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It all comes down to this

April 22, 2009 - Kathie Evanoff
It finally happened.

After dodging diets like a boxer against the ropes, my doctor finally decreed it was lose weight “or else.” The “or else” means going on statin drugs for life, which although have been a great help to many people, should be avoided if possible. If possible means if you can control cholesterol and other problems with diet and exercise, then just get off your duff and do it. Some people who are genetically inclined, must take the drugs, but my past history has proven I don’t need them if I maintain a healthy weight. I know, I know, it’s easier said than done.

I, of all people, who have struggled with diet, exercise and cholesterol for a number of years, know how difficult the work and the planning can be. But here’s the bottom line; nothing worth having, including our health, is easy. If we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always had. You know the cliches. And they are all true.

So my doctor, instead of throwing a handful of pills my way because he knows my history, has decided I need to work for what I should have; a healthier outlook with better cholesterol and trygliceride numbers. I’ve known it for years, but have never been put to the test by my doctor before. More doctors should do this.

The diet is simple; 1,200 calories each day and 40 minutes of exercise. The diet hasn’t been difficult. The exercise is a bit more of a challenge. And to think, I was trying to decide whether or not to sell my treadmill.

Rather than whine and complain about it; however, I decided to jump in with both feet. No, I didn’t join a weight loss clinic, nor did I partake in any number of fitness challenge and Biggest Loser competitions. It is, after all, simply calories in versus calories out. Instead, I powered up my computer, found a calorie counting Web site, got out a notebook and calculator and started doing the numbers. Out came the digital food scale. I put away the clothes that were hanging over the treadmill and plugged in. I would like to say I get that 40 minutes of walking in every day, but that would be a lie. Most of the time, it’s three or four times a week. Baby steps. Even the husband has been helping out. Since he is the main cook in the household, his job has been to find low-calorie recipes that are filled with lots of vegetables, little meat and even less fats and oils. His veggie-phobia hasn’t changed, but he is more than willing to make his own meals if he doesn’t care for what he is making me. He’s one of the good guys.

You may think 1,200 calories is low, and for most people, it is. But I am not a tall person or even medium height, so deciding how to use those calories the best way also was part of the problem. I could, for example, dive into a huge burger and fries and expend all of my calories in one meal. Or I could choose to use them more wisely, spreading them out over several small meals, or three meals and a snack or two, which is the way I went for my lifestyle.

There were things I gave up. One of them was the nightly sweet treat my husband and I would share in the evenings after dinner. Another was the afternoon trip to the vending machines in the employee lounge at work. The cravings for food didn’t go away during those times, so I simply substituted the chips and ice cream for fruit and yogurt. Most nutritionists that I know of don’t recommend going below 1,200 calories a day, otherwise it is nearly impossible to get proper nutrition. But I believe all things average out in the end. There are days when I’ve gone below the 1,200 mark and other days when I was slightly over. I could obsess to the point of counting and calculating for the entire week to make sure it does all even out, but I’ve decided not to become that stressed over the whole thing.

In addition, I am challenging myself to get more out of my garden. Over the next growing season, you can expect to read and hear more about local eating and the resurgence of Victory Gardens. While I’ve always been a vegetable grower, I intend to show you more of what I’m growing and what I’m doing with it to stay within the caloric guidelines my doctor set forth. Right now, I am still using the mypyramid.gov Web site to track my nutritional choices and my calories. By going to the site and clicking on “menu planner” on the left, you will have to register and sign in, but it calculates your calories as well as keeping track of what you should be eating to maintain good health. I don’t worry about getting too many vegetables, but try to stay close to the calorie count and don’t over grains or extra calories if possible. So join me here throughout the day. My posts won’t be daily or weekly any longer, but will most likely be once or twice a day. If you want to follow along, that’s fine, but be sure to check with your own doctor first before starting any weight loss program and adjust your caloric intake accordingly. I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, so I’m not offering any advice, just showing what I’m doing for myself.

This morning I started the day with one egg cooked on a griddle with non-fat cooking spray. The egg is from a local organic farm with free-range chickens. Usually I have a slice of plain, whole wheat bread, but this morning the bread was still frozen so I had to toast it. I still had it plain. It wasn’t as moist as untoasted bread, but it sufficed. Since mypyramid.gov says I should get a cup and a half of fruit each day, I had one medium banana, which calculates to ¾ cup fruit. I haven’t given up the sugar; however, in my tea. It is my one cheat. I usually have two cups a day with two scant teaspoons sugar in each. I don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners in tea. To allow this indulgence, I count the calories. The total calories for my breakfast are: 317.

For lunch I brought soup and sandwich, but found I didn't really need the soup. The sandwich was filling enough and since I have yogurt and an orange for mid afternoon if I start getting hungry, I can save the soup for another day. I'll sip the diet cola throughout the afternoon as well, and surprisingly, mypyramid.gov meal planner added 7 calories to my total for that even though it is sold as calorie-free. The running total for the day is now 680 including the yogurt and orange for later.

A pasta primavera stir-fry kept the calories down at dinner. So much so that I was even able to have a Skinny Cow low-fat ice cream sandwich later for a snack and was still under my daily calories at only 1095 for the day. I don't recommend keeping calories that low on a daily basis.

Looking back on the day, I was too light on meat and beans (protein) and should have had at least one more cup of vegetables.

 
 

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Breakfast: 1 ounce meat; 1 ounce grains; ¾ cup fruit; 117 extra calories