a new diet

The coolest thing right now is that after losing almost fifty pounds, people are noticing my weight loss and they are commenting on it. That feels good, and makes me realize that I am changing my life for the better. Sometimes, people ask me what I am doing to lose all the weight. I tell them that it’s pretty simple: I eat less and exercise. Essentially, that is what I’m doing, but it is a bit of a high overview. To be honest, I don’t have a traditional diet in mind when I decided to lose weight. I’ve read about lots of diets and they all seem to either fail after a while or cause health problems. I didn’t want this to happen to me, so I came up with my plan.

A New Diet

I laid out a few main principles and then built on them:

Stop drinking soda!

This was the first step I took, and it immediately paid off. The first few pounds I lost were from this alone. Furthermore, I started feeling better after I stopped drinking soda. It seemed strange, but it was the only change at that point. The only logical conclusion was that it was because of the soda stoppage.

For a while, I drank diet soda. I stopped drinking diet because, frankly, it’s not very good. The only low calorie sodas I like are Coke Zero Cherry, Diet Dr. Pepper and Pepsi Max—and I don’t like them enough to keep drinking them all the time.

I started drinking unsweetened iced tea (sweet tea is the devil!) for my daily dose of caffeine. It has zero calories, so it’s great for dieters. One day I would like to break my caffeine dependence, but one thing at a time!

I also mostly stopped drinking beer. After looking into it, I realized that alcohol had as many, if not more, calories in it as soda.

Stop eating out all the time!

Simply, you don’t know what’s in the stuff that you get at restaurants. There could be (and probably is) tons of sugar and salt in everything at many places. You don’t need that. Eating in gives you complete control over your food. Even if you buy premade stuff, it still has to have an ingredients list and calorie panel on it, so you know what you’re getting.

That being said, a lot of the larger fast-food type chains are actually very good if you’re counting calories or just want to get an idea of how much you’re eating. Their websites all have calorie information on them. My favorite quick food places are Subway (chicken breast sandwich), Chipotle (tacos are fantastic!) and Taco Bell. Nutritional information is easy to find on each of their websites. (It’s even easier for you, because I made those links to their nutritional info.) There are a few other places I can’t stop going to that don’t have nutritional info, but I try to limit myself at those places. (Shanghai, best Chinese buffet in town; Kababs…, a great Indian buffet; HuHot, my favorite Mongolian grill)

Stop eating so much!

So this is the hard one. My mom used to do this diet called the “Weigh Down” and she lost a ton of weight and has kept it off. One of its main things was that you only need about a fist-size portion of food for each meal. This was my original plan, which sometimes I followed and sometimes didn’t. This worked really well, and I’m honestly thinking about switching back to it. Another trick I learned was that if you go to a restaurant: only eat half the food on your plate. American portion sizes are ridiculously large, and usually have two meals worth of food in them. If the waiter/waitress gives you a hard time about getting a take-home box, never go there again!

After reading the Hacker’s Diet, I started paying more attention to my calorie intake. I haven’t decided if I really like this approach yet, but it has shown me a lot of foods I thought were good are loaded with energy and that I should eat less of them.

This is the hardest part, and the first couple of weeks you will be hungry. After a while, you’ll adjust to eating less and it won’t be so bad.

Stop eating prepared foods, cook more!

Prepared foods tend to be loaded with salt, and they really aren’t very good. Cooking at home from scratch really is the best way to go. Plus, it’s loads cheaper! The trick here is to cook a bunch of one thing once or twice a week and then eat it until it’s gone. Some people get tired of eating the same thing all the time, but if you get over that you can save money and be healthier. I usually eat the same thing for lunch all week. I eat something else for dinner. (I don’t have a microwave at home, so things that only reheat well in the microwave go to work for lunch.)

Another benefit of this is that you’ll become a better cook. This is always a good thing. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend Jamie’s Food Revolution. Jamie has a lot of simple recipes in there that anybody can cook, and they’re almost all very healthy. Recipes sometimes look daunting at first, but once you read through them, they usually aren’t too bad. Another good book is Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here for the Food.

Eat more chicken and seafood, less beef!

That’s pretty self explanatory. Pro tip: chicken thighs are more flavorful and cheaper than chicken breasts. You have to watch portion size a little more carefully due to fat content.

Slow down while you eat, and enjoy the food!

Slowing down also gives your stomach a chance to tell your brain that you’re full before you’re done.

Eat breakfast every day!

This gets your metabolism started and ready for the day! I like to eat a bowl of regular Cheerios with 2% milk. Another tasty breakfast is homemade oatmeal with honey—yummy!

Drink lots of water!

Drinking water is good when losing weight because fat burning also releases stored toxins into your system. Also, water takes up room in your stomach so you won’t be as hungry.

Have at least one day a week where you splurge!

Life should be enjoyed. I like to take Sunday off and eat a little more than I should (at Shanghai), or maybe enjoy a soda (usually not, it’s too sweet for me these days) or a beer (or two).

Next week I’ll discuss my exercise routine.

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