Ch-ch-ch-changes! (to the diet AND the blog! wowsers!)

OK, don’t freak out, man, but I’m making a couple of tweaks here! Nothing serious, just a couple of necessary repairs.

 

First, re: the blog — I’m not gonna do the “Friday Five” thing anymore, or at least not regularly. It’s just getting too hard to come up with five semi-related things. I mean, seriously, I was actually contemplating “Five Reasons Not to Open Your Window on an Airplane”!

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And really, where do you go after the obligatory “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” joke? So, no more “Friday Fives” unless I actually have five important (and diet- or exercise-related) things to pass along to y’all.

Second, the diet itself! Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while may remember that before I started my current round of weight loss via calorie counting, I lost a respectable 20 pounds on the No S Diet.

no s diet

I liked the plan because it was super-simple — no need to write anything down, no need to give up foods I loved (just defer them to “S” days). I managed to lose 20 pounds over the course of a year, which may not sound like a lot, but that weight STAYED OFF, yo!

The main problem I had with it, though, as I related wayyyy back in August of 2017 (“Part 2 of How I Got Here“), was my inability to defer the pleasure that is the Trader Joe’s Mini “Hold The Cone”!

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Yes, as with so many of us dieters, chocolate was my downfall. Although it turned out to be for the best.

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I decided to try good old-fashioned calorie counting, so I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, as long as I did the required accounting. And that was great! I lost over 60 pounds with that method, and coupled with the 20 I lost on the No S, that’s … let’s see … carry the one …

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… over 80 pounds down, which is nothing to sneeze at! Still, the last few months, I’ve been over-snacking, and not tracking my calories, because honestly, it does get a little tedious after a while, doesn’t it? Writing down all those numbers? I mean, you know…

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OK, not that! But anyway, I’ve decided I need to do something different for a while, so I’m switching back to the No S Diet, but with ONE modification: I’m making it the “ONE S Diet!” I’m going to allow myself one and ONLY one “S” (snack/sweet) per day. Can you guess what that one “S” is going to be?

cones

Yep, one “Hold the Cone” every evening! At least for a while. I like to think of them as my “No S Diet” training wheels — I’ll use ’em till I don’t need ’em anymore. Or till Trader Joe’s stops selling them, and if you shop at Trader Joe’s, you know they have a distressing tendency to suddenly stop selling stuff you like.

trader joe

FWIW I’ve been doing this since Tuesday, and it’s not bad at all. And it’s really nice not to have to remember, and then remember to write down, how many reduced fat string cheeses I had. Or shred precisely 28 grams of cheddar cheese for the salad, and write it down. Etc., etc.

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So there ya go — no “Friday Five” and a new/old diet! How will these ch-ch-ch-changes affect the Monday weigh-in (which ISN’T changing)? Well, we’ll just have to find out — on Monday! See ya then!

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Rhymin’ Weekly Weigh-in, and You Do the Math!

Good morning, everyone, and happy Monday! Let’s get right to it, shall we? First of all, the always astonishing Weekly Weigh-in:

196.6
Do the Little Kicks!

Yay! I was a little worried, since I went on a chocolate bender Saturday. See, we were almost out of Trader Joe’s Mini Hold the Cones, so naturally I suddenly started craving CHOCOLATE!! which is weird, because chocolate has never been a major “trigger food” for me.

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Still, I’ve learned that when I start craving something, it’s best to get the healthiest, lowest calorie version of it I can, so I won’t go too far afield.

I went to my friendly neighborhood Albertsons and got some Skinny Cow Chocolate Truffle bars which, at 120 calories, are only about 30 calories more than the Mini Cones, and actually pretty yummy. Also did a little walk around the store (which may or may not have worked off that extra 30 calories), got my Monopoly game pieces (the clerk assured me someone else had JUST won $2 million, so I’m feelin’ lucky), went home, and enjoyed one big chocolate truffle bar.

And then … I enjoyed a SECOND one, to make sure I stifled that chocolate jones! Plus, my husband went to a birthday party at an accordion school (absolutely true!) and brought home a delicious cupcake topped with yummy frosting. Sorry I don’t have a photo of it for you, but it went into my digestive system pretty quickly.

