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October 09, 2005

What I enjoy for breakfast, ideally every day

In the past my favorite breakfast was two steak biscuits from Hardee's, a large order of hash browns, and a super-size Diet Coke. Yum, but easily over 1500 calories and full of bad fat etc. I would eat this every day if I could, and still enjoyed the biscuits even after I promised away the Diet Coke and the hash browns.

Now I'm eating much healthier, much fewer calories, and I'm enjoying it:

  • 1 C oatmeal with 2 T flax seed and cinnamon (210 calories)
  • 100 calories of almonds
  • 1 C yogurt (160 calories)

Then I'll have an apple (85 calories) on my way to work.

I still need to get breakfast out occasionally. When I do nowadays I get chicken biscuits from Chik-Fil-A but just eat the chicken (160 calories each) between whole-wheat bread that I bring with me. The biscuits are more calorie laden and arguably less heathy than the fried meat!

Please note that I'm not prescibing a particular set of foods to you, just illustating how radical of a lifestyle change one -- you -- can make.

October 19, 2005

Eat Right, Get Fit

Proper nutrition and fitness are essential for vibrant health, whether or not you are following the Promise Diet™.

But if you are, they are vital for your success, as any promise you make needs to be rooted in PUBIMO's U and I -- your promises must be informed and they must be uncontested.

Other posts on this website are going to detail many specifics, discuss the medical/scientific rationale for these guidelines, and introduce (interesting!) areas of current controversy/divergence, but here's a quick "short list" of dietary and exercise principles. If you're not currently doing these things, doing them will likely be beneficial to your health and wellness. (But always consult your doctor before making any changes in your diet or exercise, particularly if you have existing medical condiitions or are taking prescription medications.)

Eat Right

These are listed in no particular order. (And those familiar with it will see Walter Willett's Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy influence on me, in particular regarding the need for good fats.)

  • Eat lots of vegetables and fruit. (But white potatoes shouldn't be a staple, especially french-fried ones. :)
  • Eat whole grains instead of refined ones. That is, eat whole grain bread, slow cooked oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain noodles instead of white bread, white rice, instant oatmeal, and normal noodles
  • Eat beans/legumes and nuts
  • Eat leaner meat as opposed to super-fatty meat
  • Eat "good fats" such as olive oil and canola oil and the fat in wild salmon. Good fats are good for you
  • Avoid partionally hydrogenated oils found in margerine and many processed snack foods and pastries
  • Reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. (And "sugar" comes in many different forms)
  • Don't make deep-fried meats, potatoes, etc. a staple. (And if you're from the southern U.S., realize that "etc." includes many, many things you may currently enjoy :)

I like the way some people summarize a fair amount of this: Eat things that spoil, and eat them before they spoil.

Get Fit

(Or stay fit, as the case may be...)

  • Partake in regular cardiovascular activity -- get moving and get your heart pumping, daily or just about daily
  • Do resistance training, a.k.a. weight training, working each major muscle group two or three times a week
  • Do stretching in order to increase flexibility several times a week

Again, additional posts will go into much greater detail on all of these and will also discuss the "whys" along with the "whats". (Broccoli literally started tasting a lot better when I realized how good it was for my body.)

Thoughts?

October 26, 2005

My Journey to Eating Right

Growing up, the only thing I knew about nutrition was that there were four food groups: meat and eggs, milk and dairy, bread and cereals, and fruits and vegetables. (This knowledge had nothing to do with my food choices, or the food that was given me to eat.) And the stuff that leads to fitness, running around and the like, was fun, but I failed to grasp that it was beneficial to my body as well.

So, through my college years I was fat but fairly fit, and in both cases I was doing what I enjoyed. Then into my twenties I got busy and for the most part stopped the physical activities I had always enjoyed, and by the time I turned 30 I was hovering around my all-time high of 326 pounds.

In my twenties I also got married, and back in those days I thought my wife was a health food nut, talking about whole grains and brown rice and pestering me about how margarine and soft drinks were bad for me and the like. My basic response was a sighed "whatever", occasionally with rolled eyes. My underlying attitude was, "If this is true, then why am I only hearing it from you?"

Well. as my kids grew up a bit my wife started teaching them about how to eat right and that stuff like pop wasn't at all good for them. My daughter, age 5 at the time, started nagging me to not drink it. She obviously thought I was poisoning myself... (I can relate with parents whose kids try to get them to stop smoking.)

Well, I knew that the sugar in the Pepsi I drank wasn't good for me and I knew that I definitely drank too much pop. (I remember once in high school after an afternoon of basketball drinking a full 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke myself in one sitting!) I contemplated cutting back some, moderation and all that, but that just didn't work for me. Pop was too available and I enjoyed it too much. But my daughter persisted to pester me, and one day an idea began to form in my head that I should just quit the stuff cold turkey forevever....

French fries and fried potato chips were another fairly obvious unhealthy food vice at the daily quantities I was consuming then -- would anyone disagree with that?

So, my first promises didn't really result in me eating more healthful, but they did get rid of particular bad habits and began to give me confidence that I could promise away anything.

While I started making promises over a year before reading it, I credit Walter Willett's Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy (Free Press, 2002, 2005) as the book that finally convinced and motivated me to start truly eating right. My wife had read it and had been encouraging me to read it for quite some time. I finally started it and quickly got hooked, learning for the first time WHY veggies and whole grains are good for my body from a scientific/medical perspective, not just that they were. (Being somewhat of an intellectual, I needed the science to get me past what I had only considered wacko/fringe "thinking".)

