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NIRERIN Posts: 14,297
8/26/13 4:33 P

if you enjoy variety then give yourself options. instead of having one 200 cal breakfast as your go to option, make a list of at least four things that are about the same cals and pick something from that list. do the same for lunches and dinners and snacks. so your snack list might be: medium apple with a Tablespoon of nut butter, 2 Tablespoon hummus with 3oz carrots and 3 oz celery, half an ounce of cheese and half a cup of grapes, a cup of vegetable soup and 1/3 serving crackers, half a cup of zucchini with beans, corn, and salsa. and all of those are about 150 cals.
and you plan to fail. and by that i mean that you know at some point that you're not going to cook or that you're going to get busy and it s not going to happen the way you wanted. so you plan for it. if most of your dinners are around a certain number of calories, make sure you have options. and by that i mean think of the first five fast food places off hand that you think of. head to their websites and find several options at each place that's about the calories you need it to be for each meal you'd think to go there for. write down each option [or make it a document and print it out, whatever] and keep a copy in your wallet. if you like the option, mark it. if you dislike the option when you get around to having it, mark it off and make a note to try and find another option. if you also cook just a little more in bulk, you can reserve a portion to freeze like a tv dinner, so that all you need to do is grab, reheat and eat.
for snacks, i always have something with me. i always make sure i have at least three things like granola bars, crackers, nut mixes, fruits or some other shelf stable things on hand. i keep a bag in my car with snacks. i keep my desk drawer loaded up with these snacks. and when i need to use one, i make a mental note to refill my stash. i try to keep enough for a week of emergencies in my stashes, but that's because i tend to forget to refill as often as i should so keeping more than i need means i always have what i need on hand.
for things like exercise, i block out options of time. so if i don't make my sunday, i know i need to get up early on monday to work out. if i miss my tuesday, that means it gets pushed to wednesday. if i skip thursday, that means i move it to friday.
and if you're really having a hard time getting workouts in, you either need to make them a higher priority item or find another time entirely to do them. i hate, hate hate, hate getting up in the morning. but if i get up and run first thing, it means that my evening social life can continue as it was. so as much as i don't like actually getting up, actually getting up and doing it means that the rest gets to stay the same so it's the place where i found balance.
you eat them or you toss them. if you have a lot of things going bad at once, you need to spend more time planning meals [or rather look in your fridge to see if you actually need to make food or just have a leftovers/clean out the fridge night instead of cooking] so that you're using up what you have instead of letting it go bad.
if a food is too high calorie, i eat less of it to get it to where it should be. i'll use chinese food. most dishes are about 2000 cals, though that is partly because it's 4-5 servings of food. the 2000 cals is what i eat in a day. so i space it out like it's five meals. which means i'm only using 400 cals of the chinese food a day over the course of five days. when i reheat the second day i tend to start by cooking up veggies i have on hand, then adding the 400 cals of chinese to it so that i am looking at a 500 cal meal that uses up leftover chinese and vegetables that needed to be used up as well. if i have 1000 cals of leftover pizza in the fridge, i might have 300 cals of pizza and a big salad.
if you're eating 1.3 cups instead of 1 cup the best thing you can do is actually measure and then you'll just be eating the 1 cup you intended to.
i also use the dish as my guide. i regularly use my pyrex bowls to eat out of. they have a decorative squiggle around the rim. if i fill the bowl to the bottommost point of the squiggle, that's the one cup mark. if i fill the bowl to the top of topmost squiggle, that's 1.5 cups. the whole bowl is a 2 cup bowl. if i make a casserole, my 9x9 pan yields 9 servings and my 9x13 pan makes 12. it's not as exact as measuring out how many cups my 9x13 pan yields, but it's pretty easy to make six fairly even lines and call it good.
i don't eat out often, but i guesstimate as closely as possible to what i had.
i hate celery. i will keep trying things i don't like because i am far too picky of an eater, but if all i have to look forward to is things that i don't like i'll reach a point fairly quickly where i will just give up. i'd rather teach myself to make the foods i love at every calorie level from 1000 in a serving down to 100 in a serving. i figure the more ways i know how to have a food, the more likely i am to be able to end up in the range i want to be in. as a bonus, playing around with the recipes means that i learn what the highest calorie items are in the foods i love, which means i learn which foods i should go a little lighter on and which ones are okay to go a little heavier on. i love mac and cheese. but when i make mac now, half of the bulk of it tends to be zucchini or some other vegetable. i still get the sauce i love with the pasta i love, just with a little less pasta and a little more vegetable. so my blue box no longer makes 2.5 cups total, it makes five cups total. so that means when i eat a cup of the mix, it's not the 210 prepared per cup, it's 105 cals for the half that's from the box and and a half cup of zucchini that is only 10-20 cals.
for the short term you do need to dedicate time to measuring and learning about what you are eating. and while you're at the nose to the grindstone phase, you don't think about how long it's going to take you. you just sit and do what you need to do now. it's how you learn any skill. if you just sat down with knitting needles one day and tried to will yourself to learn to knit and then spent a lot of time thinking about how long it was going to take do you think you would end up learning to knit? no. you focus on what you can do today and focus on doing it. what you have to do today may or may not be what you need to do long term, but overwhelming yourself with the big picture just isn't going to get you anywhere. focus on what you can do today and what you did today that was better than yesterday and don't even think about the long term. find what works for you now and once you have that down then you look up and start to see where you can go from here.
as far as meat snacks, they make little cracker and tuna packs. they make jerky. they even make vegan jerky. hard boiled eggs are at least as easy to tote around or as available as yogurt in the grocery store. i would probably be able to offer a lot more suggestions if i ate meat.
and i will say that i am snacker. and what works for me isn't cutting out the snacks, but cutting out the meals. i am really happiest just nibbling my way through the day. so i eat about eight times, about 200 cals a time. it might not work for everyone, but i have gotten quite good at portioning out about 200 cals of food and i just have to make sure that i eat about eight times, doubling up on one or two if i need more cals. i didn't just decide to do it and that was it, i worked around what i did and just kept making little tweaks and adjusting til i got to the point that i was doing everything i needed to be, i just didn't have to hyperfocus to do it.

