Posts Tagged ‘diet strategies’

Twenty-five weeks of the 20-lb struggle and I have been sitting here on the plateau for eight of those weeks. First it was Halloween, then it was parties, then it was family dinners, then it was Christmas cookies, then it was New Year’s Eve, then it was too cold, then I was too busy, then it was too much work. As you can see from my chart I am     s-l-o-w-l-y inching my way back to the pinnacle I reached in week 17. Still haven’t gotten there though.

So what’s going on? I have some ideas.

Idea #1: The nearer your destination the more you keep slip-sliding away. Let me explain. When I started the 20 lb struggle I could get all the motivation I needed in order to make changes in my eating patterns and behavior by looking in the mirror. Looking at myself standing there naked with my fat rolls staring back at me was so horrifying that losing my appetite was usually not a problem. Lose the appetite and you can lose the weight.

But after I lost about 10-lbs. I looked a lot better.  I bought new, smaller clothes.  Looking in the mirror was not as horrifying as it had been previously. The closer you get to your weight loss goal the more difficult it may be to find the motivation you need to go all the way.

Idea #2: Putting the brakes on diet momentum makes the journey more difficult.  Coming to a full stop adds the burden of inertia to forward movement. In other words, it is easier to maintain diet momentum once you are already rolling, than to kick start it again after a full stop. There are lots of reasons for diet inertia, but let’s just say that once you fall off a wagon it can take a while to get your ass off the ground and hop back on again.

Idea #3: If I don’t make it happen it won’t happen. I’ve been waiting for a miracle.  I’ve been waiting for the scale to show imporvment even though I am not putting in 100%. It is difficult to get going again.  It is difficult to find the motivation to make the sacrifices that Ineed to make.  It isn’t easy to find the motivation to help me push forward. But if I don’t do it, nothing will change.

Idea #4: Although losing weight is an important goal, it may not be the only one that deserves my attention. I also need to nurture other important areas of my life, like work, family, friends, celebrations, etc.

My dog, Snickers, whines and cries when I talk on the phone around 7:00 pm.  Why? That is the time we usually snuggle on the couch and watch TV. When my attention is diverted elsewhere he lets me know about it!  And when my attention is diverted elsewhere, my scale let me know about it, too!

Am I feeling blue because this is proving to be more of a struggle than I anticipated? Not really.  Even though I am having trouble losing weight I still feel good about three important things.

First: I have lost a significant amount of weight and I think I look pretty good.

Second: I am maintaining my weight which means that I am not reverting to my previous unhealthy habits.

Third: I am feeling healthier and more energetic than I did before I embarked on the 20-lb struggle.

So, how’s the view from the plateau? Pretty good, but certainly not perfect. What I see from the plateau is “room for improvement.”


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Life gets hectic, especially around this time of year. Parties,  out-of-town guests, family dinners, holiday shopping, etc., etc.,  etc. With so many distractions how do you find time to exercise? How do you stay focused on eating healthy as you rush through the food court at the mall? And for those of you who have lost weight and are now shopping for clothes in a smaller size, how do look in the mirror and not tell yourself that you look so “mahvelous, dahling!” that a little cheating won’t really matter?

This is why weight loss is so challenging to me. Wish I could tell you that I have simple and easy answers to the questions above, but the sad truth is that, just like you, I am having a hard time of it. It is a struggle.

And so it is with great surprise that I am able to report that I lost one pound this week.

Below are some pictures that I took at my daughter Laura’s home over Thanksgiving. You can tell at a glance why dieting in this envirnoment is a challenge. Everything was made from scratch and delicious.  My son-in-law, Rick made the pumpkin pie and the mini-apple-pies and the mini-brownies.  My daughters made the rolls and the croissants.  I made the cranberry sauce and the roasted sweet potatoes. Laura made turkey breast, stuffing, sweet potato souffle.  We also had brussels sprouts and a green bean casserole.

Cathy and Emma enjoying Thanksgiving meal.


Amy brings rolls and croissants to the table.









This is what I ate: 2 slices turkey breast, a dollop of cranberry sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts.

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Thanksgiving Day. Just when my motivation was idling in neutral and my weight loss was stalled, Shape magazine came to the the rescue with a plan! After a morning filled with cooking and cleaning and preparing for Thanksgiving dinner we were sitting around the kitchen table when my daughter, Amy said, “Eat what you want and still lose weight!” She was reading from Shape’s December issue. I was intrigued.  “Tell me more,” I replied.

In the article, Sharon Liao comes up with 9 strategies that can help you to celebrate the holidays without feeling deprived OR gaining weight! There are also suggestions for smart food choices and information about the calories in favorite holiday foods. I will personally test these strategies and report my findings to you in this blog.

Strategy #1: Spoil your supper – don’t skip lunch. Eat a light protein-filled lunch.  About an hour before you plan to eat have a bit of cheese, a few crackers, or my personal favorite, an apple.

