Let me start by saying that I am NOT a nutritionist. I am NOT a personal trainer. I formulated this plan based on intensive research into existing plans and what I thought I could do. You should not do this if you have any health problems, if you haven't seen your doctor, or if you are looking at this as a long term solution. This is the plan that I am following to jump start my weight loss. Seriously, I'm just telling you what is working for me -- I made up this "diet" to fit my goals.
Over the past 18 months or so, I have resorted to my old slovenly ways of vegging out in front of the TV with my laptop, eating junk food, Facebooking, and just being a general couch potato. It has been awesome. At least is was, until I realized that my preferred wardrobe of yoga pants and t-shirts were the only things that still fit me.
I have turned 'lazy' into an art form. I only exerted enough energy to do the minimum -- move from the bed to the couch, stand to make dinner, go outside to get the mail or to walk to the car, clean a bathroom or do some laundry. I was practically immobile.
A couple of weeks ago, I got on the scale and I was mortified at the number that popped up. I stood in my bathroom, where one whole wall is a mirror, looked at my naked body and I was disgusted with myself. My husband felt the same way about his body and the number that the scale told him. So I began researching. My husband really wanted to do Nutrisystem. A guy at his plant lost over 100 pounds on Nutrisystem and kept it off for more than a year. I was intrigued, so I started researching.
Nutrisystem's plan was fairly simple -- high protein, low carb, low calorie and they sent you all of your meals that you supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables. It was nutritionally sound. It sounded super easy to follow. But it was expensive. REALLY expensive. For my husband and I to both do their plan, it would cost over $500 a month -- and that was on "automatic re-order" where they took the money out of our account and sent the food every month. This was a problem. I don't know about everyone else, but for us, since we don't do credit cards, this money would come straight out of our checking account. We NEVER have an extra $500 in our account, and definitely not for them to withdraw at their convenience. And if we did the same plan, month to month, it was $400 EACH.
So Nutrisystem was out of the question, regardless of how awesome their plan was.
But, I thought about it, and I KNEW what the Nutrisystem plan basically was. I did not know the specific nutritional information on their meals, but an exhaustive Google search revealed some guidelines. I was going to do a "Do-it-Yourself Nutrisystem Type Plan." This is what it boils down to:
2 Protein shakes (or bars) -- 200 calories or less, 6 grams of fat or less, 10 grams of protein or more
2 Frozen meals -- 300 calories or less, 9 grams of fat or less, 10 grams of protein or more
4-5 servings of fresh or frozen vegetables (in addition to what is in the frozen meals)
1-2 servings of fresh fruits
Minimal, low-fat, condiments
Plenty of water (64-80 ounces a day)
**I upped the limits on the frozen meal's calories for my husband and gave him an extra protein shake a day -- he's a man, he out-weighs me by at least 50 pounds, and if he got too hungry, he'd quit.
The beauty of this was that I had no "brand" limitations. I bought what was on sale. I bought some Special K shakes and bars, some Slim-fast shakes, and some Atkins shakes (different sales at different stores). I also found some protein powder on sale that I could put with these great Yoplait Smoothies that I already had -- that would raise the protein level without raising the calories above the accepted level and these smoothies count as a shake and a fruit. I went to the frozen food section and found that these guidelines are super easy to follow. I also bought what was on sale -- Weight Watcher meals, Healthy Choice meals, and Lean Cuisine meals -- it didn't matter as long as they were things that we would eat and stayed within the guidelines. (I also took note of the sodium content -- salt is necessary for frozen foods, but too much of it can cause you to retain water and derail your weight loss.) Then I got some fresh spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, apples, oranges, bananas, etc. I also bought some raw almonds. Almonds are high in protein and are an awesome way to curb cravings with just a few nuts.
So, if I had done the Nutrisystem plan on the auto order system, it would have come out to roughly $120 a week for my husband and I. My DIY version was less than $100 per week and I had the freedom to choose what I wanted week to week and did not have to worry about the money all being in the account.
But I was still skeptical.
