I have a confession to make. I'm not really on a diet. I eat whatever I want. The catch here, is that I eat whatever I WANT. See, I don't always want junk food. But I do like pizza and peanut butter cups. And Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
So now you are probably wondering, how are you losing weight if you are eating whatever you want? Well, I limit my calories. We are back to the same thing I discussed yesterday. You just need to burn more calories than you eat in order to lose weight. If you want to maintain, burn the same amount you eat. If you want to gain, then eat more than you burn. It's very simple. So make sure you calculate that peanut butter cup or slice of pizza into your calorie count for the day. (I do, and I still lose weight. I promise. I have eaten peanut butter cups and still lost weight.)
So I track my food and I watch my calories. I don't worry about fat or carbs or anything else. Is it possible on some days I might have more fat, (or carbs, or sodium, or sugar) yes it is. But it's all about balance.
See, most of the time, the food that I WANT is healthy. This is because of my health counselor, Tracy Harrison. I met her last year and she convinced me that there was a happier way to live my life and that I could find happiness, health, better sleep and better moods simply by eating. Honestly, I thought she was nuts. Food was my ENEMY. Seriously, go read some of my old posts from 2005 and 2006. Food was the problem. I was allergic to it and I was tempted to eat lots of it, and I did. How was food going to solve my problems?
Through her classes and some one-on-one counseling, Tracy reintroduced me to food. She helped me reprogram my brain into eating properly. Did you know that we are all born with the ability to limit our calorie intake and to naturally crave healthy foods? It is society and the food manufacturers (and sometimes pregnant women eating junk) that reprograms the human brain into eating food that isn't actually real food. With Tracy's help I learned how to listen to my body. To know the difference between when I was actually hungry and when I just wanted to eat "just because". She helped reintroduce me to real foods and also to fat.
Yep, you need to eat fat. Our body needs three things to survive. Fat, carbs, and protein. So if you go on a fat-free diet or a carb-free diet, you will temporarily lose weight, but you are not doing yourself any long-term favors. Besides, if you are like me, and you tried those diets, were you really happy doing it?
The first big shocker for me when I was working with Tracy was this:
She had me start keeping a food journal so that she could see what I was eating. She didn't want me to try anything new, just do what I had been doing. So I kept track of everything. When she reviewed it, she said to me: "Did you know that you have an almost fat-free diet?" And I responded (beaming, I was so proud!) "Yes, I do!" And I was very proud of myself. That's when she told me that I needed fat to survive. I was floored. Hadn't I been told my whole life by doctors, media, health articles, Mom's and friends to avoid fat?
Then Tracy explained something to me. She said that the human body needs fat to survive and that if I wasn't giving my body any fat, it was going to hold on to what I had with all it's might because I had convinced my body that there was a famine, which is why there was no fat available to it. It made sense, but I was still not convinced. She slowly convinced me to add fat into my diet. We started small, with baby steps. Like going from skim milk to 2% (she wanted me to start with whole, but I was still giving her the "you are nuts" look.) She also had me make sure I was eating a little fat and protein with every meal. (Adding cheese to my salad, putting real butter on a roll.) It was important that I have fat with every carb. She also introduced me to healthy fats like advocados and olive oil.
And then the most shocking thing happened. I started losing weight. :)
She also taught me to eat real food, fruits and vegetables and to avoid any packaged or processed items. I started eating foods that were natural and organic. I went on tours of Whole Foods and found myself opening up to a whole new world of food.
And guess what else happened? I started sleeping better. I was no longer lying awake at night. My mood swings got WAY better. (You can ask anyone who has had to live with me...I am very moody. But now it's better. Still moody...not so much mood swingy...hehe) But probably the thing that changed the most....was how much I LOVE EATING! I really enjoy food. Every bite, every flavor is so amazing. I can't even describe how good a cucumber is. Or guacamole. Or fish.
Yep, I said fish.
Ever try smoked salmon? WOW! That stuff is really GOOD!
Once I stopped eating "fake" foods (processed, packaged items, foods with additives and preservatives) my taste buds changed. I was now able to actually taste foods I had never tasted before. (and when I went back to trying my old foods, suddenly, they were gross. Goldfish crackers will never be the same...yech! Soda? gross! And have you ever really tasted M&M's? They do not taste like chocolate.)
To sum this all up (this post is getting long!) I eat natural foods 95% of the time. I try to eat foods that are organic as long as I can afford them. I try to get my fruits and veggies from local farms and I eat a LOT of fruits and vegetables. I eat VERY little packaged items.
I track all of my food to limit my calories so that I will burn more than I eat.
Breakfast is my biggest (calorie wise) meal of the day. If I only have a small breakfast, I make sure that my mid-morning snack makes up for it.
I eat 5-6 times a day. The smallest amount of food I eat is my last meal, dinner, which is at least 4 hours before I go to bed.
I don't eat anything at night. Probably 75-80% of my calories are consumed before 4pm. Don't snack at night and it will help you lose weight!
(This was hard for me to do, I had to re-program my body into eating at the beginning of the day) I always make sure my breakfast includes some fat to get the motor running and burning off the fat I already have.
And one last thing. I don't include a lot of variety in my foods. While I am in the process of trying to lose weight and I am tracking calories, it's just easier to eat the same things. I know they are healthy and I know the calorie amount, so I eat probably the same 6-10 meals all the time. Sound boring? Maybe. I do mix it up once in a while, but the majority of the time, I stick to what works.
And so far it's working. 30 pounds down. 10 or 15 more to go!
I have included links to Tracy's website and two books that I enjoyed reading. If you have questions or comments, leave them via the comments link. If someone wants an example of a typical daily menu, let me know, I will post that as well.
YOU on a Diet
In Defense Of Food
Eating on Purpose
Tomorrow's post will be about exercise. In other words, getting off your butt and sweating. A LOT. :)