Last year was a transformative one for Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman. The star has lost 55 pounds since January 2021, and has since kept it off after she decided she wanted to start before her daughter’s wedding in May. Little exercise and a hectic work schedule had led the Food Network host to her highest weight ever—but not for long.
In June, she was 43 pounds lighter and explained how cutting calories, building muscle, increasing her protein intake, eating less sugar, eliminating alcohol, logging her weight with an app, and other habits were essential. She admits in a new blog post that she thought it would be a final weight loss recap, but she’s since lost even more pounds and is sharing everything the experience taught her.
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Starting in January, Drummond went all-in and focused on the changes like calorie counting and exercising that once the summer came around, felt like daily life.
“The initial, more intense, stage doesn’t have to last forever,” says she is “glad I’d been so strict for that first stage, because it wound up being a nice crash course that equipped me going forward. Starting out with that discipline actually allowed me more freedom later in the process.”
“I can’t emphasize this enough,” Drummond says in the blog post. “Building muscle—not just the smaller muscles in your arms, but the larger muscles in your legs and butt—will turbo charge your weight loss like nothing else and set you up for more success.”
Moves she says helped burn the most calories in the initial months were squats, lunges, and deadlifts. Good news—these are also some of The 5 Best Exercises to Build Better Glutes, Trainer Says.
Once she started paying more attention not only to what she was putting in her body, but how much, Drummond started breaking the spell. “I trained my body to get used to smaller—well, I should say more normal—portions,” she says noting that a year later she is still “eating all the foods I love, but my body is satisfied with much less of it.”
Although she cut alcohol in the first half of the year, Drummond admits that having a social drink once in a while is not a bad thing at all. She says she swaps sugary, caloric drinks like daiquiris and margaritas and other sweet cocktails for things like Ranch Water—which is clear tequila, lime juice, and sparkling water over ice—or a White Wine Spritzer—made up of a small amount of cold white wine, sparkling water, and lemon slices—because they are more hydrating and help her to not drink as much. Basically, it’s like having “two drinks for the calories of one,” she says.
In addition to building muscle and getting used to exercising, Drummond explains in her blog post that movement every day helped her achieve her goals. After the initial weight loss, she found herself sidetracking from her routine, and was only exercising two or three times a week—but on the days when she wasn’t, she could feel the difference.
“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,” she says, noting that little habits like this have stuck. “Today, I’m still using a standing desk and not letting myself collect too much dust during the day.”
The act of stepping on a scale can be triggering, Drummond admits, but seeing the number for her wasn’t about obsessing over each ounce she wanted to lose. “Before I decided to lose weight last January, I don’t think I’d stepped on a scale for two years,” she explains. “I willfully hadn’t weighed myself 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.”
Instead, it now helps her identify trends in her body. She includes screenshots of her weight tracking via the Happy Scale app. Here’s what she says about what the habit is like 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.”
“There’s nothing on my list of banned foods!” Drummond says about her life after weight loss. Yep—nothing! Like the first lesson she learned, the first few months of 2021 were stricter in terms of her diet of a few sugary foods and no alcohol consumption. Now she follows two thoughts—”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.”
Drummond says in her blog post that she looks at some foods now as calories that aren’t as beneficial and nutritional as others. These “wasted calorie” foods include sugary soft drinks, cookies, cake, potato chips, donuts, and other similar foods. Now she tries to think of eating a “Rhode Island” sized portion of these foods instead of a “Texas” size.
“Using the doughnut as an example, some days I eat half the doughnut. Some days I decide not to eat the doughnut. Other days I’ll pinch off a bite of the doughnut. Heck, there will be a day now and then when I will eat the whole doughnut,” she says, noting that “There’s no hard and fast rule, but I’m just more mindful of it now.”
While 53-year-old says her daughter’s wedding in May was a great motivational tool for her initial weight loss, Drummond says that being steady with adding in more exercise and controlling portion sizes, and changing how she eats is easier than focusing all efforts on one thing.
“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.” she explains. Doing this has allowed her more control over the changes that come with life.
The star hesitates to say her weight loss was a “lifestyle change” because she never wanted to change her lifestyle. Instead, she says the experience has been a sort of perspective shift on portion sizes, movement, protein intake, and more, as she sees those things differently a year later.
She then shares a before and after picture, not to label one as “bad” and the other as “good”, but because “it is helpful for me to see the distance I’ve come, and to know that the changes have been good for me,” she says.
Her lifestyle is the same—she is doing the exact same things every day like “living on the ranch, filming my cooking show, working on cookbooks and my product line, and being a wife and slightly weird mom” as she was a year ago. The only difference is her weight loss and the lessons she has learned!
“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,” she ends the post staying. “But to come full circle…it hasn’t changed my life itself. I still have cow manure in my yard, for example. It’s on top of snow, and it’s ruining the dreamy winter vibe. 😂 Gotta go clean that up now, but at least that’ll help me get out and move!”
For more, here are 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.