Ree Drummond Just Shared the 10 Secrets That Helped Her Lose 55 Pounds in a Year
After dabbling in—then ditching—the keto diet in 2019, The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond has been looking for her new flow regarding fitness and food. Rowing workouts helped her set the tone, but after dropping off her son Bryce at college in January of 2021, she admits that she hit "rock bottom" and felt out of control with overeating.
So about one year ago, "I decided I wanted to lose weight. I had zero idea how I was going to do this, I only knew that I needed to start. After years of writing cookbooks, hosting a cooking show, owning a restaurant and bakery and having a cooking website, the weight had crept up through the years and my exercise/activity level had all but slowed to a stop," Drummond says in a recent blog post. "Last January, at my highest weight ever and with the wedding of my daughter looming in May, I just knew I had to start. One year later, I've lost 55 pounds."
Just as important as what she did do to lose the weight, Drummond says, is what she didn't do: "I didn't use a trainer, I didn't do keto or paleo or follow an official diet, I didn't eat specialty foods and I didn't do intermittent fasting. Those things work for lots of people, which is wonderful! I just hadn't had success with them."
Instead, she weighed food to keep portion sizes and calories in check. For exercise, Drummond got back on the rowing machine, walked, lifted weights and installed a standing desk. She tracked her weight daily using the Happy Scale and aimed to eat more protein, less sugar and consume less alcohol.
"Today I feel stronger, more in balance (both physically and mentally), and I have more spring to my step. I am wearing clothes I wasn't comfortable wearing a year ago, I feel better about the way I look, and I'm smiling more (yes, even more than I smiled before, which was a lot—haha) and that is a nice feeling at age 53," she says. "After the experience of the past year, I feel better. I have more energy. I'm more motivated to take on projects and put things on the ol' calendar. Feeling good bleeds over into all aspects of my life."
That's the top-level overview of what Drummond says made the most difference to help her lose a little over one pound per week (psst… dietitians dish about how much weight you can really safely lose in a month). In her February 5 blog post about the 10 things that made all the difference, she shares her tips and tricks in more detail. Read on for a recap.
10 Secrets That Helped Ree Drummond Lose 55 Pounds in 1 Year
1. She started fairly strictly.
Drummond admits that she "went all-in for the first five months. After that initial stage of counting calories, lifting weights, etc., I relaxed my efforts a little bit beginning in the summer months. During those first five disciplined months, I'd developed a good sense of portion sizes, calorie amounts, and protein percentage, and I was able to go about daily life with a general sense of the choices I needed to make." After those first few months, Drummond felt confident in her mastery of portion sizes. "Starting out with that discipline actually allowed me more freedom later in the process."
2. She came to grips with how "off" her portion sizes were.
Drummond admits that "one of the primary things I learned in the initial months of my weight loss was just how off the rails I'd been for years when it came to portion size!" She counted calories during those months she measured food portions. This "really broke the spell of eating too much volume and during this process, I trained my body to get used to smaller—well, I should say more normal—portions." For more on that, check out our visual guide to food serving sizes.
3. She focused on strength training large muscle groups.
Instead of just doing biceps curls ad nauseum for toned tank top arms, Drummond focused on building muscles in her legs and butt. Larger muscles not only torch more calories at rest, but also help with stability and balance as we age. "The months I spent doing squats, lunges and deadlifts early in my weight loss process really laid the foundation for a summer and fall of more efficient calorie burning. I'm not a physician or trainer, but I can tell you that as I watched the number on the scale continue to decrease through the summer and fall, I knew without question that it was largely due to the muscle I'd built. It's like an engine that's always working behind the scenes!" (Want to follow Ree's lead? Try this 10-minute at-home equipment-free workout to build strength.)
4. Even if it wasn't via formal exercise, Drummond moved her body daily.
Drummond's schedule picked up in September when school, football and filming for her show resumed, and when she began to focus on promoting her new cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks Super Easy! (buy it: $18.07, Target). At that point, she scaled back to two to three workouts per week instead of five or six. But thanks to the foundation of muscle she had built and the fact that she was still eating her newly adjusted portion sizes, "this decrease didn't undo my hard work." That said, she found herself feeling lethargic if she strayed too much from her new routine "so I made sure to stay more committed than ever to using my standing desk, stepping away for frequent breaks, and putting myself in a position to move more. Today, I'm still using a standing desk and not letting myself collect too much dust during the day."
