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Enjoying food while losing weight


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Well, I am about as overweight as I care to be.  And it isn't much fun.  Yet I love to eat, cook and immerse myself in things food.  For my health and happines, I want to weigh 30 pounds less than I do.  I'm 6'1" tall, heavy boned and feel best at about 205 lbs.  I've lost significant amounts of weight at least four different times in my life but after a few years, an inexorable creeping upwards begins.  My tastes run toward fat (who's doesn't?).  I love bread and butter, pasta, rib-eye steaks and hamburgers.  So my question to the group is: has anyone found a way to have as much enjoyment with food as we all seem to do and lose weight in the process?

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Jaybee, it can be done.  However, it cannot be done with a "diet".  When you diet, your body actually slows down the metabolism because it is concerned that it does not have enough fat.  So, when you resume "normal" eating, you gain even more weight in the form of fat because your metabolism has been slowed.  Couple revolutions of this vicious cycle and you are pushing 350.

The answer is to make changes in your diet that you can live with forever, and that do not slow your metabolism but speed it up.  Here is what I do:

(1) Exercise; no one wants to, but it is the best way to keep your metabolism cranked up and burn off that steakhouse dinner.  At least 3 times a week do 25 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular/aerobic work like stairmaster, treadmill, etc.  

(2) Lift weights; the more muscle that you have, the more your body must burn calories to maintain it.  Nothing major here, just some moderate lifting.  Try it after you have finished your 25 minutes of cardio so you don't have to be in the gym everyday.

(3) Eat less at each meal, but eat more often.  This also keeps the metabolism cranked up.  Not eating all day and then pigging out at night is the best way to gain a lot of weight.

(4) Try to be sensible at some meals.  Not every meal has to be a blowout gourmet experience.  I try to eat "healthy" during the week, and then eat whatever I want on the weekends.  That is when I am usually dining out or with friends anyway.

If you take these four steps you will be healthy, slimmer, and most importantly not locked into some crazy fad diet where you can only eat pickles and sausage.  

Just my $.02

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Ron gave fabulous advice. Don't "diet" -- instead, focus on incorporating healthy lifestyle habits. Diets don't work anyway, and for a food lover, they're intolerable!

I lost 25 lbs 12 years ago and have managed to keep it off, plus or minus five pounds, the entire time. Exercise was the key missing ingredient for me. In the past 6 years or so, I stopped viewing exercise as "exercise" and more as a sport. I signed up for short triathlons, and more recently I've gotten more into long-distance running (incorporating weights as a cross-training activity). And lo and behold, even more fat came off, even as I was eating pretty much what I wanted on the weekends. It will be easier to keep the fat off if you do both cardio AND weights. Weights builds more fat-burning muscle, and cardio helps rev up the fat-burning enzymes in those muscles. Before people start thinking I'm some sort of jock, I have to point out that I was the one who was ALWAYS chosen last for gym class! If you're at all interested in starting running, "The Penguin Chronicles" by John Bingham is a good inspirational book for beginners.

Another tweak I'm starting to incorporate in my diet: soup. Crescent Dragonwagon has a great idea in her book "Soup and Bread" on turning any combination of vegetables into a base soup, then measuring out portions of protein, fat, and starch choices to add to the soup to create a meal. I'm not explaining it particularly well (I need more coffee), but the premise involves turning "free" vegetables into something really delicious rather than just steaming them into a ho-hum side dish. It's great for most weekdays and allows me to splurge on rich food without guilt on the other days. Best of all, I still feel like I'm pampering myself even though I'm eating lightly. A French-inspired vegetable soup, a hunk of baguette, a small piece of rich cheese, and fruit for dessert -- I don't think "I'm dieting". I think "ahhhhh......".

Best of luck. Interesting (and important!) topic!

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I lost over 50lbs even as my food geekiness was turning into an obsession, starting about a year and a half ago. I did it by watching what I eat carefully and working out daily. I've come to the point where I'm addicted to exercise endorphins. I schedule exercise first, and then I schedule the rest of my day. I usually go to the gym in the morning before work, though that will change once school starts in July. Chocokitty is right in that exercise should be fun if possible. I don't mind working out in a gym, and I listen to music and read during my cardio portion (I've almost completed Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking while working out over the past month).The time flies. And I like pushing myself. I also ride my bicycle in season which is fun, I love the feeling of speed, and periodically I go hiking with friends. If it wasn't at least somewhat enjoyable I'd never do it.

