- Diet & Weight Loss
The most simple diet you will ever encounter
This is as easy as it gets
I have been using this diet for the last 10 years.
I am a standard UK size 8 but it wasn't always the case.
Before the age of 30 I was always pretty slim; exercised regularly and ate what I wanted. I never thought about weight atall.
In the year 2000 I was doing some building work on my house. Three of us lived in one room whilst the rest of the house was uninhabitable. Now there is nothing more miserable than having 3 beds, a sofa, a telvision and a gas camping stove packed into such a small space. This scenario contiued for a period of 8 months while we gutted the rest of the house. The bathroom was supplied by a hose from the garden and the water heated using a burco boiler plugged on an extension lead. You get the picture.
At the time I was studying at university as a single mom, whilst spending every spare moment trying to save money by doing some of the building work myself. My poor son was only 2 1/2 years old and there were hazards everwhere. I had to keep him well contained.
In that 8 month period I ate more convenience food than I ever had in my entire life. Cooking was difficult and the fridge was tought to get at. Mostly we ate take away.
There were of course no mirrors in the house and I had no idea what was goind on with my body, I thought I was still 8 stone. None of my friends mentioned that I looked bigger. grrrr
Most of my clothes were in storage so I was alternating between old clothes for building work and jeans and sweaters.
One day I was in a fashion store looking for some extra jeans as I thought the ones I had must have shrunk in the wash. I picked up the size 8 and tried it on. Well - I say tried on. They wouldn't go up my leg never mind fasten in the middle! I came out of the changing room and challenged the shop girl stating that this particular make of jeans was small fitting. That's one of the classic marketing tools in the UK today - they label a smaller size on larger clothes so that emotionally you feel good about buying them. I wont name and shame who does it but I know who they are.
The shop girl produced another pair of jeans; saying 'this size might be more comfortable for you Madam' I thanked her and tried them on. They fitted perfectly. I decided to purchase, glanced at the label and to my enormous horros, the jeans were size 16 - three whole sizes bigger than what I thought. I paid and scarpered out of the shop, still hoping in that they were 'small fitting' but knowing in the reality in the back of my mind.
It was time for action.
I went to town and invested in a set of digital scales so I could see exactly how bad it was. Unfortunately the ones I bought were not particularly good and were reading under by a whole stone - ( 7 kilos or so). The scales read 9 stone 5, approximately a stone and 1/2 over my normal weight - or so I thought. I resolved to lose the stone and a half by embarking on a diet and exercise programme. I had never dieted before and knew this would not be easy for me. I agonised over all the tasty things that I liked and having to go without. Little did I know that I would have to do it for even longer but that knowledge came later thank goodness. One does not want to feel too overwhelmed in the beginning.
Now I had heard of plenty of diets; every women's magazine is full of advice on various diet regimes - luring you with catchy headlines - 'Lose half a stone in a week' or 'The bikini body in 7 days' and so on.
Of course I had also read plenty of press on the more commercial ones - Atkins, GI, Cabbage Soup etc. Now being a student at the time and studying biochemistry modules I knew a little bit about cell metabolism - enough to know that fooling your body into getting its glucose from alternative biochemical sources certainly cannot be a good long term thing. I thought that there must be a way of eating a normal diet which does not involve purchasing the most obscure items from the grocery store. One should be able to work with what would normally be in the cupboard, assuming your cupboard contains more than a lifetime supply of chocolate digestive biscuits.
Here is how I did it;
This method is for those who do not have special dietary requirements. However you can still use the general principles by adjusting to your own needs. I am only telling you what worked for me - however i did put my sister on the same plan and she has lost 3 stone so far.
1. The Calorie Counter
I had no idea of the calorie content of anything. I had never read the labels on anything and indiscriminately shoved items in the trolley. If I was overweight, I had to find out what it was that was making me that way. So the first thing you need to do is buy a calorie counter. You will need to use this each time you prepare a meal in the beginning. After a short while you wil know most of the main values in your head and will not need to consult the book each time.
2. The Notebook
This is the key to success. What you write in your notebook has to be an honest account of every morsel that passes your lips that day. It takes half a minute to complete after each meal and half a minute to total at the end of the day. Purchase an A5 or smaller notebook. It must be able to travel in your handbag, or your jacket pocket if you are male. Never leave the house without it.
How to fill in your notebook:
On the front inside page put the date at the top (the start date of your diet) and take the following measurements:
Weight (kilos or stones)
Hips (inches) for females
Bust / chest (inches)
You can also add your BMI and clothes size if you want. (be honest with yourself - no one else needs to see this book).
Now that you have entered this information you need to date each subsequent page at the top for the following month. Every 7 days leave a blank page so that you can take and enter all your measurements each week to monitor progress. This is very important because some weeks you may not lose so much weight but you may still lose inches. ideally, take the measurements in the moring before you start eating for the day.
Now that you have dated the pages on each page you need to add some subtitles across the top of the page like shown below: I have put in a little example.
Eaten Calories Fat (g)
Baked Beans 103 0.3
Toast no butter x 2 170 3
Every thing you eat that day goes in the book. At the end of the day you total it up and make sure you are on or under your limit.
3. Deciding the limit
This is an individual thing. I was not in the obese category but my BMI was at the top of its healthy range. I decided I would stick to 1300 calories a day and 30 grams of fat but if you are bigger to begin with you may need to set the limit higher than this. Consult your doctor if you are unsure. The average guideline for women to maintain is of course 2000 calories and approximately 70 grams of fat. You need to eat less than this to lose some but everyone's metabolism is different so you need to decide for yourself. I found that keeping the fat content low that the body needs to break down the fatty acids in storage, and there should be plenty available. You do however need enough fat in the diet to help absorb some key vitamins.