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
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8/26/13 3:38 P

great ideas!

LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
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8/26/13 2:16 P

Well I have snacks stashed practically everywhere. There's protein bars in my car, instant soups/trail mix/cheese sticks at work, and I always have bananas, yogurt or hard boiled eggs around at home. The trick for me is to always have relatively healthy, shelf-stable snacks everywhere. So just think about the snacks you like that don't require a fridge and just keep them around at all times. I also have a pack of gum in my purse so in case I get hungry and can't access one of my snack stashes, I can chew on that and keep myself distracted until I can get something healthy.

As for dinner, I always have canned tuna around and half a can of tuna plus a bit of pesto and some roasted red pepper is not a terrible emergency dinner. It also helps that I'm only taking care of myself most of the time so no body to please except me.

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
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8/26/13 1:11 P

Lec -- I think I need a list or collection of go-to options for late nights, surprises, etc. so I don't get derailed. Where might I find such a thing?

LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
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8/26/13 1:03 P

My schedule changed fairly frequently too (usually around cycles at work) but I can usually see it coming so I have time to plan my life around my new schedule. Since you said you do a lot of theater work, would it make sense to re-plan your schedule each time your rehearsal schedule changes?

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
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8/26/13 12:50 P

I dunno about that habit-forming thing...

I find I can do something regularly for three or four weeks, or three or four months... and then something changes in my routine and pop! the habit disappears. That's the case for good habits (using the treadmill for 15 minute intervals 3 times a day) or bad habits (eating three Dove Promises every evening). I'm not doing either one right now.

The baby steps are easy, but don't seem to provide much outcome... the big steps are unmaintainable.... so am seeking some in-between steps that could provide outcomes AND be maintainable!

ONLINEASLLOU SparkPoints: (73,365)
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8/26/13 12:00 P

The "moderate" approach never worked for me, either. I had to get serious to lose weight and get healthier. To lose weight, I need to eat less that 1400 calories per day. I aim for 1200-1300.

Changing your long-standing behavioral patterns is difficult, but it can be done. It's about changing your habitual behavior. It's about replacing old habits with new habits. Research shows it takes about 1 month of doing a behavior regularly for that behavior to become a habit.

Take baby-steps if necessary, but commit to reducing the unnecessary calories and increasing your exercise. Aim for the low end of your recommended calorie range. Dilute your juice and/or use one of the "light" juice products out there. Cut back on the rice, bread, potatoes, pasta, etc. Get to the low end of your range consistently and the weight should start to come off. Focus on the BEHAVIORS / HABITS that give you more calories than you need. Focus on changing those behaviors/habits and less on the scale for a while. As you change those behaviors and eat less calories ... the weight loss will follow.