So, I began trying new, healthier foods, and began to realize that many of them tasted pretty good, especially the way my wife prepared them. I became a regular reader of the World's Heatlhiest Foods website, quite literally reading what the website had to say about what I was eating while eating it for the first time. Did this make beans taste better, or did I really like beans after all but had never actually tried them before? Hard to say, but they sure tasted good...

My healthy food R'epertoire continued to grow to where whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and nuts are very much staples for me now. These days I grumble and groan at the lack of these foods at most restaurants, particularly fast-food places. (Why can't Taco Bell offer a whole-graim tortilla and McDonalds have whole-grain hamburger buns? And especially, why isn't Subway's "wheat" bread whole-wheat? I for one would pay a bit more for that option. Whole wheat tastes good!)

So now I'm the nut, and our family's outings to enjoy Golden Corral are an
opportunity for me to get extra veggies and my wife and the kids to let 'their hair down a bit' as they say. How's that for permanent lifestyle change and radical transformation!

Interestingly, though, the early days of my switch to healthier eating didn't contribute significantly to my weight loss, which didn't start in earnest until my "2500" promise. Once I made that promise I began losing about 2 pounds a week for many months.

November 02, 2005

I think I'm eating a lot compared to most dieters

Seems like so many diets recommend very restricted calorie counts -- 1200, 1400, even 1800.

I wonder what that does to dieters' long-term metabolism and I wonder how much muscle they're losing along with some fat. My understanding is that each of us should at least eat our's "basal metabolism" in calories every day, the amount of calories our bodies expend just to support basic living functions. (Here's a link to a calculator.)

Super-restricted-calorie diets aren't necessary, at least if your body reacts to calories like mine does. In particular:

  • I don't think I've eaten less than my basal metabolism in calories a single day during the past year and a half, the time of most of my weight loss (and likely not before either!) Even when I hit my goal weight of 185 my basal metabolism will be 1,908 calories. No need for me to ever eat any less than that I think. (Note that I'm a 6'1" middle-aged male, which allows me more calories than some of you get.)

  • I'm not sure that I've ever lost more than three pounds in a week -- definitely not more than five pounds in two weeks. This loss was gradual but it was steady.

  • I have had breakfast every day, typically at least 470 calories worth.

So, it's possible to have success without starving yourself, and perhaps it's long-term better to lose weight gradually and always eat at least your basal metabolism in calories every day. This also helps create long-term sustainable lifestyle change.

December 24, 2005

Reflections on 2200 vs. 2500 (or, How many calories should I eat?)

It's been about a month now since I switched from eating no more than 2500 calories a day to eating no more than 2200 calories a day. During this time I have also been fairly active, going to the Y (especially for lifting weights 3x/week, but also for some cardio on "off days") and playing sports, including fun weekly full-court basketball, which I hadn't been doing before. And I'm not eating sweets, as opposed to having had limited sweets in my 2500 days.

I've lost about one pound a week during this time -- a total of four pounds.

And I've been hungry many times, in particular I've gone to bed hungry many times, feeling that for the first time since I began all of this I've been on "a diet".

I'm really wondering what my weight loss would have been had I stayed with 2500 calories a day. The math of weight loss tells me that, since losing a pound of fat means a reduction/expenditure of an extra 3500 calories, my 300 calories/day reduction should translate into an extra 0.6 lb/week, or 2.5 pounds in four weeks. That said, I wouldn't have been surprised to lose four pounds in four weeks with 2500 calories/day plus the exercise I've been doing.

(Perhaps I've gained some muscle mass with the weight lifting I've been doing, which would affect these numbers some of course. I continue to get stronger as I continue to lift weights.)

In other words, I'm wondering if 2500/day was my personal "sweet spot" -- no hunger with fairly steady weight loss, especially with plenty of exercise. Perhaps 2200/day is too little for me, especially with the regular weight lifting I'm doing, causing me to be hungry often and causing my metabolism to slow down, thus causing my weight loss to in effect slow down as well, to what it would have been more or less had I stuck with 2500.

I'll stick with the promised 2200 and get down to 185 and then relax a bit. But I'm developing a hypothesis that many dieters, especially those who are exercising, aren't eating enough when they start eating 1800 calories/day or less (for males, I realize women's numbers are different). Perhaps maybe they'd be better off not cutting down quite so much, to instead find their own personal "sweet spot", a number definitely higher than their Basal Metabolism?

If you're going to make a promise to limit calories, be careful you don't promise too low!!

(Perhaps I should mention that I'm 37 years old, 6'1", currently weigh 201 pounds (BMI 26.5), and have pretty much been lifting weights for a year and a half (although I still have a lot of upper-body strength to build. :). Shorter, taller, stronger, weaker, older, younger, lighter, and/or heavier people (especially female) would have different caloric "sweet spots", and most likely these sweet spots would shift downward over time anyway as one loses weight.)




 

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If you are morbidly obese, this website could save your life. I've not completed my journey, but I've lost over 115 pounds so far, most of it since starting something I'm calling "The Promise Diet." You can too, one promise at a time."




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Reflections on 2200 vs. 2500 (or, How many calories should I eat?)

I think I'm eating a lot compared to most dieters

My Journey to Eating Right

Eat Right, Get Fit

What I enjoy for breakfast, ideally every day


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