You CAN loose weight without depriving yourself. If I can do it, so can you!
I love to cook, I love food, and I enjoy beer, wine, and Margaritas. I hate diets. Let me say that again: I HATE DIETS! They never work for very long and, at this point in my life, I refuse to live in a perpetual state of self-denial. But I have lost as much as 20 pounds in the past, and I enjoyed the process, so I’m actually looking forward to starting this adventure again and sharing what I’ve learned along the way with the rest of you who struggle with your weight.
- There is no magic to loosing weight…it’s math.
- Eat more calories than you burn = weight gain.
- Eat less calories than you burn = weight loss.
We all know this. We also hate counting calories! That’s why we are always looking for the magic formula, or for someone to hand us a menu and say “Do this, and it will work!” Some of those formulas do work, at least for a while, and they can feel magic when our hope is high. But truthfully, we all know, there is no fast, easy, simple way to loose weight, or we would have done it by now! Right?
So what’s different about my approach?
- It’s is NOT a diet.
- It’s is NOT built on a gimmick or starvation or a fancy new theory.
- It’s NOT built on self-denial and bent on taking all the fun out of your life!
- It’s NOT a guarantee that by Christmas/Easter/Summer, you’ll be into that bikini!
- It IS a tool…a collection of delicious recipes where the calories are counted for you, meal pairing that helps you know what you’re doing, and helpful ideas just might work for you.
- It IS a story…a journey…a ‘way to be’ that is accessible to anyone.
- It IS your friend, written by a friend who wants very much for you to succeed.
Trust me, you don’t have to live on celery sticks and lettuce! You can eat like a king and still drop the pounds you want! Honest! I love good food and it has been so fun and exciting to find out that truly amazing food can also be low-cal and healthy.
There are SO MANY great recipes that can fit into any weight-loss plan, and that will satisfy even the most die-hard ‘foodie’ (that would be me!). I’ve compiled some of my favorite recipes for you, as well as menu ideas, and lots of helpful suggestions to make your journey as painless as possible. I don’t like to suffer and don’t want you to suffer either!
It isn’t necessary to eliminate all the yummy flavors of olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, or bacon. It takes only a little of these high-calorie foods to add a lot of flavor, and this discovery renews my enthusiasm over and over again, as I find ways to enjoy my favorite things, especially cheese!
I try to choose a meal that has around 300 calories each for breakfast and lunch, and a 500 calorie meal for dinner. That’s only 1100 calories, which is too low, but I like my Margaritas and an occasional beer, so I leave wiggle room. If I try to be too strict with myself, I know I will rebel and quit the plan. You can see a list of the recipes, by meal, with their calories here and a gallery with pictures of the recipes here. I will be adding more recipes as time goes on.
If you have a family, or even a partner, it can be more difficult to find an eating plan that everyone will like, but these recipes are ‘real’ food, not diet stuff, so unless you’re saddled with picky eaters, they can enjoy the same meals as you.
- You CAN wait until the next meal!! You WON’T die!
- Give yourself a meal you can look forward to, instead of dread.
- Drink LOTS of water! It flushes out toxins that are released from fat cells as you lose weight, and helps you feel full.
- Make a list of your favorite things and their caloric count. Use it to PLAN your treats, instead of deprive yourself.
- Think about what you CAN have; don’t dwell on what you’re missing.
Here is a list of things to keep in mind, to do, or to have on hand, not in any particular order. Some of them may seem like a lot of bother, but trust me (I’ve learned the hard way), they really are important. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother with them myself, and I certainly wouldn’t bother you with them.
# 1 – DO THE MATH!
- 500 calories a day = 1 pound a week
- Goal weight X 100 = daily caloric intake
To figure how many calories you should eat each day, take your goal weight and multiply it by 100. This is the daily caloric intake you should plan on. For example, let’s say you want to weigh 130 pounds. 130 X 100 = 1300, so the daily intake of calories you need to shoot for is 1300, unless you are extremely active (like a jock!). So, pick your target weight and add a zero…that’s your daily caloric goal. If you’re consistent, it’ll work!
