Since I dieted myself into obesity to start with,   I am avoiding any type of structured “diet.”  This means that my weight loss will be much slower, but losing weight in a hurry means you’ll regain it all very quickly as soon as you start eating food again (unless you decide to stick to that extremely restrictive diet for the rest of your life.)   In the past, I’ve found it very difficult to stick to any kind of structured “diet” for months at a time.  Sure, it’s easy to eat nothing but cottage cheese and salad for six weeks, but it’s quite a bit harder to eat nothing but cottage cheese and salad for six months.   I also don’t want to get stuck in the same cycle of obsessive dieting that made me fat in the first place.

Also, very structured diets fill me with feelings of guilt, shame and self-hatred — because it’s like, “I’ve gotta stick to plan!” and as soon as I go off plan, I feel like I’ve “failed.”  Real life happens, sometimes.  Real life is going to intervene from time to time, and you won’t always be able to stick to plan, and that’ll need to be okay.

Therefore, I’m not doing any type of diet at all.  I have a nutritionist-advised daily calorie goal of 1,800-1,900 cals a day.  I count calories, and I use mobile apps like MyFitnessPal to help me do that.   I have a nutritionist-advised daily target for protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake.  Again, I use MyFitnessPal to help me with that, too.  MyFitnessPal is a great tool, and it helps me  mesh my calorie-counting and nutrient-counting with the demands of real life. 

I like The Eat This Not That Diet, because it’s a good general guideline that works well with the demands of my life.  It allows for fast food and eating out, which is important, because I have a 9-5 job and a busy social life, and I often need to go out to eat with friends, and I usually don’t get to go home for dinner between work and the night’s social activity.  Most of the diet plans I’ve ever read have assumed that I just have nothing else to do but stay home and diet all day long — they require elaborate, home-cooked breakfasts, and elaborate home-cooked lunches.  Cooking at home is not currently a part of my lifestyle; there is no time for that.  Breakfast needs to be quick and easy because I’m out the door on my way to work at 7am.  Lunch needs to be either brown-bagged from home or eaten on the go, because I’m at work all day long.  Sometimes I go home and cook dinner, but often I head straight from work to a party or a date or another social engagement.  There isn’t a lot of room in my life for cooking my own food right now, so that’s what I really like about the “Eat This Not That Diet.”   It gives you a lot of suggestions for healthy options when you need to eat out.

I also really like the Flat Belly Diet because a lot of their meal ideas are really appetizing.  This diet has a lot of really good idea for quick, healthy breakfasts that I can whip up in 5 minutes before running out the door and going to work.  This diet also has a lot of really good ideas for sandwiches, which makes my brown-bag lunches more interesting.

Because I’m rarely at home to cook, and because I tend to get way too obsessed with food whenever I think of dieting, it’s important to be able to automate a lot of my meals, so that I can prepare food and have meals ready without really having to think about it.  What I do is plan a weekly menu, like a weekly breakfast and a weekly lunch that I’ll eat every day for a week.  I buy all the ingredients I’ll need for my breakfast and lunch on a Sunday, and then I’ll eat the same breakfast and the same lunch every day for an entire week.  I don’t have to put any thought into planning my meals, and I use up all the ingredients I buy, and I make meals as automatic as I possibly can.   I know variety’s the spice of life and a varied diet is important, but it works better for me to vary my diet on a week-to-week basis, rather than a day-to-day basis.  

Here’s an example of what I usually do:

Breakfast — 450 calories of something, like – a cup of oatmeal with 1 TB of peanut butter mixed in, a cup of skim milk, a cup of strawberries and an apple.

Morning Snack  – 200 calories of something, like a cup of yogurt and a muffin.

Lunch – 400 calories of something – usually a sandwich made of whole grain bread, meat, and a lot of vegetables. 

Afternoon Snack – 150 calories of something, like carrot sticks and hummus

Dinner – 600 calories.  It’s pretty easy to do.  If I need to go to a restaurant, I always find out which restaurant it is, look up the menu, and use an app like MyFitnessPal to calculate a 600-calorie, healthy, nutritious meal.  

When I can’t go home to eat dinner,  I have a shortlist of go-to fast-food options that I like, such as:

  • A 6-inch sandwich at Subway with cheese and  loads of veggies, plus skim milk and an apple.
  • Panera salad with dressing on the side (their dressing is full of sugar) and a whole-grain baguette.  There are also some lower-calorie soup/sandwich options at Panera when I want to mix it up.
  • Chipotle burrito bowl: chicken or steak, black beans, guacamole, lettuce, fajita veg, and any two salsas.
  • 2 slices of thin-crust veggie pizza
  • A salmon-avocado roll, a cucumber roll, seaweed salad and miso soup.
  • Boston Market – 1/4 chicken, mixed vegetables and roast potatoes.  I don’t eat the corn bread.
  • Wendy’s Ultimate Chicken Grill and a cup of Wendy’s chili. 

When I am home to cook, Martha Stewart is essentially my guru.  Martha Stewart’s website has a vast array of healthy and nutritious recipes.   I also really like Rocco DiSpirito’s Now Eat This, because every recipe I’ve tried so far has been full of win, and all under 350 calories.  Any of the Weight Watchers cookbooks are also great and loaded with good recipes.

On Saturday, I cook my own breakfast and I have something fancy that I don’t ordinarily get to have during the work week, like pancakes or waffles.