I started this blog a while back, at my sister's suggestion, but then never actually told anyone about it, because I wasn't sure if I really wanted to blog regularly, and I didn't want to tell people and then stop posting. But then I posted anyway, which is kind of silly, I guess, since no one was reading it. Anyway, so now I decided to actually tell people about it. I even wrote a lovely intro post, it's here, but basically, after struggling with weight issues all of my life and then surviving cancer a few years ago, I'm finally trying to get healthy. Not that I haven't tried before. I've lost weight before, and then gained it back. This time, I want to lose weight, and then stay healthy. So I started on Medifast, and since June I've lost 35 lbs. Which is great. But Medifast is a bit restrictive, and I'm getting bored with it, so I've noticed I've started adding things to make their food taste better. I haven't added things that are totally off plan, but I'm definitely not following the plan to the letter either.
I've known since I started MF that it was not a plan that I would be on forever -- it's not designed to be something you stick to your whole life, it is specifically a weight loss plan -- once you lose the weight, you transition back to eating real food. So I'd been reading up on options for post-MF, starting with looking into glycemic load/glycemic index, which is just a diet that takes into account how all of your food affects your blood sugar, the idea being to keep your blood sugar levels even throughout the day, without the ups and downs you get when you eat a lot of sugary/carb-laden stuff. That is something that really makes sense to me, as someone from a family with a history of type 2 diabetes. But I also kept hearing about this Paleo thing. It is not specifically focused on counting carbs -- in fact, it doesn't necessarily count anything. There are variations of it out there, people can't all seem to agree on what exactly it is, and some of the why it's good for you that focuses on eating like our Paleolithic ancestors is something I'm just not educated enough on the subject to judge, but I like the explanation from whole9, which they've summed up with their
We eat real food – meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, healthy oils, nuts and seeds. We choose foods that were raised, fed and grown naturally, and foods that are nutrient-dense, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.This is not a “diet” – we eat as much as we need to maintain strength, energy, activity levels and a healthy body weight. We aim for well-balanced nutrition, so we eat animals and a significant amount of plants.Eating like this has helped us to look, feel, live and perform our best, and reduces our risk for a variety of lifestyle-related diseases and conditions.
(They stress that if you cannot find things like grass-fed beef, or you can't afford to buy all organic everything, that you can use conventionally grown options.) I'm sure I'll talk more about their way of doing things, as I'm about halfway through their book, It Starts With Food. Their way of eating, and their reasons for eating that way, really struck a chord with me.
Whole9 has developed a 30-day plan, the Whole30. Basically, for 30 days, you commit to cutting out grains, sugars and sweeteners (all of them, sugar, honey, stevia, splenda -- no sweeteners), dairy, legumes (beans and peanuts), potatoes, and alcohol (that one's so not a problem for me, I can't even remember the last time I had a drink). Also no MSGs, sulfites, or carrageenan, each of which can be in things like spice mixes and prepared sauces. The point is to cut out these things for 30 full days and see how you feel, because each of these things can cause problems in people's diets, and if you're used to eating them, you may not realize how much they're affecting you, because it may not be obvious. And they focus not just on physical effects of the food, but emotional -- so for instance, during the Whole30 they ask you not to try to Paleo-fy desserts using ingredients that are allowed. So even though you can have bananas and you can have 100% cocoa (like cocoa powder), they ask you not to make banana ice cream with frozen bananas and cocoa powder, not because there's anything inherently wrong with that, but because instead of learning that you can, in fact, live without ice cream for 30 days, you're just making an ice cream substitute. I'm guessing people who've never really had issues with food, who have never felt like a meal just isn't complete without a little dessert, won't get that, but when I read it, I understood it completely. They want you to learn to enjoy the taste of real food, not the sugary stuff we've come to expect in our modern diet.
Anyway, getting a little long-winded here, sorry. Basically, I'm going to do a Whole 30, starting tomorrow. I've been getting ready since yesterday, stocking up on veggies and fruit (yay! fruit! I haven't had that since June when I started Medifast), tossing out the cheese in the fridge (which seems so wasteful, but fortunately there wasn't a lot left in the package), I've made some egg muffins (mine are not exactly like that, I couldn't find sausage that met the requirements for the plan, so I used some prosciutto -- possibly not ideal, but with only pork and salt as ingredients it met the requirements, and hey, I'm giving up cheese here, give me a break! -- and I added some sauteed leeks, mushrooms and garlic). I've got a whole chicken roasting in the oven (that's almost certainly not going to happen every week, but I figured it would make a lot of meat with little effort, and I'm not sure how much time I'm going to have the rest of the week to cook, so I want to be prepared). Each meal, I'll eat lots of veggies (raw or cooked), some meat or eggs for protein, and possibly a little fruit and a bit of healthy fat, like part of an avocado or coconut or adding a little oil to my food or certain nuts/nut butters (but not peanuts). After months of Medifast meals, it actually sounds like an awful lot of food at each meal, but then they encourage you to only eat three meals a day and avoid snacking if possible. (The official meal template is here with an explanation of amounts/portion sizes.)
I've resisted doing something like this for a while -- who wants to give up bread and cheese and butter and sugar for the rest of their life, after all? But on the other hand, who wants to be tired and fat and miserable the rest of their life? And really, it's 30 days, and if at the end of it I don't feel any better than I do right now, what have I lost? 30 days that I would've been eating something, and at least the stuff in this plan will taste good, which is a step up from a lot of the Medifast stuff I've been eating for the last few months. (Of course, the fact that it will taste good is one reason a part of me is still going, this can't possibly work. They say I can cook in oil -- that doesn't sound like a way to lose weight, not according to any diet I've ever heard of.)
So, I'll be starting tomorrow. One of their rules is not to step on the scale during the 30 days, the focus is not supposed to be on weight, but tomorrow morning I'll do one last weigh in before I start, and maybe take some measurements, so that at the end of 30 days, I can see if it's affected my weight at all. And during the 30 days, I'm going to try to post every day, probably toward the end of the day, about how everything went