As for watching what I eat, I've found the keys to be allowing myself the foods I love but in small quantities if they come with lots of calories and fat. I try to stick to whole-grain stuff. I try to only splurge on one big meal per week, and I challenge myself to make it a meal that counts rather than something junky. I eat butter, but I measure it out and make compensation for its calories. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and have been known to polish off a plate of crudite with a seasoned salt as accompaniment and call it lunch. I barely eat red meat and fowl but I consume fish three to five times per week. Learn about nutritional analysis and try to add up the foods you're eating and see where you stack up. One thing that really helped me was writing down everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) I eat. It's tough at first but it's the only way you can start to analyze what you're doing well and what you could do better.

If it's possible for me to do it...a weakling, somebody who loves food but at least initially didn't care for activity...then surely you can. Consulting with a nutritionist worked for me. Plans like Weight Watchers and Taking Off Pounds Sensible (TOPS) can help for others. And some people do just fine by watching what they eat independently.

Finally, lifestyle changes such as weight loss are personal choices, and I'd never come down on somebody who chose not to manage their weight. I didn't for a long time, and I understand why people don't. That being said, it really is true that I had more energy and less health problems after taking my weight off. Good luck whatever your decision may be.

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Ron, Malawry and Choco, good ideas and approaches. Perhaps not sooddly, my interest in really complex cooking started when I was on a serious weight loss program ten or so years ago.  I decided to cook really good tasting food that was not so calorie dense and got very involved in the process. My birthday is May 22 and I am committed to being on a turnaround plan by then.  I agree with your point that "diets" don't work, only a change in eating style and an increase in regular exercise really work.  One has to reach the "tipping poiint" where you make the committment, make the plan, and (as Nike says) "just do it!"

Perhaps I'll publish my weight loss (or gain) each week on Fridays here if that wouldn't be an abuse of the forum.  I went to WW once and was not to keen on the meetings.  Maybe (Jason) you could start a new topic category called "enjoying food and not being fat" or some more elegant title?

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Jaybee,

Congrats on your upcoming birthday and your decision to make some life changes. Good timing, as well - my suggestion is that it is always easier to lose weight in the spring and summer, when fresh fruit and veggies are plentiful. Recently, I (sob!) gave up my morning bagel and cream cheese, replaced it with oatmeal or cereal. That one change and I've seen results. (Well, with NY bagels the size they are...)

Best of luck, and you'll always get supported here!

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Jaybee, you've already made a tremendous step just by making the decision that you want to lose weight--being ready to do it is a big part of success.  About a year ago I embarked on a similar journey--I just had gotten fed up with feeling larger than I'd like to be, and joined Weight Watchers.  I lost about 25 lbs and have managed to keep that off now for the last 6 months.  The thing that the WW program really helped me with was understanding more about different types of foods and their effects on me, and, most of all, thinking about, and tracking what I eat (don't be daunted by that concept, it's really easy once you get into the habit of it).  The idea of keeping a journal of what you eat, especially at the beginning, can be tremendously helpful.  I feel like now I appreciate food so much more and, like many of the others here have mentioned, have learned how to strike an appropriate balance between eating, exercise and weight control.  I don't ever think of myself as dieting, but more like I just eat healthy now, and have made some lifestyle changes--it's much more like a mindset than a diet.  And, please don't think I'm pushing WW on you, I think whatever approach works for people is the way to go.  Best of luck to you and let us know how it goes!

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PS--I love all those foods you listed, too. It's not like you have to give everything up, it's really about eating smaller portions, maybe not eating those foods as often, etc.  Cooking-wise I also have found it fun to experiment with different recipes and try to make a healthier version of something and still have it taste good.  The creativity of that can be a good distraction from feeling like you're being deprived or something.

