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Achieving weight loss goals in the real world, especially if you are seriously over weight and out of shape, can be a long and challenging process. We all know that losing weight is easier said than done. Most people have trouble sticking to any diet plan for an extended period of time.
In my particular situation, finding a diet that worked for my sense of taste, personality, lifestyle, and physical body was a challenge. It was only through trial and error, as well as through perseverance, that I found what worked for me. In this article I hope to share my approach to both finding and working the food and nutrition plan I created for myself. Maybe it will work for others, as well.
Because I am not a doctor or fitness professional, I must remind you to check with your doctor and seek advice of fitness professionals to make sure you are healthy enough to safely begin a diet or other fitness program.
Like many people who have gained a significant amount of weight, my attitudes and habits began in childhood. My relationship with my body became one of comparing myself with my peers. I wanted to look like the friends I admired. This led me to become dissatisfied with my muscular and athletic body and I wanted to become reed-thin. It wasn't until adult-hood that I began to realize that I looked great back then, and that the friend I wanted to look like was unusually thin and long-limbed. I also began to realize that my relationship with myself changed into one of labeling myself as "fat." My physical self was happy to comply with my beliefs about my fat, and the struggle with weight began.
As I gradually gained more and more weight, there came the day when I reached the one weight I had always said I would never reach. Although I had watched the scale go up and up, it wasn't until I hit this all-time high that a lightening bolt of shock propelled me onto a new path. It was then that I began in earnest to reclaim my body and reduce my weight.
I began researching and experimenting with weight reducing techniques. My goal was to create a program that was going to be effective, but also one that I enjoyed and would stick with. For me, experimenting with foods and how my body responded to those foods was essential. Once I found the information I needed, I was able to put together a DIY weight-loss food plan that made me feel good physically and lose weight while allowing me to maintain my health and muscle tone.
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Developing My Food List
As I gathered information about myself and how my body felt after eating specific foods and combinations of food, a list of foods began to take shape. It was a list of foods that would work for me. Below you will find the core list of my diet foods that I began to rely on.
- Apples. This fruit became a foundation for me because they are portable, easy to cook with, and help my body to transport nutrients and stabilize my blood sugar. While I was not diabetic, I had come to find out that if I ate most cold cereals, pancakes, and other typical breakfast foods, a couple of hours later my blood sugar would plummet and I would be feeling shaky and crave carbs and sweets. The apples basically banished this diet derail-er from my life. Fresh is always my first choice. The apples and applesauce you buy in the store often has added sugar, cornstarch or preservatives. Using fresh and making my own sauces was extra work, but I wanted and needed to stick with clean foods and get the most nutrition the food could offer.
- Other Fruit. Pineapple, cherries, blue berries, strawberries, and raspberries are unlimited fruits.
- Green Beans, Lettuce, Celery, and Cucumbers. These 4 vegetables work for me because they are versatile and because I just plain like them. They all have complex carbohydrates and each one offers its own special nutrients. I love salads if I make them at home, and with the exception of the green beans, they are all ingredients I put into my salads for variety and taste.
- Carrots, Cauliflower, Squash, Peas, Beans. While slightly higher on the glycemic index, these vegetables are versatile and satisfying. They are very easy to cook, and can all be frozen for later use after cooking. They make good eating raw with dip, except for the dried beans. For dipping snacks, I add cooked black beans, red beans, and garbanzo beans to cheesy dips in order up up the food value and reduce the fat content without having to give up on the flavor and the satisfying factors.
- Protein Sources: Protein Drinks, Supplements, Nuts, Chicken, Tuna, Ham, Eggs and Beef. It is not very often that I over eat these items. If I do over eat, it is with fat and simple carb foods like chips, pasta, white rice, and breads. Because my body needs more protein in order to be healthy, this became a priority food group.
- Learning about vitamin, herbs, and nutritional supplements has been a hobby of mine for a very long time, and I did and do use them. I use different supplements to support my body during times of extra energy needs in various areas. Because I am on the go a lot, I use a brand of protein drink that comes already made, Is low-carb, low in sugar,and includes a wide variety of vitamins and minerals in the drink. The price is reasonable and I would be lost without it.
Limited Sugary Foods
The Diet Rules for Reducing and Maintaining
The rules for me were very simple:
Eat unlimited amounts of food combinations from my free food list.
Add, in moderation, small amounts of the foods that have to be limited.
The portion, no matter what size, had to contain mostly food from the unlimited list.
Get enough protein. Eating protein with the first meal is a must for my success. Every persons needs are unique. There are many good sources of information on this subject, and each person should research this and find their own unique number.
Adding to The List: Foods to Limit or Avoid
To make a more complete food list, I knew that I would have to look at the foods I tend to eat too much, too much of the time. For me this included some of the following:
- Fats. This is a category that is necessary to good health, but also one where my consumption level was just too high. At the time, I was adding fat to almost everything I ate. Dips, sauces, gravy, and every other great tasting, fat-laden thing you can think of. When I finally got brave enough to record the fat grams of everything I ate when I did not restrict myself, the actual number of fat grams astonishing. Always before I would just sort of estimate in my head and conveniently leave out the numbers for a pat of this and a drizzle of that. So at that point I set a goal to cut my fat intake in half. I figured I should be able to put together good taste with my remaining fat allowance because it was so high in the first place. It took some creativity, but has worked out very well and I still could safely cut more fat out of my diet.
- Simple Carbs. My physical circumstances at the time were such that my body was making too much insulin in response to eating simple carbohydrates like bread, potatoes, chips, pasta and white rice. I knew I had to limit them and let my body heal its craving cycle. At first I cut these out entirely for a couple weeks. Then I began to allow myself these items in limited amounts and to not add so much fat to them.
- Sugar Free Desserts. Even when they are sugar free, most of these food items have high levels of simple carbohydrates and contain preservatives. Because of the fact that most deserts that actually taste good are not very good for us, I began to experiment with fresh fruits and deserts that I made without added sugar or with sugar substitutes.
Some of the Major Muscle Groups
Pulling it All Together.
Above and to your right you will see the diet rules I gave myself. The simplicity appealed to me and made it easier to keep things portable.
After going through this process of finding healthy foods that worked for my circumstances and personality, a new level of awareness about my nutritional needs dramatically increased. When we become aware of what food types our bodies are asking us to supply, our bodies can function at a higher level.
While following this plan, my good nutrition intake went way up. Because fewer processed foods were eaten my body felt clean inside. Weight came off, energy levels rose, and I was enjoying the foods that I was eating. Experimenting with recipes using lower fat ingredients became fun. And although the fat consumption was still a little high, it was a drastic improvement over the way I had previously eating.
Your lists may not look like mine. Your diet rules will be different. Each person has the freedom to create a structure or plan that includes their own personality, taste pallet, lifestyle, and physical needs.
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- CDC - Adult Obesity | Vital Signs
CDC Vital Signs links science, policy, and communications with the intent of communicating a call-to-action for the public. CDC Vital Signs provides the most recent, comprehensive data on key indicators of important health topics.
- Obesity and overweight | womenshealth.gov
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© 2014 Nancy Owens