A DIY diet plan with help

Article by Arnie P

I became motivated to put myself on a weight loss program as I was struggling to get back to a routine of weekly hikes and more backpacking during the warmer months. Part of my outdoor activity is to take my daughter’s newly acquired part lab 15 month old dog on daily hikes. These hikes are now an hour sometimes a little longer. This will increase when the snow is gone. The walks are at a fast rate of at least 3.6 mph. I know this because it is the setting I use on the treadmills at my gym. The people I hike with are typically 25-35 years younger than I am. The benefits of the weight loss have materialized in terms of increased endurance while walking the dog and my capacity to lift weights has increased. I am almost back to where I was in the early 90’s when I was running 5 miles several times a week. I will not get back to running, but expect to have fewer back and joint pains.

 

Cami (65 lb) ready for a fast walk

Cami (65 lb) ready for a fast walk

I decided to create my own diet plan after not being able to find a plan that fit properly. At a certain point in my life I had developed allergies and had to avoid certain items in my diet. I was modifying every plan I examined, so it was time find a better plan for me to follow. There are many ways to achieve a goal and this is the path I developed and followed.

The Cast

Cami  after returning from fast walk

Cami after returning from fast walk

I did not do this all by myself. My support system included my primary care, a specialist and a dietitian. This did not happen all at once, but progressed over a period of about one year.  My primary care indicated the need to lose more weight as I had not lost enough. He then referred me to a dietitian. I was skeptical of going to a dietitian as I was not happy with the ones I had visited in the past.  I probably would not be writing this if my visits to the dietitian were not successful. This dietitian came from my current medical provider and was able to access my medical records easily. She looked at them and we had a good discussion and I left with some web sites to look up as well a few numbers on the amount of carbohydrates, protein and vegetables I should be eating daily. Just when I thought the session was over she asked me if I exercised and how often. She pointed out that I needed to do strength training more than cardio. She then defined strength training as fewer and slower repetitions. Ideally I would be spending about 12 seconds on each repetition and doing a set of 12 repetitions. I felt very confident as this dietitian had actually analyzed my medical situation and came up with some realistic numbers and goals that I could start my new program.

Taking Responsibility

Now the ball was in my court and I had to take responsibility for the outcome. The best advice in the world is useless until I started practicing what I had been told. I bought a good digital scale and weighed myself every morning after getting up. I then recorded the reading with the date and allowed space for adding comments. I would record anything added to my diet that was unusual. If the next day my weight was different I had a record of the possible cause.

At the Gym

I started slowing down while doing my weights and quickly found out I had to cut down on the weight I was doing. Essentially I kept the same routine but slowed down and with less weight initially. I cut down the number of days I did cardio and the length of time on the cardio. Within about 3 weeks I was back to the weight I had been doing. I developed the following system to guide me when to go to the next higher weight. Ie: If the next weight increase was 20% higher I would increase the repetitions by 20% or from 12 to 15, at the same weight I was doing. If I could do that easily, then I would go to the next higher weight and do the 12 repetitions. If I could not do the 12, I would reduce the weight knowing I was not ready to advance. I have been on weight training for about 8 months and feel it has been successful for me. I am getting close to my peak weights and considering I will be 76 soon, I have to be a believer in this kind of training. Over the years I developed back problems and there are several types of weight machines I cannot do. I learned from physical therapist all about this and my back problems are minimal as long as I don’t do things I should not and follow the programs they suggested.

My Diet And Documentation

It boils down to controlling calories and carbohydrates. Too little or too much is not good. I opted go for a middle of the road approach. I looked over what I was eating. I started weighing what I was about to eat. My eyes were telling me I was eating less than what I was really eating. I cut my carbohydrates to 240 g a day. This was split into 60 at each meal and 30 for a morning and 30 for a mid afternoon snack. I was eating too much meat and I started weighing the meat and keep it to 8 oz a day for the first few days then to 6 oz for a few weeks. I am now at about 4 oz a day with higher amounts a couple times a week. I added raw vegetables like red bell peppers, raw summer squash, and raw zucchini. I tried raw eggplant, onions and garlic but could not handle those things raw. I started with about 8 oz portions and now am doing 4 oz portions.

Carbohydrates

My primary source of carbohydrates is vegetables followed by nuts. The nuts I am currently using are almonds(raw form when possible), raw hemp seed, raw sunflower seed, and chia seed. Occasional pecans, peanuts, and cashews. Occasional use of traditional carbohydrates as found in whole grain bread and soba.

Oils

At the top of the list is extra virgin olive oil, followed closely by flaxseed oil.

The Protein Battle

Doing what you think is the right thing is no longer very easy. There is a lot of controversy about fish in terms of contamination from polluted water. Whether to use farm raised vs wild. This same discussion is in the meat area also. This is even more complicated with GMO food, grass fed, free range and something is sure to be added to this list.

Going vegetarian is a possible answer, but this requires eating a lot more to get the necessary protein.  I calculated I would need at least a pound of sunflower seed to get almost enough protein. If I know I won’t be able to do something then I will not go down that path. I was on a vegetarian diet for awhile and it did me good but I could not take it for more than 6 months. Any transition I make will be done slowly and corrections will be made slowly.

Motivation

Rewards are good but I don’t think they should be food. That would be counter productive. I sometimes have an extra amount of healthy food. Even healthy food can have too many calories. Basically if you eat more than your body needs you will gain weight and the converse is true. So occasionally I buy a non food item that I would enjoy. An example of this is getting a solid state hard drive (SSD) for my my computer. I will make an exception of a food reward when I reach 85% of my goal. This will be a cheese and jalapeño bagel at a local bakery.

Honesty

Being honest is probably one of the toughest things. The mind is powerful and quickly provides a lot of excuses. Almost anything can be rationalized. Use a scale correctly, weigh everything before it goes on your plate or into your mouth. Remember the only person your are fooling is yourself.

Summary

Weight loss is not easy and it does get harder with age. Your weight will not go down every day but the trend should be downward. Calculate your average weight every month. Mine has been dropping at slightly over a pound a month for the last 8 months. I suspect it will now be slightly less than a pound a month until I reach my goal. I have about 8 pounds to go. When things go wrong it may take several days to get back to where you were, but it you keep at it, you do get back. Getting an unknown amount of salt is usually my problem. I had a meal with an unknown amount of salt and I retained almost 4 pounds of water. This is a full time project, no different than breathing.

Always look over your lab results and look for warning signs or readings that are close to being too high or too low.

I wish everyone the best of luck in reaching their weight goal.

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