Diets come in all sizes and flavors and all tend to rely on the formula of less calories, despite their claims to the contrary. The Peanut butter diet is low calorie with some peanut butter at every meal. The Cabbage Soup diet is unlimited amounts of cabbage soup but how much cabbage soup can you really have before you’re sick of it, meaning you’ll eat less calories? The Atkins Diet, SouthBeach diet even Weight Watchers all are based on the idea that you’ll consume less calories than your body requires, hence you’ll lose weight. No one at Atkins estimated people would eat two pounds of cheese and a pound of bacon every day, yet some people do just that and then are alarmed when their weight loss stalls.
My present diet includes a small piece of chocolate cake and a quarter pint of Haagen Daz most every night
You can design a diet around any food you want. Like cheesecake? How about the Cheesecake Diet, three very low calorie meals a day plus a tiny sliver of cheesecake equals the Cheesecake Diet. Love french fries? Here’s the French Fry Diet: Eat three very low calorie meals a day, with a small order of fries to go, and you’ve got The French Fries Diet. The chosen focus food is whatever the diet developer wanted, in a scaled back portion so as to provide the common suggested amounts of from 1200 to 1600 calories a day. The fewer calories you have, the faster the initial weight loss; at least that is the expected outcome. Remember the liquid protein fasts (Oprah used this the first time she reached size 10)? Liquid Protein Fasts were once very popular until a few people died, and that put a damper on them in a hurry.
The sad truth is we want to believe the lies of the diet purveyors so badly we’ll try anything which is why the diet industry is a multi billion dollar industry. If these diets worked such as The Zone, the Perricone Prescription, Life Choice (opposite of Atkins), the Negative Calorie Diet, etc. wouldn’t we slowly see the obesity rates fall, instead of watching them continue to rise?
Design Your Own Diet
A more reasonable approach of choosing foods you love, estimating how many calories would be reasonable for your body size and designed body weight, and then getting started is usually greeted with sneers and jeers. I’ve heard, “2,000 calories a day? I’ll blow up like a balloon!” No you won’t. You’ll lose weight, although slower than the other more drastic diets, wouldn’t you prefer to lose it permanently this time?
How can you lose weight eating 2,000 calories a day? Think about it. The typical adult female eats about 3,500 calories a day, whether you believe it or not. Our typical lady, Carol, eats at McDonalds every day for lunch, grabs a StarBucks Latte every morning on the way to work, drinks four cups of coffee with cream during the day, pops two donuts at breaks, and stops for take-out chicken for dinner. She “treats” herself to ice cream and half a package of Oreo’s for dessert. Let’s see how many calories that might be:
Typical Adult American Meal Plan:
Breakfast: Skipped, we’re watching our figure
Snack: StarBucks on way to work; Caffe Mocha with whole milk and whipped cream, venti (20 Oz) = 530 calories
Total Morning: 530
Lunch: McDonald’s Big-n-Tasty with Cheese; 540 calories Super Sized Fries 610 calories Super Sized Coke (20 Oz) 250 calories Apple Pie – 265 calories
Total Lunch: 1665
Snack: Sugar free gum – 0
Daytime: 4 Cups Coffee with half-n-half – 160 calories (from the half-n-half)
Break: Donuts – glazed, two Krispy Kreme – 424
Snacks & Breaks: 512
Dinner: Kentucky Fried Chicken Dinner
3-piece meal: Extra Crispy Drumstick, two Extra Crispy Thighs, Potato Wedges and Biscuit: 1,420 calories
Large Soft Drink (20 Oz): 250 calories
Small Dish Ice Cream (1 Cup): 260 calories
Total Dinner: 1930
Evening Watching TV:
Oreos – 10 cookies (about 1/3 a package): 530 calories
Evening Snacks: 530
Grand Total: 5,167
You may think that’s ridiculous but I think it’s conservative. You maybe wouldn’t have had exactly this menu but the point is we’re eating far more calories than we realize.
If you cut back to 2,000 calories a day, you’d be eating far fewer calories and you’d likely lose a pound a week or more. If you don’t think that’s fast enough you’re probably going to remain overweight. Your body cannot add or subtract muscle and fat any faster. Faster weight loss is water loss and comes back as soon as you resume eating regular foods. Remember, losing it slowly, means losing it permanently. The mathematics are not precise. I lost 80 pounds in nine months which was actually 2.07 pounds per week.
Would You Be Happy if This Time Next Year You Were at Your Goal Weight?
If at the end of a year you’d taken off 100 pounds (or however much you needed to lose if less than 100 pounds), wouldn’t you be happy? The more weight you need to lose, the faster it comes off initially. It’s not what the scale says that matters though. What matters is do you feel better? Are you able to bend lower and even reach your toes perhaps? Can you get up from a sitting position easier? Is walking more pleasant, are your clothes feeling looser? These are the things that matter. Is your blood pressure back to normal?
Track what you eat for one week, meaning what you really eat. Don’t make an effort to eat better or less. That isn’t helpful for this exercise. You want to catch yourself being yourself. Get it down on paper, what you really eat on a regular basis. If you eat out you’re likely eating far more calories than you realize. We all wonder how it is we can’t lose weight, then we drink a 600 calorie coffee drink! Think about it.
Once you have your weekly eating routine on paper, you can take a look to see what changes you could make. For instance, by switching from a Caffe Mocha to a Caffe Latte two days a week you’d save 540 calories right there. Once you’re used to that change take it a step further and switch to a Caffe Latte every day and now you’re saving 1960 calories a week. One step further and switch to a Skinny Latte (non-fat milk instead of whole milk) and you save another 100 calories every day, meaning you’ve gone from an additional 3780 calories a week from your morning Starbucks to just 1120 calories a week, or a calorie savings of 2660. This is how you can keep your Starbucks habit, but make a small change and suddenly you’re not adding to the problem but you’re well on your way to losing that pound a week. The less fancy drink costs less too so you can put that money toward the new clothes you’ll be wanting soon.
Track Your Eating and You’ll Get a Better Idea of What’s Going on
For the next seven days write down everything you put in your mouth and start to get your eating patterns into view. I use a simple software program called the Food & Exercise Diary for Windows. Making an effort to write down my eating helps keep me on track, plus what I’ve eaten and how much I’ve exercised six months ago is still at my fingertips. That’s especially handy when you develop a routine that works for you because you can always go back and see what you did differently, if you catch yourself regaining weight a year later.
One of the best things I ever did was track my weight workouts and eating habits when I got in shape so many years ago. Now, to reproduce the results I can go back and see what I did before and do basically the same thing again. Learn from your successes, keep a journal. Then, don’t make the mistake of cutting back too severely because it’s simply not necessary. Just cut back around 500 calories a day and you’re on your way with much less trauma in the process.