4. Decide on what exercise you want to do.
If you don't like exercise of any kind don't panic; however you will still need to do something to help the inch loss process. If you don't exercise regularly do not set yourself unsustainable targets like an hour of cardio a day because you will never be able to keep it up. If this is you then allow for 3 times a week for 45 minutes. If you have bad knees or hips or other injuries you will not be able to go full tilt at the gym or to hop around your living room doing step aerobics like I do. If you are not keen on exercise - walk. Now I don't mean stroll - I mean power walk. Take the biggest strides you can and swing the arms to full stretch with each pace. if you are worried about looking ridiculous in the local park, invest in some dark glasses and a baseball cap. No one will recognise you. You will find that power walking will get you out of breath as quick as most other exercise without straining too much. If you can't do a full 45 minutes to begin with make up the remainder of the time to work with small small free weights on the arms and do a little work on the abdominals. Make yourself comfortable while you exercise - nice loose clothes, comfy shoes and an Ipod or similar to keep you going.
5. You are Ready.
Now that you have all these items in place you are ready to get started. You have made all your decisions. Now all you have to do is follow them. In another blog I shall be posting a list of things that I eat when I am on this programme and how to prepare them. You do not have to suddenly switch to a diet of greens; in fact, you should be trying to balance protein and carbohyrate equally.
6. Tips for success
Eat at least three meals a day at regular intervals
Breakfast - If you are like 60% of the population you don't eat it; either because like me you are not hungry in the mornings or because you don't allow yourself enough time. You must have something first thing in the morning no matter how small. Your metabolism slows to almost nothing when you are asleep and you need to get it going again. If I have no time I have a banana whether I am hungry or not and then another 100 calorie snack mid morning. If I am eating breakfast properly, I aim for around 300 calories. A boiled egg, beans and a piece of toast contains about this amount.
Lunch: I stick to about 400 calories for lunch. This will allow you to have a good size sandwich or a small hot meal and a snack such as fruit or a yorgurt drink.
Dinner: I allow about 500 calories for dinner. i don't eat until about 8 pm and then do not eat again until the next moring.
There are some items I do not count in the list. These are things that can keep you going between your meals. You can draw your own list depending on what you like.
For example, I don't count the semi skimmed milk I have in my coffee; I don't take sugar so the calorie content is minimal. I don't count the washed sliced carrots I keep in the fridge to keep me going when it gets close to dinner. I don't count cherry tomatoes as long as its only a few and I don't count breadsticks as long as the number I have doesn't exceed four.
If I am particularly hungry between meals I don't agonize over it. I take a 100 calorie snack, such as a piece of toast with a little low fat cream cheese and ham. I then have a lower calorie dinner with more salad to add bulk. As long as you stick to the overall daily limit you will be fine.
Boost yourself with your success
This is a psychological boost I give myself as I go along. Each time I lose 2lbs or a kilo I get the equivalent weight and put it into a shopping bag. This can be a bag of flour or sugar, or a library book if you live in a hot country. Leave it somewhere in the house where you will walk past it often. Each time you walk past, if you remember, pick it up and put it down again. Say to yourself 'That weight used to be on me but now its in that bag, and that is where it is staying'. Once you have lost a few kilos you may need several bags; all the better; The heavier they get, the less likely you are going to want to carry it around on your person again.
You are going to need to substitute some of your favorites with low fat alternatives. Here are some you need to consider.
Butter - this is 85 % fat - cut it out completely. If you cannot eat a sandwich with about butter ( tomatoes / cucumber or low fat mayo will stop it tasting dry ) use very low fat cream cheese instead.
Dairy Cream - Substitute this with very low fat creme fraiche or yogurt. When it is used in soups or curries the difference is minimal
Cheese - Either cut down or substitute with half fat. Sometimes I used a sprinkling of grated parmesan or similar over things that I would normally top with cheese. A little of this goes a lot further in terms of taste. It is great for adding a kick to salads.
Chocolate - Switch to dark chocolate. It is much lower in fat. If you want some chocolate, have it but stick to a couple of squares. I usually save my chocolate until just after dinner.
Fizzy Drinks - Cut them out completely, even the diet ones will only leave you craving sugar and they are not good for you. I keep a jug of ice cold water in the fridge. If I want more flavour I add a squeeze of lime or lemon.
Mayonaise / Salad Cream - you will need to stick to the low fat versions. They are less creamy but have a very similar flavour.
Oil - For fying, use a spray oil if possible and trim the fat off any meat. English bacon is easier to trim the fat off than American.
Fries - If you must have them, stick to the low fat oven chips. Under no circumstances deep fry them in the chip pan. If you are eating out, avoid fries completely.
You can use another little notebook for these if you wish. It is useful to refer to when you come home tired and haven't a clue what to eat and can't be bothered to count calories.
I have a notebook which has the following sections:
100 Calorie snacks
300 calorie breakfasts
400 calorie lunches
500 calorie dinners
50 calorie treats (chocolate / sweets / marshmallows etc)
Once every two weeks I have a cook day in which I make a whole range of meals with the right content and freeze them. That way if you have to cook for a family you can take yours out, defrost it and heat it up without having to put th rest of the family on your plan. This way you can also still sit and eat with them.
In summary, if you follow the rules with writing it down, you can't go wrong. Writing it down takes the pressure of you having to think about it because you don't have to keep a running total in the head.
I shall shortly add more to this blog by adding some of the things I eat for breakfast lunch and dinner. None of them are complicated. I have such a busy life that I like to keep things as simple as possible.
Don't Sweat it
If you eat a couple of hundred calories over, don't despair. You will still be well within the weight maintenance range. Do not try to compensate by starving yourself of nutrients in the subsequent days. Stick to your decided amount.