Wednesday, April 22, 2009
My Magic Formula
Somehow when I moved to New York, I managed to lose that 25 lbs I'd been struggling with since college. Truthfully, I'm not 100% sure how it happened. I think it was a combination of lots of fat free yogurt with nuts (I suddenly started craving it), lots of walking around the city, and finding myself happier than I'd been in a long time. After all, bingeing and happiness don't go together as well as bingeing and unhappiness do. Suddenly I was getting compliments from everyone, but I didn't trust myself not to fall back into that bingeing hole. Have you ever had this happen? You lose some weight and everyone tells you, "Wow you look amazing!", and you think, "Well geez I must have looked horrible before!" Instead of feeling happy, you stress about it because you're afraid the weight will come back on and the compliments will stop.
This was my state of mind when I started at my job almost two years ago. Feeling great at my new weight and binge-free (although I wasn't sure at the time if that would last), I wanted to help others to do the same. So I became a weight-loss counselor for a popular weight loss company. I've been there since, and boy do I have stories to tell... But I'll save those for later, and just start with the most basic thing I learned. The thing that simplified everything for me. My magic formula. As I said, I didn't quite know how to keep the weight off, and I realized quickly that this was a fear most of my clients had as well. At work, we take the guess work out of losing weight by giving clients pre-packaged food. But I love to cook, and I knew that I didn't want to start eating out of a box every day. So I studied our literature and learned how to follow the maintenance plan (strangely they never taught us that in training). So for the past two years, I've followed that plan and it's given me the confidence to simply say, "Thanks," when people compliment me on my weight. I still have momentary freak-outs when I think I'm going to stuff my face with cake for days and gain all the weight back, but for the most part I trust now that I know what to do.
So what is my magic formula? (I have to be honest here and say that it's really not that magical and can be found on a lot of websites) It goes a little something like this:
I'm on a 1200 calorie plan. In all honesty, I know I eat more, but it's an easy guideline to give me structure. Those 1200 calories are broken down into:
3+ non-starchy vegetables
3 dairy servings
(To see what counts as a serving size for each group, here's a description I found that's pretty close to what I use).
I try to eat every 2-3 hours so that I don't get so hungry I want to eat everything in sight. As my boyfriend will tell you, I'm not someone you want to be around when I get to that panicky hungry state. So here's a pretty typical sample day of what I eat:
Breakfast (See the pictures above)
1/2 cup quinoa (1 starch)
1 cup fat free plain yogurt (1 dairy)
1/2 cup chopped fruit (1 fruit)
1/8 cup assorted unsalted nuts (1 fat)
banana (1 fruit)
1 large sweet potato (2 starches)
big plate of sauteed green beans (non-starchy vegetable...unlimited)
3 oz. grilled chicken (3 proteins)
6 oz. fat free yogurt (1 dairy)
1 cup brown rice (2 starches)
2 oz. salmon baked with salsa (2 proteins)
big bowl of salad with balsamic vinaigrette (non-starchy vegetables plus 1 fat)
Another fat free yogurt if I'm still hungry
So that's it. The end of the day. I keep track of everything I eat when I feel like I might be gaining weight and need to be more aware (or if I'm going to be a maid of honor in my sister's wedding and want to look really great in a couple of months). And when I'm feeling more relaxed, I just guesstimate throughout the day. It seems simple to me because I'm so used to it, but I know from the glassy-eyed stares I get from my clients that it can be a bit overwhelming at first. But if you're looking for a simple method for losing weight and keeping it off, this works. I know people say it's all about calories, but I firmly believe if you measure how much you're eating (e.g 1/2 cup cooked rice = 1 starch) you don't have to count calories as well. And if you're not sure how much you should be eating at your weight/age/activity level, drop me a line and I can let you know...
P.s. Today is day five of gluten free. So far so good. My friend introduced me to my new favorite side dish, polenta chips! You just slice the tubes of polenta into thin slices. Add whatever spices you like and bake them until they start to crisp up. Simple, fast, easy.
P.p.s. That pain under my left rib? Hasn't gone away...not even close.