I want to share this with all of you because it worked for me and I think it will do the same for you. First of all, be easy on yourselves. You probably need to stop right now, take a long, deep breath, and tell yourself you are not all that bad for not eating what you should. After all, it’s not easy changing your eating habits—it all ties in with family, culture, traditions, and has been the way you’ve been eating for a long time, so again, I ask that you be kind and gentle with yourselves—change takes time and good, lasting change requires patience.
I’ve got the same story as you—struggled with my weight since I was a young adult and tried many different diet methods, medications, etc. The thing with me is that if my will power is not strong and if I don’t have a sense of this is what I want to do and now—it won’t happen. Last year—right around the end of April 2007, beginning of May 2007, I had literally had it—not with me, but with the way I was eating. Two years before, I’d started to eat unhealthily again after following a regimented health plan for pre-diabetics. What really set me off, was eating that bread from the bread basket again at the dinner table. I had stopped doing that, but said to myself, a little piece won’t hurt. Well, that’s where it all started—the bread from the breadbasket, extra sugary sweet, and rich desserts and back to larger food portions.
So last year when I’d just eaten a hungry-man sized lunch and felt ultra disgusted, so much so that I could hardly breathe after consuming so much, I stopped myself in my tracks, right then and there—and decided that this was the right time to do something about it. I didn’t want to feel sick after every meal anymore because I’d severely overeaten. I also wasn’t extremely enthused by the way my belly hung over and how my clothes looked on me—or more importantly how much my sugar regulation (or lack thereof) was being affected and how much my knees hurt.
Here’s how I started my journey to good health. Many years ago, I had seen a wonderful nutritionist who made me understand that eating well was not a punishment and that it was indeed a gift to my body, mind, and soul if I did so. She also taught me that rewarding oneself now and again with a favorite treat was fine and should be guilt-free. I dug up my old food diaries and some self-affirmation books she had given me and realized, at least a decade later, that all of it was common sense and what we all know we should do, but don’t. Back then, I’d work with her to formulate weekly food and activity health plans—foods that I liked and activities that I enjoyed doing. Nothing was to feel like a task.
Here’s a sampling of my food menu for one day—but again, it’s what we all know and is based on:
- Having three healthy proteins a day
- Having three healthy starches a day
- Having four to six servings of vegetables a day
- Having three to four fruit servings a day
- Implementing a fat (like a handful of nuts, small slice of avocado, using olive oil when cooking—about two tablespoons, low-fat mayo, etc.)
- Adding in dairy (like six to eight ounces low-fat yogurt, eight ounces of low-fat milk, milk with coffee/tea, two slices low-fat cheese)
- Enjoying some condiments—just a few a day (like one tablespoon ketchup, two tablespoons low-cal pancake syrup, low-fat cool whip or whipped cream, two tablespoons of mustard, one cup of sugar-free jello, etc.)
Please make sure to refer to the most updated food pyramid list in order to get the right serving sizes for all of your proteins, starches, veggies, fruit, diary, etc.
Two breakfast choices provided, but using the food pyramid, you can variate.
Option 1: 1 toasted whole wheat English Muffin spread with two tablespoons of peanut butter, sprinkled with a few raisins and cinnamon (if you like); one fruit of your choice; one dairy of your choice, if you choose to have it at this time; and sixteen ounces of water.
Option 2: 3/4 cup of healthful, low-fat cereal (like honey-nut or regular cheerios, Special K, all varieties, etc) with 1/2 cup low-fat milk and 1/2 large banana or whole small banana; four deli rolls using low-fat, low-sodium deli meat (spread deli meat with a spicy mustard and roll with lettuce—stick tooth picks in); sixteen ounces of water.
Two choices provided, but can vary.
Option 1: Whole, seasoned to your taste (but not too much salt) broiled or grilled chicken breast; 1/2 cup of brown rice or one whole corn on the cob (corn is very starchy, so it is considered a starch); side salad of your favorite veggies, which should include at least two cups of leafy veggies, etc.; one fruit of your choice; sixteen ounches of water.
Option 2: Two cups of chickpeas seasoned with curry, cilantro, chopped onions, black pepper (served cool or warm) in a small, whole wheat pita pocket stuffed with sliced 1/2 tomato and 1/2 cucumber; two cups of steamed veggies (you choose); one fruit of your choice; sixteen ounces of water.
Late Afternoon Snack
A few options provided
- Handful of your favorite nuts plain or drizzled with honey and cinnamon
- One cup of sugar-free jello topped with one tablespoon of low-fat cool whip
- Three celery stalks with one tablespoon of peanut butter
- Apple crisp (one small apple, sliced, drizzled with one tablespoon of low-fat maple/pancake syrup and sprinkled with about two tablespoons of crushed Special K flakes—microwave for about thirty seconds or bake for about two to three minutes—may add a tap of margarine or butter)
Add 16 ounces of water to the above
Option 1: 6-ounce ground turkey patty, seasoned to taste (but not too much salt) on one whole English muffin, one low-fat slice of any cheese you like, garnish with whatever veggies you like (green leaf lettuce, tomato, etc.), one tablespoon of ketchup or one tablespoon of low-fat mayo (but not necessary); one cup of steamed string beans and one cup of steamed broccoli drizzled with two tablespoons of low-fat Italian dressing; one fruit of your choice; sixteen ounces of water.
Option 2: 6-ounce lean steak grilled or broiled with onions and seasoned to taste (not too much salt); 1/2 baked Idaho potato or sweet potato; choose any veggies you’d like whether salad, steamed, or grilled; one fruit of your choice; sixteen ounces of water.
To the above, try to work in some activity, but if you can’t get to it right now, what worked for me is losing a substantial amount of weight (at least twenty pounds) and then starting an exercise regimen. However, I am not an expert, so you should check with your doctor or try and plan a regimen that works best, taking into consideration your energy level, pain issues (knees for me, so I rule out extra-hard cardio work-outs), and target body areas you’d like to focus on. I love walking—it’s free and I can stop when I want to. I started out with just a little at first, four days a week—for example, getting off the bus one or two stops earlier; walking up the stairs in my building instead of taking the elevator (mornings and evenings), etc.
After about three weeks, I tried walking several more blocks, adding more on each time, and I am able to walk a few miles now (at least two, and working on more). If I walk two miles, I do so three times a week, but you should also figure out what’s best for you. Also, drinking all that water and cutting out sodas (diet and otherwise) has changed my skin tone for the better—water works wonders. I have no more pimples, blemishes, and after a child and adulthood of summer prickle heat bumps on my body—this summer, for the first time in years, I didn’t get them!
Results: Last year, May 2007, I weighed 212 pounds and to date, I am fluctuating between 147 and 150 pounds at five foot four inches, and my goal weight is to at some point reach 135 pounds, but I am not beating myself up about it. The fact of the matter is that I feel a great deal better, my knees don’t hurt as much, I no longer have to take my pre-diabetic medication (because I lost at least/more than 10 percent of my body weight), I love how my clothes fit me, my energy levels are up and I have a waistline! Of course, there is more to it—mentally, I am satisfied and health-wise, I’ve improved so much.
I hope that this story has been a help and inspiration to all of you struggling with weight loss and hating yourselves for it. If you try the health plan and like it, let me know how it works/worked for you. I’d love to hear your success stories!
Good health and happiness (and love yourselves!)