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?

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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.

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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, plus Slow & Steady Wins the Weight-Loss Race!

Good morning, everyone, and happy Monday to you and yours!

First of all, let’s celebrate – I THINK I’m back at my pre-vakay weight, yay! Let’s find out for sure, though. Ready? (deep breath) OK, here we go!

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scales
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Yeah, almost there – just a silly little millimeter away from where I was oh, those long, long weeks ago (three, to be precise). It’s headed in the right direction, so I’m happy!

And besides, that gives me a chance to say something I’ve been thinking about. Isn’t it discouraging when you’re measuring your weight loss in fractions of pounds, rather than big chunks? I mean, you watch those Fatty Fat McFat shows on cable, and see people losing hundreds of pounds from weight-loss surgery; you live for each new season of “The Biggest Loser;” you see happy people in ads claiming they lost 60 pounds in a month by switching to this diet or that supplement …
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and then YOU, who’ve been diligently tracking your calories and doing your daily walk, hop on the scale and … hmm … a half-pound since last week. Not quite so dramatic, right? Still, as I’ve frequently said, math is your friend.

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No, it’s really easy, Barbie! Trust me! Pull out your abacus, your handy-dandy solar-powered calculator, or even one of them new-fangled calculator apps, and punch in some numbers with me, ‘kay? Ready?

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Half a pound of weight lost in one week equals 0.5. There’s 52 weeks in a year. Therefore, 0.5 times 52 is … got it? Pencils down! The answer is:

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So even if you’re “only” losing half a pound a week, that’s 26 pounds DOWN in a year. That still may not sound like as much as you’d like to lose, but think about it – at 11:59 PM on December 31, 2018, wouldn’t you rather look back on a 26-pound LOSS than a 26-pound GAIN? I know I would!

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Also, this is just my personal theory, and I don’t know if it’s backed up by Science(tm). But I think the slower you lose the weight, the less likely you are to gain it all back when you reach your goal. You’ll have developed better eating and exercise habits, plus your body will have had more time to get used to the changes.

So even though you, as a dieter, may feel a bit awkward compared to all those “professionals” out there losing weight by the ton, you’re actually doing great! Hang in there, take your time, maintain that caloric deficit, and you WILL get there!

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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:

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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!
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    “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!
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  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?
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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 …
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    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.
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    (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!
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    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!)

Breakfast of Champions

You’re SUPPOSED to have breakfast.

Right? You’ve heard it before, I’m sure. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” “dieters should NEVER skip breakfast,” etc., etc.

Yeah, we get it. Only what we HEAR, with our “fat ears” (TM Shannon Sorrels) is, “Go to Denny’s and have the Monster Slam! And don’t skimp on the French toast!”

Well, calm down! You’re on a calorie budget, remember? Don’t spend it all on breakfast, or you’ll be in Oliver Twist mode by suppertime!

Plus, come on – not everyone is a morning person, and not every stomach can deal with a whole bunch of food comin’ at it, first thing in the morning.

It’s OK to just have a teeny tiny breakfast! Really, it is! (pat pat, console console) Just have a little somethin’ somethin’ before you head out the door, and have a nice big lunch later on.

My husband can’t deal with anything more than a glass of water and a Trader Joe’s Organic Pop Tarts (200 calories), and that works for him.

Me, I like a little more bang for my caloric buck, so here’s my breakfast this morning:

Coffe with one tablespoon of whipping cream & artificial sweetener (50 calories)

String cheese (70 calories)

Mini box of raisins (45 calories)

Yoplait Light Blueberry (90 calories)

… for a grand total of 255 calories. Not as much as that Grand Artery Slam I used to have on a regular basis, but enough to get my tummy and my brain woken up and alert, so I can face the day ahead.

And since our kitty apparently had a little “accident” on our freshly washed sheets during the night – I’m gonna need all the alertness I can muster!

(p.s. unused pingback of the day: Anticipate)