Unless you consider the fact that I’ve just lost 15 POUNDS IN 24 DAYS … without being hungry and without feeling deprived!
I’ve decided to set my humor column aside for another day this week, because I have to share the changes I’m making in my life and how simple it is … and how this is hands-down the best eating plan I have ever been on … EVER! I’m not paying any overpriced diet company to get these results. I am not being paid to tell you how great this is. I have more energy than I’ve had in a while (though at my weight, I won’t reach peak energy for several more pounds). And I’m waking up with very little caffeine … another first.
Know this: I have no interest in having my hip bones protrude or attaining a thigh gap. I don’t even have to be a single-digit size. I haven’t been one since second grade, and even then my size was 6X. I think the “X” stood for “extra” fabric.
I’ve never been one to jump on the bandwagon of any of the ridiculous fad diets that require you to eat an exact menu … half a grapefruit, one ounce of turkey and a peanut for lunch. But I have tried many of the more sensible diets … Weight Watchers, L.A. Weight Loss, Jenny Craig. I’ve experienced some success, but have never gotten more than halfway to my desired weight. I mention those three diets, because they are the only diets that ever worked for me. I’m talking the old Weight Watchers, where you got 6 ounces of protein, three fruits, two milks, unlimited vegetables, two breads and two fats and had to decide how you were going to spend your allotment for the day.
I know a lot of people who have been successful on the new points system, but I wasn’t. It wasn’t a good fit with my personality. It was too loosey goosey. At my weight and age, I got about 24 points a day, and I inevitably chose to have a Snickers Bar or a French baguette with my Panera salad and wound up with so few points left for dinner, my only option was a bowl of lima beans. That may not be YOU. Weight Watchers does work for a lot of people. But I’m an all or nothing person. I’ve discovered that I can’t have a “few” chips. I can’t have one piece of pizza or “a bite of cake.” When I open a roll of Ritz, I cannot sleep knowing that there are any crackers left in that now-unsealed roll. And I’m beginning to understand why this is … that our food system has been laced with sugars that keep you addicted to eating garbage and feeling like garbage. I’m on a quest to break this cycle in my body and to win this battle once and for all.
I’m a person who needs rules. This may or may not be you. But the plan I’m on is working so far. And I’m looking at this as a slow lifestyle change that I will continue to build on. My ultimate goal is to only eat things that nourish my brain and my body … to not eat packaged, processed foods and chemicals. I’m starting small. I don’t have the income to throw out everything in the house and begin from scratch. There are a few Smart Ones, Lean Cuisines and Healthy Choice frozen entrees left in my freezer. I’m almost done with my Costco-sized box of Nature’s Valley Sweet and Salty Peanut bars. I won’t be replacing any of these items, but I have eaten them here and there (in moderation) over the last three weeks. And when I do, I will admit they are NOT satisfying. To me a Lean Cuisine is an appetizer. I still want dinner.
I am reading books about brain health and detoxing my body. I’m starting to incorporate what I’m learning into the framework of what I’m already doing. But today, I’m going to keep it simple and just tell you the basics of what I’ve changed these last three weeks … what is working for me.
Last week, in my first piece about trying to change my life, Dear Jenny Craig, Overweight Celebs Can Afford Their Own Diets. Help an Overweight Blogger! I told you that my doctor was looking for a simple way to help his patients lose weight. So he took what he’s learned about metabolism and dumbed it down so a monkey can do it. Incidentally, he is not only as handsome as George Clooney, with dimples and the kindest, most charismatic and welcoming personality … he is also built! He is fit and practices what he preaches. And here’s how simple he made it for me:
He told me to eat half a cup of non-instant oatmeal for breakfast (with an egg, if I want one) and for the rest of the day to just eat meats, beans and greens.
Now by “meats,” he means lean proteins. And by “greens” he means any vegetable … as many colors of the rainbow as you can. I make my oatmeal with almond milk to save calories. Simple, right? He made it even more simple … and easy … and yummy.
He told me to cook a big pot of chili on the weekend and to keep it on-hand to have a cup when I’m hungry. The beans break down slowly, keeping me full for a really long time. My husband has been experimenting with different recipes he’s finding on Pinterest and altering them to make them more healthy. He made the first batch with ground turkey, but over the last two weeks, he’s made vegetarian chilis. He throws in green and red peppers, carrots, different kinds of beans, onions, squash … each week he concocts a different recipe, so I won’t get bored. Last week he made quinoa chili. The week before he made spicy pumpkin chili. These chilis are averaging about 155 calories a cup. I eat one cup if it’s a snack and 1 1/2 to 2 cups if it’s a meal (depending on the chili). The quinoa chili he made last week was really filling and 1 1/3 cups was a full serving.
