Ree Drummond on how she lost 43 pounds without a trainer or extreme diet

In May, Ree Drummond announced she’s been on a weight loss journey. According to Ree, who has built a small food empire, years of not paying attention to her diet had caught up to her wasitline and her health. So in January, she decided she was going to undo all of that and change her way of eating. She emphasized that her motivation was to feel better, not necessarily to reach a dress size. This week, Ree updated us on her progress saying she’s dropped 43 pounds in just five and a half months. In a blog post from Tuesday, she mentioned changes she made that helped her do it, which Ree said did not include with fad diets or a trainer.

Ree Drummond is feeling better than ever in her health and fitness journey, and now she’s sharing some of the lessons she’s learned long the way.

In a blog post on Tuesday, the Pioneer Woman star, 52, detailed some of the ways she changed her diet, exercise regimen, and mentality to lose 43 pounds over the past several months. Drummond began by emphasizing that, while weight loss was part of her goal, it wasn’t the driving factor for her.

“What motivated me the most was just wanting to feel better and have more energy,” she said. “In January, just before I bit the bullet and took the leap, I was tired, puffy, and desperate…and I knew I shouldn’t be feeling that way.”

She added that, while she doesn’t necessarily get offended if someone makes a comment about her weight, she “mostly just think[s] about how much better I feel every day and feel grateful that I’ve made it over the hump.”

Before sharing the steps that worked for her, Drummond included a few of the things that she’s tried in the past that weren’t sustainable for her lifestyle – including fad diets, intermittent fasting, weight loss programs, and personal trainers.

Instead, she said she focused simply on eating fewer calories and incorporating more movement into her day. In addition to calculating a calorie deficit and weighing her food to create the portion sizes that were right for her, she “made exercise a regular part of my day, whether I walked with the dogs or did the rowing machine.”

“I’d gotten so accustomed to excusing myself from working out because of my work schedule or travel schedule…but 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,” she explained. “It was a simple shift in mindset, but it was important!”

[From People]

In Ree’s blog post, she clearly lists everything she did and did not do. She said she did not join a weight loss program such as Weight Watchers or Noom but does not disparage them as she knows people who have had great success with them. She did, however, use an app, Happy Scale. I haven’t heard of Happy Scale but I know weight management apps can really be wonderful aids. Ree makes it very clear that she is no expert, and that readers should find what works for them and consult a doctor. She cut back on sugar but did not cut it out. She did cut out alcohol for four months but when she went back to it, she’d decreased her consumption by quite a bit and switched to less caloric choices. I have to give Ree credit, reading her plan, she is incredibly disciplined. To make that many changes and stick with them to obtain the results she did is impressive. I’m surprised how much weight she lost in that time, but she had Alex’s wedding as a goal and once she got results and started feeling better, she was doubly motivated to stick with it. And kudos to her if she created and managed this whole plan without an outside trainer or nutritionist/dietitian. It’s very well thought out. I thought for sure she’d hired a team.

Ree talked about her weight and exercise routine in her post as well. She admitted she hated working out and even though she’d once been a trained ballerina, last January she “literally could not do a proper lunge without toppling over.” She discussed how she gradually got into a routine and stuck with it. Plus she emphasizes that it took her 52 years to get here. Her approach is very reasonable and I’m sure it will inspire others.

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Photo credit: Instagram

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36 Responses to “Ree Drummond on how she lost 43 pounds without a trainer or extreme diet”

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  1. Aang says:

    She’s doing it the right way. I accidentally lost 10lbs in my mid 40’s when I started walking every day. That coupled with drinking nothing but coffee, tea, or water and the weight just came off. It all came back over lock down when I started baking and drinking every day. Now in late 40’s I’m trying to loose it and it’s tough to do intentionally. Portion control is the key. That and cutting out the nightly beer.

    • minx says:

      Yes, I’m no fan of this woman but she’s doing it the right way. I was drinking every night during lockdown and I felt so sluggish and tired. I cut out alcohol nearly a month ago and am trying to do small, incremental things, just implementing more exercise and watching what I eat. That’s the only thing that works for me. If I say “Okay, today I start a diet!” I know I’ll fall off the wagon.

