my fix, then keep eating things with more nutritive content?”
At the six-week mark, Drummond hit a weight loss plateau. Instead of giving into the disappointment, she researched how to build muscle since muscle burns more calories compared to fat.
She focused on the muscles in her legs and butt since those muscles are bigger and will lead to greater muscle growth. Drummond learned how to do different exercises to build strength in her lower body. After a few months, she can not only do all the exercises in proper form, but she has also seen a vast improvement in her body tone and strength.
Switching to a standing desk
Over the past few months, Drummond wrote a cookbook and knew that meant sitting at a desk for hours at a time. To make sure she was getting her steps in, she started using a standing desk, which “helped shave off the cumulative sedentary nature of a desk job, and just helped my overall motivation and movement,” Drummond explains.
Cutting out alcohol completely
Drummond eliminated alcohol for several reasons: First, alcohol contains calories and she didn’t want to cancel out her exercise efforts (alcohol weakens your body). For four months, she didn’t have one drink.
She now drinks alcohol in moderation, but is making smarter choices in that department. For example, she has switched from two glasses of red wine to Ranch Water (tequila with fresh squeezed lime and mineral water).
Fun fact: Tequila has the fewest calories compared to other types of alcohol.
Using the Happy Scale App
Drummond says the Happy Scale App has been “a game-changer in terms of motivating me to keep going.” This weight loss tracker follows your progress: the rate you’re losing weight, your overall rate of weight loss, and what to expect in terms of progress moving forward.
Is Ree Drummond’s weight loss method sustainable?
Holly Klamer, a Michigan-based Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist says yes.
“Ree Drummond’s approach to weight loss is sustainable not only for weight loss but for weight maintenance. The reason it is sustainable is she implements practical steps for weight loss instead of drastic measures that don’t last,” Klamer explains.
For instance, she didn’t follow a fad diet or cut out whole food groups.
“Instead, she took healthy approaches to weight loss by cutting back on total calories, cutting back on sugar and focused on building lean muscle,” says Klamer. “These approaches can be sustained long term and are positive shifts for overall health regardless of weight loss.”
Also, combining exercise with eating less is easier to maintain, compared to cutting calories alone.
“She implemented exercise with eating fewer calories to create a deficit for weight loss instead of just focusing on drastically cutting calories. This approach is more sustainable for long term weight loss. This can also help avoid ‘yo-yo dieting’ effect of weight cycling up and down that can happen from drastic deprivation and rebound binge eating,” notes Klamer.
Weighing food educates you about portion control, and is a great way to jumpstart the weight loss process.
“Weighing her food initially helped her get her in line with portion sizes that would help with weight loss,” says Klamer. “Research has shown the amount of food we eat can be influenced on package size and social cues. Weighing food can help you get back on track with healthy portion sizes that can sustain weight loss.”
Perhaps best of all, she didn’t stay hyper-focused on numbers.
“Drummond used tools like apps to track weight and calorie intake to help keep her accountable during weight loss,” Klamer explains. “However, she did not obsess about the numbers—she used these to also gauge how she was feeling. It’s important to use tools for weight loss but not get totally wrapped up in the numbers. It’s important to pair these with how your body is feeling such as energy levels, strength gains, changes in how your clothes fit.”
Next, read why running is a great way to lose weight.