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Five Ways to Plan Weight Loss or Just Manage Your Weight
My wife and I are writing this blog to let everyone know our weight loss secret and how we maintain our average figures without sticking to a diet. We have scratched dieting from our lifestyle and instead choose to plan our meals with nutrition, portion, and calories in mind. Although we are conscious of what food we eat and don’t eat; we really don’t follow a typical dieting regimen. To put it in perspective our diet is like going to an amusement park. We go to the amusement park to have fun, although there are maps to guide us through the amusement park, we don’t use the maps and just be spontaneous. In the same way we want to have healthy lives, although there are many programs to guide us on our way, we don’t use the guides and are mostly spontaneous with what we eat. Although we plan our meals, we don’t follow a diet. We eat vegetable based meals with some meat, dairy, and typical good stuff. We consistently stay the same weight, and are constantly improving our way to healthier bodies. Maintaining our weight or trying to muscle some weight loss has never been much of an issue for either of us because we follow some basic rules.
The problem with diets
All the typical diets work, many of us have tried more than a few. Many of us could name at least three off the top of our heads and know of people who have experienced some success. What most of these weight loss diets seem to have in common is that they all seem to cut something out of your regular meals that you can’t live without. Where one diet may call for you to cut out starches, another asks for you to cut out meat. They all seem to ring out the same tune, do this drastic measure and you will lose weight. However, after a period of time we get bored of not eating cheese, potatoes, or having a plain old hamburger. Then the diet fails, because we begin to crave the very things we are trying so hard to avoid in the name of weight loss. What is the solution to not dieting? Its simple, if you want to lose weight you can, you just have to plan for it. We are going to teach you how we do it. Please note, we are not dietitians, we are not doctors, we have no experience that qualifies us in any way that you can rely on for medical or nutritional advice for your weight loss. Now that you know that we have no credentials, you are probably wondering why you should keep reading. Its because, we are educated, well read on nutrition, and we will give you all the references you need to make your own informed decisions.
#1 Food that is terribly bad for you, don’t eat it!
In 2015 the United States released the “2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans”, which is a breath taking piece of work. Forget about the food pyramid we learned when we grew up, that is trash, the new guidelines are backed up by thorough research, and was put together by a throng of doctors and scientists. On the committee alone there are 14 doctors from 14 different top tier universities. That’s just the icing on the cake, whats more impressive is the size and the scope of the entire project. Putting something together of this magnitude is mind blowing and I am sure it came at a staggering cost to the American public. What’s interesting is one of the key findings of the report is something we all know — you are what you eat. If you eat food that is bad for you, you get diseases like cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Its time that we get smart about what makes up good nutrition and what does not and making weight loss a priority. This report lays it out fairly clearly — stop eating junk food if you want weight loss. Here’s the problem for most of us, we don’t know what is healthy eating is, and we don’t make plans to eat healthy. Deciding what to eat is difficult, when there are so many options, and sometimes cooking can be a chore. We tend to do what is easy, pop something in the microwave, or cook some boxed food. This is not a healthy way to live, but there is a solution to your weight loss and maintaining a healthy figure. First, take time to poke around the nutritional guidelines we have linked to above. You can cut to the chase if you want and go directly to the three diets that are recommended. The diets are “The Heathly American Diet”, “The Mediterranean Diet”, “The Vegetarian Diet”. Take a look at them and get an idea of what you might be lacking, or doing too much of and make a plan to make adjustments for your weight loss goals. Second, understand what your target calorie intake should be. For me my calorie intake should be no more than 3500 calories a day, and Ella’s is no more than 2000 calories a day. Third, add up all the things you eat in a typical day with a calorie counter just to see where you are. Forth, decide if you need to make adjustments to what you typically eat that may be affecting your weight loss.
#2 Too much variety, is too much headache
The US dietary guidelines suggest variety, and we don’t go against that. The problem is that if you eat too much variety, then two things will happen. First, you will buy too much food and waste money. Second, you will create a nightmare of a problem trying to decide what 21 meals you are going to have every week. The solution is to do what you are already doing, but possibly different. Chances are you have the same thing for breakfast every day cereal, oatmeal, bagel or what ever it may be. Chances are you have a routine of some sort. The way to successful planning is to make some things routine. Here is an example, I have a banana, and serving of unsalted premium mixed nuts for breakfast Monday through Friday with an apple for a snack, and on the weekends I have an everything bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon. For lunch Ella makes me a romain lettuce salad with vegetables and left over meat (fish or chicken) from the night before to take with me to work Monday through Friday. This leaves us 9 meals to plan for in a week, 7 dinners, and 2 lunches. Why does this work? I started doing this years ago as a lazy way not to count calories. I calculated calorie budget for my breakfast and lunch and only wanted to eat a certain amount of calories for an entire day. I figured out a plan that I would only consume 1000 calories before dinner and then for dinner, I could eat whatever I wanted and not count the calories. Basing this on the fact that most of the meals that I ate for dinner were rarely 1000 calories or more.