So with all that sweet stuff, I was a bit worried. Still, as I’ve said before, the great thing about calorie counting is that if you really WANT the sweet stuff, you can have it — you just have to pay for it out of your calorie budget.

Let’s say you have a 1,500-calorie-a-day budget, and you’re craving a 1,000-calorie breakfast “slam” at your favorite high-calorie diner. Well, if you really want it, you can have it. But do yourself a favor: stop and DO THE MATH first. If you eat that 1,000-calorie breakfast, you’re only gonna have 500 calories left for the entire rest of the day. That’s 250 for lunch and 250 for supper. And that’s it! No room at all for snacks, bub.

Now maybe you’re sitting at that breakfast table, grinning from ear to ear, looking down at that huge, yummy plate o’ goodness, sure that this won’t be any problem at all, ’cause after this big breakfast, you “just can’t eat one more bite!” Trust me — from personal experience! — in a couple of hours, you WILL be hungry again. And now you’ve stretched your stomach out to the point where it’ll be demanding WAY more than 250 calories to fill it up again!

“But I LOVE eating a big breakfast!” you wail. “Why you so MEAN to meee??” Sshh, sshh, calm down. I’m not gonna leave you high and dry. Here ya go — my Big Three Big Breakfast Calorie Cutting ideas for today!

  1. SLASH ONE: This takes a LOT of self-discipline, but if you’re already in the diner, determined to get a taste of Bob And Denny’s Big Giant Combined Slam, go ahead and order it. BUT ask your friendly waitperson to bring you a doggy bag/box right away, along with the meal.

    Then, as soon as you get the meal, before you taste ONE BITE, take your fork and dump HALF that Plate O’ Buttery Goodness into that box. HALF, okay? That means if you got 4 sausages, you put TWO in the box. Four pieces of bacon? Two in the box. Four eggs? Two slices of French toast? You got it – HALF IN THE BOX.

    Then — and this is gonna be the hardest part of all: Excuse yourself from the table, take that box with you, go into the restroom, and THROW THAT BOX IN THE TRASH! That’s right — I’m advising you to THROW FOOD AWAY! Do it, pal!
    simpsons

    “But … but wasting food! Sin! Evil! Starving people everywhere!” Yeah, yeah, cry me a river. Listen: you’re paying for that meal, whether you eat every bite or only one, right? That means you can do whatever you want with it, right? And you were about to shove the entire contents into your bulging tummy, right?

    So all I’m telling you to do is shove HALF of it into your tummy, and the other half where it would’ve wound up eventually anyway. And now you can eat the other half in peace, happy in the knowledge that you just slashed that giant 1,000-calorie breakfast into a more manageable 500-calorie chunk. You’re still getting the goodies you wanted. Your stomach will be satisfied. And you’ve got 1,000 calories left from the day, which is a LOT easier to divide into two meals and a snack or two.

    Right? Hey — it’s worth a shot. But still, if you just can’t bring yourself to throw away perfectly good food (and I’ll concede the food is good — it’s just not good for YOU, right now!), here’s another idea.

  2. Pick Two: Instead of ordering the Big! Giant! Huge! Breakfast! Slammerino!!, order a la carte. That’s French for “one thing at a time, pal.” What I mean is, instead of ordering the Breakfast Combo, which is usually bacon, eggs, French toast, regular toast, rivers of butter and jam (and don’t forget the salsa!), look around on the menu till you find the section usually labeled “Side Orders.”  Then order just TWO things. Maybe a couple of slices of bacon, and one egg. Maybe one piece of toast and two sausage links.