We’re also making soups. My favorite is a Syrian spinach and lentil soup. The lentils make me full and KEEP me full. And it’s super low in calories: 89 calories a cup … and it’s filling! So basically, I eat something every 2 1/2 to 3 hours so my blood sugar never drops.
Now this isn’t ALL that I eat. Sometimes on a grab-it-and-go night, I have chili for dinner. Other days, I bring it to work as lunch and have chicken or turkey for dinner … with a small sweet potato or grilled asparagus. Last night, my husband wanted reuben sandwiches. So he made me a breadless reuben “lasagna” by layering skinless turkey, sauerkraut and low-fat Thousand Island dressing. He topped it with one slice of low-fat swiss.
But this isn’t ALL that I’m doing. I want to be precise. I’ve opened an account on www.LoseIt.com, and I stay within the framework of how many calories I can have at my age (52 in two weeks) and my weight (I started at 235). For me, I can eat 1300 calories. I have tried LoseIt before and I never had enough calories to eat dinner, because calorie counting, like points counting, leaves things too wide open for an all or nothing gal like me.
What has changed is the chili and soups that I’m making. You get more bang for your buck, because they keep you full longer. On a typical day, I have oatmeal (and sometimes an egg) for breakfast. Two to three hours later, I have a snack bar or some carrot sticks. Two to three hours later, I have lunch (chili and half a cucumber, a cup of red pepper slices or something else healthy). And here’s the kicker:
At 4:30 or 5:00 EVERY DAY, before I leave work, I eat a cup of chili or soup.
This fills me up so I no longer walk in the door hungry and grab garbage (I used to snack on the calorie equivalent of a meal before my meal.) Now, if I have to have something before or after dinner, I have a cup of soup or chili or an ounce of raw nuts. And instead of shoving a fist full in my mouth at once, I eat them mindfully, one-by-one … until my brain tells me I’ve had enough.
I told my doctor I’ve added nuts, and he said it’s absolutely fine; he was just trying to make things as simple as possible for his patients. He agreed that nuts are healthy and a good source of Omega Threes. I’ve also added low glycemic fruits, like bananas and sour apples.
In order to stay on this eating plan, I have cut out certain foods from my diet:
- White rice
- White potatoes
- Chips and other packaged snacks, even the baked ones
- Diet Soda (I get my fizz jollies from an occasional sparkling water)
- Most artificial sweeteners (I use honey and agave)
I’ll be the first person to tell you that three weeks ago, I couldn’t imagine a life without bagels, French baguettes, cookies, cake, candy and pasta. What’s the point of living, I thought. I thought wrong. This is the first year in my 20 years of marriage that I did not poke inconspicuous holes in our bags of Halloween candy and start pilfering Butterfingers and Almond Joys weeks before the trick or treaters arrived … then have to sneak out and buy more candy before my husband and daughter could see what I’d done. After three weeks, I just don’t crave those things. There have been Dunkin’ Donuts at my office, Halloween cookies and candy and I haven’t touched a drop of it. I’ve decided that those things are to me what “just one drink” is to an alcoholic. I just can’t have them. But the eating plan I’m following keeps me full, and it’s easy to “Just Say No!” when you’re not hungry.
I will also tell you that since giving up sugar, I can actually taste the natural sugars in a carrot or a red pepper (which I munch on like chips as one of my snacks). When you eat sugar, that stuff tastes like cardboard. When you cut sugar, you can really taste and appreciate the natural flavors in produce.
The hardest thing I’m giving up is diet soda. It’s only been two weeks and one day, and you could put a piece of chocolate lava cake in front of me with a Diet Dr. Pepper, and I’d grab the soda. They ought to change the name to Diet Dr. Satan, because that’s what it is … a can of chemicals … and I was drinking more than a six-pack a day … to wake up, to stay awake … to feel full. And I got fatter and more lethargic than I’ve ever been in my life.
This is a slow road. I’d like to detox my liver and start eating organic and hormone-free, if I can find food sources I can afford. But for now, I’m taking it one day at a time, reading to educate myself about food … and choosing to put in my body only those things that give me a bang for my buck.
I have NEVER lost weight at this rate … not on Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, L.A. Weight Loss … never before. There IS something to getting processed foods and sugar out of your body.
15 pounds in 24 days
… without hunger! I’m slowly feeling more energetic. I’m waking up with one glass of unsweetened iced tea and lemon and don’t even need that on some days. And I don’t feel like a lazy lump when I get home from an exhausting day of work. I’m finding bursts of energy to go for two- to four-mile walks.
I am blown away! And if I can do it, you can do it.
In the immortal words of Davy Jones and The Monkees:
I’m a Believer.
(Recipes to come in my next blog!)