Desperate to set up an effective weight loss strategy
May 29, 2007 12:18 PM   Subscribe

I badly need some help / advice on getting my weight under control. I get mixed messages everywhere I turn, but I feel like I don't have time to play around anymore. I'm completely desperate to get myself to do something and stick with it so I can at least get from "obese" to "overweight" if not to "normal".

I'm 27 years old, female, and over 100 lbs overweight. This morning at my doctor's for my yearly physical, she pointed out how I have gained 60 lbs in the past two years, and asked me if I had considered a diet or exercise program. Of course I have, in fact I would dare say I have spent 50% of those two years on Weight Watchers or doing some light aerobics videos at home. It's just that the other 50% of the time I get stressed out, frustrated, distracted, and lose my way, and it takes forever to get myself back on track. I tried to explain this to my dr, and she basically said that she knew it was hard, but really the only thing was diet & exercise, and if I made a serious effort for the next 6 months and still didn't lose, she would prescribe me Xenical (which I think sounds really unappealing).

I have struggled with my weight since puberty, but I never really packed on the pounds the way I did since college & after college. I know that part of this is the sedentary lifestyle of being an office worker. I also know that part of this has been my battle with depression (which often makes me feel lethargic and apathetic), and probably not helped my my antidepressant (Paroxetine) and birth control pills. Or the fact that when I fall into a depressed funk, I stop caring about my weight and thus have no reluctance to drown my sorrows in food.

After this morning, and realizing that if I keep gaining an average of 30 lbs per year, I'm going to be in trouble, I do think I am ready to pick myself up and try again. But I'm overwhelmed with different options and approaches. I don't know if going back to WW is worth it since I have failed so many times. Online communities and meetings are starting to get under my skin because it feels like it's all one big pity party for people who can't stick to a goddamn thing. That's not motivating, that's just depressing and only fuels my apathy.

Here are options I have been thinking about:
- Doing the No-S diet with some modifications (e.g. giving myself some requirements to make sure I eat enough fruit & veg)
- Skipping WW and instead doing some basic calorie counting with help from Spark People or FitDay or something.
- Adding the OTC drug Alli to whatever diet plan I choose.
- Joining the YMCA when I move to my new neighborhood and signing up for some classes.
- Buying a bike so I can ride with my husband during the summer.
- Giving South Beach another try even though I don't really like meat that much.
- Going back to WW. But WW just reminds me of failure at this point.
- Maybe buying a few sessions with a personal trainer.
- Joining some kind of online thing like Ediets or something. (Yes I have done WW online, same shit different format).
- Researching lap-band surgery. Not even sure I'd be allowed since I'm on antidepressants.

I've done the whole "just try to eat healthier and watch portions" thing without stricter guidelines ... and gained like 20 pounds in 2 months while doing it. I try to only eat when hungry, but when I'm constantly asking myself if I'm hungry, I always feel hungry.

I know it's not going to be easy, I know that no one can do it for me, but I need some advice or suggestions that aren't solely from the WW groupies I know.
posted by catfood to Health & Fitness (51 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Are you eating more than before being put on the paxil? A common side-effect of some SSRIs is weight gain. You may want to speak to your doctor about this.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:24 PM on May 29, 2007

Since you asked for the advice of someone outside the weight industry, I'll add that two different people I know lost a significant amount of weight by doing just one thing: Taking long walks.

I mean, like walks of 2 hours or more which you can do after work each day. If it includes a gentle incline - all the better. Enjoy the evening if its warm, maybe bring an ipod or walk a dog.

Thats it. They made no other change in their diet. And the change happened in the course of a few months.

The key however is finding some kind of sustained movement you enjoy. One friend for example, looked forward to the walk each evening because she lived in a crowded household and it was her time to just "get away."
posted by vacapinta at 12:34 PM on May 29, 2007 [4 favorites]

My mother, who is also obese, has been steadily losing 10 lbs. per month (since Christmas) by following a diet plan recommended by her doctor: She only eats 1000 calories a day. Like you, she can't eat when she's hungry (because she's always hungry), so she eats two 500 calorie meals per day, and that's it. Now, she's always hungry, but surprisingly she has a lot more energy. When she consumes fewer calories than she burns, she loses weight.

Talk to your doctor before you do start something like this, but it's working for her. The most important part of any weight loss plan is the will to stick to the plan. There are lots of "plans" out there that are like "get thin quick" programs, and it shouldn't be surprising that they don't work.
posted by muddgirl at 12:36 PM on May 29, 2007

Let me be clear that I'm not advocating a 1000 calorie diet for weight maintenance. There are two separate issues here - losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight. Joining a gym, buying an exercise bike, and developing a healthy, balanced diet sound great for maintaining a healthy weight.
posted by muddgirl at 12:39 PM on May 29, 2007

Not to be a huge fanboy or anything, but I've had really great success with UltraMetabolism... (book here)

It really gets at the roots of a lot of weight gain causes, and also deals with allergies, headaches, etc. It is a bit difficult at first to do the elimination diet and the meal prep, but I feel 500% better (we figured out I was intolerant of wheat and dairy) and I've lost 35 pounds of fat, and I continue to lose weight and inches off my waist... I've also cut out HF corn syrup (soda, mainly)and most fried foods, which just killed my metabolism.

It is a GREAT approach, without being a weird carb counting, meat gorging "diet". WW just makes you hungry, I literally eat to fullness under the auspices of this system.

From his site here is the summary:
two simple steps:

1. In the first step, you eliminate all of the bad foods that slow your metabolism, make you feel lethargic, and lead to disease.

2. In the second step, you add the good foods that crank up your metabolism, boost your energy, and revitalize your health.

I did the pilot/beta of the 7day initial part of this system, which is now called the UltraSimple diet... It really worked, I lost 8 pounds and felt really energetic after.

Best wishes, let me know if you have any questions(reach me at dwisdom at gmail com)
posted by wonderwisdom at 12:46 PM on May 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

Being on an antidepressant would not exclude you from having weight-loss surgery if you otherwise did okay on your psychological evaluation.

I have had weight-loss surgery, but don't want to claim that it's definitely the right solution for you. Keep in mind that most of the online WLS resources are rather self-selecting. They are full of people who have either had great success or horrible complications. It can be hard to get an objective view.