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(4) Try to be sensible at some meals.  Not every meal has to be a blowout gourmet experience.  I try to eat "healthy" during the week, and then eat whatever I want on the weekends.  That is when I am usually dining out or with friends anyway.

jaybee--you've gotten the best advice so far--ron's bit about moderating during the week and blowing out on weekends works for me, too--i skip supper 2-3 nights during the week. but because we are all different in so many ways, i thought i'd add a little something--if you are really commited to this and find that certain approaches aren't giving you the results you want, consider any and all alternatives.

i am an avid yogini.  that said, i quickly add that yoga isn't for everyone, but here's what i think it can do for someone trying to lose weight--it reintroduces you to your body in a way you've never imagined--it can help you appreciate what is already good about your physical self, while helping you to love unconditionally the rest of it, even it needs some help.  sorry to sound sappy, but i believe this is important.  western culture is narcissistic and appearance-obsessed--we all should be able to love our physical bodies, regardless of what we look like.

in addition, i enjoy reading about ayurveda.  often yogis stress an ascetic lifestyle which frankly isn't realistic for about 99% of us.  i tend to be a vegetarian in practice but not in theory-- i think eating meat is right and necessary for many people, and i also eat it on occasion, if i feel the need.  ayurvedic philosophy is a nice companion to yoga in that it can help you understand your physical type and your specific dietary needs--that's why the idea of a "diet" doesn't work, in addition to slowing down metabolism--you need to be eating foods that satisfy and nourish YOU.

good luck on this journey--again, be opne and adventurous and when you get discouraged, come on line and tell us and we'll lend an ear and cheer you up

:smile:

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i am an avid yogini.  that said, i quickly add that yoga isn't for everyone, but here's what i think it can do for someone trying to lose weight--it reintroduces you to your body in a way you've never imagined--it can help you appreciate what is already good about your physical self, while helping you to love unconditionally the rest of it, even it needs some help.  sorry to sound sappy, but i believe this is important.  western culture is narcissistic and appearance-obsessed--we all should be able to love our physical bodies, regardless of what we look like.

in addition, i enjoy reading about ayurveda.  often yogis stress an ascetic lifestyle which frankly isn't realistic for about 99% of us.  i tend to be a vegetarian in practice but not in theory-- i think eating meat is right and necessary for many people, and i also eat it on occasion, if i feel the need.  ayurvedic philosophy is a nice companion to yoga in that it can help you understand your physical type and your specific dietary needs--that's why the idea of a "diet" doesn't work, in addition to slowing down metabolism--you need to be eating foods that satisfy and nourish YOU.

One of the several reasons I stopped eating meat and dairy was because I had been practicing yoga since the middle of last year. Although the practice of yoga doesn't require someone to be a vegetarian, I think it was a natural progression of the practice of yoga and the philosophy of non-violence to stop eating animal products. I also wouldn't be able to breathe effectively if I were still eating cheese. (Notably, I know an instructor of iyengar yoga who insists she still eats dairy "so that I'll still be able to tolerate it". All I can say is your mileage may vary.)

The most dramatic thing about quitting meat and dairy  - dairy especially - is that it's a very effective way to lose weight fast and keep it off. Also - and I know this is a very unpopular view - if you knew of all the blood, pus, and fecal matter that goes into a typical gallon of milk - evem "organic" milk - you probably would find it easier to quit eating dairy products.

You realize, don't you, the laughable thing about this thread is that it's all fat people telling you how to lose weight. :raz: I remember in high school there was this obese and unpopular girl who would tell anyone who would listen about the diet that worked best for her. Unfortunately, she apparently wasn't able to stick to it very long at a time. :sad:

Oh: but the one thing you might also keep in mind is that boosting your fiber intake will help you - if not actually lose weight - absorb fewer calories by running food through your system faster. It will also lower your risk of colon cancer. :biggrin:

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Franklanguage,

I don't agree that this thread is laughable because it is "all fat people telling you how to lose weight."  I, for one, am not at all fat.  I am simply telling Jaybee how I maintain my weight and health.  

I would also like to know what impact cheese has on one's ability to breath.  I certainly recognize that cheese is high in fat and should be consumed in moderation, but I have never had a problem breathing as a result.  

As for milk containing blood, pus, and fecal matter, I am interested where you get this information, and what effect pasteurization has on the presence of these contaminants.  Are you under the impression that this is limited to milk, and that other types of food do not come into contact with bacteria or unpleasant substances?  Apples are often full of worms, leeks are full of dirt, etc. etc.  I mean food is natural and it is dirty.  I think most people would be surprised at what fod looks like before it hits the supermarket.

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Few people know more about weight loss than those who have attempted to lose weight, even if they were not successful. I think there's nothing inherently funny about anybody of any size giving weight management tips, unless of course they're delivered with a sense of humor. I am not a small woman, nor am I what I'd consider "fat" by my own definitions, and my experiences are just as valid as those offered by anybody else who has tried to manage their weight. Let's not laugh at people who ask reasonable questions, and then offer reasonable advice in turn. That's a no-win situation.