But beware of aiming too low at first. If you’ve been eating 1800 calories a day and try to cut back to 1300, you’ll feel like your starving and won’t be able to stick to your plan. Set your first goal at no more than 10 pounds less than your current weight, then when you reach that, set another goal [On the other end of the example, if you’re eating 1800 calories a day (which is easy to do if you’re not counting), you will eventually weigh 180 pounds.]
More math: 500 calories a day = 1 pound a week, whether its losing or gaining. That means that if you cut 500 calories from your day (either by eating less, burning more, or a combination), you will loose a pound a week, which is an optimum amount…really! It may seem slow, but if you want the weight you lose to stay off, this is a comfortable and healthy speed to lose unwanted pounds. They are more likely to stay off when you loose slowly than with a crash diet. Besides, you know you won’t stick to a severe diet, and this way of eating is something you can stay with forever without feeling deprived.
I know, counting calories is a real pain, but I’ve made it easier by providing recipes with the calories already figured out. You may want to invest in a recipe program for your computer, or a calorie-counter app for your phone to make life easier. I use MacGourmet Deluxe on my computer and I love it! When I had a PC, I used MasterCook and it was also a great program. I highly recommend either of them.
MasterCook is only $19.99 and was rated #1 for 2016 according to the Cookbook and Recipe Software Review. MacGourmet is $39.95 and was rated #1 for Macs, according to Mac Recipe Software Reviews.
PICK YOUR PLEASURES!
Yes, I mean it. Think about what you can, and cannot, live without in the food & drink departments. I can easily live without beef and without butter or jam on my toast, but I have no intention of giving up wine completely. Whatever it is you love, find the caloric value (be honest!) and just work it into your plan often enough that you don’t feel deprived. If you feel deprived, you won’t stick to the plan. Come on now…you know you won’t!
TRICK YOUR PLEASURE CENTERS
The ‘experts’ say that our brains are wired to want a combination of crunchy and smooth, warm and cool, which means you will feel more satisfied with a meal, even a small one, if you combine textures and temperatures. I’ve found it to be true that a meal is much more satisfying if it includes the following four elements:
CRUNCHY, SMOOTH, COOL, & WARM
For example, if you’re eating smooth, cold yogurt, pair it with a piece of warm, crunchy toast. If you’re having a hot soup (mostly smooth), pair it with crunchy, cold vegetables. Try it, it really helps! You’ll feel more satisfied with less food.
With that in mind, breakfast might include a smoothie, which is COOL and SMOOTH, along with a piece of toast, which is WARM and CRUNCHY. Voila! All the elements are covered in a filling, satisfying meal for under 300 calories (if your toast isn’t buttered!).
- If lunch is a salad, which is usually CRUNCHY and COOL, try serving it with a CREAMY dressing and a cup of hot broth, or light soup, for WARM.
- Dinners are easy: a WARM main dish, a casserole or soup can be CREAMY, the salad is COOL and CRUNCHY. You get the idea.
- Replace chips with veggies for CRUNCH: celery & carrot sticks, slices of luscious red bell pepper (or green), cucumber chips (round slices), cauliflower and broccoli florets. A low-cal dip offers CREAMY and if it is yummy, you won’t feel deprived.
- Also, chew slowly, savor and enjoy every bite to help your pleasure centers feel good.
KNOW YOUR PORTIONS
I highly recommend you purchase a small, inexpensive kitchen scale. There really isn’t any other way to know what your portions are. If you guess, you’ll probably err on the side of too much and that will sabotage all your best efforts! Also, measure each ingredient as you follow a recipe, don’t guess.
Not all bowls or glasses are created equal, so pour water into your bowls, glasses and cups to the level of a serving, then pour it into a measuring cup, so you know the actual ounces of your servings. Really! Do this! After you do it a few times, you won’t have to keep measuring.
WRITE IT DOWN!
This saves time in the long run, even though it feels like too much effort when you’re doing it. It’s a waste of your time to have to look up the calorie count every time on something you eat frequently. Use your computer so you won’t have to go looking for that scrap of paper!
If you use a particular product/brand, write down the nutritional info to use for calorie calculations. Compare it to the calorie charts…it may, or may not, be the same.
