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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Evolution of a successful diet plan

After posting my pics from a year ago, I wanted to go back and compare some specific things, to see not just how my body has transformed, but also how my LIFE has transformed. I'm starting with diet.

Last year, I joined a site called Gyminee (now DailyBurn.com), and started tracking my food intake and exercise.

On June 19, here's what I ate (and sadly, this was typical):
Breakfast: Attain shake with skim milk
Snack: Half a chocolate chip muffin
Lunch: Half a small roast beef hoagie w/ cheese, apple, coke slushee
Snack: Bag of mini cookies (6)
Dinner: 1 slice cheese pizza

The awful menu continues, with a same attain shake (my so-called "diet" breakfast) and 22 oz Coke slushee each day. On the one day where I was eating somewhat healthy, the only thing I had in addition to these two items was steak (7-8 oz) with corn on the cob and roasted potatoes. Back then, I used to complain that I had a really hard time eating the amount of protein I was supposed to eat without blowing my fat and carbs for the day. (I was trying to hit a 30-40-30 ratio of Fat, Carbs, and Protein daily.)

If the me of today met the me from back then, I'd point out that it's really no mystery! If you get all your protein from pizza and hoagies, you're going to blow your fat limit. And if you indulge in a 22oz soda, frozen or otherwise, your carbs will be through the roof as well! Amazingly, I was losing weight, although slowly, thanks to the regular exercise and calorie restriction (even if the calories I was eating were crap, they were still fewer than I had been eating before).

So let's flash forward about a month:

Monday, July 21, I had the following:
Breakfast: Attain shake with skim milk
Snack: 1 oz almonds
Lunch: Grilled chicken breast with baby spinach and 1TB of ranch dressing
Snack: 14 baby carrots
Dinner: 1.5 Buffalo-style chicken tenders with jasmine rice, soy sauce, and ranch dressing
Snack: 1/8 C mint chocolate chip ice cream (basically a big spoonful at bedtime)

Big plus? I was actually getting vegetables, and not all my protein was coming from fatty foods.
The downside? I was still going overboard with fat (all that ranch dressing didn't help), and my sodium was off the chart at 4000mg or more.

And, of course, it's quite likely that my portions weren't perfectly estimated, so I was likely eating more than I thought. But it was certainly progress. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll tell that I was still having those Coke slushees. But they were less frequent, and I cut back from the 22 oz. size to the 18 oz. size. And the weight kept dropping off.

We're going to skip forward now to October 6.

Breakfast: Attain Shake with skim milk
Lunch: Hummus, mushrooms, broccoli in mini whole-wheat pitas (2 small); 14 baby carrots dipped in 2TB Skippy Natural peanut butter
Snack: Stonyfield farm fat-free strawberry yogurt (6oz); 20 almonds
I was actually fasting that day after lunch, so I'll give you the October 7 dinner instead:
Dinner: Grilled chicken w/ bowtie pasta and red sauce, w/ low-fat mozz cheese
Whole wheat garlic toast (bread, butter, garlic powder)

I also reported right around this time that it had been a week since I last had a Coke Slushee. As you can see, my meals were getting healthier and healthier. I was getting fewer sugary treats, more vegetables, and more "whole foods." However, I was still using sugar-sweetened peanut butter, a "diet shake" for breakfast, and my day was a little skimpy on protein.

So now let's see where I am today. This is actually what I ate on Tuesday, June 9:
Breakfast: Mango, blueberries, lowfat no salt added cottage cheese, cinnamon, walnuts
Lunch: Homemade chicken salad on a honey wheat wrap with baby spinach; celery and carrots with natural peanut butter (made without sugar or salt - just peanuts)
Snack: Sliced nectarine, nonfat greek yogurt, granola (low sugar - only 6g per 1/3 C)
Dinner: Chicken stir-fry - chicken, mixed veggies, 1/2 TB soy sauce
Snack: 8oz skim milk w/ 1TB Ah! Laska choc syrup
Unplanned eating: 1 C popcorn (OR "simply salted" variety), 6 almonds

I've ditched the processed foods, and I feel like my brand choices are really great for the prepackaged items I DO buy. I'm focusing my meals much more around fruits, veggies, and lean protein - whole foods all. I get my macronutrient ratios pretty close to my targets (tend to end up around 25-50-25 instead of 30-40-30), and those extra carbs are primarily coming from fruits and veggies. AND, I still haven't had a Coke Slushee (or a soda, for that matter) since October 2008.

What have I learned (and what do I hope you can learn) from this retrospective? Well, there are a few things:
  • Even small changes in your nutrition can yield results. Back when I was eating the worst foods, logging my intake and sticking to 1200-1400 calories still helped me start losing weight.
  • You might not be ready to make (and stick with) a dramatic change right from the start. But if you keep making continual adjustments and improvements, you will end up with a diet that IS a dramatic change from the one you started with.
  • As you progress, foods you thought were healthy might end up on your "banned" list. Keep an open mind and be willing to consider change. It was very hard for me to stop relying on the convenience of a "diet" breakfast shake, but now that I've done it, I've found it actually isn't any more trouble to make and eat a real breakfast.
I hope you've found this retrospective interesting. I'll continue to look at the transformation of my physical fitness, personal health, and other factors over the past year. For those of you beginning your journey, PLEASE take measurements and pictures. You will really value having the opportunity to compare your final results when you reach that finish line!

1 comment:

  1. Wow Liz! Great changes in eating over the last year! I want second your statement that as much as people may cringe at measurements and pictures, they are your best tool in evaluating the changes in your body. Keep working hard!