The Un-Diet that Helped Me Get Healthy

I was 44 when I found myself in a neuro-oncology unit unable to walk or stand and seeing the world in double.

After dozens of blood draws, CT scans, MRIs, x-rays, neurological evaluations, and a spinal tap thrown in for fun, the numerous doctors consulting on my case still couldn’t determine what was wrong with me. But after several weeks and lots of IV steroids, they sent me home.

Shortly after I was released, I determined to try to do what I could to improve my health. My first priority was to lose weight. I was 5’8″ and weighed at 245 pounds and hoped that among other things, weight loss would positively affect my newly-diagnosed diabetes.

I’d dieted most of my life and thought foods were “good” or “bad.”

Dieting was about deprivation. If I ate a bite of cake or a cookie, I immediately felt like a failure. As a child, my father had shamed me for my weight. I don’t think he did it to be mean. My father’s weight never fluctuated more than 5 pounds over his entire life. He was an engineer, and the world was black and white. I think he intended to motivate me, but his harsh words harsh haunted me for decades.

I created a simple plan.

  • Eat more of the healthy foods I loved.
  • Eat fewer calorie-laden foods.
  • Find lower-calorie substitutes for high calorie foods.
  • Reduce portions. I could eat all of it, but I couldn’t eat it all at once. (I began asking for only half of a restaurant meal to be brought to the table and the other half to be boxed up for me to take home.)
  • Become more active.
  • Eat and enjoy what I liked.

My plan was sensible and simple. It focused on foods I liked and wasn’t a “diet.” It was a plan I could live with for life.

I joined Curves with my daughter. We met in the morning and chatted our way through our exercise. It was such fun being with her that I loved to go. Slowly, over the course of about two years, I lost 75 pounds. I’ve kept the weight off for over fifteen years.

At no point did I feel like I was on a “diet.”

I eat everything and anything. I simply eat more of some things than others. I’ve made sure I eat my favorite healthy foods regularly: chicken, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, oatmeal, sugar-free popsicles, Special K Protein Flakes (I LOVE this cereal!), mini carrots, apples, fresh asparagus, broccoli, green beans, and more.

On occasion I split a nutty donut with a friend or indulge in Sonic onion rings. I also love all things bread. I eat pizza, cookies, and Culver’s frozen custard—but not very often and not in large amounts. But I don’t need to any more. Small, occasional treats satisfy me.

As my eating changed, my appetite and palate shifted.

I seldom eat french fries anymore because I don’t enjoy them as much.

This way of eating works for me. It allows me to eat sensibly and follow diabetic guidelines.

Looking at Scripture, we find many references to food. Jesus is the bread of life. Biblical celebrations are marked by feasting, and Bible passages often cite the fatty portions of meat as the most choice. Many of Jesus’s most memorable sermons and interactions involve food and beverage. Food is typically portrayed as celebratory.

God gives food to us as a gift, and we are to enjoy it while using it wisely.

My body is healthier at my current weight, although I am still pushing toward a goal to lose another ten pounds.1 Corinthians 10:31 tell us “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This includes trying to maintain a healthy diet and weight, drink water, and walk on our treadmill five times a week for therapy. For the Christian, stewardship is a matter of all we have and all we are, which includes stewardship of our bodies.

My plan consisted of simple steps, but discipline and routine are important to me. More importantly, they work for me and keep me moving forward.

 

What about you? What methods have you used to control your weight? I’d love to hear from you.

My Life: How I Dropped Seventy Pounds Eating What I Love

weight-loss

Shortly after my boxing match with my brain lesion in 1999, I decided to take on the weight problem I’d struggled with all my life.

I was forty-four years old, and I’d tried every passing diet plan, including Weight Watchers (which I think is wonderful). This time I devised a plan of my own. It had three rules:

            Eat what you really like.

            Eat more “healthy” food.

            Eat less food that isn’t quite as “healthy.”

