May 18, 2012

How did you create your weight loss plan?

This post is part of a reader Q&A.  I'm more than happy to answer your questions about my weight loss process (or anything).  My email button is on the sidebar.  Just please remember that I am not a doctor, dietitian or a nutritionist.  These answers are absolutely specific to me and my personal journey.

Question: How did you create your weight loss plan?  
The creation of my weight loss plan was an intuitive, experiment-and-see kind of thing. Initially, I did very little research or planning. I just jumped right in by starting a daily walking routine. I didn't want to start with a diet book or an episode of Oprah. I wanted to take real action and start moving - which is what Oprah and the weight loss book will probably tell you to do anyway. Everyone is always looking for an easy way to lose weight. But I knew that real and permanent weight loss would only come one way for me: diet and exercise. (You know, the hard way.)

Move your body.  Walk. Go outside and put one foot in front of the other.  Your pace, footwear, and route do not matter.  Just get moving.  This will do two really important things for you:  1) It will feel good to move and boost your morale and 2) You will begin to burn calories.

Stop eating the thing that is making you fat.  Once I established a consistent walking routine, I was free to start expanding my view. I had to do a little investigative work.  I wrote down what I ate for a few days just to see what I was really consuming during the day.  Often times I find that what we think we're eating differs greatly from what we're actually eating.  So write it down to get a true and honest beat on the kinds of foods you are consuming.  So the question is: What is making me fat?  Refined sugar and flour- plain and simple.  I am a sugar addict and always will be.  Most people are.

It was really important to me at the beginning of this process to be free from calorie counting and restrictive portions.  I knew I wasn't ready for that kind of regimen.  So instead of restricting the amount of food I ate, I simply cut out as much sugar as I possibly could.  It was pretty easy to cut the obvious sources of sugar.  Ice cream, candy, Pepsi, venti mocha frappucinos and baked goodies were all the first things to go.  The more insidious piece of the puzzle was all the refined sugar and white flour I was unknowingly consuming.

This is when I started doing some research.  It turns out that sugar (usually disguised as some form of genetically modified corn product) is hiding in almost every packaged convenience food in America.  And I can write with confidence that this kind of sugar is the source of my own weight problem and the cause of our modern American obesity epidemic.  So Step 2 (Stop Eating Sugar) was much more difficult to implement.  It meant a total overhaul of my diet.  Here are just a few things that I ate on a daily basis for decades that contain high fructose corn syrup:

Yoplait yogurt
Most Salad Dressings
Special K Cereal (in fact almost all Kellogg's products)
Most Peanut Butters
Bottled Juices
Whole Wheat Breads
Thomas' English Muffins
Pasta Sauces
Power Bar
Miracle Whip
Ritz Crackers
Knudsen Cottage Cheese
Claussen's Pickles
Kraft Cream Cheeses
Some Campbell's Soups

So cutting the sugar was key.  And when I started doing this, the weight began to drop off at a very fast rate.  The first week that I cut sugar, I lost four pounds.  And when I begin to reintroduce sugar into my diet, the weight loss slows down or stops.  There is a direct correlation (for me and my body) between obesity and sugar consumption.

Question: How did you decide on raw food and juicing?
Once I cut sugar from my diet, the question became "Okay, what can I eat?"  And as I said before, I wasn't ready to restrict my portions or count calories or weigh my food.  All of that seemed a little to involved for someone just starting out.  Someone recommended that I take a look at The Raw Detox Diet by Natalia Rose.  Some of the book is pure crazy talk, but most of the principles are sound.  So I took some of the basics and started to apply them to my meals.  Basically, I could eat as much food as I wanted as long as it was a whole, unprocessed, raw food.  The book had lots of easy recipes that even a non-chef like me could prepare.  So I gave it a whirl.

I noticed a huge difference right away in my energy levels, skin tone and weight loss.  I felt good about what I was eating and I could eat as much of it as I wanted.  It turned out to be the perfect fit.  The thing to keep in mind when trying out a new diet or a new weight loss plan set forth by someone else is that it has to be sustainable for YOU.  If you read something and think, "Well, there is no way I can do that for any extended period of time," then walk away from it.  It has to work for you or you won't be able to stick with it.  And the truth is that no one book or video or lifestyle plan will be your be all end all.  Feel free to pick and choose what works for you. It was so important to me that food remain an enjoyable part of my day.  I love whole foods and salads, but I also love wine, dark chocolate and cooked fish.  So, I make it work for me while adhering to my no refined sugar (or very little refined sugar) policy.  And I'm not a tyrant - I still eat a sweet treat every once in a while.

The Raw Food Detox Diet also promotes juicing - especially green vegetable juice.  But it wasn't until I saw Fat Sick and Nearly Dead (a documentary) that I hopped on the juicing band wagon.  Eating the Standard American Diet for so long depleted most of my nutrient stores.  I needed to heal my tissues and reinvigorate my body at a cellular level.  Juicing was the answer for me.  It is a fantastic way to get a lot of phyto-nutrients and live enzymes into your body very quickly.

Now, 11 months later, I'm still at it.  I still juice most every morning and I eat a partially raw diet.  When I'm feeling low energy and need a pick me up, I just amp up the raw food intake and dial down the cooked stuff.  I am by no means a raw foodist nor do I aspire to be one.  However, these principles have really worked for me over the past year.


Lelania said...

What type / brand of juicer do you use? I've been looking into getting one, but there are literally dozens of types to choose from and also the prices vary dramatically as well! I'd love to hear!

Sarah Greenman said...

I used a Breville Juicer and it was great! I still use it and it's held up like a champ!