I use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of what I eat. I built in formulas to add up the calories for each meal and for the day. You just plug in the numbers and the formulas do the rest. I’d love to send you a copy for your own use if you’ll email me and request it: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You cannot succeed in weight loss by ‘winging it’, unless you plan to live on celery sticks and cucumbers. Yuk! I strongly suggest you invest in a recipe program for your computer (see my recommendations above). It will include a weekly menu planner that allows you to select and keep track of recipes for each day, figure calories for each recipe, and even generate a grocery list for you. That tool alone will save you hundreds of hours of planning and be very helpful toward your successful weight loss.
If you know your dinner is going to be calorie rich, you can plan a slimmer lunch or breakfast if you have a pre-planned list to pull from that tells you how many calories are in a particular meal. (I’ve included a lot of this kind of information, but I know you’re going to want to eat some of your own favorites that aren’t on my list.)
Make leftovers work for you by preparing more than you need and planning to use it for a meal so you won’t have to cook. Just remove the right-sized portion and store it in the fridge before you sit down to you meal or you’ll be tempted to have just a little bit more. If you prepared the food, you should know the calories they contain. Just work them into your day…last night’s dinner for lunch, etc.
BE FLEXIBLE, BUT NOT SLOPPY.
Life happens. You won’t always be able to stick to the meals you planned for the day. You may find yourself eating in a restaurant on the spur of the moment, or invited to a party, or with lots of leftovers in your refrigerator. What you want to avoid is the tendency to throw your hands up and say, “Oh, well…there’s nothing I can do about this,” and then use it as an excuse to eat whatever. Not a good idea because these kinds of unplanned things happen often enough to sabotage you. That will lead to disappointment, frustration, and yet another failure at weight loss. You don’t need that negative reinforcement, so plan for such occurrence.
If you know ahead of time you’ll be eating out, or partying, choose some extra-low calorie meals for the rest of that day, or for the following day. Enjoy an occasional outing, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot!
At a party….well, if you are at a sit-down dinner, you sort of have to eat what’s put in front of you, but you don’t have to have seconds, and maybe you don’t even have to eat the whole plate full! Focus on the protein and veggies; pick at the rice, potatoes, or pasta, and skip dessert.
If the party is a buffet, you can choose from the items you know will be easier on your plan.
Eating in restaurants can be tricky, but if you just can’t face another salad, order something grilled, rather than fried, and stick with fish, shrimp or chicken breast, which are all much lower in calories than beef. If you can order off the Senior Menu (or the Kid’s Menu), they are smaller portions. If you’re with someone who will split the meal, you can indulge in a juicy burger and fries once in a while without destroying your plan.
- If you order a salad, beware that many of them are loaded with cheese, olives, and other high-calorie foods! Chef Salads are extremely high in calories. A chicken breast, even in a sandwich, might be a better idea if the salad menu is too fancy.
- You can always order a burger and leave off the bun, and get the salad instead of the fries. (I know… I hate wasting than bun, too, but better that than to add unnecessary, nutritionally empty calories to my waist!
- Always order the salad dressing on the side and don’t pour it onto your salad. Dip your fork in it for a bite (not your spoon!) and you’ll be surprised how little you need to make the salad very enjoyable.
- Some foods are just OMG over-the-top! Hot wings have over 1000 calories per serving and that’s before the Blue Cheese Dressing!! Many hamburgers have over 1200 calories without the accompanying French fries, pop or beer!
- Even a salad or stir-fry can be dangerous! Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad (which is delicious!) has no less than 1240 calories and P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef has 787 calories in just the beef.
Fortunately, many chain restaurants have nutritional charts available, either onsite or online, so you can more easily plan your crime, or triumph.
- You don’t have to avoid restaurants. On a 4 day motorcycle trip, we ate every meal in restaurants. My dinners were mostly salads and beer, with an occasional splurge, and I didn’t gain an ounce. Pretty good for traveling!
For more tips on eating in restaurants, click here.
Fat is NOT your enemy! Remember the low-fat diet craze? It didn’t work. The experts have proven that people didn’t loose weight by changing to low-fat dairy products. Obesity and disease are not the result of eating fat, but from consuming too much processed food. Clearly, if you eat too much fat, you will consume too many calories and won’t be able to lose weight. However, fat helps us feel full and satisfied, so, as long as you know how many calories you are consuming, don’t make yourself miserable by trying avoid all fat.