5. She drank alcohol, but only in moderation.
For the first several months, Drummond went booze-free, "but beginning in the summertime, I started having a social drink or two here and there. I avoided (and still avoid) anything that's sugary or otherwise really high calorie," she says. In lieu of cocktails with a lot of added sugar like daiquiris and margaritas, Drummond opts for citrus-forward options like "ranch water" (tequila, lime juice and sparkling water) and white wine with lemon and a splash of sparkling water, spritzer-style.
"These sparkling water-spiked drinks are great for two reasons: First, they force you to hydrate as you ingest the alcohol or wine! Second, they keep you from drinking too much alcohol. They also spread out the calories more: In other words, you can have two drinks for the calories of one."
6. Drummond weighed herself daily.
Warning: This is not for everyone. (Here's what one dietitian says is the most important question to ask yourself if you're grappling with how often to weigh in.) "I realize this can be triggering for some, and I can't emphasize this enough: My decision to weigh myself every day is not about fixating over every pound and ounce. I've just found that when excess weight has crept on through the years, it has happened when I've chosen not to weigh myself," Drummond admits.
For the two years prior to her January 2021 wellness kickoff, she never stepped on the scale "because I never wanted to know. Without seeing that number go up over time, it was easy for me to tell myself that it was probably just a few pounds." As a result, she now weighs herself first thing in the a.m. and tracks the trend over time using an app called Happy Scale. "Now, I'm settling in just below the original goal weight I imagined for myself—which, by the way, was intentionally realistic! I wasn't striving for pre-marriage, pre-baby, pre-thirties weight! Just a good weight where I thought I'd feel and look better, and where I felt I'd be able to maintain and have longer term success."
7. No foods were off-limits.
The first five months, Drummond aimed to limit added sugars and skipped alcohol, but otherwise shared meals with her family, just consuming smaller portions while doing so. (She, like us, says she could eat cheese every single day.) "I also ate a higher amount of high-protein foods such as egg whites, chicken, fish, lean beef, plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, Swiss cheese and dark, leafy greens," she says. "Now, a year later, I eat pretty much all the foods I love, with two big differences: First, my portions are much more reasonable. Second, I do still pay attention to the daily proportions I'm devoting to both high-protein foods and foods with wasted calories."
8. She limited "wasted calories."
During the five months of "nutritional boot camp I put myself through," Drummond discovered that she was investing a lot more calories than she'd like on what she deemed "wasted calories," like soft drinks, cookies, potato chips, donuts and cake. She reasons, "If I am eating X calories today, do I want to blow 300 of those calories on a donut? 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?"
Some days, she decides to devour the donut. Some days, she skips it. And others, she takes one bite. This moderate mindset helps her avoid falling into her old habit of eating three donuts in one day after depriving herself for too long. "There's no hard and fast rule, but I'm just more mindful of it now, and I try to factor the donut into the day as a whole."
9. To help these changes be more sustainable, Drummond focused on slow and steady rather than drastic detoxes.
Drummond says that she decided to skip those diets she mentioned earlier (such as keto) because she wanted "more control over the inevitable ebbs and flows over time." Rather than relying on one macronutrient or juice cleanse to be the meal plan MVP, Drummond tackled "my weight loss from several different angles. I've been able to experience different approaches: building muscle, eating more protein, moving/standing more, exercising on the rowing machine, logging my daily weight, etc. I can continue all of these over time, or I can emphasize some more than others, or choose some over others."
10. She confirmed that her worth is not linked to her weight.
Drummond prefers to think of her new normal as a perspective change rather than a lifestyle change. "During the first five months (and in the ensuing months) of my journey, I experienced a seismic shift in my perspective of everything I've mentioned: Portion size, calories, daily movement, sitting vs. standing, protein percentage, muscle mass, wasted calories, and so on. I think about all of those things totally differently now," she says. "After the experience of the past year, I feel better. I have more energy. I'm more motivated to take on projects and put things on the ol' calendar. Feeling good bleeds over into all aspects of my life. And that has changed my outlook. But to come full circle...it hasn't changed my life itself."