Sunday, February 16, 2014

My Secret to Healthy Weight Loss and Management

In my personal experience your 'diet' (eating habits) is the key to weight loss and maintenance. Exercise is important of course, but it's very difficult to 'out-exercise' a bad diet. ( )

I hear it time and time again, people talking about how much they work out and yet they don't really ever lose weight. Then I ask and find out that they haven't really changed their eating habits, or they have been mislead by food marketing into thinking they're eating healthy. I'm not a nutrition expert, but I do know what has worked for me personally so I thought I'd share :)

Easy on the 'Variety':
I usually eat 1-2 meals a day that are always the same. When it comes to meal planning and eating habits, 'variety' can be a danger. A lot of athletes use the same idea with having the habit of 'routine meals' that they eat everyday. It also makes meal planning a lot easier because you already know what you're going to eat :)

I typically always eat eggs and toast every day for breakfast. (1 whole egg, with 2-3 egg whites (from a carton of egg whites), with a non fat cheese slice on top and one slice of whole wheat toast with margarine). It's a no brainer. That's just what I always eat.

If I'm working I always pack a salad with some element of protein for a 'meal' (I'm a nurse and it's always random shifts so sometimes my 'lunch' is my 'dinner', so I'll call it a 'meal'). I change up the salads a bit: some days it's a Greek Salad, or greens with walnuts and cheddar cheese, sometimes Caesar... unless I've run out of lettuce, I always pack a salad. It's become my routine. And I NEVER order out at work or BUY food from the cafeteria. Take out meals and Cafeteria food are almost always very unhealthy and Expensive!    (This is another point that I think people get wrong: Eating healthy is actually more cost efficient. I have a 'cheat day' every week usually where my fiance and I buy junk food and have a gorge fest... it's pretty awesome... but it usually costs a small fortune to do it. Our regular 'healthy' diet is much more cost efficient.)

For snacks during the day I have apples, low fat yogurt, crackers with low fat cheese and pickles (smoked oysters too when I'm feeling extra fancy), microwave popcorn, or toast/rice cake with peanut butter. My fiance made some protein/banana muffins so today I'm having one of those.

Dinner meals are normally the meals that have a bit of variety all depending on what ingredients are in the house or what we feel like eating. Sometimes It'll be whole wheat spaghetti with lean ground beef, or roasted chicken with veggies, jasmine rice or potatoes, sometimes I'll have another salad for dinner, or thin crust frozen pizza. (The 'protein' element in your meals doesn't always have to be meat. You can get a 'complete protein' from eating grains with legumes. So sometimes I'll make a pot of rice and then put a can of legumes or beans into it and voila!!! a complete protein.)

I've recently started to steer away from eating 'animal products'. There is a lot of research out there indicating the vast benefits (not only to the individual put to the planet) of an 'animal free' diet. I'm no where near a Vegan or Vegetarian but I do try to minimize my animal consumption. In the past year I've switched completely over to Soy Milk instead of Cow's milk (see the documentary 'Forks over Knives' for more convincing info).

Grocery Shopping Tips:
When it comes to grocery shopping I usually try to stick to the 'outside parimeters' of the store. It's those inside aisles that can be super sneaky, and tempting with its deliciously, fattening, sugary foods. The outsides of the grocery store have the fruit/vegetable section, the bakery (careful there though!), the meat section, Dairy, and the Frozen Foods section. I buy a lot of frozen veggies and add them to rice dishes, pasta, or just warmed up with a little margarine and salt and pepper (I sometimes eat that as a little snack). I do venture into the 'middle' aisles of the store for canned lentils, beans, salsa, condiments, salad dressings, olive/canola oil, soda crackers, and microwave popcorn. I also make it a habit to never buy cookies, chips, granola bars, side kicks or prepackaged instant 'rice meals', or any dessert items. My dessert of choice is a glass of Red Wine! :)

Cheat Day!! :
If we are having a cheat day, which is usually once a week or once every two weeks, we will buy chips, cookies, nachos, McDonalds or any junk food we want, but only for that one day. I usually try to keep it to one big 'Cheat Meal'.  But just for that day. The junk food is not to be hanging around the house all week. My will power couldn't handle that kind of temptation around all the time. The way I am is, "If it's in the house, I'll eat it!". I don't lie to myself about my will power level because I know it sucks! You have to make your home a 'safe area' for your diet and health. I don't have junk food in the house because around 9pm at night I'm bored, and I'm stressed.. and I just want to binge! lol

Anyways, I'll leave it at that for now. I'm not saying that my way is the best way, or the right way, but for the most part it works for me. The only exercise I've been doing regularly for the past few years is walking my dogs everyday. I attribute being able to maintain a healthy weight to this method of eating (although one of my personal goals for this year is to start exercising more).

Best of luck!


  1. Good info Amanda! Besides the obvious benefits of a weekly cheat day on one's sanity, there's a pretty good physiological advantage as well. If you're concious about what you're eating 95% of the time (which your regimen indicates), chances are you're taking in either a maintenance level of calories or more likely slightly below maintenance. Over a prolonged period of even slight caloric deficit, a person's leptin and thyroid levels will likely dip. A weekly cheat meal/day is a good kickstart to get those back to normal. Martin Berkhan ( and Lyle MacDonald (bodyrecomposition/UD 2.0) do a really good job of explaining this idea of carb refeeds and leptin levels. I do the same thing as you. I take one day on the weekend (sometimes one and a half!) and just eat whatever the hell I want. But you're right - you have to get that shit outta the house afterwards! Too tempting to have it around. Weekend is ideal, I find, for this - don't want to be too strict in social situations, dinner parties, going out to the movies, etc. Having that to look forward to all week makes it much easier to eat clean for the majority of the time. Your point about keeping a general consistent/unchanging diet is a good one too. I think Tim Ferriss talks about that in the Four Hour Body (with studies to back it up) - that one of the commonalities of people who lose weight and keep it off is that they generally eat the same foods over and over again. I.e. they find a menu that works and then generally stick to that with minimal variation. Just like your breakfast!

  2. Some people state that eating something every day is boring. I think the key to finding routine healthy meals to eat that work for someone, is to figure out what you really find super delicious and you think to yourself "I could eat this every day for the rest of my life"... It is different for everyone. For myself, I can do eggs and salsa and avocado for breakfast 99% of the time. Maybe for others, it's oatmeal with frozen berries in it, etc. Another important part of getting into a routine of healthy eating, is making a huge batch of your delicious meal in one go so you don't have to worry about cooking more food every day. Saves time, saves health, and makes it easy.

    Dan, Tim Ferriss' Four Hour Body definitely has a lot of interesting ideas in it!! I remember one chapter he talked about the "Slow Carb Diet", basically it was eat as much vegetables, lean meats, and legumes (beans, lentils, etc), as you want. He said that on the slow carb diet, since the foods are so much lower in calories, you actually have to physically eat MORE than you normally would to keep up with your metabolic rate. This in opposition to other "Diet" plans where you end up eating physically less and thus feel hungry more often. Not too long ago I was on an every night dinner salad kick (Gotta try and get back on that wagon). I would make HUGE plate of romaine, with olives, feta, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, chicken, and homemade balsamic and olive oil dressing. Not only was it always delicious and nutritious, but it filled me up so much that I didn't have any cravings for anything the rest of the night. Good for the bowels too which is always a plus!!