- Do you really need butter on your toast? No. You can get used to dry toast, or skip the toast altogether!
- Will one piece of bacon ruin your plan? No. It only has 60 calories and can add a ton of flavor to an otherwise boring meal. Chop it up, cook it, drain it and add it to your scrambled eggs or salad! Yum!
- If you’re sautéing, use just a little olive oil, or butter, in a non-stick pan, rather than what the recipe calls for. It’s so much better than the spray-on oils for both the environment and for you – read the label! The pump sprayers they make for oil (such as Misto Olive Oil Sprayer) are non-aerosol, so they are great for adding just a touch of oil, and they don’t harm you or the environment – no aerosol & no chemicals.
- The latest news is that hydrogenated fats are all bad! The ‘experts’ don’t seem to be able to make up their minds about what is healthy, so when in doubt, go for what’s most natural. Makes sense, huh? Butter is natural, so is bacon fat. Olive oil and coconut oil are still considered ‘good’ fats. MCT Oil, which is derived from coconut oil, is the latest ‘best’ fat.
- Regardless of what fat you use, pay attention to the amount and count the calories!
NOTE: Many low fat foods substitute more sugar to make up for the loss of flavor from fat. Check the labels! If it is high in sugars and/or carbohydrates, it isn’t going to be helpful to you.
True, alcohol is LOADED with calories. If you will feel deprived without your evening cocktail, wine with dinner, or occasional beer, then plan it into your calories and limit something else. You gotta enjoy this process, or you won’t stick with it!!
Be smart. Denial won’t help, so here’s the deal:
- 12 oz beer (usual bottle size) = 100 calories
- 16 oz beer (usual restaurant glass size) = 133 calories
- 1 glass of red wine (5 oz – that ain’t much!) = 120-127 calories
- 1 glass of white wine (5 oz) = 118-123 calories
- 1 oz of 80 proof hard liquor = 64-69 calories
- a shot is 1.5 oz = 96-105 calories
Try your favorite liquor with a squeeze of lime, ice, and either tap water or club soda. Tonic water has sugar – read the labels!
A WORD ABOUT ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS:
Artificial sweeteners may have zero calories, but they stimulate the release of insulin into your bloodstream. The insulin doesn’t have any sugar to ‘eat’ so there is an excess of it floating around in your body. Excess insulin encourages the body to store fat. So those ‘helpful’ diet foods aren’t so helpful. They can actually encourage weight gain, and it’s the type of weight that goes right around your middle! My word on artificial sweeteners is “don’t”. That’s not a rule, just my advice, so If you’re hooked on them, at least try to cut back.
There are conflicting thoughts about how often to weigh yourself. I weigh every morning because the numbers can fluctuate up and down from day to day, depending on water-weight gain or loss. If I only weight once a week, as some people suggest, I may hit days that the scales are up and get discouraged. You should do what works for you and get a reliable, digital scale. (I had one that bounced around up or down 5 – 10 pounds overnight!)
Most weight-loss gurus will tell you to find rewards for yourself other than food. Yeah, right!
Obviously, if you always reward yourself with food, you may end up gaining weight, rather than losing it. However, food is a powerful motivator and I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to go clothes shopping every time I need or want a reward. So, here’s what I do…
I set a small, attainable goal – say, losing 5 pounds, or even just sticking to my plan for a week without losing any weight. Then I pick a reward that won’t completely sabotage my progress – maybe a Mocha Breve at Starbuck’s, or a hamburger at my favorite burger joint. Do whatever works for you, but beware of over-rewarding!
When you reach a goal, ENJOY your reward without any guilt, then go right back to your plan. I’ve found that if my over-all eating habits are good, one splurge – or even a whole day of splurging – doesn’t stop the downward trend on the scale.
This is my best attempt at giving you all the info, wisdom and experience I’ve gained over a lifetime of fighting off extra pounds. Believe me, I’ve tried every diet that came along and this plan is the only one that I have enjoyed and that has consistently worked for me.
I hope you find lots of helpful advice and delicious recipes here at Delishable.net, and I’d love to hear about your progress, or answer any questions you have. Have FUN in the kitchen!