As for exercise, be firm with yourself. Commit to a realistic amount of minutes per week. If 8 AM is the best time for you ... then commit to exercising at 8 AM -- at home if necessary. Once you establish the HABIT of exercising regulary, it will get easier and you can increase it gradually over time. Me? I started with committing to 10 minutes per day, 3 days per week. that was 6 years ago. Now I commit to at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week -- but usually actually do a little more than that. It has now become a habit and it would feel "strange" to not do it regularly.

Remember: It's a lot easier to maintain a habit that it is to break a habit. So focus on establishing healthy habits ... and the rest will follow automatically.

Edited by: ONLINEASLLOU at: 8/26/2013 (12:01)
BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
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8/26/13 11:04 A

thanks so much! most of the time, I breakfast on either a slice of toast and cheese or greek yogurt/fruit/granola; 1/2 cup of juice (to take my calcium/vitamin D); 1/4 cup of whole milk (my coffee compromise, instead of half and half!). I could certainly cut out the 1/2 cup of oj, though I really do like it ... is it important?

I have quite a few tracked recipes, and do often prepare them -- but haven't quite figured out how to freeze and thaw recipes with a smaller freezer... especially since I'm told not to microwave plastics?? how do people manage to do that? My kids NEVER eat my recipes, as they MUCH prefer bland, simple foods (baked breaded chicken, burgers, etc.) which I really don't enjoy. I cook with/for them occasionally, but -- their ideal meal is plain steak, canned corn, and steamed broccoli, while mine is spicy paella!

Re getting up earlier, I get up at 6:15; my son is off to school at 7:15; my daughter is off to school at 7:45. So I barely have time to take a shower and get dressed. My best option, really, is to find a gym that offers classes I can can take at 8:00 (right after my daughter goes to school), as evenings are VERY full with homework, dinner, and rehearsals most nights (which means I'm rarely in bed before 10:30, so that getting up at 5:00 would mean too little sleep, which works poorly for me). I only watch TV about 3-4 hours per week, so cutting down on that would mean NO TV, which is not really ideal -- as I'd be completely out of touch with the world.

I used Spark to get a goal and calorie range, but as I've not lost any weight I've pretty much ignored the goal. I gain a pound, lose a pound, gain a pound, lose a pound... but it's not even worth tracking the weight. I just track the food and the exercise.

DMJAKES Posts: 1,635
8/26/13 10:46 A

Bithoo - you packed a lot into that post, but here goes.....

I took a peek at your tracker, and I do have a suggestion for your breakfast choices. I'd say drop the juices and eat a whole piece of fruit, or even better substitute some protein. It can be as simple as a hard-boiled egg or a piece of whole grain toast smeared with a little peanut butter. That will give your body something substantial to "chew on" first thing in the morning. What you're eating might be making you bottom out later in the day.

If you're that busy, you need to make planning a HIGH priority. Do your shopping thoughtfully, purchasing some easy grab and go type foods, plus some make ahead meals that you can either freeze or store in the fridge for a few days' worth. If you have a crock pot, use it. There are hundreds of great recipes that require a handful of ingredients, and it's easy to either cut or expand the quantity to fit your family or accommodate leftovers. Get the family involved---if the kids are old enough, teach them the basics.

For the tracking---if it's a recipe you use often, enter it in Spark. If you're eating out, many restaurants have their nutrition info online, so pull from there (spark members enter them a lot, so a search might bring it up). As a last resort, just give it your best guess and let it go at that. I NEVER eat anything just because it would be easy to track, but I do try to make the best choice(s) available at that moment.

Exercise - you will have to MAKE the time. Can you get up earlier and squeeze in a half hour? Can you cut out some TV or computer time? Can the kids take over a chore or two to free some time for you? I look at exercise as my ME time and it gets scheduled just like any other obligation or appointment. As parents, we do have to be flexible, but that goes both ways. If the family knows it's important to you, they can learn to be more accommodating.

Have you entered your info into spark and let it compute a calorie range for you? Are your goal date and your goal weight reasonable and achievable? If you have 20 pounds or less to lose, patience and consistency is going to pay off.

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
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8/26/13 10:25 A

Susan: I'm at 163 pounds, and "normal" weight for my height is 149. I'm fine with being somewhere between 145 and 149, if I can maintain it -- and am not worried about being 130, as it isn't really realistic for me. The problem is, I never had a problem dropping 10-15 pounds until recently; now, it's a huge struggle. WW doesn't nothing; regular exercise and moderate intake with tracking does nothing; detox allows me to drop 3-4 pounds that pop right back on.

I assume that the problems are 1. menopause; 2. too little exercise or too moderate exercise; 3. lax tracking of precise portions; 4. unwillingness to say no to a potluck menu; 5. a very inconsistent schedule.