What if my info was off?? Just because I found it on the Internet didn't mean it was true. A lot of this was in the timing of the meals -- so I started the day by using the pre-made protein shakes as creamer in my coffee -- eliminating the need for additional milk or sweeteners and eating a piece of fruit. Then, around 11:00 we'd eat a salad (at least 2 cups of lettuce, and we added a boiled egg to it -- not originally on the plan, FYI). The husband went to bed shortly after (because he works nights) and I would have another shake and a fruit a couple of hours later. When I went to get the kids from school, I'd have a frozen meal. When I made the kids dinner, I'd make mine, usually with a salad or some broccoli, or whatever. It was working. We were eating when we were hungry and for the first time since either of us could remember, we heard our stomachs growl.
We also needed to up our activity. We have put a hold on our gym membership because we weren't using it and it was expensive. We decided to give this new plan a go without the gym. If we had success without the gym, then when we plateaued, we'd have something new to add to switch things up. So, I set up an exercise plan that I could do at home. This is basically it:
Wear ankle weights all day, everyday. This is a little thing, but it will make every step you take help to tone your legs, butt, and core.
2 Days a Week
-- 20-25 minutes (or more if you have time or have the stamina) of marching in place, stepping up and down off of a step-bench, briskly walking around the block, etc.
-- Crunches. I try to do 100, but that's me.
-- Free weights. I am not trying to bulk up, and I only own 5 pound dumbbells and a 10 pound kettle bell. I do squats with the kettle bell, lunges with the dumbbells, and I lay on my step bench and do chest presses, bicep curls, etc. I don't really pay attention to the order or anything, but I do stay consistent in the number of reps and the specific exercises. The idea is to be moving.
**I can put on a DVRed show and move the entire hour and I'm done.
2 Days a Week:
DOUBLE the above -- once in the morning and once in the evening
2 Days a Week:
--Just stepping (or marching in place, or walking, or whatever)
No weights (other than ankle weights)
Simple calisthenics -- leg lifts, push-ups, crunches, etc.
1 Day a Week:
Just ankle weights
Now, I know that the exercise is a lot. And the first week that I did this, I did not start exercising until Day 3. But doing it in my own house in front of my TV really makes it easy to follow. I base what I do on what I did the day before: I started with twice a day, then once a day, then no weights, then twice a day, then once a day, then nothing. This is the pattern that I was going to follow. A lot of "experts" will tell you that you shouldn't do weights everyday. Well, when you are doing "weights' in the 5-10 pound range, this is not an issue. If you were pressing 150 pounds, yeah, you should take a day off in between lifting, but for what I am talking about, it isn't necessary.
So, I have done this for a week (at least the diet part, the exercise has only been going on for about 4 days). Here's the thing: I lost a little more than SEVEN pounds in this first week. I have never lost 7 pounds in one week. EVER. I always thought that The Biggest Loser numbers were doctored. I didn't think that those kinds of numbers were actually possible. And I know, that this initial weight loss is due to the total shock to my sloth like system. I cut out Coke, most sugar, almost all simple carbohydrates, and upped my activity significantly. I do not expect to maintain a pound a day loss past this week. I know that as my weight drops, my body will acclimate to the new diet and levels of activity, and the weight loss will come slower and slower. I will have to continually change things up to keep the momentum. But this is a start. It is, for me, a very GOOD start. And as I get closer to my goal, I will start replacing the frozen meals with foods that I prepare -- we have decided that we are going to try to stay away from simple carbohydrates and highly processed foods. This means that we are being extra careful about the frozen foods that we choose. Simple sugars are going to become rare treat items. For us, the weight loss is important, but we want this to be a permanent, sustainable, healthy, life change.
And my husband? He also lost more than a pound a day this first week (and he hasn't even started his exercise yet!).
All of this means that I will have to stick with it. As happy as I am with the weight loss, I was secretly hoping that none of this would work. I wanted to say "Well, I guess I will just have to stay fat and happy. I tried something radical and it didn't work!" But it DID. (Sigh) No resorting back to the couch with my Doritos and Rolos and Route 44 Coke.
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