    Be picky and choo-choo-choosy. Just order the two things that are calling out to you most insistently from the Big Giant Stomach-Stretcher. You’ll still have a nice yummy breakfast, but again, WAY fewer calories than if you just ordered the combo. Also, if you’re just ordering one or two things, it’s easier to get an accurate calorie count. Trust me, math is hard — make it easy on yourself!
    barbie

  3. Spread Out! Listen, I get it … it’s morning! You’re hungry! Breakfast food rocks! Have some, by all means — just take it easy and don’t have it all at the same time! Spread the goodies out over a few days —  and they’ll taste just as good! Try this: Bacon for breakfast today … scrambled eggs for breakfast tomorrow … toast with butter and jam on Wednesday … sausage on Thursday … French toast on Friday. Mmm! Everything you were seriously considering having TODAY, in one high-calorie meal, but spread out over the week in manageable, lower-calorie chunks. It’s worth a shot, right?
    stooges

Well, there ya go, three calorie-cutting strategies, just off the top of my head, pre-coffee and everything! What do you think? Let me know if you decide to try any of ’em, and how they work out for you!

And now, to reward you for reading this extra-long post (and as suggested by Penny Wilson in the comments last week), here’s a “happy Monday” video for ya! Enjoy, and I’ll see you Friday!

Friday Five: 5 ways to make calorie counting slightly easier

Howdy there, friends and neighborinos! If you’re counting your calories every day, perhaps you occasionally (like EVERY DAY) look for ideas to make the whole process a little easier. Here are a few ideas I came up with, all of which I’ve done (or at least imagined doing):

  1. Easiest: Just count ’em manually, using an app like MyFitnessPal or just jotting everything down on a piece of paper. I used to use MFP but then I decided to become an elderly hipster and got a flip phone. Yeah … it’s cool, man …
    independent_telephone_company_ad_seattle_1905
    BUT it ain’t got no apps! So, pen and paper it is. Which is actually super-easy. Just write the number of calories you’re allowing yourself for the day at the top of the page, and subtract as you use them.
  2. For Those Who Love To Plan: Divide your total daily calorie allowance by the number of meals and snacks you plan to have. This works best for people who are stuck in a food rut and know exactly what they’re going to eat all day, every day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! However, if you tend towards the more spontaneous life, you may prefer to stick with #1.
    overplanning.jpg
    (Seriously, this isn’t a bad strategy at all. In fact, when my husband and I first started dieting two years ago, we used a version of this called the “No S Diet,” which is basically three meals a day, no snacks, which pretty much ensures you’ll stick to your calorie allowance for the day. Give it a look – it might be just what you’re looking for!)
  3. For Those With Money: Pay someone to count everything for you. Hey, a lot of people do it. In fact, it’s big business — Jenny Craig, Medifast, etc. Heck, you can even get all your food delivered to your house in controlled portions so you don’t even have to read the labels for yourself. Wowza! Just make sure they know you’re trying to LOSE, not GAIN, the weight!
    320px-Advertisement_showing_young_woman_with_package_of_Loring's_Fat-Ten-U
    By Baker Art Gallery – Library of Congress Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8273366
  4. Call Them Something Else, like POINTS! Similar to #3, but involves a highly complicated formula that only a publicly traded company like Weight Watchers can decipher. The nice thing is they give you lots of “free” foods, which ensures you won’t lose weight too quickly (or at all), because there ARE no foods completely free of calories. (Sshhh – don’t tell! It’s proprietary!)
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  5. Hike The Appalachian Trail: This is the only one of the above I haven’t tried … yet! But I read a lot of books about it, and from what I understand, long-distance thru-hiking burns a TON of calories – so much so that hikers are notorious for their ravenous appetites. Of course, once you’re done with the hike, and you go back to your normal way of eating, you’ll have to start all over. But hey, there are lots of trails all over the world, so go for it!

OK – that’s it! Sorry this was late, but I’ll be back Monday, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, with what I HOPE will be “Milestone Monday At Last!” We’ll see … I still have to get through those church donuts …

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(unused WordPress Prompt of the Day: glimmer)

Calories DO count – so there!

Calorie-Counting-Meme

I may not be an officially certified and licensed Diet Guru, but I’m reasonably conversant in the science relating to how weight loss actually occurs, what works, what doesn’t work, and what’s, excuse my French, total BS.