    • D says:

      I’m 48 and gained 15 pounds over the last year. The only thing that is working long term is tracking calories and increasing my exercise. The weight comes off slower now but you just have to stick with it and not get discouraged 2 weeks in. I’m almost 3 months into it and have lost all the weight I gained and I feel so much better.

  2. Nyro says:

    This will really help a lot of peoplle. Good old fashioned portion control, eating whole foods, and moving everyday worked for me as well. I wanted to lose 25 pounds and I couldn’t believe how easy it felt. I tried keto and I couldn’t take it. I tried intermittent fasting and I couldn’t handle that either. Portion control was the last thing I thought about because it’s been drilled into us that if you aren’t depriving yourself, you aren’t going to lose weight.

  3. KNy says:

    I really like her blog post. I am making similar changes to her with diet and exercise (starting mid-April of this year), and I appreciate how she mentioned she hit a plateau and realized she needed to focus on building more muscle and upping her protein intake. I think I’m heading to my first plateau now and am going to readjust the ratios of foods I’m eating.

  4. Marty says:

    If she was in a calorie deficit for 4 months it’s not hard to see why she lost so much weight in such a short amount of time.

    However, the hard part is keeping it off and transitioning to matience mode. Our bodies are not meant to be calorie deficits for that long. Refeeding is important, even if you are trying to loose weight.

  5. MaryContrary says:

    I’m so annoyed with myself. I lost 20 between January and April-and since then I have not been motivated. I still have 30 to go and I really need to kick it in to gear. I can’t help but think if I’d kept up I’d be done by now. Sob.

    • Lizzie says:

      Mary that is wonderful, especially if you have been able to maintain the loss. Actually I think it’s better than losing it quickly. Good luck. I gained a lot after my dog died and I couldn’t walk without him and lockdown. I’ve got a lot to lose and your an inspiration.

      • MaryContrary says:

        Oh Lizzie-thank you. I’m so sorry about your dog. We had a similar situation last summer-our 11 month old Great Dane puppy suddenly died. The grief my whole family experienced was part of the reason I gained so much too. I’m thinking good thoughts for you.

    • josephine says:

      But you lost 20 and kept it off, which is great! You can do it, and you’ll do it when you’re ready. Covid also put a big pause in my journey and I’m just now starting to lose again. It’s going slowly, so slowly, but it’s going. Good luck to you – be kind to yourself.

  6. readingissexy says:

    I have been struggling to get the baby weight/pandemic weight off (30 pounds), BUT I just so happen to have started a plan much like Ree. And it’s working! I can’t do intermittent fasting (I become starving in the morning after I workout!), and I don’t want to give up carbs or food groups. So, I am doing what works for me!

    (Right now that’s coffee at 7 am with Lairds superfood creamer, unsweetened Ripple, and plain Collagen Peptides and then a homemade Chia Sparkling water with a touch of OJ after my at-home workout at 10 am. Then sensible meals throughout the day (counting calories via myfitnesspal), popcorn for a snack, and sugar free ice cream for or Siggi’s yogurt with fruit for dessert.)

  7. Joanna says:

    Gastric sleeve

    • Theia says:

      I know a few people who did the gastric sleeve. It worked initially, but they gained back much of the weight.

    • Krista says:

      Amazing how few people understand how obvious this is.

      • Msmlnp says:

        100% agree. I’d bet my life it’s not just “diet and exercise” alone. Nothing wrong with that, plenty wrong with how she’s not being real about it. She’s in her 50s I think- you don’t drop lbs like that at that age without some major assist.

      • SurelyNot says:

        Eh, because it isn’t. She wasn’t large enough to medically qualify for a sleeve to begin with. Sure, people with money can bypass many of the requirements and get an unethical doc to do it, but she also doesn’t have the face.

        I work with a COE bariatric program and it is always obvious (men or women) specifically in the lower jaw and neck area.

        40 pounds in 6 months roughly is HARDLY extensive weight loss, but it is more consistent with a program like WW which is about 2 pounds a week with some plateaus.

        We don’t know anything about this woman as far as family history, eating history, where she is with menopause, metabolism etc. — to blow her victory off as impossible for her age and brand her a liar is typical of what we do to women around here.

    • AnnaC says:

      Not sure about that, but I do think it was more than she let on. I do think Rebel Wilson might have had either gastric sleeve or the bypass.

