The Great Weight Loss Challenge Part Two

I'm about to say a bad word.  Shield your eyes if you, too, hate depriving yourself.  But you and I both know it would not be a weight loss story without talk about DIET.  Yes, the Great Weight Loss Challenege began without mention of that dreaded word.  The way I see it, as a working mom of three kids, I frickin' deserve those French Fries.  Deprive me of my sesame seed bagel, and you have messed with the wrong woman.  And counting calories - or points for that matter - is about as appealing as cataloging the blades of grass in my front yard.

My first step in finding a diet strategy was to trick myself into thinking healthy food was actually indulgent.  I had to find something I could talk myself into savoring like a decadent dessert.  Bring on the Key Lime Pie yogurt.  I really should have taken out stock in Yoplait, because it was not unusual for me to eat between 4 and 6 of these a day.  I had yogurt for breakfast, yogurt for lunch, yogurt for dessert.  Yogurt for morning and afternoon snack.  Yogurt for “I need something sweet right now!” time.  You get the idea.
Why Yogurt?  I chose yogurt as my go-to food, because it tastes delicious, aids digestion, is an excellent source of calcium and protein, and it is low in calories.  I read once that people who eat tons of yogurt lose weight.  I decided to put that theory to the test.
Next, I added veggies.  Ridiculous amounts of veggies.

Old Plate

New Veggie-filled Plate
(Aren't I a fabulous artist?)
You might have noticed that the old plate really doesn’t look that bad.  Most people would consider a dinner like that to be entirely normal.  You probably drew similar pictures in grade school when you were taught about the USDA standards for good nutrition.  Guess what?  There’s a reason there’s an obesity problem in America!  Turns out we actually don’t know a thing about good nutrition!  Dinners like that had resulted in a twenty pound weight problem for me.  Two years in a row, I wanted to poke the eyeballs out of our biometric screening administrator when she told me I was overweight.  “You can’t tell me I’m overweight!  Who are you with your silly BMI standards.  I EAT HEALTHY!”
Lucky for me, at the outset of the Great Weight Loss Challenge, I ran into a family member who is also a personal trainer.  She passed on a bit of diet wisdom that for me reduced hours of idiotic calorie counting to a simple concept: Divide your plate in half.  Fill half the plate with vegetables and the other half with meat and grains.  The result is what most people would consider to be ridiculous amounts of veggies.  Try going to a buffet line or pot luck and load up half your plate with veggies.  You will get some strange looks.  You will feel like a “pig” taking half the salad you brought to the potluck.  Then you’ll realize no one else planned to eat any of it anyway.
For a lot of people, filling half their plate with veggies is like a death sentence.  (Spinach and broccoli and kale - oh my!)  I won't pretend that I was a veggie-hater before all this.  I actually enjoyed vegetables, the problem is I am a food lover, and there just aren’t too many examples of inspired veggie dishes in the typical American diet.  If you go to a restaurant, most of them have some token salads on their menus, made with wilted iceberg lettuce and topped with a few shreds of dried carrots.  Not my idea of good food.  I needed to start figuring to how to love vegetables.  To that end, I started spending some quality time in the produce department.  I tried to look for beauty in plump red tomatoes, shiny purple cabbage and brilliant green asparagus.  I kept my kitchen stocked with fresh ingredients from the produce department and discovered sautéed summer squash with garlic, steamed fresh broccoli and green beans prepared with sesame oil and almonds.  It wasn’t long before I actually craved vegetables, preferring them to the bland, often fried food I ate before.
I will reluctantly devote a paragraph to foods I avoided during the Great Weight Loss Challenge.  I hate to focus on deprivation, but unfortunately, there are such things as bad foods.  The first is sugar.  I tried to avoid added sugar by staying away from sweets and selecting a sugar-free alternative whenever possible.  The other foods I avoided included white breads, corn chips and potatoes.  These were unnecessary carbs that I knew would derail my weight loss efforts. 
I never felt deprived on this diet.  The introduction of delicious vegetables more than made up for the absence of bad carbs I cut out.  I spent the six weeks during the challenge feeling like a brand-new, vibrant, energetic person.

Sample Daily Diet
6 am - Two egg omelette with cheese, coffee with sugar-free creamer

Morning Snack:
9am - Yogurt

Noon - Large salad with fresh romaine lettuce, olives, feta cheese, vinaigrette.  Small serving of chicken.

Afternoon Snack:
2:30 - A handful of nuts and celery or carrots

6pm - Spaghetti with steamed broccoli instead of half the noodles, using Barrilla Plus Noodles.

8pm - Yogurt

For more information on healthy eating, read up on the South Beach Diet and the following recent article from the New York Times:
Still Counting Calories? Your Weight-Loss Plan May Be Outdated -


Francesca B said...

Hey Becky! This is pretty close to what I'm doing right now. I'm between 6-8 lbs down depending on what I remember as my starting weight. I do the massive quantities of veggies thing. I try to eat salad once a day. I try to eat no more than 45 grams of carbs at one meal, but allow two snacks which can include some carbs as well. I put pasta on my "rarely" list, but potatoes and whole grains are high in complex carbs, so I eat them. (Not french fries so much, though.)

Tortoise said...

Those are some awesome results, Francesca! I bet you are feeling great, too! If you can learn to love eating like this, the pounds will stay off. I admit to having done South Beach after Ashley was born, losing 40 pounds, and then gaining most of them back. Now I think I'm a little more committed. It helps that Jason is trying to eat healthy, too!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I like vegetables a lot - I have no issues filling my plate with them. The problem I run into is snacks and desserts! ;-)

Tortoise said...

Lisa, I hear ya! I'm terrible, though... no sweets in my house. My kids are so deprived.

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