What I did: The foods I eat.
Today is August 6, 2020 and it has been one year today since I started my successful journey to lose 120 pounds and get in better shape. In my last post, I talked about cutting calories as a key component of this success. I talked a lot about things I have avoided over the past year. Today I will spend a little time talking about how I have structured my diet for the past year. First, I have prepared most of my own meals and eaten at home most of the time. Restaurants load so many of their dishes with excessive levels of salt and sugar to make them more appealing. Worse yet, so many restaurants have excessively large portions sizes and many that feature bottomless refills of chips, bread or other high-calorie foods and beverages. I’m not a fancy cook, but I do enjoy preparing a nice meal, even if its simple. I have a rotation of things that I like to eat that are relatively easy to prepare, light on calories and still high on flavor. One of things I’ve tried to do is substitute low calorie versions of thing into my favorite dishes. For example, I love tacos, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up Taco Tuesday. I just make substitutions. Instead of ground beef, I use ground turkey breast. Once you add the seasoning and use a little bit of avocado oil and avocado oil spray for just a tiny little bit of fat, you can barely tell the difference in taste or texture and you save a lot of calories. Next, I buy low-car flour tortillas that are 50 calories each, instead of the 130 to 150 calorie versions that I used to buy. Again, you can barely tell any difference in taste or texture. On occasion, I even buy low fat shredded Mexican cheese to save a few calories. At least once a week I make breakfast for dinner. I usually fix scrambled eggs, made with just a bit of my zero calorie avocado spray instead of traditional cooking oil or butter. I also buy turkey sausage instead of pork, which has the same flavor, similar texture, but half the calories. I recommend against buying pre-cooked turkey sausage. Cook it yourself for a better taste and texture. Instead of high calorie biscuits, I use 35 calorie per slice whole wheat bread for toast. Even thought I have a deep and passionate love of potatoes, I leave them off my menus these days as the calories and carbs are just too high. I also like to make chicken and rice, but always brown rice, not white. To give the brown rice the best chance for flavor, I cook my chicken breasts in chicken stock, then add in the brown rice and let it soak up the flavor. I’ve always liked to have a mid to late evening snack, and I still do that, but it’s a healthy snack. I mix my own variety of cashews, pecans, pistachios and almonds, with a few dried cherries added in for a little bit of sweet. I’m also a big fan of salmon patties, something that my mother and grandmother made going back to my childhood. Salmon is a very healthy food with lots of good fatty acids and protein. I make salmon patties about twice a month or so. I also love spaghetti, but I have a few shortcuts to trim calories there too. I buy whole wheat pasta to cut back on carbs and calories. I find the lowest possible calorie sauce. I also buy Boarshead chicken sausages (which are fully cooked) instead of ground beef meatballs or port sausage, another great way to cut calories without losing taste. To give the whole wheat pasta more flavor, I boil it in chicken stock. Maybe once a month or so, I’ll make something like a crockpot roast, pork chops, or even grilled steak or hamburgers, but those are rare treats, daily or even weekly meals. When I do fix something like that, I always look for the leanest cuts of meat, and in small quantities. I get thin porch chops, and I either grill them or cook them in chicken stock instead of butter or cooking oil. If I’m grilling burgers, I’ll get the leanest possible cut of ground beef, and not pile on too many calories with white bread buns. I also fix lots of salads and homemade soups, always being careful not to let the ingredients or dressings add too many calories. I also like to incorporate black beans, black-eyed peas, asparagus, green beans, lima beans, apples, and other vegetables and low-calorie fruits, when possible.
Healthy and low calorie eating doesn’t have to be bland. You just have to make smart choices, count every calorie and cut back your portion sizes. I would also point out that I’m very careful in the beverages that I drink. I’m not going to waste calories on beverages. I drink water, flavored water, coffee with sugar-free creamer, and yes, some diet sodas, but in smaller quantities that I used to drink. Water is your friend in weight loss. Coffee is also your friend, but most of the latte beverages that we all love are VERY high calorie and should be avoided. The key to a successful eating plan is to be intentional about everything you eat. Plan your shopping. Plan your meals. Plan any meals out in restaurants when you must eat out, and pay attention to calories and portion size. Part of being intention about your eating is being consistent for weeks and months at a stretch. If you are like I was with over 100 pounds to lose, you will be in this for a long time. It took me almost a year to lose 120 pounds, and that was with constant dedication to proper eating habits and lots of physical activity for the entire year. There are no quick fixes. There are no easy answers. There are no hacks to short cut this. I didn’t spend a lot of money to lose this weight, but I did spend A LOT of time and expended A LOT of energy and summoned A LOT of will power to make this happen. Nobody loves to lounge on the couch watching a movie while eating pizza and ice cream any more than I do. But, if you want to look better, feel better and be healthy, you have to make some serious personal sacrifices and do do the work. If I can do it, you can do it!
For those interested in my weight loss journey, I’ve started sharing details on my new platforms. Follow me on Facebook at Weddings and Weight Loss and on Instagram @WeddingsAndWeightLoss. You can also go to my website, WeddingsAndWeightLoss.com.