Saturday, April 9, 2016

A Blended Plan for Weight Loss


As I mentioned yesterday, I'm working a plan that takes all the best parts of the two methods that have worked for me over the course of this blog for consistent, long term weight loss: my original, calorie counting and exercise plan, and Medifast. Nothing else I have ever done has given me the solid weight loss success I enjoyed during those two times. I've always lamented that in the long term, they "didn't work" because I wasn't able to keep losing weight nor maintain the weight lost. But they *did* work for weight loss. So why not use the best parts, and learn from the mistakes to make the weight loss permanent?

2007-2008: 64 pounds lost

What worked/benefits:
Basing my meals around produce from the Farmer's Market or, in winter, the produce section.
Counting calories (about 1500/day)
Walking, riding my exercise bike, and strength training at home
I learned to enjoy and prepare many more kinds of produce than I ever had in my life
I was gaining fitness

Problems:
I did not fix the emotional eating component
I still struggled greatly with obsessive food thoughts and compulsive eating
I still binged sometimes
I had a lot of cravings
I got tired of counting calories for literally years
I could not get below 214, and was stuck regaining and losing the same 20 pounds over and over for almost 2 years despite calorie counting and exercising

2010: 59 pounds lost (Medifast) for a total of 103 pounds gone

What worked/benefits:
Eating on a schedule every 3 hours or so stabilized my blood sugar
Eating 80-100 grams of carbs/day also stabilized my blood sugar and eliminated most cravings
Meal replacements were an easy, convenient source of nutrition
Learned to eat dinners composed of lean protein + 3 servings of vegetables, no grains or starches needed
Eating this way seemed to somehow "cure" my binge eating disorder; the binge eating has not come back. It might have had something to do with eating such small portions and my stomach shrinking, I'm not sure. I can no longer eat large volumes of food.

Problems:
Eating under 1000 calories/day slowed my metabolism to a crawl
No fruit allowed; I really missed it
The Medifast Transition Plan included adding grains back into the diet, which set off cravings and was a trigger for me
Very little exercise resulted in loss of muscle and a lowered fitness level
Obsessive food thoughts and compulsive eating disappeared on Medifast, but returned when I went back to eating regular foods

In recent years I did some other plans like AIP and gluten free eating, and most recently spent about 6 months eating anything I wanted in small portions. Although those plans did not give me significant, lasting weight loss, they did teach me a few things:

What worked/benefits:
Relaxed eating and no calorie counting: my long-standing food obsession and compulsive eating *finally* went away and has not returned.
Basing meals on fresh healthy foods
Discovering that some foods, like peppers and eggplant, bother my arthritis

Problems:
AIP was too restrictive for me to continue long term
Hard to eat with friends, at restaurants, or in social settings on a very restrictive diet
Weight loss stalled when I added back gluten but kept eating anything I wanted; higher crabs triggered hunger and cravings for more

I am taking all the best things I learned from these experiences and piecing it into something that I think will work for me long term, without white knuckling, and will result in consistent, significant weight loss without regain. And I'm ditching the things that didn't work well.

I eat on a loose schedule: breakfast at 8am, sometimes a snack at 10am, lunch at noon, snack at 3, dinner at 6, snack around 8 or 9pm.
I eat lots of foods from the Farmer's Market or the produce section.
My meals are loosely based on the "Lean & Green" style of Medifast, although I do not weigh or measure my food: one serving of protein (5-7oz) and 3 servings of vegetables. I add healthy fats as desired.
I enjoy fruit when I want it, but keep in mind that I don't want to eat too many carbs in one day. I don't count carbs but I have a pretty good sense of when I am getting around 100 grams total for the day, just from all the weighing and measuring and counting I used to do.
I am walking (and counting steps on my FitBit), biking, and soon will start strength training. My exercise routine is very similar to what I was doing in 2007-2008.
I don't eat large volumes of food, generally avoid processed stuff but allow it if I really want it, and I don't restrict. I will not get back into the obsessive mindset by counting and measuring and tracking all my food. I am staying with the relaxed way of eating; it is happier to me. I do not binge, I do not obsess, I enjoy what I eat.
I am using occasional meal replacements for those times when I am just busy, don't feel like cooking, am out running errands or driving a long way, or just am not that hungry. I keep Premier Protein shakes from Costco and some Quest protein bars in the kitchen for those occasions.
I keep grains and starches to a minimum. If I really want some, I have a serving, but I am also finding lower carb, higher protein substitutes. I found some cereal I like (Kay's Naturals Apple Cinnamon cereal) and I have that some mornings with unsweetened almond milk. I also found some crackers and things also by Kay's Naturals that fit the bill when I want crackers without all the carbs, like with soup or tuna salad (Kay's Naturals Crispy Parmesan Chips). This way I really *can* eat things I feel like eating without eating too many carbs, raising my blood sugar, and triggering cravings.

First weigh in will be next Sunday. I don't want to feel discouraged if the scale's not moving much yet, so I'm waiting an extra week.

That's all I can think of. I am already doing everything but the strength training and have felt good doing this (since April 1). I know I still need to work on the emotional eating thing, but I can take clues from past successes and cope with hard times in other ways, perhaps with exercise instead of food. That's my plan, and I'm sticking to it!


8 comments:

Hillary Gras said...

Your protein intake (7-8 oz seems large).... Was that guided from a previous menu plan or diet? I've always been told 4 oz or a deck or cards

Lyn said...

Hilary~

yes, but it's 5-7 oz. It's the protein recommendation for "dinner" or the biggest meal of the day, from Medifast. Things like beef, pork, lamb, and dark meat poultry have a 5 oz serving. Very lean meats, wild game, and fish have a 7 oz serving size. I am not weighing the food but eyeballing it. I might split the protein, like having an egg with breakfast and then 4 oz of chicken breast for dinner. I am not eating as many protein supplements as I did on Medifast, so I also have things like string cheese or a slice of turkey for a snack.

Anonymous said...

How do you know if you are eating enough or too much? I'd like to see a few days of menus.

jeanniebean said...

I know you recently had to go off the injections to stabilize your blood sugars, did they suggest metformin? It's used at weight loss centers to reduce hunger very effectively. It helps stabilize glucose levels and much cheaper than the injections.

Lyn said...

Anon~

I don't really know for sure... I just eat until I am satisfied. I'm pretty sure I am eating enough, though. My weight will tell whether or not I am eating too much. I'll definitely post some menus. Today's:

coffee with half & half
a bowl of Kay's Naturals cereal with almond milk
a taco salad made from lettuce, spinach, salsa, lite Ranch, ground turkey, grated cheese, and avocado
a diet Italian soda
some high protein crackers
string cheese
pan fried trout and steamed asparagus
a square of very dark chocolate

I will probably have some kind of small snack before bed. I'm off to take a walk now!

Lyn said...

jeanniebean~

I tried metformin before I started the injections; it gave me a very upset stomach and diarrhea. If my A1C goes up now that I am off Victoza, then I might have to try metformin at a lower dose.

David Dane said...

Obsessive food thoughts are from hunger, and lowered blood sugars... I know, I have had those exact same issues. This is why I take Coconut oil in my tea in the morning, or my coffee. I also take two to three table spoons of MCT throughout the day. Your low carbohydrate diet should really take off if the ratio of carbohydrate, protein and fat are correct.

Nine Dark Moons said...

This was a really interesting post - thanks for deconstructing each segment of your journey and listing the pros and cons! That must have taken a while to do. It has given me some insight into my own journey. Great post, as always!