I don't WANT to live like a diet freak, but can't figure out how else to stop weight creep and maintain a healthy lifestyle?? Would be delighted to say "yes" to suggestions, but have found that the usual moderate options (park farther from your goal, use the stairs, take a walk, choose carrots or grapes over chips, etc.) are absolutely ineffective for me.

At the very least, I guess I want to find out what it would REALLY take to lose weight at this point in my life, as I have tried every obvious, moderate option. If it turns out I have to be a food and exercise Nazi, I may decide that I'm happy being plump!

SUSAN_FOSTER Posts: 1,229
8/26/13 10:16 A

Do you really only have 16 pounds to lose? Are your expectations for weight loss reasonable?

Don't do anything to lose weight that you can't maintain for the rest of your life. I know you don't seem to be approaching this from an extreme weight loss method, but the same point applies.

Some specifics for your questions:

* If you don't like celery (or fill in food of choice), don't eat it. Most of the time the food that you are not wanting to eat is some form of vegetable that you "should" eat. Don't. You can find the same nutrition in other vegetables that you will probably like more.

* For recipes, don't go by the cup, but by the portion. Put the recipe into and estimate how many servings you expect to get out of it. Then serve yourself a serving and count.

* There are many approaches to going out:
** Eat what you like and treat it as a blip. The part to be careful of here is recognizing when you are eating because you are still hungry vs. eating because it is there.
** Choose a lighter option.
** Choose what you want and immediately save some for leftovers or to toss.

Basically you don't want to torture yourself to lose, because what happens when you get the weight off?

RLEEGIRL Posts: 530
8/26/13 9:58 A

Keep a good attitude you can do it day at a time...

BITHOO SparkPoints: (12,355)
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8/26/13 9:54 A

For years, I've tried "moderate" approaches to weight loss, with no results. I'm now at my highest weight ever (by a pound, so not horribly), but it is clear that eating lots of fruits and veggies, avoiding soda and sweets, and exercising moderately, is not gonna do it. I need to eat a really low calorie menu (1400 or under) most days, exercise more intensively and regularly, plan each day and FOLLOW the plan, and so forth.

Not sure how best to do this.

I am used to having a pretty loose plan, as i enjoy variety, but wonder if I'm better off eating the same foods every day? I would get bored, but at least I'd (hopefully) lose a little weight... are plans available on this site that could actually be followed by a busy mom?

Or is there a good way to plan a wide range of 1400 or under days with a family?

How do you manage when life throws curve balls and you don't have time to cook the meal you planned or you're starving at a time when you hadn't planned a snack?

How do you exercise on days when the class or activity you'd plan becomes impossible because of an unforeseen business or personal emergency? (I'm self-employed and busy with theater and music, so this does happen fairly frequently)

how do you manage leftovers that need to be eaten or tossed? Do you actually throw out good food if it doesn't fit your calorie count?

do you eat a lot of processed foods (deli meats, soups, etc.) in order to be absolutely certain about the calorie count? or only choose single item foods like "a medium apple" as opposed to a recipe based food where you might eat 1.3 cups instead of 1 cup and not realize it?

when you make a recipe, do you actually measure the number of cups in the final product in order to establish a "serving?"

when you eat out, do you choose only the most basic foods (a steak, plain chicken) in order to establish calorie counts? Or do you choose an interesting dish you actively WANT within reason (glazed salmon as opposed to plain salmon) -- and if you do, how do figure out calorie count?

do you choose foods you dislike (celery, for instance) over foods you do like in order to keep calories low? if so, how do you keep yourself from feeling like you're ready to scream from frustration and hunger?

how do you feel like you're not dedicating your every waking minute to NOT eating, envision doing that forever, and feel okay about it?

If you look at my food tracker, you'll see I am pretty good about sticking with a calorie count (though mine's too high), but rotten about consistent meals (often snacks instead of meals, for instance) and I have a tough time with protein (hard to "snack" on 3 oz of lean meat, and hummus/yogurt/nuts just don't seem to be enough). I know I can cut back on crackers, wine, and too much fruit, and add more veg and protein -- but am not sure quite how to do that.

You'll also see quite a few gaps from when I went on vacation and ate more or less what I wanted within reason (frozen yogurt, not ice cream; omelette, not pancakes) but almost certainly went well over my calorie count. I don't think that's likely to change, as I am NOT going to make dieting the focus of my vacations!

I obviously need to get a LOT more organized and a LOT more consistent!!

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