I wrote in this post about how I arrived at the point of having gained 20 lbs really quickly after a lifetime of not needing to think too much about my weight.
In today’s post, I want to get into details about the book and meal plan I used to take the weight off.
Again, I want to reiterate that these are the things that worked for ME. I am not in any way medically trained, nor would I say that these strategies would work for everyone. I just have found so much satisfaction and energy in being lighter, eating better and caring for myself that I wanted to share.
The book that helped me put it all together.
I mentioned in my previous post that, although I knew the concepts of eating well, I somehow couldn’t find a way to actually make it work. I couldn’t execute on the concepts. And that drove me nuts. I live my life executing, people. That’s what I get paid to do. That I couldn’t do it here started my shame spiral spinning.
That’s where this book changed everything for me. Everything. The book is “Look Better Naked” and I it bugs me that I can’t remember how I stumbled across it. But somehow, thank God, I did. (By the way, links to the book are affiliate links to Amazon. Full disclosure because you deserve that.) And let us all take just a moment to get over the slight cheese factor in the name and cover of this book. It took me a moment. So glad I did.
The book covers all manner of good things and has a ton of great content on issues beyond just weight loss. Seriously, lots of great stuff there. But, for me, the absolute best part, the part that changed my life, was the 6-week menu plan. Yes, I know other books have these kinds of plans. For me, though, this plan just felt right.
- I was only making a 6-week commitment. I felt I could probably do just about anything for the 6 weeks leading up to my 40th birthday.
- It didn’t force me to completely avoid anything. This was key for me. (And this is something that is very different for different people.) For me, with food, I didn’t want to be told I couldn’t have something. That just irritates me and makes me crave that thing more. This book gives you the ability to have “cheat meals”. It gives you the ability to eat carbs (in a limited and smart way) and yummy fats (again, in moderation). It even gives you the ability to drink a few times a week. Nothing was off limits. That worked for me.
- It was a plan. It told me exactly what to eat each meal (plus 2 snacks). This was huuuuuuuge for me. I’m the boss at work and a Mom at home and I take the lead a lot on household-related matters, so it was nice to have a place in my life where I could give over control. My mantra became “I’m on Plan”, which meant “This is what I eat and that’s it”. The decision-making was taken away from me. It was so freeing, Penelopes. I have a ton of discipline in my life, but not where it involves food. Just knowing that there was a book telling me what to eat (and, by definition, not eat) totally took away the need for me to use discipline in making food choices. I no longer was tempted to grab food from my son’s plate when he was having dinner simply because that food wasn’t on The Plan. So I didn’t eat it. This seems to mean I used “will power”. I did not. Didn’t need any will power. In the past, I felt all I was doing was fighting cravings and thoughts of food. With this meal plan, I never white knuckled the process.
- The Menu Plan gave me the ability to swap meals out if something didn’t sound good to me. So, say the Plan called for me to have fish for dinner. Well, I don’t like fish. So, I can swap that night’s dinner for another night’s dinner which included a protein I did enjoy. Or, maybe I just couldn’t stomach a salad for lunch one day. No problem, there are TON of other options, including lots of meals with carbs if I was craving a starchy something. I could eat what sounded good to me, but still be “on plan”. I could give up control but still have control. Perfection.
- The food was good. Let me say that again. The. Food. Was. Good. I honestly am one of those people who loves junk food. In my personal heaven, I’d eat a box of Cheez Its every day. People who say broccoli tastes better than a french fry annoy me. So, I was a total skeptic that eating “whole” could be tasty and satisfying. That’s where this book changed things for me. It gave me specific meals to make that were so yummy. I honestly enjoy food now way more than I did before. True story.
- I was never hungry. In fact, I experienced hunger more when I was eating 3,200 calories a day than I do eating 1,300 calories a day. Again, true, people. It’s about eating the right foods in the right combinations.
- When I ate well for a week, I started feeling so much more energy. Seriously. I’d always doubted that really happened when I’d heard people talk about it. But it really did. Gone were the blood sugar crashes that plagued me previously. I had consistent energy all day. And what with the 2-year-old, that was a must-have.
To prove that the food is both delish and easy, I want to share some of my own photos with you.