Also, about antis - I gained 70 lbs in one year when taking Celexa, so your point about it hindering your weight loss could be true.
posted by cabingirl at 12:47 PM on May 29, 2007

Best answer: I have been struggling with weight all my life (I mean 100+ pounds--not 5 or 10). Just as you said, I really started to gain when I got out of school and was working full time a not very satisfying jobs. I've done WW, Jenny Craig, Diet Center, O.A. and various medically supervised fasts. I've lost 100lbs twice using Optifast and 50+/- lbs by various other means. In the last year I've been researching weight loss surgery and going through the Kaiser Permanente qualification process to qualify for the surgery. They require visits with psych, nutrition, pre-classes, loss of at least 10% of your weight and lots of pre-surgery tests. I've done all of that and today was to be my surgery date. But I backed out. I just couldn't go through with radically changing my plumbing. In the meantime, I've been successfully losing weight by following the balanced 1200 calorie diet they gave me and doing very mild excercise (walking and using rubber bands to do resistance excercise). I've lost 60 lbs since last August. Another couple of things that have helped is Judith Beck's book The Beck Diet Solution which is a cognitive-therapy base solution. The main thing I think after all these years is to take a balanced approach that involves diet, excercise and behavior change. There is no magic pill (by the way, Xenical is way gross--I wouldn't recommend). Also I find it really helps to have help. Whether that's a weight loss friend, a group, a paid trainer, whatever, it helps. But ultimately you are on your own and you will need to work on this your whole life. (Cheery ending, hmm?) My email is in my profile, feel free to email w/questions.
posted by agatha_magatha at 12:54 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

I second the second poster's suggestion to add exercise to your life and make it something you enjoy. Diets are not fun. Exercise is fun, if you find exercise that you like. I love yoga. (Wouldn't recommend it for weight loss--but I love it!) For a while, I was going to an aerobics class that was fun. The class was cancelled, but still--I found out that aerobics can be fun. A lot of people love NIA. Maybe you'll have to invest in equipment to make exercise fun, like the bike you mentioned, or something with headphones to listen to music/books/radio while you exercise, or maybe you'll have to pay money for a class. Good luck!
posted by kbenko at 12:55 PM on May 29, 2007

Echoing Vacapinta's comment, there are a set of low-impact activities that work really well, and can be done (albeit gently at first) by someone who is heavier: walking, bicycling, kayaking/canoing, etc. All are easy on joints, don't require large groups or expensive program fees, and if done consistently will be good for your health. The other good thing is that these (especially walking and bicycling) can be done incrementally -- this week, you make it around the block; in two years when you are super fit and macho you can crank out mile after mile. The real advantage of walking is that it can be done in all weather, including snow (although ice-storms are probably better experienced from indoors), so there is almost never a reason not to do it. If you have a dog or a spouse or a friend to go with you, so much the better. If you live somewhere with really miserable winter weather, some people swear by switching to a treadmill in the cold season -- I'd say, whatever keeps you moving is good.

Regarding the eating, I wonder if you would do well with something that provided lots of structure, seeing as how "eating only when hungry" isn't working for you. WW has a certain amount of structure, but I am thinking of something more programmatic -- a very scripted diet plan, with exact recipes and meal times and portions. Long term, you will need to internalize this stuff and learn how to eat in ways that work for you, but in the short term something that provided that level of structure might help.
posted by Forktine at 12:57 PM on May 29, 2007

A 1000 calorie diet is not appropriate advice for this situation. I know you said you're not advocating it, muddgirl, so I don't know exactly why you mentioned it, but if the poster does in fact have a doctor that would advocate a 1000 calorie diet for weight-loss purposes, the real advice would be for her to get a new doctor.
posted by hermitosis at 12:58 PM on May 29, 2007

Best answer: I would seriously look at what didn't work for you the last time you asked this question. You joined the gym, but maybe the hours you went weren't the right ones for your daily schedule so you stopped, or you weren't counting calories correctly (I really recommend Spark people for this, it's easy to use and I have found it accurate), etc.

Support groups like WW are great, but in the end it is a slow process of burning more calories than you're taking in. It's so simple, I sometimes think people forget about it. Calorie counting and exercise are the key - you just have to figure out what works FOR YOU in this regard. It seems like you just need to find the right process to match your will to lose weight. Whether it's exercise before breakfast (didn't work for me, but is good for your metabolism) or doing it after work (I found this was the ticket for me - getting the stress out of my day before going home and cooking dinner. And I was less hungry, to boot.) only you are going to find that match. It's slow and it's hard and it sucks - but it is certainly doable.
posted by meerkatty at 1:04 PM on May 29, 2007

Best answer: Ideally, losing weight would be as simple as:

counting calories + exercise + personal trainer/nutritionist.

In my experience, which sounds similar to yours, the crucial pieces that nobody mentions are:

incremental steps and long-term outlook. I've been working at losing weight for two goddamned years, and I've only just now, over the past six months, seen real results. But those two years were spent laying the foundation, so they weren't wasted.

Here's my previous take ont this question.

Long walks are great. Counting calories is also great, but consult a doctor before you do so. muddgirl's mom may be able to thrive on only 1000 calories, but every piece of literature I've read suggests that eating less than 1200 calories per day can be dangerous unless under close medical supervision.
posted by lekvar at 1:05 PM on May 29, 2007

DoctorMama's awesome running plan is the best exercise regime I've ever tried.
posted by rdc at 1:07 PM on May 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

Can you bike to work, or make biking to work a goal? Could you bike to do your errands? I have found that combining exercise and transportation is much harder to talk myself out of than going out specificially to exercise.
posted by ilyanassa at 1:11 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

The key part I think to really making it work it to set it as your primary goal. It sucks for people like us who can't just "live right" or "be normal" and be a normal size, but sometimes that is just the case. In this case we suck it up. We suck it up and say "Yes, I really fucking want those chips and salsa, but please waiter, take them away" We really really might want to watch Dr. Phil but we have to , have to, have to, suck it up and spend a solid hour and a half moving. Moving alot, moving till it makes you want to throw up. This is how I get fit when I can muster the will to do it. It'll be so hard, at office get togethers, with family, with friends. You just have to accept that you can't eat that way anymore. Its ok to be upset about it, but rest assured after a while it won't occur to you that you want it, or perhaps you will be exercising so much that you can indeed eat whatever it is that is your pitfall and really, it will be ok.
posted by stormygrey at 1:14 PM on May 29, 2007