Strategy #2: Chew while you chop – instead of sampling everything as you prepare it, chew gum to keep your mouth busy. A little this and a little that can add up to a whole lot of calories.

Strategy #3: Be a picky eater – allow your eyes to feast on every holiday dish and delight, but choose only your favorite special items to sample., It is also a good idea to chat for about 20 minutes before getting up to get seconds. (See “Channeling my inner thin.”)

Strategy #4: Take dainty bites – people who take smaller bites end up eating less. Who knew? Liao advises taking teaspoon-size bites intead of tablespoon-sized ones. She also suggests using small utensils and the smallest plate available.

Strategy#5: Think before you eat – with so much good food around it is easy for the hand to just reach out and pop some into your mouth before you even think about it. RESIST!  Mindless eating is a good way to add calories and not even get any enjoyment from it. Watch your hand and be aware of what it is doing.

Strategy #6: Stay on the move – exercise whenever you can and if you can’t exercise as often as usual tack on an extra few minutes each time.

Strategy #7: Start skinny sipping – a five-ounce glass of wine has only 123 calories and is a calorie bargain compared with other alcoholic beverages.

Strategy#8: Keep your focus – this is similar to tip #5, think before you eat. When you are preoccupied, you don’t fully tast or appreciate the food you are eating. Spend more time concentrating on your converstation OR focus on your food.  This is NOT a good time for multi-tasking. An interesting side note: women tend to consume less calories when they are in the presence of a man.  So sit next to an interesting male at the table and let nature take it course.

Strategy #9: Seize some zzzz’s – studies show that sleep deprivation actually can increase your appetite! So work out, sleep plenty and eat light.

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Reaching a weight loss plateau:  Day 84

How hard can it be to lose 20 lbs? Well, that all depends. For many who are grossly overweight they can drop that much in a week or two.  For me it is a daunting challenge. After 3 months of the 20 lb struggle I have lost 10% of my total body weight (13 lbs). But there has been no change in the past few weeks.  I am in the Dieter’s Twilight Zone, that space between success and failure, between “good enough” and “looking great.”  I am at the weight loss plateau!

Today I will review the past 3 months and share some lessons learned.

  • Enthusiasm is a great way to kick start a weight loss plan, but it is difficult to maintain through the long haul.
  • Having a weight loss plan is important.  Sticking with the weight loss plan even when you don’t feel like it is even more important.
  • Looking for simple answers is easy. Learning that hard work and persistence are required for true success is difficult.
  • Everyone is different. It is ALWAYS important to be in tune with your body and to make consistently healthy choices.
  • Creating healthy eating habits that you repeat regularly helps to keep you on track. For example, I try to have my meals at the same time each day. I always have a piece of fruit or a Breakstone’s Cottage Double when I get home from work to take the edge off my hunger.
  • Don’t worry about being perfect. Nobody is.
  • A simple, yet flexible, weight loss diet can help provide structure and support during the difficult times.
  • The diet I use is easy to follow, healthy, and effective for consistent weight loss.  I was pleased to learn that a diet similar to the one I use was endorsed on a recent TV showing of The Doctors. They called it a Common Sense High Protein Weight Loss Diet.  Here it is in a nutshell:
    • Avoid sugars, starches, bread, pasta and fatty foods.
    • Have a portion of lean protein at least twice a day.
    • Drink coffee and/or caffeinated drinks only before 12 noon.
    • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
    • Eat plenty of fresh vegetables.
    • Eat fresh fruit in moderation.
    • Use dairy products in moderation (low or non-fat only).
    • Exercise whenever possible.  If you can get into a regular routine of 30-40 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 or 4 times a week you get a GOLD STAR! 

With Thanksgiving, family gatherings, and the holiday season looming ahead it is probably unrealistic to think that I will be making much progress any time soon.

My Plan:

  1. Stick with the program whenever possible.
  2. DO NOT give in to the temptation to say “The Hell with it.  I’ll just eat whatever I want.”
  3. Remain mindful of my eating behavior and my eating choices.

I’ve also hit a plateau in terms of writing this blog. At the beginning I couldn’t wait to write about my experiences.  I felt like I was talking to a friend and sharing what was going on in my life. I loved when I got comments.  I sent out e-mails to everyone on my mailing list and told them to check out the blog. Everyone was very encouraging.

But over time I started hearing things like, “How is that blog thing going?  I haven’t had time to look at it.” The blog traffic statistics also started to dip to lower and lower levels. So that got me to thinking.

Who is the blog for? Is it to help me to lose weight? Is it for readers to be entertained/educated/helped?

I don’t know.  Maybe no one cares about my 20 lb struggle but me. 

I’m not giving up, though.  Even if I am the only one left reading this blog at least I’ll know that there is, at the minimum, one person getting something positive out of this.

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 After 67 days of the 20 lb struggle I’m packing it in!

