It’s time for action! If you have been following my wellness series for weight loss then you will hopefully have your motivation and are prepared for making permanent life style changes. So what’s the next step? Well the next step is to take the first step to a new, healthier you.
How do we begin? The best way to start is to make the rules. We like to follow rules, and people everywhere do this with rules others have made up – Atkins diets, Zone diets, weight watcher diets, and so on. What you are embarking on now is a lifestyle change. This is not a 2 week diet. It is to be something that you can sustain for life and will see you achieve your goal weight and keep it forever. For me this means that there must not be counting, weighing, speciality foods, powders, pills or portions. It needs to be just good wholesome food that fits into your day to day life.
Lesson #3 – Making the Rules
Because these are your rules, this is for you to think about and do. What I have outlined below are the rules that I follow and that have helped me to lose weight without ever feeling like I am “on a diet”.
1. No more seconds – I have eaten a healthy plant based diet for over 3 years now, but I have not lost weight on it. The main reason, is because I continue to eat too much. My rule now means I take one helping and that’s it. No matter how delicious. No matter if there is just a few mouthfuls left over that might go to waste. Just one, average size serving.
2. Two days of restricted eating – I read the 2 day diet by Dr Michelle Harvie and Professor Tony Howell and have found this to be a great concept that works for me. Basically for 2 days a week I eat very little – a bit of protein, a bit of fruit, a few nuts, and vegies. There are no vegan options in the book, so I modified it to suit my whole food plant based way of eating while still keeping to the basic concept in the book. My restricted days were usually Monday/Tuesday. However I was flexible with this rule, and on a few occasions made it Sunday/Monday, because of other things going on for me during the week. I have to say, I just love this way of eating. On my restricted days what works for me is the following:
Breakfast – a grilled vegan sausage with tomato
Lunch – 3 brazil nuts, 3 walnuts, and 4 almonds (or 10 cashews or 10 pistachio nuts), 3 dried apricot (or some fresh pineapple)
Dinner – Stir fried tofu with vegies
Snacks – 2 or 3 cups of coffee – soy latte
I always have enough energy on these days to still work, walk our dog and go to yoga. Sometimes I feel hungry on the second day. But it is okay, because I know the next day I can eat more. I have been finding though that I usually stick to the same breakfast through the week (sometimes adding a piece of bread), while on weekends I also add more vegetables to the grill. It’s important not to binge on the 5 days of regular eating as you are unlikely to achieve any results that way. The 5 days is about your new ‘normal’ way of eating. (The concept of fasting, proper water fasting, is very interesting and I hope to discuss this more in another post).
My plan is to keep doing the 5 and 2 diet until I’m at a weight that I want to maintain. It’s become easy for me and I’m enjoying it. Then I will go down to 6 days of normal and 1 day restricted for maintenance for awhile, before I go down to 7 days of normal eating. I anticipate that it may take me a year or so to get there. I’m not quite at my ideal weight yet, just about 3 more kilos to go. The last few can be the toughest. Because I am off on a month holiday, I’m going to work having one day a week of maintenance for the period that I’m away to hold what I have achieved so far, and then starting back with 2 days a week when I return from holiday. When you make the rules, you can also choose to alter them to fit your life.
3. Five days of healthy eating – The rest of the week I maintain a healthy diet. Lots of vegies, fruit, legumes, wholegrains – the fundamentals of good health. I don’t eat meat, fish, eggs or dairy. I do eat chocolate now and then. I aim to have no processed food at all, including of course no soft drinks. I drink water, coffee, herbal teas and wine (red wine). My wine consumption has greatly decreased and for one month I eliminated it completely. But I like a glass with a meal occasionally and would like to maintain this in my life, so am fitting this into my lifestyle in what I like to consider to be a healthy way, just like I have made room for good dark chocolate occasionally.
4. Regular activity – Doing some activity everyday is important. It’s not about going to the gym or going hard out at anything, but just keep active. You will lose weight without being active, but for good health and to feel good mentally and physically at least a 20 to 30 minute walk a day should be the minimum. Early on in my new eating plan I broke my toe and was in a moon boot and unable to exercise for 3 weeks. I still lost weight each week, but felt so much better once I started moving again. The more weight I lose the more I enjoy moving too. The exercises I most enjoy are yoga (which I feel I have a healthy addiction towards), walking (which my dog loves), and a little bit of jogging. If you are a couch potato then change. Get activity into your life. It is so worth it.
5. Chart your progress – In the preparation lesson I said weigh yourself so that you know your starting point. After that I recommend that you weigh yourself on the same day, at about the same time each week. No more no less. Watch the weight go down. I weigh myself every monday. My husband weighs himself every Saturday. He’s hoping his weight has gone up or stayed the same each week. I’m hoping that mine has come down. Also, during the first month I wrote down what I ate. I liked this discipline, but didn’t feel I needed it after the first 30 days.
6. Read – get some interesting books around you and read about life style changes. I already mentioned The 2 Day Diet book which I consider a must read, but a few other books I recommend are: The China Study and Whole both by T. Colin Campbell, and The Pleasure Trap by Douglas J. Lisle and Alan Goldhamer. A key website to look at is Forks over knives and I would highly recommend watching the Forks over Knives movie too.
That’s probably enough to get you going. The main thing is to have fun! At least let the fun outweigh the darker moments. The main thing is never to feel deprived. If you feel deprived you will get sad and start craving the food. Better to allow some of it occasionally then to feel bitter that you can’t eat it anymore. When I had my wine free month we had a dinner party and a friend brought over a very expensive, yummy bottle of red wine that he had been saving up. I said ‘no thank you I’m not having alcohol this month’, and didn’t really think much more about it. Next time we met he made a comment on how I had ‘missed out’. I quickly corrected him and said I didn’t feel that I had missed out at all. I had chosen not to have any wine.
Tomorrow I am off on my one month holiday. My next weight loss post may not be for awhile. If you are working on losing weight then please let me know how you go. I’d be interested in your thoughts on the books I recommended too, and if you have any other books you would add to my list. I am also always interested in hearing your thoughts, ideas or questions.
Till next time. Wishing you good health and happiness,