For me it's all about what I eat. I exercise a lot but I eat a lot too so I have to watch out for that. As a rule of thumb I try to go to bed with a thin edge of hunger. Counting calories is reassuring too. Good luck - it's such a struggle getting it off AND keeping it off but you'll feel great once you are making progress.
posted by MiffyCLB at 1:14 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

I would spend the extra money (if needed - you may want to check with your health insurance to see if they would cover something like this) to visit a professional nutritionist. (I see that you live in MA - if you would like a rec. for a nutritionist do let me know; she's expensive but was worth it to me, anyway). Anyway. A nutritionist can spend more time with you than your doctor can or even a person at Weight Watchers and can personalize a food/exercise program for you, or can direct you to a person who can set up a personalized exercise program for you. I think the best thing about the nutritionist was that she took all my circumstances into account - my age, my height, my family history, my office job, etc. - and came up with a plan that is easy for me to stick to.

Also, I was not successful at *all* in losing weight until I got to the root of my problems with emotional eating. I don't know if you are actively in therapy or not, since you mention anti-depressants. But maybe you need to get to the bottom of that. If you're still overeating then exercise might not necessarily help.
posted by sutel at 1:16 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

N'thing Vacapinta. Move. Keep moving. Drink water.

If there's any way possible at all to move at your office - do it. Going to the mailroom, going to the mailbox, taking the stairs, parking at the first spot you find in the morning, making annoyingly repetitive trips back to people's offices when you forget something. And at home too - you just walked across the room and back and completely forgot what you went for - go back and get it.
posted by cashman at 1:17 PM on May 29, 2007

I really recommend daily weighing with a floating average. I think it can really help to have a visual reminder of where you've been and where you're going, and I think it can help to keep you honest, too. You can use PhysicsDiet and do it online.

I think it can operate as both positive and negative feedback, which is good. Dieting is really about know generally what to do, and for most people, when they do it, it works. The trouble is in the motivation, which includes ending the diet at some point and going back to old habits. For longterm success I think the most effective strategy (the only one) is to make exercise an unending part of your life.

And, there's nothing wrong with a very low calorie diet as the start to weight loss. Many people have used such diets effectively. If you're reasonably smart about what you eat you can get all your needed nutrients. When the alternative is surgery, the restricted calories make even more sense. The objections seem to be based in poor logic, either grounded in the notion that restricting calories severely in the face of obesity is tantamount to anorexia, which isn't true; or in the notion that losing weight through severe calorie restriction is unlikely to work in the long term. But, the thing is, all diets are likely to fail in the long term, that seems to have been pretty conclusively demonstrated. That's because longterm strategies for maintaining a healthy weight are not the same as the strategies for losing weight. By definition. If you want to lose weight, restrict calories. At some point later you're going to have to adjust your behavior to avoid gaining it back, but that will no longer be a weight loss diet.
posted by OmieWise at 1:18 PM on May 29, 2007

hermitosis: it might be a good plan, and it's certainly an easy one on the face of it.

I personally use a spreadsheet to tabulate my calories burned and consumed and check that against a guideline of how many calories people at my weight (which decreases row by row) require. And I shoot for 1K KCal/day, usually coming in around 1300. With an eye toward consumption of multivitamins, water and plenty of protein. It feels great to me, but I've never been more than 65 lbs. overweight.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:21 PM on May 29, 2007

Two questions:

- has your doctor checked your thyroid?
- how do you sleep? sleep apnea can cause obesity (and obesity can keep you from losing weight).
posted by weirdoactor at 1:30 PM on May 29, 2007

(and obesity can keep you from losing weight).

sigh. Sleep apnea can keep you from losing weight...
posted by weirdoactor at 1:32 PM on May 29, 2007

You have some great, feasible ideas already. IMO, here's what might help you:

- Start out by using FitDay to give yourself an idea of where you're at. You don't have to aim for any particular calorie goals to begin with, just make sure you input everything you eat, and all of your activities to get a picture of what you can work on.

- A pound of fat is "worth" 3500 calories. You shouldn't aim to lose more than 1-2 pounds per week -- you want this to be healthy and sustainable. The easiest way to do this, I've found, is to cut from 250 to 500 calories per day, and to exercise an extra 250 to 500 calories per day (depending on your goals -- you might want to start small and work your way up, though). It sounds silly, but the soyouwanna on weight loss actually sums this up really well.

- To make the cutting calories less painful, make sure you're eating lots of lean protein (which makes you feel more full and gives you energy). Cooking for yourself, rather than eating out, makes cutting calories a lot easier too.

- On the exercise front, biking with your husband is a great idea! Definitely do that -- it can become a daily "date" where you unwind from the day, re-connect, and get some exercise as a bonus. Joining the Y would also be a good idea. If you feel intimidated by all the machines, most clubs like that will give you a tour or have personal trainers you can take a session or two with so you can find your way around and learn proper form.

- Also re: exercise, cardio and weight training are both crucial. Cardio is good for fat burning, but weight training building muscle which will in turn increase your metabolism -- so you burn more calories even when you're not working out.

- Mentally, try not to be too hard on yourself. As people often say, the weight didn't get there overnight, nor will it leave overnight. Give yourself a reasonable timeline, ease into the new routine, and don't get discouraged at first if the results are slow to come.

Good luck, you *can* do this!
posted by AV at 1:43 PM on May 29, 2007

Best answer: I read something recently (via a link ) which changed my viewpoint on weightloss and exercise:

Stop taking so much notice of how you feel. How you feel is how you feel. It'll pass soon.

I think I personally need to stop making excuses for doing the things I need to do. (I don't know if this is your problem, but it's certainly been mine - particularly when I get hungry, or when exercise is uncomfortable. Because in the end, with a diet that works (like WW for example) and regular sustained exercise, most people will lose weight.