I’ll be spending a week in Orlando staying with my grandchildren while my daughter and son-in-law visit San Francisco.  How will I manage in a different environment?

Look, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a diet of peanut butter sandwiches, pizza, pasta, French fries, cheeseburgers and hot dogs is not exactly going to lead to weight loss. That’s what the kids like to eat and with their level of activity and the metabolism of small birds they can get away with it.  But, I am in an entirely different place.

Whereas my grandchildren can eat whatever and whenever they want, I have graduated to the level of mindful eating. That means I have to think about what I eat, when I eat and how I eat. Doesn’t sound like much fun does it?

It is true that mindful eating sort of takes the spontaneity out of food consumption. It doesn’t allow for those wonderfully impulsive and decadent treats like ice cream, cheesecake, chocolate cake, brownies and donuts. My grandchildren can eat tons of candy and popcorn yet they are always ready for more. If I have just one taste, I am a goner!

So I’m packing it in and taking it along. My healthier eating habits, that is. While the kids are eating their French toast slathered in pancake syrup, I will have my morning oatmeal made with skim milk. While they are at school I will have a simple sandwich of sliced turkey breast with lettuce, tomato and mustard on Weight Watcher whole wheat bread.  And when they start eating their pizza at dinner I will ignore the aroma and focus on my grilled chicken breast and steamed vegetables. That’s right. I’m taking my 20 lb struggle and my George Foreman Grill along with me.

You don’t think I can do it. Do you? I’m not so sure myself. I’ll keep you posted.

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 After a week-end with my family, eating all sorts of edible delights at home and in restaurants, my weight-loss program has been stopped in its tracks! I ate. I enjoyed. I am paying the price. We all knew it was going to happen. It was just a matter of time.

This can be a crucial turning point. Many have been here before me. In fact, I’ve been here myself, many times in the past. Falling or slipping off the wagon can be an opportunity to throw in the towel and give up. Remarks like, “I just don’t have the will power to succeed at losing weight,” or “I’m out of control. Nothing can help me,” or “This is too hard,” are just some of the ways we can self-sabotage our plan for a better healthier life. I’ve done it before. BUT. I’m not going to do it this time!

This time I have learned from Mistake #5: Not planning for my inevitable slip-ups. Since I knew that slipping up was going to be inevitable I incorporated it into my weight-loss program from the very beginning. I now recognize that no one can resist all temptations all the time. There is bound to come a day when circumstances are just ideal for temptation to break through your barriers and seduce you with delights. It can be a slippery slope.

So I gave myself permission to enjoy the weekend. BUT. I also did my best to limit my eating behavior as much as I could. It was delightful (like a mini-vacation), but now it is over and it is time to get back to work.  The increased amount of sugar and starch has already increased my appetite so am back at square one all over again.

I never thought I would ever be capable of saying this, but in a strange sort of way, I am looking forward to getting back on my diet menu. Over the past five weeks I have learned to enjoy a feeling of satisfaction after eating that does NOT leave me driven with cravings later on or stimulate me to binge.

Copyright © 2009 Maxine Schackman

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Book club meeting at an Italian restaurant

Book club meeting at an Italian restaurant

There are two words that strike fear into the heart of just about any serious dieter who is trying to lose weight.  Those two words are … “Italian food!” What could be more wonderful than getting together with a group a friends and enjoying a delicious Italian meal?

I’ll tell you what could be more wonderful. . . enjoying the friends, the meal and the wine without gaining any weight.

About once a month my book club meets in different local restaurants. This time it was an Italian restaurant. Ahh, this is the stuff that dreams are made of. Imagine if you will, mouth-watering brick oven baked pizza with your favorite toppings. Or veal parmigiana. Or Rigatoni Bolognese (hearty meat sauce with a touch of heavy cream). Or any of the other delectable items on the menu that cry out, “I’m delicious! Try me. I won’t harm your plans to lose weight. I would never do that to you.  Believe me. I’m good for you!”

I don’t believe it for a minute.  A typical restaurant serving of veal parmigiana, for example, can contain well over 1000 calories. And that doesn’t include the wonderful garlic rolls, the salad with dressing, or the pasta.

This was my plan: (1) Don’t show up hungry. (2) Don’t be shy about making special requests. (3) Don’t look at what others are eating. (4) Eat as little as you can.

This is what happened. (1) I ate a half of an apple about an hour before I showed up at the restaurant. (2) I was able to order plain grilled chicken breast with steamed vegetables (just like I make at home!) (3) I was able to save a nice portion for tomorrow’s lunch.

Grilled chicken breast and steamed vegetables

Grilled chicken breast and steamed vegetables

The leftovers

The leftovers










I can just hear you saying, “That doesn’t look very appetizing.  I would want something that’s tastier.”

Well, so would I! BUT. Right now I am engaged in the 20 pound struggle. Sacrifices must be made. Let us not forget that I have consumed a vast amount of  incredibly delicious food in my lifetime.  Isn’t that how I got here?

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