 

So I made a list of the “healthy” foods that I really liked and put together a skeleton menu of things I thought were yummy and were also healthier for me.

            blueberries                               90 calories per cup

            strawberries                            49 calories per cup

blackberries                           62 calories per cup
(are you catching a theme here?)

            clementines and oranges

            cauliflower mash                    30 calories per cup

                        (made with butter flavoring and a clove of garlic)

            fresh green beans

            steamed broccoli

            baked fish in various forms

            lean pork and beef

            salads with mixed greens, veggies, and vinaigrette dressings

            various snacks that I kept stocked in my cupboards

I refused to look at food in the categories of “good” and “bad.” When I look at the scope of Scripture, I see a God who endorses feasts, fat, and food with friends. Enjoying the pleasures of food without abusing it marks God’s story, from Genesis in the garden to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.

Over the course of several years, I slowly lost about seventy pounds. I’ve managed to keep off my weight by living by my three rules.

I’m diabetic, and I travel a lot, so I’m always toting foods along with me. Here’s a list of a few of my “must-have” snacks and healthy foods:

1.     blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries

2.     clementines

3.     small to medium apple (55 calories)

4.     Aldi’s CinnaSwirls (100 calories)

5.     Aldi’s cherry Greek yogurt bars (80 calories)

6.     Special K Sweet and Salty Popcorn Chips (120 calories). Wonderful!

7.     Gordon’s Garlic and Herb Grilled Tilapia (80 calories/fillet—I eat 2)

8.     Fiber One 90 calorie Coffee Cake

9.     Dannon Lite and Fit Greek Yogurt (80 calories and 2xprotein)

10.water

I’ll be sharing a few simple recipes and more snacking ideas soon. Be sure to check back. And let us know what you’re doing to eat healthy and stay fit.

Monday Munchies: Travel Tips and Road Snacks

Berries

About ten years ago, I lost over 50 pounds eating food I loved. How did I do it? By eating healthy versions of things I loved, cutting my portions, and refusing to “diet.”

One of my biggest challenges, however, is eating healthy when I travel—which is often. So I’ve decided to share my top five “tried-and-true” tips and also a few new travel snack ideas.

  1. Go for the protein. My friend Wanda and I often travel together, and we’re both diabetics. It’s important for us to keep protein snacks on hand. Our favorites: raw almonds, light string cheese, Jif-to-Go, instant oatmeal, Laughing Cow Cheese, and Special K Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Meal Bars (180 calories, 25 g carb). We often hard boil eggs when we know we’re staying at a hotel that offers a continental breakfast. And we choose healthier versions of nuts and pre-package them in calorie-conscious portions. And when we have a frig at our disposal, we love diving into low-fat cottage cheese topped with natural applesauce, cinnamon, and Splenda.
  2. Eat fresh. Our favorite fruits and vegetables mini carrots, bananas, Fuji apples (don’t bruise easily), Cuties, and berries. Once we settle into a hotel, we shop for fresh produce, even if it means paying a bit more. I can almost always pull a piece of fruit out of my purse, which actually can be kind of scary at times…
  3. Eat what you like, but share it. I have to say that I love the shrimp with candied walnuts at P.F. Chang’s. But if I’m honest, half an entrée does me fine. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that I’m usually full at half a meal and stuffed after a full meal. Considering sharing your meal or asking your server to box up half of it before it comes to the table.
  4. Choose wisely. The following fast food restaurants offer healthy choices: Subway, Taco Bell (bean burrito or the “Fresco” menu), Au Bon Pain (80 calorie garden soup and customizable sandwiches), Culver’s (soups and salads), Wendy’s small chili (210 calories). When choosing salads, remember to dip your greens in the dressing, rather than pouring the dressing onto the salad. I also recommend taking along The Calorie King Calorie, Fat & Carb Counter. This travel-sized book is updated every year with nutrition content for both fresh and fast foods from your favorite restaurants.
  5. Remember the 100. I happen to love the convenience of 100 calorie snacks. One of my new favorite is the 100 calorie Nutty Bar. But I’m also cheap. So before a trip, I pre-package some of my favorite treats in snack-size zip-lock bags and tuck them into the corners of my suitcase and travel bags. Just read the packaging to figure out the appropriate 100-calorie serving size to slip into the bag.

What about YOUR ideas? We’d love to hear from you.