I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I've begun a diet. I also mentioned I've lost about 12 pounds in the last three weeks. Some of you have emailed me with questions about what I'm doing, what you should do, or asked me questions about dieting in general.
First of all, I'm not a nutritionist or dietitian. I'm happy to share what I've been doing and what works for me, but everybody is different. What works for me might not work for you. I also want to say, upfront, I'm in no way advocating my way as the best way. It is simply, what works for me.
Fad diets, extreme diets, don't work for me. I don't think they work, long-term, for most people.
I started gaining weight after my car accident. Surgery after surgery, and pain levels off the charts, are not conducive to keeping fit. I tried dieting. I tried exercising when I was physically able to. Nothing seemed to work for me.
Last spring, I had a physical and an entire panel of blood tests. I discovered I'm insulin resistant. Once I understood what that meant, I knew what I needed to do differently to lose weight.
I used to have a "diet lunch" which sometimes consisted of a Weight Watchers pasta meal. I thought I was doing the right thing because the calories were low, the portion was small, etc. However, I wouldn't lose any weight. Being insulin resistant means my body processes carbohydrates differently than most people. My body turns carbs into instant fat. (I'm summarizing in an unscientific fashion, but it's true.)
Basically, I've come to think of myself as being "allergic to carbs."
I cut my carbs way down and lost weight. I kept off the weight I lost, and even lost more. I felt great, my skin glowed … yay me!
(And no, I did not do the "Atkins Diet.")
Then there was a Medical Screw-up of Unfathomable Proportions and I was put on a prolonged, high dose of steroids.
I blew up like a balloon.
Poof! There were TWO of me in one body!
(Well, not really – but it felt like that.)
Now I'm off the steroids. I'm trying to get my weight back to where it was. Initially, my weight loss was pretty fast. (The steroids made me gain a lot of water weight.) Now, my body seems to be losing weight at a more normal rate.
I'm eating lean protein, keeping my carbs between 55-65 a day (which is really low), and taking in fewer calories than I'm burning. It has only been three weeks, and I already feel so much better.
And no, I'm not hungry.
I "allow" myself one cocktail or glass of wine a week. Technically, alcohol isn't on the diet I'm *supposed to be* following. However, since I will need to eat this way for life I've made "realistic adjustments" to the diet. I avoid super high calorie cocktails like margaritas. (Which is not to say I never have them … but I try to choose lower calorie drinks most of the time … like maybe a straight shot of tequila instead?)
If I'm absolutely craving something, I'll let myself have one bite of it.
As an example, my son had cheesecake this week, three nights in a row. (We were given an entire cheesecake as a gift.) On the third night, I took one small bite. A small bite and a big piece are not the same thing, by the way. Allowing myself a taste kept me from feeling deprived, or like I'll never be able to have a certain food again. I don't, on the other hand, sneak bites of carb-laden foods every day. They aren't good for me. They make me feel bad. And? They make me fat.
Will there be days when I eat stuff I shouldn't? Yes.
Will there be days when I drink more than I should? Yes.
I'm just trying to do the best I can, the majority of days.
A typical breakfast might be an egg on half of an Oroweat whole wheat sandwich thin. Or, perhaps, a vegie scramble made with one whole egg and two egg whites. I actually make veggie/egg scrambles a lot because they fill me up and taste fantastic. (My son, who needs to GAIN weight, begs me to make them for him too – they're great.)
What goes in my veggie scrambles?
Whatever I have handy. Today it was this:
Cilantro, orange bell pepper, tomatoes, green onion … a little fresh salsa.
Sometimes I'll have half a cup of lowfat cottage cheese for breakfast with a cup of sliced, fresh, strawberries on top. I happen to love cottage cheese so I actually enjoy having a meal like that.
I try to eat frequently too, so my blood sugar stays level and I don't get hungry.
A typical day goes like this:
• Mid-morning protein snack
• Mid-afternoon protein snack
• Evening protein snack
The snacks are often a nonfat yogurt or some other high protein food. (I like the Trader Joes Organic Greek, Plain, Nonfat Yogurt.) Sometimes my snack will be a handful of pistachio nuts or raw almonds. (A handful equals 11 or 12 nuts, not 30 or 40.) I love cheese so I might have a stick of nonfat string cheese, or a very small portion of "regular" cheese.
I usually limit myself to two fruit servings a day. A giant apple counts as two servings, not one. I often have a salad for lunch with some type of protein tossed into it … tuna, a hard boiled egg, some turkey or chicken. Sometimes I'll have a turkey burger (no bun), with a small salad and a piece of fruit.
At dinner I have whatever I'm making for my family minus the carbs. If they're having pot roast and mashed potatoes with a side salad, I have pot roast and a salad. I don't "love" potatoes or rice so it isn't hard for me. I do eat more lean meat vs. fatty meat, but I don't limit myself to just chicken and fish either. I avoid pasta, but I've never been a big pasta eater so that's not hard either.
Side note: Paul Newman's Lite Italian Salad Dressing only has 1 carb per serving and my family doesn't even realize I'm serving them a "light" salad dressing.
I don't eat many pre-prepared diet foods. I don't like them. If you don't like the food you're eating, you won't continue to eat it. A lot of "diet" foods are filled with chemicals and crap anyway. I try to avoid them.
Also, exercise is imperative to being healthy. If you want to avoid health problems, it's important to move your body. Take a walk, go for a swim, find something you enjoy doing. You don't have to suffer through hours in the gym if you hate it … just move.
Moving increases your metabolism which is always a good thing.
I have a slow, screwed-up, insulin-resistant, metabolism. If I can lose weight, just about anyone can.
Yes, even you!
© Twenty Four At Heart