I do agree with your comments on fiber. Not so sure on the dairy stuff, I'd love to see some links as well. We humans are designed to be able to handle a wide variety of foods from many plant and animal sources. It's one of the beautiful things about being human that we can choose to be omnivorous or vegetarian, among a million other dietary choices, depending on economics, biome, cultural experiences, beliefs, or whims. Humans exist healthily with and without a wide variety of foods. I don't believe in villifying any of them, even though I have historically eschewed many broad categories of food.

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Whoa, Franklanguage--if I could be so "frank" as to say, I am not, nor have I ever been considered FAT--who's callin' who fat, here?  Leading a healthier lifestyle isn't all about fat vs. thin...

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Few people know more about weight loss than those who have attempted to lose weight, even if they were not successful.

People who have been "lean" all their lives rarely struggle with the infernal balance of eating enjoyment and weight control.  I know there's no "magic bullet" answer. Discipline, motivation,  restructuring how one eats and how one burns calories are the ways to do this.  Support and encouragement from well- meaning people, fat or thin, are a big help.  Thanks.

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Ok, I retired after 49 in kitchens, or at least always in the Hospitality field. Yes I was about 20/25 pounds overweight. Eating habits (times) did me in.

Breakfast, everyday except Saturdays, fairly large bowl of Muesli (imported from Europe) with a Banana and 1/2 pint of Milk, On Saturdays it is Bagels with the whole schmeer, 4/5 Confitures, Goat Cheese, Mortadella, Smoked Salmon etc. Always 4/5 cups good strong Coffee, not Espresso, with light Cream, not half & half, and sugar.

And now her it is: the one main meal, hot, at noon or there abouts. NOT AT NIGHT! Never skimping on ingredients, but amounts.

Dinner is what comes along, a Pumpernickel sandwich with Salami, or just Fruit sometimes, or Cottage Cheese, or if there was Cake and Tea in the afternoon (at least four times a week), maybe nothing. Lots and lots of Water all day. I lost over 22 pounds within the last two years.

Try it you like it!

Peter
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if you knew of all the blood, pus, and fecal matter that goes into a typical gallon of milk - evem "organic" milk - you probably would find it easier to quit eating dairy products.

If you knew of all the garbage and sh$% that gets dumped on "organic" veggies you'd think more than twice about using them at all...

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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jaybee...

I won't repeat all the good advice here, but want to emphasize one of Ron's original points...I've found that a simple weight program is the most effective thing I do (I also am fortunate enough to be able to commute by bicycle every day, and I also try to get at least 3 aerobic sessions in as well...like Malawry, I read while I work out, and it makes the time pass quickly).

But back to the weights....a study by some guys at OSU determined that a single set of a few basic lifts (ones that hit several of the major muscle groups at once) is enough to build muscle mass. The secret is lifting as much as you can...when you hit 12 reps and you're not just barely getting the weight up, add more. My weight routine consists of three simple lifts (2 w/ machines, 1 w/free weights), and it's the one thing that made my pants looser.

I think it's also important to make your exercise a regular part of your schedule, not just something you fit in when you have the time...put it in your planner or online scheduler or whatever, and treat it just like a meeting with the boss or any other important appointment.

I'm defintitely not one of those genetically thin types (and it's genes that primarily determine body type), and I love to eat, so I know I have to keep moving. One of the wonderful ironies about exercise is that it's an appetite suppressant. I rarely feel hungry right after a workout. The other great thing about it is that it makes you feel better and will keep you that way as you get older. My mother still works out (water aerobics these days) at 76 and is incredibly active.....and she makes the best pie ever.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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You realize, don't you, the laughable thing about this thread is that it's all fat people telling you how to lose weight. :raz:

Fat? Me? Hardly. Obviously you haven't seen me in a leather....uh....scratch that. Wouldn't want to be starting any scandalous rumors! :raz:

The unique thing is that most (all?) of us on this thread have kept the weight off for long periods of time. THAT'S the test for success. I think that qualifies us to at least share what's worked in our fat battle.....

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Peter, I like the idea of "indulging" on weekends for one or two meals and being disciplined during the week.  I did that once for a time and it helped me sustain a weight loss for several years.  (Then I fell off the wagon  :sad: ).  Good program.