I don't say this to put you down, because I myself had enough of being treated cruelly for being overweight, but as a motivational tool.

Good luck.
posted by b33j at 1:46 PM on May 29, 2007 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Ok...just wanted to give some more info / answer some questions.

As per the extremely low calorie diets, I don't think it's necessary. If I stick to my WW recommended Points target, I can easily lose 2 lbs per week. And my Points target is approximately equal to 1600 kcal daily + the 1750 kcal weekly allowance. The problem is that I have trouble sticking to it, and if I relax the rules even a tiny bit, I gain the weight back in a blink of an eye. I have a LOT of trouble recovering from a slip.

Thus, knowing that I can lose consistently on 1600+ kcal per day, I don't see how cutting it to 1000 could really help much, except to maybe make me quit faster.

I guess I am looking for a way to make one of these reduced calorie plans easier to stick with. And to incorporate exercise.

Can you bike to work, or make biking to work a goal? Could you bike to do your errands?

To work, no. It's pretty far and on major highways. To errands? Maybe. I'm in the process of moving but it seems like it could be a biking or walking friendly area. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, because I would love to be able to do that.

Also, I was not successful at *all* in losing weight until I got to the root of my problems with emotional eating.

This is an issue for me, I won't lie. I was in therapy until my insurance changed and I had to switch to a complete psycho who thought that having me make collages of supermodels would help inspire me to lose weight. I'm working on the emotional eating stuff on my own as a result.

I really recommend daily weighing with a floating average. I think it can really help to have a visual reminder of where you've been and where you're going, and I think it can help to keep you honest, too.

I think this is a great idea and one that I will incorporate into whatever plan/strategy I ultimately come up with. I am adding a quality scale to my shopping list as my current one is a little erratic. Luckily, I don't take a single day's number too seriously because I do understand about the reasons it can fluctuate, but the floating average would be very telling, and hopefully keep me focused.

has your doctor checked your thyroid?

Yes, I have an enlarged thyroid, so I see an endocrinologist yearly to keep an eye on it. It functions normally.

how do you sleep? sleep apnea can cause obesity (and obesity can keep you from losing weight).

I had been dealing with some insomnia which seems to have been alleviated by a new prescription for trazodone. When investigating insomnia, my doctors thought it was unlikely that it was sleep apnea and was more likely related to my anxiety & depression.
posted by catfood at 1:57 PM on May 29, 2007

Hey catfood. I feel you bigtime. I was gaining tons of weight every year, was terribly depressed, was trying WW and Atkins and other sorts of diets, hoping to lose the weight relatively quickly and then get back to living life the way I had been.

You've heard this a million times by now, but it is really true. It is about changing your lifestyle and it's overwhelming and terrifying.

For me, and this may be true for you too, it sounds that way to me at least, this is about two things:

1.) I was exceptionally unhappy with where I was, weight-wise, but also life-wise. I wanted a quick change. I was putting off all of the things I wanted to do with my life for the day when I was suddenly skinny and happy. I was in a bad way.

2.) Food is a known pleasure for me. So few things in my life were satisfying -- all of the things I wanted to be doing I felt like I could not do because I was fat. The only pleasure I could get was in food.

So - yeah, bad combo there. I was able to lose about 45 pounds last year, I still have 25-30 to go, but I made it happen, but it was a lonnnnng time coming and many things had to change for me to be able to do it.

Here's the salient thing. It is about changing your life for the better and for the long term. It's intensely overwhelming to think of it that way, but this is why I feel like programs like WW and special diets like south beach don't work. They aren't sustainable for the long term. However, when you think about embarking on a path, and you're counting calories and you're exercising and it's no fun and you're hungry all the time and you're hitting plateaus, it is dismal and depressing and you fall off of the wagon and you hate yourself.

I would advocate trying the following: Do some research and find out approximately how many calories you need to cut and how many calories you need to burn to both feel like you're not starving and punishing yourself and yet will start seeing results. Make a commitment to try it for only two weeks. Just see what happens. Keep that goal in mind. This is not forever, it is for two weeks. At the end, re-evaluate. See how it worked. If it was too hard, too depressing, try changing your strategy. Incorporate different exercise into your life, or try changing your calorie intake.

In terms of practicality, I was personally able to make it happen by counting calories (I was eating no more than 1300-1500 calories a day, but of course there were days that I messed up and went way over - I just got right back on the horse). I started going to the gym.

The calorie counting thing is, in my opinion, the very best way to do it. WW sort of works the same way, in that no foods are off limits to you, but WW is a little bit more complicated. When you just write down everything you eat, you start to find foods that are satisfying and low in calories. You learn to make room for the sorts of foods that make you feel like they're worth the calories. For me, all I could do was write everything I ate down.

When it comes to exercise, I started going to the gym every morning. It was the only way I was able to pull it off. I would get up in the morning, put my gym clothes on, and leave the house. At that point I had nowhere to go except for the gym because I had not showered and I had to change my clothes. After just a few days I started to get used to it. I started just walking on the treadmill. I got myself a heart rate monitor to be sure that I was actually burning calories.

I used to track my progress, and I also got a lot of really good advice and support on the message boards. They had a lot of good exercise suggestions, also.

Eventually, after about a year of working out 5x a week and counting calories and losing weight steadily and feeling awesome about myself, I got myself a personal trainer. It was 100% worth the money. It ain't cheap, but I saw results fast.

Finally, are you in therapy? You say you are depressed and on anti-depressants, but do you have a therapist who can help you examine these issues? I personally feel that alot of women (at least I know I did this and I have friends who have done the same), put on weight because of all sorts of personal frustrations and unhappiness.

Finally - watch this. Try to be kind to yourself. Hang in there, and if you want to vent, please feel free to email me. My email's in my profile.

Good luck!
posted by pazazygeek at 2:07 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

As mentioned by other posters...

Drink water, lots of it.

Drink water instead of juice, soda, sports drinks, or coffee. Well, not to exclusion, but try to replace some of the non-water liquids with good ol' H2O. Coffee will dry you out, and sugary/artificially sweetened beverages don't really hydrate you as well as water, so you'll likely be drinking twice as much to quench your thirst and end up taking in unneeded calories.