      And FWIW, I had gastric sleeve almost 4 years ago and have kept off all but 5 pounds so far. Once you get past the first year honeymoon phase where weight loss is easy and fast, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. If you don’t change your habits, like any weight loss plan, sure you can gain it all back, you can also gain it back after bypass, keto, etc.

    • Angie says:

      I don’t necessarily think it’s a sleeve. Everything Ree has posted resonates with what I did to lose weight. Folks who are throwing Rebel Wilson’s name in here too – have you seen what Rebel has been doing with her workouts and in general just being more active?

      I’m closer to Rebel’s age than Ree, but I lost 180 pounds in the last 1.5 years by doing exactly what Ree and Rebel were doing. I developed a calorie deficit that aimed for me to lose 2 lbs a week when I was heavier and that eventually tapered off to 1 pound and then a half pound as I was within 10 pounds of my goal weight. I walked everyday and eventually added more movement to my life like riding bikes and occasional yoga or dancing video games. I’m in maintenance now (literally hit my 6 month anniversary last week) and I still track what I eat every day to understand my body’s normal fluctuations vs. what might be me indulging a bit more than usual. I still exercise every day, but with me eating a bit more on weekends the exercise keeps me evened out for the most part.

      So I do get a little frustrated when people automatically think someone had surgery to achieve these kinds of results. Surgery is a tool in a weight loss journey, not the key solution, and it’s not one that should be taken lightly by anyone. It’s not a shortcut to huge changes like Ree and Rebel’s and even if they did have surgery, they wouldn’t maintain the results if they weren’t still watching their calories and exercising. I don’t care if people assume I’ve had surgery, but I’m always happier when I can explain that it’s through steady, small, sustained changes I made in my daily life that made me healthier, and not something drastic and potentially dangerous.

    • Darla says:

      To lose 43 pounds? No way. Do a 4 to 5 mile walk every day, I don’t care your age you’ll lose weight. It’s how I keep my weight at goal, and I do not starve myself or even do this intermittent fasting everyone is going on about. I also bike ride on weekends.

      • Granger says:

        Move more, eat less. It’s not that hard, once you get into the right mindset.

        And it bugs me when people think that cutting calories means starving yourself. It doesn’t. It means eating three healthy, satisfying meals a day; having an apple for your mid-afternoon snack instead of a bowl of chips; drinking one small glass of wine instead of three big glasses; and not mindlessly eating crap after dinner while you’re watching TV.

  8. Lunasf17 says:

    Good for her and I’m glad she did it in a sensible, sustainable way. I feel like here in America we make weight loss such a huge ordeal where people use crash diets, apps, dieticians, etc and make it way more complicated than it should be. Also our food is such garbage and it is so much easier to eat crap here then actual nourishing food. My family is plant based and we do Whole Foods as much as possible and my god it’s so much work to buy fresh food, haul it home, store it, wash it, cook if and consume before it goes bad. It’s so much easier to just buy fast food or frozen stuff and I’m lucky to live near grocery stores, have a car, and a kitchen to cook it in while many others don’t have that luxury.

    • North of Boston says:

      Buying frozen is a good option for a lot of veggies and some fruits. (Says a person who right now has 2 heads of letters and 4 zucchini in her fridge that have the clock ticking before I run out of time to use them LOL)

    • Mel says:

      Frozen veggies are great. I thaw them first , squeeze / press the water out and then salute.

  9. Cate says:

    I dunno, 43 lbs in 5 months is about 2 lbs a week…that’s a substantial calorie deficit (1000 calories/day) to maintain so rigidly. Maybe not a “fad” diet but it still sounds quite strict and like there will be a lot of potential for rebound. Let’s see how she’s looking in another year or two.

  10. Coji says:

    Some years back I was astounded to have lost 10 pounds in 10 days on a trip to NYC. It’s probably not surprising given that we walked practically everywhere and even if we did the subway for part of trip it was still blocks and blocks of walking to and from the subway. Absolutely more exercise than I was getting with a sedentary office job and living in a place where you had to drive everywhere.

    I’ve gained a good 30 lbs during COVID. I work in a hospital and treated my stress with takeout at least 4 or 5 times a week. I’ve stopped doing that but I’m finding it’s a lot harder to lose weight in my 50s than it was even in my 40s. I just bought myself a step platform to start doing step aerobics again. Fingers crossed that the boost in activity will help nudge me into losing the weight.