Like you, I saw those ecstatic headlines in the news earlier this week about how a new study supposedly “proved” that calorie counting is a big ol’ waste of time! Just check out these headlines:

and a multitude of others, triumphantly crowing the sensational message that YOU – yes, YOU! – no longer have to worry about the tiresome task of keeping track of your daily calorie input! Rumors flew that MyFitnessPal, Lose It!, Sparkpeople, and other heretofore popular calorie-counting apps had conceded defeat, and were converting to Game of Thrones fan sites.

Well, not so fast, folks. I’ve been around for a while – almost 60 years (hence the name!), and I can pretty much guarantee you that right now, somewhere in the world, there’s ANOTHER scientist out there doing a mega-study that will prove exactly the OPPOSITE of what this gentleman’s study supposedly proved. I GUARANTEE you that within a few months there’ll be another round of sensational headlines to the effect that “Calories DO Count After All!” and you and I will be left befuddled, once again, as we usually are when we rely on the 24/7 news cycle for our diet information.

Maybe it would help if we separated “calorie counting” which is, after all, a mechanism we use to determine how many calories we’re consuming, from “calorie deficit,” which is the undeniable, bottom-line TRUTH about how we human beings lose weight:

A. You take in a certain amount of calories every day (by eating).
B. You expend a certain amount of calories (by moving, breathing, etc.).

Subtract B from A, and you get your calorie deficit. It’s that simple.

“Calorie counting” is just the way you keep track of what calories you take in (A) or expend (B). And there are LOTS of ways to do this.

  1. You can just count them yourself, either by using one of the aforesaid apps, or just jotting them down on a piece of paper.
  2. You can pay some big corporation to convert them, by some elaborate proprietary mathematical formulation, into “points” or “magic beans” or whatever.
  3. You can pay some big corporation to supervise your entire daily food allotment so you don’t have to worry about counting anything yourself, ever (other than your checking account balance).
  4. You can do some mega amounts of exercise (B) such as hiking the Appalachian Trail, which burns @ 500 calories per hour.
  5. You can quit your job so you won’t be tempted by all the vending machines and daily birthday cakes, move into your mom’s basement, and shun the outside world completely. (There are probably some other problems with that, though – what if your mom’s house doesn’t have a basement?)

Anyway, my point (and I do have one!) is that there are all sorts of ways to create a calorie deficit without necessarily “counting calories.” I personally choose to do that because it’s the easiest and most flexible method I’ve found so far. It lets me eat pretty much anything I want, so long as it doesn’t make me go over my daily calorie allotment. Some of those other methods work for other people.

But bottom line: no matter what this or similar studies say, if you read the fine print, you’ll see that the people who lost weight did so because they were eating foods that were lower in calories than what they’d previously been eating – thus creating a calorie deficit!!

So calories DO count – always have, always will! It’s just a question of how you choose to count them!

Mother Jones has an even better response to this study than mine: What’s the Real Takeaway From Yesterday’s Big Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat Showdown? in which they point out that if you read the fine print from that big study, it really just reiterates what calorie counters say as well: “If you cut back on something with lots of calories, you’re cutting back on calories.”

There you go. Read the fine print on these studies, go beyond the headlines, and you’ll always find the truth buried deep inside the hype.

 

Friday Five: 4 Food Ideas for your Hotel Fridge, and One to Avoid

Hey, everyone – this’ll be my first Friday Five written entirely on my smartphone, with my travel-weary thumbs, so yay for me! I assume you’ll forgive the occasional, inevitable tpyo.

Anyhoo, if you do any travelling, and you’re counting calories, you might want to stock up on these. Each has less than 100 calories, and are really good for when you don’t feel like putting $5 worth of change in the hotel vending machine for some salty chips that have 400 calories per bag and aren’t good for you anyway.

1. Buddig Deli Slices – prepackaged turkey, beef, ham, or chicken. 9 slices per package, 90 calories per bag. Sure, they’re frowned on by health & wellness gurus, but since I’m not one of those, who cares?