This is a sample breakfast. This is half of a whole wheat English muffin, a slice of ham, a tomato and an ounce of shredded gruyere, broiled in the toaster oven. With two dried figs. Which, may I say, I didn’t even know existed, let alone tasted this good. Love me some dried figs. So does my toddler.
This is a sample lunch. It’s a cup of Trader Joe’s Red Pepper and Tomato soup, 3 tbsp of hummus, a pile of various raw veggies, 2 Ry-Krisp crackers with yet another tbsp of of hummus on them, plus my iced coffee. Totally full after this, I tell you.
Another lunch. One piece of toasted wheat sourdough bread with 2 tbsp hummus, 2 slices of turkey, tomato, red onion and a quick homemade guacamole of 1/2 avocado, lemon juice a pinch of salt and some minced garlic to taste.
And one dinner. This is 3 oz chicken breast (Trader Joe’s Balsamic Rosemary chicken), roasted brussels sprouts, a small sweet potato with a tsp of honey and cinnamon and a green salad with a smoked paprika dressing I made myself. Super simple and I can use it for days. Looks good, right?
I’m telling you guys, using their recipes and getting creative with the flavor boosters they allow (and you’ve got to try Trader Joe’s Garlic Aioli Mustard – like, now!), you can have absolutely delicious, satisfying food. No white knuckles in sight.
Here are couple of inside pages to give you a sense of what the entire eating plan involves.
While I followed The Plan very closely, I did not follow it 100%. I decided on a few changes I was going to make before I even started because I knew I wanted to set myself up for success. And this is key. I know enough at my age to know myself. I know what will work and not work for me. You should feel free to adjust any plan you embark upon in ways that will make you successful over the long term. Sure, I could starve myself and be Stabby Skinny Mommy, but that ain’t gonna last. Or equal any sort of real weight loss. No, I needed some very Meredith-specific ground rules for this to work.
Let me tell you some things I did to make this plan work for me.
- I decided to continue to have my morning cup of joe and my afternoon iced coffee. Neither is on The Plan. But, I knew I wouldn’t stick to anything without my coffee. I kept them in my daily routine and still lost 20 lbs in 2 months.
- I had a “cheat meal” once a week, instead of the every 10 days the plan calls for. I don’t like to cook on Saturday nights. I never have. That’s the one night of the week that my husband brings home the bacon, literally. He gets me a full, nasty meal from McDonald’s every Saturday night. And I enjoy it enormously and without shame. Then, the next morning, I am very glad to be back On Plan. For some people, this would knock them off plan and I get that. Again, we each need to know ourselves well enough to make the choices that are right for us. If I didn’t cheat, I wouldn’t stay On Plan.
- The Plan, if followed, keeps you at about 1400 calories/day, which is a very smart number for healthy weight loss. I decided that I was going to go a tad more aggressive and kept myself to 1300 calories/day for the first 8 weeks. Again, that number was higher on Saturday when I had my cheat meal, but overall, this was the right number for me. I found it easy to do, too, in that I never was hungry enough to eat both snacks that The Plan called for. By eating just one, I kept myself to my calorie goal.
- I did not do the 2-day cleanse to start. I think it’s absolutely fine to do, even good, but, for me, I knew that wasn’t the way. I wasn’t ready to go that cold turkey right at the start. I jumped in on Day 1 of the 6-week plan in the book.
- I work a lot and have a super busy life, just like you. So I took as much help with food prep as I could from places like Trader Joe’s. For example, I eat a ton of Trader Joe’s Mediterranean Hummus, instead of making my own. Also, they have some awesome pre-cooked chicken breasts in 3 different flavors that I use to quickly add proteins to my meals. Honestly, if I had to make chicken breasts fresh for each meal, I just…wouldn’t. Same thing with their seasoned Pork Loin and packages of things like broccoli, fresh green beans, butternut squash, mushrooms and stir fry veggies.Taking help where I could from Trader Joe’s has enabled this to work for me.
This book helped me to finally put it all together. By following The Plan, I was suddenly eating in a much more balanced, whole way. My consumption of fresh veggies and lean proteins skyrocketed. My hunger disappeared and I finally, finally began to start feeling in control of this previously uncontrollable aspect of my life.
And you all know I loved that.
Next post, the app I used to help keep me eating consciously. Good news: it totally appealed to the compulsive, list-making side of me.