I'm Not On a Diet Part 1

Most of my cart is now produce when I do the grocery shopping.
So, last week my wife, Jen, and I went on a diet changed our eating habits.
Indeed, our goal is to lose weight, but we're not the kind of people to try a fad diet or subscribe to some kind of eat-our-brand-of-food meal planner type of thing. In fact, we chose to do a lifestyle change that already closely resembles how we eat but merely cuts out our boredom eating, emotional eating, and our binge eating habits. Our source of information is mostly from The Mayo Clinic Diet: Eat Well, Enjoy Life, Lose Weight. The basis of this book is to break 5 bad habits, start 5 good habits, and adopt an additional 5 good habits that are optional but highly encouraged.

For long term weight-loss, focus on your habits, not so much on your food.
The 5 good habits to adopt can be really tough to follow if you've never dieted before or made any honest attempts at eating healthy or cutting junk foods or generally fattening foods. Luckily for us, we generally eat healthy, so while it has been a daily challenge to begin and maintain these new habits, it hasn't been a daunting or impossible task.

  • Eat a healthy breakfast
  • Eat vegetables and fruits - 4 and 3 servings, respectively
  • Eat whole grains
  • Eat healthy fats
  • Exercise 30 minutes a day
Eat a healthy breakfast
Eating a healthy breakfast has been no problem for me. I do start with a cup of coffee each morning, but within an hour or so of waking up I do eat a good breakfast. I have lowered the amount I sometimes eat though. For instance, instead of a bagel with cream cheese, a bowl of oatmeal, and a banana I'll just have either the oatmeal or the bagel (along with a banana), not both.

Eat 4 servings of vegetables and 3 servings of fruits
Eating the amount of required fruits and vegetables has been a bit of a challenge. I've designated meal times to breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, and dinner. This means that within 5 meals per day I need to eat either a fruit or a vegetable and at least two meals eat both. Fruit is easy - I have a banana with breakfast, always, maybe an apple for mid-morning snack and then an orange with lunch or for mid-afternoon snack. Vegetables, on the other hand, have been trickier to incorporate. I count lettuce and tomato on a turkey sandwich at lunch, I always have a vegetable with dinner, so essentially I have to get a vegetable in at snack times. Mid-morning, I can stomach a carrot with a piece of fruit, but for mid-afternoon I'll have to get more creative as more vegetables come into season. Either way, I've been getting 2-4 vegetables per day, which is 2-3 more than I used to get on a daily basis. I'm satisfied with the improvement that I have made rather than being discouraged and quitting.
Eat whole grains
Whole grains are easy enough to get. I like whole grain bread. I've switched to whole grain tortillas, which I find I like better than regular flour tortillas. Whole grain pasta is a bit of a stretch for me. I like it okay - I can deal with it, but Jen hates it. We've decided to reduce our pasta intake to one meal per week, so regular isn't the most horrible thing to eat.
Eat healthy fats
Eat healthy fat - I've stopped making cookies, brownies, buying ice cream, and we've reduced our red meat intake to 1 meal per week. I've also discovered that the ground turkey I've been buying for the past 5 years or so has 17g of fat per 4 oz serving. Comparatively, that's worse than lean ground beef. I read somewhere that if it's not strictly breast meat it has dark meat and they also grind up the skin into it, which is incredibly fatty. So, no more bulk packages of cheap ground turkey. I'd say most of the fat that I get right now is from dairy and meat, but having trimmed back portions of both daily, I consider that improvement as well.
Exercise 30 minutes a day
Exercise has been easy to accomplish over the past week because at the same time we started changing our eating habits we also started rearranging the furniture in the house and doing spring cleaning. Rearranging the furniture is a necessity because not only are we creating better spaces to meet our daily needs but we're displacing some of our creature comforts that only lend to bad habit behavior. Moving furniture, cleaning, and shampooing carpets - all exercise (consider we're starting from almost 0 exercise). We also have a dog, Daisy, that requires playtime at least twice a day, walks at least once a day, and one to two times a week I take her out for a run where I do a lot of running too.

Daisy Nu-Nu needs lots of exercise, which means I get lots of exercise too.
I do realize that the heavy lifting and carpet shampooing will be over soon, and I'll have to replace that activity with some real exercise. I'm actually excited about starting a little weight training, a little aerobic exercise, and I'll continue to do yoga on my down days.

I'm making some real progress and am getting some real results from this program. I'm starting to feel good again for the first time in a long time; I'm energized and ready to keep moving forward. More on bad habits in the next post, and of course the additional good habits will be later on.