2. String cheese. Lots of different brands to choose from here, some better than others. My personal fave is Frigos Light CheeseHeads. They’re only 50 calories each, and they’re super stringy, which makes them load of fun to nosh on while reading a good book by the pool.

3. Next in line is good ol’ reliable Yoplait Light Yogurt. There are lots of good flavors to choose from, and grocery stores often give great discounts if you buy in bulk. My personal fave flavors are Cherry, Vanilla, and Key Lime, mmm! Nice for breakfast in the room when you don’t feel like trudging down to the flimsy hotel continental breakfast.

4. Diet soda. Oh yeah, it’s bad for you. Pure poison. Dieters beware, am I right? Well, tough turkeys. I know I’m going to want some at some point, and again, why pay extra at the vending machine which doesn’t even work half the time? Buy your own and savor the illicit fizz.

5. Here’s one thing I DON’T recommend you stock up on, or at least don’t buy more than one: frozen dinners, like this:

Yeah, wouldn’t it be nice to keep a few on hand just in case you don’t feel like leaving the room at all? (Because who doesn’t love staying in hotel rooms for days on end, right?) Here’s the problem: where do you PUT ’em? Check out the fridge in my room:

Notice anything missing? Yeah, that’s right: no freezer compartment. And the thing is, I’ve stayed at this particular hotel about a thousand million times over the last 20 years, and you just can’t predict whether a fridge will have a freezer or not. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. It’s the luck of the draw.

And even when they do, it’s just that tiny little shelfie thing that you can’t fit more than one  frozen dinner into, and don’t even think about trying to shove any ice cream in there too. 

Let’s face it: Hotel fridges kinda suck. So take my advice, and stick to the little refrigerator-type snacks. They’ll keep better, and they’re better for you.

And the whole experience will just make you that much happier to get home, so it’s all good.

How about you? What are some of your favorite – or not-so-favorite – road foods?

(And today’s unused pingback is: Orange!)

Finally, some specifics!!

Heh … was just rereading my last two posts, and noticed I’d PROMISED, at the end of each one, that I’d delve into the specifics of my plan in the VERY NEXT POST!

Well, wait no more! A pleasure deferred is a pleasure increased, so this post should thrill you to your very marrow!

Here’s the plan (such as it is – I’m still working things out):

  1. I’m using MyFitnessPal to count my calories.
    • It’s definitely NOT perfect (I’ve had to turn off all the social media notifications, because they drive me nuts), but it’s easy to use, and it gives me a good ballpark idea of where I am.
  2. I’m exercising.
    • I’d been doing that, off and on, anyway — but THIS time, I’m not following up every walk or gym session with a visit to KFC or Popeye’s, just because “I earned it!”
  3. Speaking of which, I DO still go to fast food places from time to time. However, I make sure to check the calorie counts first, and make sure they fit in with my daily allowance.
    • For example: last week, I treated myself to one — just one! — piece of KFC Original Recipe chicken — a big, greasy breast, mmm!! — which clocked in at around 320 calories (and I rounded it up to 400 in the calorie counter, just to be safe!) Which sounds like a lot, and it is. But it’s WAY better than when I used to get the Two-Piece Breast and Wing with Mashed Potatoes and Macaroni & Cheese meal, several times a week — doncha think?)
  4. Finally, I’m NOT ditching the “No-S” plan completely.
    • See — it occurred to me that a lot of us treat our diets like religions: there’s only ONE that’s right, and we can never deviate from it or else!
    • But ya know what? I think it’s a great idea to have more than one diet you can use. They should be somewhat compatible, of course — it makes no sense to go from “all carbs” one day to “no carbs” the next, for example.
    • contrasting diets
    • So my “backup” diets are all some variation of calorie counting. The thing about No-S that’s great is, if you’re only having one plate of food at each meal, and only three meals per day, you can just divide your daily calorie allowance by three, and have some really nice meals. My husband is still doing No-S so I try to keep the meals at @500 calories, which gives me an outlet for cooking creatively!
  1. Finally — and this is the most important bullet point of all: DO NOT GET DISTRACTED/DISCOURAGED by diet/fitness advice/articles on the Internet!
    • I can’t stress this point enough. It’s SOOOO easy to find voices on the Net to tell you anything and everything you want to hear. “Dieting is BAD!” “Counting calories is passe!” “You need MORE fat!” etc., etc.
    • All of which may or may not be true, for some people, in other contexts. But for me, with my life experiences*, I know what works for me.