Plus, I've read again and again, and found to be true, that often times hunger sensations are really your body just needing water. Instead of grabbing a snack when you're munchy, try grabbing a glass of water instead. If you're still munchy after that, go ahead and eat. Don't ignore hunger, just try to interpret what your body is really asking for.
posted by lekvar at 2:09 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

but if the poster does in fact have a doctor that would advocate a 1000 calorie diet for weight-loss purposes, the real advice would be for her to get a new doctor.

Well, my advice would be for catfood to go to a doctor who's willing to help, besides offering to prescribe the icky and not-that-effective weight loss drug du jour. I don't think anyone should go on a diet or do exercise that's not right for their lifestyle, since it just leads to frustration and failure. For my mum, who is significantly more obese than "100 pounds overweight", the 1000 calorie diet is saving her life, and I'm glad she found a doctor who is willing to work with her and offer her constructive, attainable solutions and goals rather than just "she knew it was hard, but really the only thing was diet & exercise".
posted by muddgirl at 2:09 PM on May 29, 2007

I'm not sure about you, but I -love- playing with my weight/fitness data with a spreadsheet or other statistics program. It makes it like a game to me, to see if I can plot a fit that accurately determines (assuming no change in habits) where I will be in N days. Then I work hard to make it to that Nth day, and compare whether or not I met my goal. If I didn't, I evaluate what happened (usually my "what happened" involves a six pack of lager and a full rack of ribs). Sometimes, though, I have to tweak the line to take into account the fact that fitness levels and weight won't adhere strictly to a line.

The biggest thing with this approach is that you can't let yourself get discouraged if you aren't meeting that line, because after all, it is just statistics and in something like this they rarely take into account all possible variables. However, it does give you a nice graph to see the progress you have been making, so when you do get discouraged you can look at it and say "Hey, I've been doing pretty well so far, I can keep this up!"

One other thing that may help is to pay attention to the volume of food. With careful food choices, 1600kcal of food can be a large volume and can leave you quite stuffed. Be wary of eating any calorie dense food (peanut butter is a good example, despite how absolutely delicious it is.) Rice and veggies are great for this sort of thing, as is fruit. Yams and sweet potatoes are another good choice, and it is very possible to make healthy sweet potato fries if you are into those.

Anyway, good luck! I'm sure you can do this.
posted by Loto at 2:15 PM on May 29, 2007

I know you don't want to go back to WW, but keep in mind that right now you lose weight at 1600 calories/day. Your points on WW would ramp down the more weight you lost, and calories would go down.

Other than that, wiser folk than I have already chimed in. Personally, I've been doing South Beach just to convince myself that my body can actually lose weight . . . and I feel better. But after two or three weeks of it, I'm going back to WW. If you decide to go back to WW, and you have not gone to the actual meetings, I would look into it. The meetings are not my thing, but I have friends who have been really successful in part because of the meetings.
posted by Medieval Maven at 2:21 PM on May 29, 2007

Response by poster: I've gone to the meetings and I like them. Most of the time, when I'm "on", I like WW and don't even feel deprived. But when I slip, I fall hard and can't get up.

I guess that's the biggest problem and I don't know how to fix it. Maybe I asked the wrong question. Right now I feel so wishy washy and upset that I can barely think straight.
posted by catfood at 2:26 PM on May 29, 2007

Nutrition is a very scary topic for me. I think I understand what you mean by conflicting advice. It seems everyone has an idea of what to do, but it's hard to know what will work for you and you're probably thinking, "But if I try this for a month and it doesn't work and I gain weight, then all is lost."

I can tell you what I did.

First: Shop for a gym.

I don't mean walk out of the door and sign up with the first gym you come across. I mean go to a gym, try it out (yes, even if you have to pay), and speak to the staff. Just walk briskly for 20 minutes on the treadmill. The point is you're trying to gauge your comfort at this particular location.

Here are some key questions to ask:

How do you feel at this place? Are you being pushed on a hard sell?

Speak to the staff about your nutrition concerns. Do they have someone on staff who can help? Or someone to which you'll be referred?

What kinds of folks are there? Are the other patrons muscle-headed jocks? Packs of teenage boys hanging around equipment because they're too young to go to bars? Women with 0% body fat and an eye on their own reality show on Bravo? People of all stripes?

What's the volume? Is it way crowded? Moderate? What about at the busiest time of day? I don't like very crowded places, so I picked a very small gym with 24-hr access.

What's the equipment look like? You don't need a historical primer on exercise equipment. Just peek at it. If it's made of hard steel with pointed angles, it's way old and you probably don't want that equipment. What about the aerobic equipment? Is a machine unoccupied because it's damaged? This speaks to maintenance.

Take as much time as you need on this. It's a very important decision. If you don't feel comfortable, I can guarantee that you will stop going at some point.

Second: Once you find a comfortable gym, sign up. This is important. It puts a financial commitment in place, which can be a real motivator.

Third: Find a trainer. In the beginning it's very scary to work out and lose weight. You have no clue whether what you're doing will make a difference. And when you don't see results immediately, you're bound to get discouraged and quit. A good trainer knows _ALL_ of this and more and to have that guiding hand and partner can be the difference between success and failure. (At least it was for me.) Don't be afraid to pay real money for this. It's your health we're talking about. I love trainers who work in the gym I go to. My preference, but not necessary.

Fourth: Don't expect to understand anything for quite a long time. You have to put yourself into the hands of the process and your trainer. If you focus on the one bump that doesn't seem to be shrinking, you will run yourself out of motivation. It took me nearly a full year before I really used my chest muscles, as an example, during a bench press. I don't mean I didn't lose weight or gain muscle mass for that year; I only mean you're training your body to work out efficiently and it will take you awhile for you and your body to get used to that.

Fifth: You will have to learn the difference between hunger, thirst, and habit. You mention feeling hungry all the time. This could be any of all of the following: Hunger due to unbalanced nutrition, thirst, biological addiction, psychological addiction. Your trainer will suggest you drink a lot more water and I think you'll find that if you drink a LOT of water (maybe 32 oz. in one sitting) when you "feel hungry" you'll find the "hunger" will go away for quite a long time and when it doesn't, you'll know you're actually hungry. But you'll have to find your way to measure things.

