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The “No” list

I hate the word “diet.” Better yet I hate adjectives that go along with diet – low-carb, South Beach, Atkins, Taco Bell. So let me put this out there – I’m not going on a diet. That implies that at some point in time I change my eating habits and go back to eating what I want once I get to a certain weight. That doesn’t work. However, in order to lose weight, my portions and calorie intake have to change for a certain amount of time for the pounds to come off. Exercise alone will not work.

I’m not happy with my weight. On Jan. 1 the scale read 5 pounds more than a year ago. While I had plans in my head to lose weight, those extra few pounds put those plans into motion. For me, it means going back to what I did six years ago to lose 40 pounds – I have to be strict about what I put in my body for a few months. Otherwise I’ll keep eating the same old bad stuff. While I’ll continue running, my weight will otherwise not shift more than 5 pounds. Now that I’ve gone through several years of training for races and seeing what my body can do, I feel ready for this challenge of losing weight and training at the same time.

While it’s easy to eat what I want during the higher mileage weeks of training, this time around is different. I shouldn’t weigh more than 190 pounds, but I can’t seem to get under than number. In fact, I want to get to 180 pounds and then stay in the 180-185 range. Not 185-190 …and certainly not 190-195, which I’ve been in for quite some time.

So to start this process of losing weight I am making changes that worked for me back then. You can call it a diet if you want, but to me it’s a lifestyle change. This time around it’s a matter of returning to the lifestyle of eating that was working just fine a few years ago, but I’ve let a lot slip, obviously. So today I create my “no” list, and I create “cheat” Fridays. This means I have certain foods that I will not eat, and on Fridays I will let myself enjoy SOME of them. Even Bob on “The Biggest Loser” has said that it’s important to let yourself indulge once a week. I’d go crazy if I didn’t. And at some point once I get to where I want to be, it’ll be normal for me to not eat certain foods so often. I think that’s the problem with me right now – I let foods like pizza and french fries become a “normal” food in recent months. And candy shouldn’t be a regular thing.

So here is what is on my “no” list right now with some explanation.

* French fries: this includes all variations of french fries. This means sweet potato fries, cheese fries and Chick-fil-A fries. I have voided fries before, only to say that sweet potato fries were OK and that the word “cheese” made it different. My hope is that if I limit them to once a month, if that, that they’ll become good again. Now they just taste like they tasted when I was a teen – normal and bland.

* Some pizza: this is a touchy subject because I have “carb-loaded” with pizza before. And pizza is a perfectly fine food when made right. So the time has come to actually eat pizza that has some nutritional value to it. So pizzas with toppings such as regular pepperoni and sausage are out. Frozen pizzas are out. For this “no” item, it’s more of a matter of what can I do to make this a “yes,” and the simple answer is to change how I eat pizza. And the easiest way to make it healthy is to make it at home. That doesn’t mean taking it out of a Tombstone box and turning the oven on – it means putting some effort into making the crust, adding healthier toppings, eating a salad while it’s cooking and not dipping it in ranch dressing.

* Ice cream: the fact that I don’t regularly eat ice cream makes this a special “no” food. This is a “no” item that doesn’t make the cut on “cheat” Fridays. I will treat ice cream like I have in the past few years – I’ll eat it after my next race.

* Cookies: when looking back over the past couple of months at what I’ve eaten, this may be my problem. Cookies are so easy to eat. One cookie is fine. Two may be OK. But not two in the morning and two at the end of the day. That’s what the holidays will do to you I guess.

* Candy: I sit next to 25-cent Peanut M&M’s and Reese Pieces dispensers. You figure that one out as to why candy is on this list.

* Soft drinks: Soft drinks, including diet, are “no” items. They’re just bad and do nothing for me anyway.

And that’s it really. Other than the things on this list, I have to get my portions under control. I feel like I eat relatively healthy as it is — I just eat too much of everything.

My plan for now is to have a weigh-in day once a week, on Fridays. I think Fridays are good since it’s my cheat day — if I’ve had a good week, I won’t feel so bad eating something that I wouldn’t normally eat. If it’s been a bad week, cheat day probably won’t mean anything.

And now that I’ve put this out there, I feel like I can hold myself more accountable. It’s up to me to blog about my weight and nutrition issues, but it’s also up to you my fellow readers, family and friends to remind me about it. Otherwise it becomes a non-issue and not a big deal. But this a big deal to me, so thanks for your help in advance.

  1. sarahbaram
    January 7, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    You should put soda and sugary juices on our ‘No’ list! Replacing them with water or organic, sugar free juices will help loose weight and keep your skin in good condition!

  2. January 7, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks for the comment — you left it as I was actually editing my post when I was adding soft drinks!!

  3. Emily B
    January 7, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Homemade pizza can be very healthy. I have some dough recipes if you need any, and by swapping in whole wheat flour and adding stuff like wheat germ you can get some good nutrition into the crust. I love to make pies with lots of veggies and caramelized onions, which add a lot of richness. I think putting the time into cooking also keeps you from taking food for granted. Looks like a good list.

  4. January 7, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    agree…the word “diet” seems temporary… healthy life choice is a bit better 😉 by the way, I am in on your “no” list…

    Although I may slip on the soft drinks… but if i HAVE to have something, it’s coke zero at least.


  5. sarahbaram
    January 7, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Another tip! When you want sweets, go for an in season fruit and dip it in yogurt. It’s healthy, as long as you pick a good yogurt, and tastes pretty sweet!

  6. January 7, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    Good luck! I just found your site and wanted to wish you the best on your “No” list. On pizzas….have you ever tried using an English Muffin, cut in halves, to make two mini pizzas? Granted it’s not as filling as a big ole pizza hut pan pizza, but I have made some yummy creations with them. That or using a pita bread piece as the base crust. The last pita pizzas I made were so yummy and around 500 calories for the whole thing!

    (I love how I saw “the whole thing!” as if it was the size of a large pizza…lol)

  7. January 8, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I too have a few foods on my no list. Bread and sodas are my trigger foods so they are gone. The rest I can control – just have to eat smaller portions.

  8. January 8, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks for all the comments and support. @Emily – I’d love to have some recipes. You know where to find me.

  9. Sarah
    January 8, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    I like the “healthy lifestyle” too, because that’s what this is. Not temporary. Also, the “no” works for me as well. “Dieting” or should I say “healthy eating” is so much easier when it’s black and white. At least for me anyways! Fries have been on mine since 2007! I wish I could just get the willpower to put alcohol on it!!!

  10. January 9, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I like the idea of a “no” list, and its good that you are willing to give yourself some wiggle room once a week so you don’t go crazy 😛

    There are alot of things that need to go for me. I’ve been doing alot better w/ soda. I’m drinking alot more water and don’t really have soda too often at home anymore (when I’m out its another story though).

  11. January 29, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    David, I highly, highly recommend you read the book “Born Round” by Frank Bruni. He struggled with his weight his entire life, only to become the New York Times food critic. It’s really fascinating how he describes getting his relationship with food to more about acceptance and less about “forbidden foods.” Chef (me)recommends.

  1. January 23, 2010 at 10:50 pm

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