Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Wednesday Weigh-In (3/1/06)

Eat right and exercise. That just about sums up my weight loss strategy - or, rather, my healthy living strategy. Tonight, I'll focus on the diet part.

The word diet. I don't like that word. If you go on a diet, you can also go off a diet. Therefore, I'm never go on a diet, although I watch my diet. Does that make sense? There are times when I am careful about what I eat and times that I am not so careful, but no dieting please. Eating right is something I should be striving for all the time, not just as a means to an end.

Most diets are too restrictive or too limiting, at least for me. The Atkin's Diet goes against everything I believe in my gut about nutrition. While I think it's wise to avoid too many refined carbs and sugar, I cannot find my way to thinking eating so much meat, cheese and butter is a good idea. Yes, yes, carbs are reintroduced later on and the most restrictive phase only lasts a relatively short time, but there is a large part of me that resists anything that has to take things to an extreme, even for a short period of time.

The South Beach Diet makes a lot more sense to me if you want to go low-carb. This diet promotes low-carb eating, but it also shows people that all carbs are not equal and encourages whole grain foods. It also focuses on good fats, not saturated fats. Still, when I checked out the diet one summer, I decided that giving up things like fresh tomatoes and fresh corn, even for 2 weeks, just wasn't for me. These are healthy foods! I don't want to avoid them! And after all, it was August and the first tomatoes were beginning to ripen.....

Low-fat diets were the craze a few years ago. Much like the glut of low-carb products on the market today, manufacturers rushed to please the low-fat crowd with products such as Snackwells. I remember buying the Devil's Food variety and thinking they were pretty good. And no guilt. Or less guilt, anyway. Problem was, people were feeling so guilt-free, they were eating a whole box. And in the end, a calorie is still a calorie and too many of them can make you fat. I truly believe that a big part of the reason that researchers are finding low-fat diets don't work is because you can't simply eat low-fat and think you're done. There's much more to it than that.

You can have a low-fat breakfats by eating a white bagel with jelly, but that's still not terribly nutritious. Low-fat, yet, but not much beyond that. It took me a long time, but I finally figure out that these kinds of breakfasts left me ravenous a few hours, or even minutes, later. I started to read more (in part thanks to the popularity of the low-carb diets) about things like the glycemic index and how fiber, whole grains and protein are digested more slowly than refined carbs and can keep you feeling full longer. Makes sense. So now, instead of a bagel with jelly, I might have, at the very least, a whole grain bagel. Better yet, a bowl of high fiber cereal with skim milk, fresh fruit and nuts. Still low-fat, but tons more nutrition.

I eat low-fat, but not too low-fat. When I first began watching my fat intake, I was keeping my fat grams to about 30 grams of fat a day. With an intake of about 1500 calories, that was only 18- 20% of calories from fat. I found that amount too restrictive. I still watch my fat, but I'm more concerned about watching the saturated fat. I don't worry so much about the non-saturated fats - if I want a bagel for breakfats now, I'll try for a whole grain bagel and will allow myself the peanut butter I used to avoid since it's a good fat and will help keep me feeling full longer.

Right now my focus is eating good carbs and good fats. I don't completely avoid things like white pasta, but I try to eat whole grains and wheat blends as much as possible. I try to limit my intake of butter, cream and other saturated fats and while I don't severely restrict my use of good fats like olive oil, I do try to cut back wherever possible. On top of those two key elements, I try to incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into my diet. That is something that I have really improved lately, but there is always room for improvement.

That pretty much sums up where I stand on healthy eating. No fads, no gimmicks - just sensible, logical, healthful eating.

So much to blog about, so little time. I hope to be back this week with more on weight loss, diet and exercise. I hope to start tracking my exercise habits, and perhaps my eating habits, more closely and possibly reporting on those, along with my progress on the scale.

Speaking of which, today was the day to get on the scale and it was good news! It was down 1.5 pounds, but I only recorded a one-pound weight loss on my ticker. I don't really completely accept what the scale says until I see it for more than one week in a row and I also rely a lot on how my clothes feel. Still, it does motivate me to see progress - just as long as I don't let the scale frustrate me when it doesn't give good news.

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  1. "That pretty much sums up where I stand on healthy eating. No fads, no gimmicks - just sensible, logical, healthful eating."

    You hit the nail on the head. I'm in an opposite, but in many ways, similar situation.

    I lost some weight a few years ago, but then it just kept going and I went a little underweight. My shoulder surgery a few months ago really put me behind where I want to be so I've been in weight gain mode. I am active person by nature (I can't stand being still for very long) so it's quite tough and frustrating for me when I can't put any on. I eat a fairly high calorie diet (~3400/day) and it can be tough to eat that much without adding in junk as the good carb/protein can be so filling. Anyway, I've probably written to much already - I'll be watching to see how your progress goes!

    PS - For me, I found it best to not play games with the scale and record what it says good or bad - besides, you did the work and you deserve it!

  2. Ditto what Joe said. (Except for the shoulder part and 3400 calories- yikes Joe, how do you manage that one!)

    I also posted today, so you're not alone in this. Although your post is much more eloquent and cohesive, I was kind of rambling.

    It will be fun to watch the progress though.

  3. Hi Joe. Thanks for our input. Wow - I know it's a frustration for you, but I can't imagine being able to eat 3400 calorie and not gain weight. If I want to lose weight, or even maintain my desired weight, I really need to stick to about 1800. It's interesting how everyone's metabolism is so different!

    Hi Erika. I'll head over to your blog and check out your post. It's very hard not to ramble!!! I had to edit out a lot of what I wanted to say and pick one direction! It was NOT easy! :)

  4. Hey girl, I'm trying to email you ...I wanted to participate in your Italian food roundup, but something on this computer isn't working with the email button. It's all about eating smart and working out-amen!

  5. It is partly because I get a lot of exercise too (3x cardio, 2x weights, 1x power yoga a week for the last 3 or 4 years now I think) as I try to keep my body in somewhat good shape and so some of the gain is muscle. At that rate I usually see a .5 gain a week, sometimes a little more depending how active I end up being (hiking or biking as extra stuff) My doc wants me to be around 150 at 5'11" to be "normal weight" and I have 4 or so lbs to go. It will be nice to go back to eating normal (as in eating all day long) and maintain again - but I have a feeling it will be tough as it is easy to get accustomed to eating so often.

  6. Just FYI, the South Beach diet does not restrict tomatoes, although it might have when it first started. I lost 42 pounds on it and have kept it off for nearly two years now. I was also able to stop taking cholesterol medication and now my cholesterol is lower than it ever was with the medication. For me, at least, it has been truly life-changing.

  7. Mona - I sent you an email. We'll get you posted one way or the other!

    Joe - I'm trying to get back to faithful and regular exercise. That really helps my metabolism. Especially weight training. Good luck!

    Kalyn - Hmmm...I thought it did restrict tomatoes in the first 2 weeks. Whoops - my bad. I think it's a very reasonable diet, I just found it too restrictive for me. I try to watch the carbs more now, though - I'm now more likely to pass up that piece of bread with dinner and I try to find a nice balance with side dishes without relying on carbs all the time. I'm so glad you found something that works so well for you!