Sixth: Get _OFF_ the scale. In fact, you should probably throw the scale away. Most trainers will use other measurements to determine what you need to do and how. Your weight _will_ fluctuate wildly and often. The best way to determine weight loss is through clothes. Find a pair of pants you can barely fit into, work out for a few months, and try again. Presuming you've a trainer and have modified your diet and are sticking to it, you've a good chance you'll be in those pants quickly.

Seventh: Be kind to yourself. My first trainer gave me a pretty strict diet and I stuck to it through sheer will power for nearly two years. I moved away and suddenly found myself living near folks we visited often who had cakes, cookies, ice-cream, etc. And like manna from heaven, I ate EVERYTHING, having been starved of stuff I really wanted to eat for such a long time. My current routine, which my new trainer gave me, is 1700 calories daily and has so much variety and tastes (including sugar), that I don't nearly wont for those sweets as much anymore.

Eight: Realize health is a PROCESS and not a Goal. You don't get to the finish line and say, "Whew. Well, that was fun." Yes, there are those with genetics who may make it all look easy, but for most folks it isn't easy. Like you I'm on Paxil (Paroxetine) and, yes, that is probably contributing to the ease with which I gain weight. (Or maybe not! Only one way to tell and that doesn't seem right for me right now.) You will have to reinvent your diets and weight routines over and over and over and over again. Embrace the change. It will keep you alert and engaged, never bored.

Hope this helps.


posted by tcv at 2:47 PM on May 29, 2007 [4 favorites]

If you haven't considered going to Curves, give it some thought. (The hardest part about going there, for me, was admitting that I was part of their target demographic.) It's a friendly, social, supportive atmosphere; the workouts take forty minutes from start to finish (and that includes fussing with your running shoes and chatting with the other women there). I know one member who has lost over 130 pounds over the last two years through consistent exercise at Curves and a moderate diet. I personally would not recommend going on a thousand or even a twelve-hundred calorie a day diet-- I myself at least cannot function well on less than 1600 a day.

My experience: I lost twenty-five pounds in just over four months-- which was a nice, slow pace that didn't stress my body out too much-- by doing a lot of web research, particularly finding sites where I could get accurate information on the caloric value of everything I ate, and then tracking the numbers scrupulously. For the first couple of weeks, I ate as I had been normally, just to get a baseline. I soon discovered that I had been eating around 2500 calories a day, sometimes more; it was amazing, really, that I wasn't gaining more than the ten pounds a year I had been up till then. And remember, all you need to gain that ten pounds a year is to eat an extra hundred calories a day-- that's a single apple or one slice of bread. Conversely, all you have to do to lose that ten pounds is to eat a hundred calories a day less than you need.

If you calculate by your age and level of activity about how many calories a day you need-- mine was around 2100 or so-- and then adjust so that you are both cutting back about 200 or 300 calories a day on average, and combine with consistent exercise at least three times a week, you are good to go (I tracked my average every two weeks or so, and found that though on some days I ate more than my target of 1800, on some days I ate less-- but the average stayed at around 1800 or 1850). The results might not be instantaneous-- I only lost two pounds the first month-- but they will happen. The key is consistency in the exercise part. Note that it's better to do five twenty minutes walks a week than two longer workouts.

I also did a bunch of research on which meals were the most filling for both the least amount of caloric value and the greatest nutritional value. In sum, I can tell you that two cups of whole wheat pasta, half a cup of expensive (don't stint on ingredients if you're dieting) pasta sauce, a hunk of steamed brocolli and a tablespoonful or two of parmesan is the best 450 or so calories you can get. You won't be hungry again for hours, and it's healthy stuff. Vegetables are your friend; you can eat pounds of them. Whole wheat everything, and careful on bread and pasta-- never eat white bread, especially not in combination with sugary anything. It'll give you a blood sugar spike and then leave you hungry again in an hour.

At any rate, I don't want to either ramble on for paragraphs or to be a corporate shill for Curves; just that it in my experience, at a time when I felt completely defeated about my weight, and that it was out of my control, I found that it was, in fact, very much within my control. And the bonus part: depression is helped by exercise, too.
posted by jokeefe at 2:52 PM on May 29, 2007

Best answer: Catfood, do you have trouble with your periods? Is it possible you have PCOS?

I understand how you feel w/r/t getting off track but something that's helped me immensely with exercising often is just taking everything one day at a time. I know, it sounds too simple, and also is advice for alcoholics. But every day I get up and tell myself, okay, today I'm going to exercise. I don't think of all the days in a row I've exercised and I don't beat myself up if I've missed a couple. I just worry about today.

Another thing to remember: you cannot change everything at once, or you're just setting yourself up for failure. Lifestyle changes are fucking hard and they're scary as shit. Do a little at a time and once you feel comfortable then add something new. Maybe focus on exercise for a few weeks before adding food changes.

Good luck. I know a lot of what you're going through. Feel free to email me if you want to chat.
posted by sugarfish at 2:53 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Regarding slip-ups...

They happen. It's natural. Don't beat yourself up when it happens. Learn your triggers and try to control the damage when the do, inevitably, happen. I give myself one day of indulgence per week, just to get it out of my system. Sometimes I blow it and indulge two or three days, but then it's out of my system and I can go back to being diligent about what I eat. But this is hard goddamn work, and all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Release some steam, a little at a time, so you don't blow up and wake up to find yourself surrounded by empty Ben & Jerry's cartons (my personal downfall). If you succeed in thinking a long-term, that indulgence becomes a statistical blip in a long string of daily successes.

(I can't seem to shut up. Perhaps there's a MouthWatcher's program I could join...)
posted by lekvar at 2:53 PM on May 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

Be wary of eating any calorie dense food (peanut butter is a good example, despite how absolutely delicious it is.)

Peanut butter is an example of good calories though, I think-- just measure it out with a tablespoon, and write down that 100 calories. A piece of toast and one tablespoon of PB is a 200 calorie breakfast that will keep you going for a good long while.
posted by jokeefe at 3:06 PM on May 29, 2007

I give myself one day of indulgence per week, just to get it out of my system.