    • SurelyNot says:

      I am 52 and gained 25 pounds when I quit smoking. I found the things I did in the past to lose weight just wouldn’t work because they hurt — I couldn’t do steps or body combat classes, even walking more than a couple of miles a day flared up all of old joints. I found that swimming (with a foam belt because I have no form and I sink) and the rowing machine gave me two no impact full body options.

  11. Ahully1 says:

    Hecate: Thx for this & other articles on health & women like me (late 40’s), bc I always pick up something new. I’m struggling to figure out why my weight won’t budge & have had many blood tests, hormone checks, etc. knowing what works — but especially what doesn’t & that ppl like Ree have tried a few things & moved to something simpler — that’s helpful. Bc a lot of times at this age I’m doing all the right things w no outward success (feeling better tho, which counts!), and it’s discouraging. Expensive, time consuming & discouraging, and helps to read your articles here!!

  12. Bettyrose says:

    I lost 30 pounds on a Whole Foods vegan diet and kept it off for years. But then after a big move, new job, and turning 40 the pounds came roaring back. I’m doing Noom now which is great. It’s still a struggle though because daily workouts and a 1200 calorie diet barely budge the scale. I question whether I need Noom or just a calorie counting app but the accountability is nice. I’m not a believer in diets though. Just lifestyle changes as your body changes.

    • Christy says:

      I did Noom and am a huge proponent. I have always eaten healthy but could not lose the weight. Noom helped me shift how much of various food types to eat just by understanding calorie density. So basically portions. At age 50 I got to my goal and beyond and have kept it off for a year.

      • bettyrose says:

        Congratulations! And I appreciate the encouragement. I 10/10 recommend Noom. It’s a very positive experience and it’s not at all a “diet” in the sense it’s about finding your own best strategies, no short term measures. But, like you, I’ve always been a healthy eater. I don’t think I would have needed this when I was younger, but I barely understand my metabolism these days, and the app is fun to use.

    • Christy says:

      Thanks bettyrose and I’m sure you will get to where you want to be! I stopped Noom after about 5 months because I had pretty much gotten what I needed out of it in terms of changing how I eat but I still loosely track calories on (free) Myfitnesspal and weigh myself every day. It keeps me on the straight and narrow! And I truly never feel deprived.

  13. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Regardless how she lost the weight (medical intervention or not), it always comes down to move more eat less. Period. I was always successful just paying attention to what went in my mouth. Now that I’m older, it’s much harder. I can’t simply restrict and move because it’s painful. My organs feel like they’re eating each other. So my unsolicited advice to older women is to eat tiny meals or snacks throughout the day. It’s hard. It takes longer. But I physically can’t not eat anymore, and not eating for a spell was my go to, my own version of intermittent fasting. So discovering I had to put something in my stomach every three hours or so was aggravating and disrupting. But it works lol.

  14. Kkat says:

    I have been losing weight without that being my goal.
    I haven’t been getting enough protein, I had a gastric bypass and it’s hard for me to hit my protein goal for my weight/height everyday because I can eat very little meat.

    I was seriously worn down, like hard to get out of bed and shaking with exhaustion when i got up to go pee.
    So I upped my protein to at least 100grams a day (90-110 is good for my weight/height)
    I got some flavorless protein powder and I put it in my protein shakes, soups, chili, baked beans and it makes it easy now to hit my goal.

    Protein is very filling and kills your appetite so in focusing on upping my intake, I naturally have cut out snacks and extra foods because I’m too full all the time.

    In the last 5 weeks of this, I have lost 28 pounds by adding foods to my diet, not cutting anything out.

    I just ate a cranberry orange scone and had black hot tea with 4 spoons of sugar in it lol
    So Im not suffering

    I’m about 95% back to where I was energy wise before I crashed

  15. Amando says:

    This! There is no secret to losing weight. Just good ol’ fashion portion control and exercise. And determination of course. If you slip up, just get back on the horse!

    • bettyrose says:

      Portion sizes are super subjective, though, so while there’s no “secret” there are many confusing aspects. No harm in getting a little guidance along the way.