The Basics

"Put your money where your mouth is, or more to the point, a calorie eaten is a calorie eaten."

I can't tell you how many time I have heard that "put your money where your mouth is" over the years.  Too many to count for sure, but it never really carried much weight, until last summer when my family and I decided to get serious about losing weight (pun intended).  We have, on many occasions, dieted.  Sometimes diets were more successful than others, but our commitment was more to the idea that we needed to lose weight than to reality of what losing weight actually involves.  Like finding healthier choices for our favorite snacks.  Or understanding that if you make the choice to eat a huge slice of cake, then you will be eating celery for the rest of the day because the calories in the cake have to be counted.  Even worse, standing on the scale and facing the fact that year after year pounds have crept onto your body and you have ignored them as if they would go away if you just didn't acknowledge they were there. 

Life style changes require...well...change.  Change in the way you view food.  Change in your patterns of eating.  Change in the way you think about yourself. Change in the way you deal with stress.  Anyone who has ever attempted to change anything about themselves understands that change is difficult--not impossible--but difficult.  There is another old saying that comes to mind here: "Anything you do for three weeks consistently becomes a habit."  Yeah.  Not so much. At least not when it involves a conscious effort to change AND dieting.  Quite honestly, if I didn't love food, the ooey gooey yummy goodness of it, then I wouldn't have a weight  problem, right?

This journey that we are on, began on July 2, 2013, after a visit with our son, daughter-in-law, and grandson, who at the time was eight months old.  He is a very active child.  On this trip, it became very apparent that if we were going to keep up with him, we were going to have to make some drastic changes in our life.  I am a teacher, which allows me to have the summers off, therefore I have the time to do a lot of research during the summers.  Luckily, I like researching things on the internet.  Because I have spent more hours researching diets than I have spend sleeping, not joking, I know that you have three options: you can count fat grams, you can count carbs, or you can count calories.  I have tried the fat gram counting and the carb counting.  Both methods were successful for a time, but in the end, it is what you can't eat that ends up becoming an obsession and ultimately the downfall of the diet.  It is humbling to be brought down by a lowly noodle. Yes, pasta, not sweets, is my downfall.

So it seemed that counting calories, something I had avoided for years was the only way opened that I had not tried.  To a person who likes to eat, a 1200 calorie a day eating plan seems like a punishment rather than a lifestyle change.  Getting my family onboard with such a plan seemed as likely as finding Willie Wonka's golden ticket, which is, if you remember, imaginary. I was not surprised to learn (when I did some preliminary calculations) that I had been eating 1200 calories per meal, so I was basically going to have to take one meal and spread it out over a day.  Yeah, right?  Salad for breakfast...not so appealing.  Getting my husband to buy into such a plan was going to be right up there with getting Al Gore to admit that Global Warming is a natural part of our planet's renewal cycle--like defrosting a freezer if you are old enough to remember such a thing.  


But my hubby was willing to make some changes, remember the very active grandson? He is the light of his Pops life. So we took a trip to Wal-Mart. We walked up and down the aisles looking for a way to make a 1200 calorie a day eating plan work for us.  We starting with the protein drinks.  We needed something that could form the base of our daily diet that would be light on calories but satisfy our over stimulated hunger button, which had us on a nightly snacking frenzy.  We knew that we couldn't drink SlimFast. Been there, done that, didn't work--for us.  We knew we didn't want to mix, measure, or reconstitute anything. We soon learned that meal replacement drinks were out of our budget range and very high in calories.  We were there for thirty minutes or better, reading, comparing, discussing different brands.  Finally, we opted for **Kellogg's Special K protein shakes.  We started with the milk chocolate flavor, which has 190 calories per serving, and later branched out to the other flavor.  Because protein drinks tend to be sweet, we went looking for something that would add a savory element to our diet.  Yes I have been watching too much Food Network.  We ended up on the soup aisle.  There we found **Progresso's lite soups.  We discovered, after another marathon reading, comparing and discussing session,  that most of them are less that 150 calories per serving. That fit in with our calorie needs, so we loaded up on a variety of soups.  Since I am a soup and crackers girl from way back, we looked at crackers next.  One serving of saltine crackers is 5 crackers and is 70 calories--no matter what brand you buy. 5 crackers.  Wow.  I like to crumble 20 or so crackers in my bowl and then add soup and cheese.  Which might explain why eating soup had never  helped me lose weight. We decided to go crackerless, although I had my doubts as to whether or not I could eat soup without crackers. Since our commitment was to try a more or less liquid diet for 3 weeks, eating as often as we needed to not feel hungry, but not going over 1200 calories a day, I put aside my cracker woes and just went with the program.  **If you would like to check out either of these products, there is a link to the company website.  Look in the pages bar. I am not receiving money from either company, just providing information for your convenience.

IN THE BEGINNING we had a few false starts.  It is hard to realign your thinking after years of food abuse, but after the first week, we were able to stick with the eating plan.  The mix of sweet protein drinks for breakfast and snacks and the wide variety of Progresso soups we were able to eat made sticking to the plan almost painless.  We could have 3 shakes a day and 5 bowls of soup, 6 bowls if we ate soup that was less than 100 calories a bowl. We ended up sticking to this eating plan for 5 weeks and the 3 of us, myself, my husband, and my daughter lost a combined total of 55 pounds.  After the 5th week, we began to add salads, the occasional Subway sandwich, and here and there a junior hamburger meal.  Today, we have lost a combined total of 105 pounds.  Slow and steady is our motto. We are more interested in not gaining anything back then we are in getting to a specific weight by a certain date. 


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