So there ya go — my multi-pronged War On Fat 2017-2018! Stick around, and I’ll let you know how things are working out!

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And just for some accountability, here are my starting stats:

As of today, I’m 5 foot 2, and weigh 240.2 pounds**.

(*code word for “I’M OLD DAGNABBIT!!”)

(**and since I’ve already started the diet, I’m pleased to report this is already 3 pounds lost in the past two weeks! Yay for moi!)

 

 

So – now what? My more or less vague plans and intentions

So, now that you know all about me and my dieting/weight loss history, it’s time to focus on the present – and the future.

Now that I’ve I’ve managed to cobble together some weight-loss wisdom, it’s time to put it into practice. Hence, the title of this blog, “50 by 60,” meaning I’ve decided to lose 50 pounds by my 60th birthday – a little more than a year from now.

As of my last weigh-in, the scales stand at 242 pounds. A 50-pound weight loss would put me below 200 pounds – for the first time in at least two decades!

Now I know – and you know – that we’re not supposed to focus on the numbers on the scale. They only represent one metric of health and fitness. There are lots of other numbers which are just as important, if not more so. Like your blood pressure,  for example. Or your bank balance. I’d love to see THAT number change!

scales

Still … I’m a flawed, fallible human being. And even though it may seem superficial and shallow to some, I’ve decided that seeing the numbers on my 10-year-old Weight Watchers decrease to a number starting with a “1” rather than a “2” would make me very, very, VERY happy. (At least for a few minutes.)

So, let’s go! Next post, I’ll dive into the specifics of what I’m doing and why, diet and exercise-wise.

(Meanwhile, if you’re one of the lovely people who’ve “liked” my blog so far, please feel free to post something in the comments – even if only to say hi! But if you’re too shy, that’s fine. I’m glad to know you’re out there, anyway!)

Part 2 of How I Got Here

So there I was, on an unseasonably warm day in March. A *weekday* in March. That’s important, because I was still trying to stick to the “No S Diet Plan” (no snacks, sweets, or seconds, except on days that start with S).

And yet … even though it wasn’t an S day … it was a hot, STICKY day.

Hey – sticky! That starts with S, right?

And that’s all the excuse I needed to grab a Trader Joe’s Mini Vanilla Hold the Cone (80 calories, mmm!).

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Now, it might still have worked out if I’d just said, “OK, this is ONE S day. I’ll get back on track tomorrow.”

And I would have … except the weather refused to cooperate. It just kept staying hot and muggy, day after day after day … and there were still 7 cones left in the box.

Well, when I got down to the last cone, I realized this wasn’t going to work for me any more. I liked the simplicity of the whole No S thing – the idiot-proof rules that I can still recite by heart.

But dagnab it all – I was ready to S my heart out!

So I decided to turn to a method of dieting which I (and many other supposedly diet-savvy folks) had scoffed at for years: good ol’ basic calorie counting.

calories

Sure, I knew it wasn’t perfect. I knew it might be hard to stick to sometimes. I knew it didn’t always take into account the nutritional values of foods. I knew the 3,500 calories in/calories out thing was an estimate at best.

Heck – I’ve been dieting for decades, AND I’m a bookworm, so I know ALL the arguments!

But I knew something else: the one time in my life when I counted calories, in TOPS, wayyyy back in that dusty ol’ building in Belton, Missouri – it had worked!

And something inside told me it was time to try again.

Next time, I’ll tell you some more specific stuff about what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and whether or not it’s working.

(By the way – thanks for reading! I’m by no means a new blogger (my failed blogs litter the internet, and will undoubtedly prove fascinating to data miners of the future), but it’s been quite a while since I’ve given one this level of attention. Please let me know what you think. See you next time!)