#3 Don’t just go shopping
If you just head out the door and go shopping for food without a plan, you are planning for failure. Trying to decide what to buy on the fly and think of meal plans while shopping is sabotage. Ella and I create meal plans in advance, we don’t follow a diet, we just pick things that are healthy based on our knowledge and understanding about what eating for good health is, and is not. Our knowledge of nutrition and health are closely related to the US dietary guidelines. Here is what we do. We plan our meals for Monday through Friday for an entire 6 weeks. Then we repeat that same 6 weeks for the next. We don’t plan anything for Saturday or Sunday because we want those days to be spontaneous. We have a separate set of meals we keep on a list, that we will make for the weekend. We just choose what ever we feel like for the weekends. Our Monday through Friday meals though are thought out with nutrition in mind. We first think of what vegetables we want to eat, then the meat, and lastly what starch. Every weekday meal has a healthy dose of vegetables. Some nights could be green leaf salads with a fillet of fish or chicken. Other nights might be spaghetti or a some other pasta dish. The key is that vegetables are the main course, and meat is the condiment. So when we go shopping for the week, we go with a plan in mind, and stick to our list.
#4 Avoid Pot Holes
What I write next may take you by surprise, it may shock you, and you may not like it the least bit, but take this grain of knowledge and let it sink in down deep. A great way to sabotage your health is by drinking soda. In fact doctors are now saying that drinking soda is worse for your health than smoking cigarettes. There its been said. This is one of those shocking things that once you know of it, you can’t un-know it. The US dietary guidelines warn about drinking soda, and one of the leading experts on nutrition, Joel Fuhrman, writes in his book “Eat to Live” specifically says this as a matter of fact. Imagine the thought of parents just letting their children smoke cigarettes. Now think of letting their children do worse and drink soda. This sounds so very backwards, after all I grew up in a household where soda was always found in the fridge next to the milk. As a family we drank no less than two liters each a week. What is the problem with soda? The problem is that soda is basically sugar water with no nutrients. Its probably a safe bet that cool-ade is probably just as bad. Another shocker might be that fruit juice is only marginally better for you. In the same way fruit juice is basically sugar, however, juice has some vitamins, and some nutrients albeit in low amounts. Eliminating all of these from your daily intake is probably best for your health. Finally, know that sugar will turn to fat very quickly, fructose being one of the fastest sugars to convert to fat. A typical can of soda ranges up to 9 teaspoons of sugar in a single can. Sugar quite literally, goes from your lips to your hips. If you are thinking that you will just drink diet soda and the problem is solved, think again. Diet soda, which contains artificial sweeteners, are known to spike your body’s insulin, with no actual sugar to convert to fat, this just makes your body painfully hungry, so you eat more food to use of the insulin. The solution to a healthier life is to drink water, tea, or coffee. More on these in the next tip.
#5 Somethings in the water they’re drinking
We discovered above the problem about soda, cool-ade, and juice and how they should be avoided. We also discovered that the solution is to drink water, tea, or coffee. Now here’s how to do it. If your are serious about trying to give these up try replacing your soda drinking with coffee or tea. Its best to drink your coffee black, but if you find that troublesome in the beginning, wean yourself down on sugar intake by limiting the sugar you add to coffee. We are doing a trade here, one can of soda has as much as 9 teaspoons of sugar for something much less. Could you limit a cup of coffee to two teaspoons in the beginning? How about 1 just one teaspoon? Do what you can and not get wound up about it. Drinking coffee with a little bit of sugar — that we can control — is way better than drinking soda. The US dietary guidelines recommend not drinking more than 5 cups of coffee per day.
Next, make sure that you are drinking enough water. It may be shocking to you that you are probably drinking less water than you should by a long shot. The problem with not drinking enough water is that your body needs fluids to survive. If you won’t give your body the fluid it needs by drinking water, then your body will turn on the hunger engine, and make you eat more than you should to get the fluid it needs by extracting water from the foods you eat. This in turn damages your weight loss or weight maintenance plans. The way to know how much water to drink is to divide your body weight by two, and the result is the number of ounces you should drink in a day. For my weight, I need to drink a little over 100 ounces of water a day, thats more than 3 liters of water a day. This much water can be hard to track. The best way to track your water intake is to buy a large water bottle with the measurements printed clearly on the outside, then keep track of how much you drink. I’m sorry, but if you are thinking that coffee or tea counts, it doesn’t. Don’t count your coffee or tea intake as a figure for your daily water intake. Coffee and tea are diuretics and deplete your body of water. If you are not used to drinking water, then drinking this amount of water might be difficult, boring, and seem like a chore. The best way to get enjoyment out of your water intake is to infuse your water. I infuse my water with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or fruit. We have found that theses make water taste more interesting.
Our Nutrition Pillars
To recap our pillars of our eating habits and weight loss are as follows. We educated ourselves about nutrition, and through this knowledge we avoid eating junk food as much as possible. We make our meals routine, and through routine we manage our calorie intake, and by managing calories we maintain and lose weight. We make meal plans and when we go shopping we buy from the list for our meal plans. We super conscious about what we drink, most days we only drink water, and black coffee. Finally, drink enough water for our body weight by drinking water from bottles with measurements, and we infuse our water to make it interesting.