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You realize, don't you, the laughable thing about this thread is that it's all fat people telling you how to lose weight. :raz: I remember in high school there was this obese and unpopular girl who would tell anyone who would listen about the diet that worked best for her. Unfortunately, she apparently wasn't able to stick to it very long at a time. :sad:

I suppose since I'm skinny this must make me an authority on weight loss.  Here's what I do:  sit in front of my computer all day and eat whatever I want when I'm hungry, especially concentrating on eating out at least once per day.  I'm sure that if everyone follows my advice they will immediately reduce their BMI to under 20.

Oh, and did I mention you need to have a fast metabolism for my plan to work?  Definitely look into that.

Obviously, people that have ever had a need to lose or maintain their weight are going to have better advice than people who are magically and naturally thin.

Here's my one piece of advice, though:  don't feel the need to clean your plate.  When you feel like you're done eating, stop.  So many people I eat with seem to feel compelled to finish every last bit on their plate regardless of whether or not they're still hungry.  Listen to your body.

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I'm average weight for my height, but note the following habits (which may or may not be helpful or hurtful to weight control) --

(1) I do not generally eat breakfast.

(2) I drink only diet soda, and avoid fruit juice when possible (in favor of bottled water).

(3) If I have eaten particularly vigorously, I may skip cheese courses that do not look appealing. (I have been less effective with this approach of late.)

(4) I occasionally skip a meal, sometimes lunch when I am working.

(5) I do not eat much pasta or rice. I do not eat bread unless I am at a restaurant.

(6) I do not take sugar with coffee, of which I drink a good amount.

(7) I stay up quite late, even when I am not working.  :wink:

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jaybee [& everyone]--

because i love my yoga, and because i think it can do good for others, i want to clarify--

lots of people who "get into" yoga may also start to get into the whole natural foods/ alternative living thing that often accompanies yoga teaching & practice--but you don't have to.  when franklanguage talks about giving up meat & dairy as a natural progression, FL is till talking about a personal and unique experience.

believe me, between my massage therapist, chiropractors, yoga teachers, etc, i have heard it all, including all the typical meat & dairy horror stories. i always rely on my common sense to help me wade through all the myths and misinformation [ oh, the latest: women shouldn't drink milk as it actually causes osteoporosis--okay, and i want to see the results of at least a dozen logitudinal studies!] . the interesting thing about ayurveda is that it DOES NOT proscribe meat or dairy.  i recommend deepak chopra's Perfect Health as a good starter, IF you are interested.  anyone else, as well.

i am interested in the different responses to the fat attack:  am I fat?  well....what's today?  and what's average?

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Let's not laugh at people who ask reasonable questions, and then offer reasonable advice in turn. That's a no-win situation.

I apologize for being flippant - but I did use a smiley! As a matter of fact, I was put on a diet - by a doctor who happened to be obese himself - at the age of ten, and another at eleven, and by the time I was out of my teens I decided I was through with diets.

I do agree with your comments on fiber. Not so sure on the dairy stuff, I'd love to see some links as well.

Well, I have posted Not-milk several times on eGullet. There is also Milk Sucks!, which includes its own links  page. (Hey, folks: I don't make this stuff up.)

We humans are designed to be able to handle a wide variety of foods from many plant and animal sources. It's one of the beautiful things about being human that we can choose to be omnivorous or vegetarian, among a million other dietary choices, depending on economics, biome, cultural experiences, beliefs, or whims. Humans exist healthily with and without a wide variety of foods. I don't believe in villifying any of them, even though I have historically eschewed many broad categories of food.

I also try to be diplomatic, and I'm well aware that my views are unpopular here. It is true that a group of humans in the Andes once were forced by circumstances to eat their frozen dead comrades just to survive, but in a world where we are often able to choose what we eat we can sometimes make educated choices. The Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine has a page entitled "Shoudln't I drink milk?" which puts a lot of commonly-held beliefs to rest.

I am also the first to admit that dairy products are enjoyable, even addictive. Cheese is undeniably delicious, and most people are willing to put up with the consequences - possible discomfort or worse - of eating it. Cheese, after all, contains casomorphin, which is an opioid substance. When I say it causes respiratory distress, I mean that it causes everyone to produce varying amounts of mucus. This is established; people of Nordic backgrounds tend to metabolize dairy products better than many other ethnic/racial groups, and people of African ancestry can't metabolize dairy at all, which makes it positively criminal for the milk-mustache ads to target African-Americans the way they do. ("Hey, folks, I don't make this stuff up.")

But I digress. I hope I've provided enough links.

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