Oh yes! I did that too-- one day a week I could eat pretty much whatever I wanted, including dessert. Because I knew I had that one day where restrictions were lifted a bit, it made the rest of the week completely doable.

Anyway, I'll cede the floor to others now-- though predictably enough we're all really repeating each other. Which goes to show that, in fact, calorie restriction and exercise works. No magic involved; just time and committment.
posted by jokeefe at 3:09 PM on May 29, 2007

I think it's all about finding something that works for your specific situation and personality. This book (Body Clutter) is about the psychological aspects of weight loss. It's gotten rave reviews. The author runs the Flylady web site, which is a fantastic repository of home-organization tips. Good luck, I know you will do this. You seem very motivated and that is half the battle (at least).
posted by selfmedicating at 3:41 PM on May 29, 2007

Ok, let me run through what you have here...

- Doing the No-S diet with some modifications (e.g. giving myself some requirements to make sure I eat enough fruit & veg)
- Skipping WW and instead doing some basic calorie counting with help from Spark People or FitDay or something.

No S is not incompatible with any other diet. You can do it low carb, you can do it low fat, you can do it reduced calories, you can do it with Slim-Fast shakes, you can do it with mirco-accounting of your calories. The thing I like about it is that it doesn't need anywhere near as much family buy-in; you eat the same sorts of food you make for everybody else, you just limit yourself to one plate. I am not sure I understand why it must be modified to include more fruit/veggies unless what you mean is "make sure I eat fruit/veggies at every meal." The one important take-away however is that all diet plans that work require you to stop eating sweets. And *as long as you keep things reasonable* you can still have a little treat on Saturday with No S. You might also consider treating alcohol as a "sweet" for diet purposes, particularly since depression is an issue.

- Adding the OTC drug Alli to whatever diet plan I choose.

I don't know Alli, but I know green tea is cheap and pretty effective. And if you drink it instead of taking a pill, it's tasty too. Run it by the doctor before adding diet supplements, but hey why not.

- Joining the YMCA when I move to my new neighborhood and signing up for some classes.
- Buying a bike so I can ride with my husband during the summer.

Any excuse to move is a good thing. Why not start by regular walks around the block? If that is not safe or practical, you can do the mall-walk thing, as long as you do it without a latte.

- Giving South Beach another try even though I don't really like meat that much.
- Going back to WW. But WW just reminds me of failure at this point.

Do not do things that are doomed to fail. If you don't like meat, then low-carbing of any sort is not going to work out for you. And if WW reminds you of failure, it is not going to help (unless you can isolate exactly what went wrong and proactively keep it from happening again).

- Maybe buying a few sessions with a personal trainer.

If I were in your position, I would be very very careful about choosing a personal trainer. Interview them, and seek out ones who have a track record helping individuals like yourself you need to lose a lot of weight (and tone up once it's gone). If one of them pressures you to sign and pay money right away, tell them thank you but get lost.

- Joining some kind of online thing like Ediets or something. (Yes I have done WW online, same shit different format).
- Researching lap-band surgery. Not even sure I'd be allowed since I'm on antidepressants.

Don't call any surgeons until you've given the other options a fighting chance.
posted by ilsa at 3:59 PM on May 29, 2007

Best answer: This probably goes without saying, but do be careful with the one day of indulgence. I had been letting myself eat out once or twice on the weekends, and my weight loss had totally stalled. I stopped, and bang, I started losing again. Eating 1000 calories over what I burn in a day (not at all hard to do at most restaurants, especially in my mexican-food-heavy town) cancels out two whole days of working hard to stay 500 below. Do it twice and I might as well not be dieting. I do allow myself indulgences now, but they usually come in the form of a couple good chocolates (kept hidden by my husband) instead of a day of splurging.

It can be really hard to stay on track when you're dealing with depression. If you can remember that a bad day doesn't ruin your diet, it helps. Maybe you can work out some sort of "payment plan" for overindulging. Say you eat 1000 cals of ice cream on a bad day. Over the next ten days, add 100 calories worth of exercise to your usual routine each day. That isn't an impossible amount, and you'll know you've done something proactive to counter the binging. If you know you'll have to work it off, maybe it'll make the initial binge slighly less attractive. If it doesn't, you're still working off the calories. Just an idea, I haven't tried it myself.

If you screw up, keep going. Easier said than done, I know - I screw up a lot. It slows you down (it's taken me years to lose 50lbs and will probably take me another couple to lose the rest that I need to), but it does not stop you (I've still lost 50!). It gets easier as you go and start developing habits (not just eating and exercise habits, but mental habits for dealing with your bad days). Slow progress is still progress.
posted by waterlily at 4:03 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Do you eat the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables in a day?

In my experience, very few people who are significantly overweight eat a good amount of fruits and vegetables. Their diets tend to be high in carbohydrates, fats, or both. If you just start out with the plan of eating 5 servings of vegetables, 5 servings of fruit, and then eating whatever else you want, you would probably at least stabilize your weight. Plus, most people feel better on a diet with a good amount of fruits and vegetables.
posted by jefeweiss at 5:13 PM on May 29, 2007

You might want to check out the Good Mood Diet site. I'm not a huge diet person, but her general philosophy -- that there are foods that are super good for you and you should eat as much of them as possible every day, even if you're already eaten a bunch of foods that are bad for you already -- has been the only way I've been able to get over some of my emotional eating. I love her focus on eating a lot of good things rather than in any way punishing yourself for eating other things; you can say, "OK, I just gorged on chocolate cake, but I also ate some turkey and some broccoli and some blueberries today, and I'm going to go eat an orange now, and that means I'm still sticking to the diet," which makes lapses seem like less of a big deal.

Plus, I think her whole idea that diets often fail because they make people tired, cranky, and off-balance is a good one.
posted by occhiblu at 6:32 PM on May 29, 2007

A combination of factors has helped me lose 81 lbs over the past 54 weeks:

The Shangri-La Diet: SLD virtually eliminated the incredible, incredible drive I had to eat carbs (particularly bread, which was my binge food - I could easily put away an entire loaf and still be hungry for more before I started SLD). Besides the studies the diet is based on, I think SLD's success in controlling my urge to binge may also be due to the fact that my SLD-calories are consumed in the form of Omega-3 rich oils. After doing a lot of reading re how best to consume the necessary taste-free calories, I realized my pre-SLD diet was severely deficient in Omega-3s (I eat fish 3-4 times a year as it's hard to get good quality fish where I live). So I picked flax oil (2 Tbl) as my SLD oil. I've found that my mood and energy level improved distinguishably about 6-8 weeks after I started taking flax oil (this was before I had lost more than about 30 lbs, so I don't think it can really be attributed entirely to weight loss).

Calorie-Tracking: I use Sparkpeople to track my calories consumed. SLD did wonders to eliminate my binge episodes. But I still track calories because: 1.) I like consistent weight loss of 1-2 lbs a week. Having a calorie budget ensures consistent loss. 2.) I like food so much (what can I say, I'm a foodie) that I can override the "stuffed" feeling I get from SLD if I particularly enjoy the meal. Tracking calories keeps me honest.

Walking 3-4 hours on the weekends. I only do this to retain muscle mass as I know that it's not really a form of exercise that burns a lot of calories. I don't do it quickly (I only average about 16-17 min miles) and there are more efficient ways of burning calories/maintaining muscle, but walking is free, simple and easy.

Eating smaller meals more often. Since starting SLD, I eat every 3-4 hours, with the flax oil serving as a snack (I drink it with water as I dislike the viscosity of the oil). I've found that eating frequent small meals for the rest of the day helps in keeping my energy level up and in convincing my brain that it doesn't have to go back for seconds since it'll be eating something again pretty darn soon. John Berardi and Jorge Cruise are worth reading re meal timing.

One of the nice things about all the above is that I haven't had to count carbs or protein grams. I still eat about 50% carbs, 30% fat, 20% protein, which is probably what I ate before I started all this a year ago. (I love carbs and I will always love carbs and I know that any diet that requires me to count or limit them is not one I can follow). The SLD takes care of my binges, the calorie-tracking ensures a consistent loss (which I needed psychologically given how much weight I had to lose), and the walking has helped me maintain some muscle. I am now 134 lbs. This is the lowest I've ever been in my adult life and this is the first diet I've ever been on (and as a woman with PCOS I've been on a lot of diets) where I haven't felt like I'm underwater and holding my breath. I just don't feel like I'm going to "fall off the wagon" anymore.

SLD may not work for you, but if you're interested and want more information, I'd recommend checking out the book (get the revised paperback edition as Roberts has added a lot more data based on people's experiences with the diet) and the forum.

Good luck with whatever you decide to try. Losing weight is among the hardest things anyone can do (something that most thin people just don't seem to appreciate), and you deserve props for making so many attempts at so difficult a task.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:56 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

A lot of times, weight gain is a terrible cycle. You gain weight and get depressed so you eat, or something happens and you eat, rinse and repeat. Making a new cycle of exercise and losing weight will help keep your confidence up. It's going to be tough but if you're really heavy now the weight will really come off fast at first, and that can help get you through those first few months.
Take pictures of yourself before you start, and keep taking pictures every week or so and when you can see your progress that really helps to motivate.
I bought a small moleskin pad I bring everywhere. I keep a list of all the foods I commonly eat with the calories in the back few pages and write down everything I eat, every day. Looking at those numbers every day helps to keep me focused.
posted by m3thod4 at 11:16 PM on May 29, 2007

Best answer: Sorry, but there's no silver bullet.

Even though everyone's trying to peddle you magic solutions that make weight loss effortless, no such thing exists. By now, you'll already have tried enough different things that if one method worked particularly well for you, you'd know about it.

You say Weight Watchers worked while you were on it. So, go back on it, try again. This time you're a bit older, a bit wiser, more alert to the pitfalls.

In general, remember it's a long slow process, a marathon not a sprint. Don't set yourself unrealistic goals for the time you'll spend exercising, or the treats you'll deny yourself. Make sure you can enjoy living while you're on the program.

Most important: never play catch-up. If you fall off the wagon and scoff some cake one day, don't try and make it up by starving yourself the next. Just keep going with the program.

I managed to lose about 70 pounds with a calorie-controlled diet and light exercise. I've kept it off more or less for about seven years (well, temporarily put back on 30 or so, and had to go back on the program to lose it again.)

It is possible to do. But it's never going to be like a weight-loss commercial where you suddenly discover the magic formula that makes it easy. You've just got to knuckle down to it, and not let temporary setbacks panic you or get you down.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:21 AM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

On a more psychological note, it may be helpful to keep a 'food diary' of exactly when and what you eat and also what kind of mood you're in. If you are eating to avoid feeling lonely or depressed or what-have-you, it is relatively simple to be able to bring that information into your conscious mind so that the next time you open a bag of chips when you're feeling bad you can either switch to a bag of carrots or stop altogether.

Also, I've found that a helpful thing in terms of making any kind of major life change is breaking it down into much smaller parts than you may think are necessary. Less of "i need to lose 100 pounds this year" and more of "i want a soda, and instead I'm going to have a bottle of Fiji"
posted by softlord at 5:39 AM on May 30, 2007

Catfood, I'd like to talk if you're up for it... please e-mail me (addy's in my profile). I'm 26 and 100+ pounds overweight, I've been on trazodone and am on Effexor... it really sounds like we're in the same boat.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:53 AM on May 30, 2007

Exercise (alot) more, and eat (alot) less. The most important thing for me has been to be prepared! Ive recently had some great success losing weight. I was 6'0 290 lbs at one point, now im down to 260 and feeling great. I tried everything previously to drop weight, crazy programs and diets. Bleh! They all blew. Id drop a few lbs, but I was so miserable it would only last a few weeks and back to the bad food I went with a vengeance.

Earlier this year though I said screw all of the gimmicks. Im losing this weight the old fashion way! I went and joined a Gym. Not a fancy, pretty full of hot bodies 24 hour fitness type gym. There are to many distractions and I simply just felt way outta place there. I had tried that before. I joined a gym that is most filled with body builders and is very small. Largely it is made up of men (thats good for me as a man). Sure some of them have arms bigger then my legs but I didnt feel as out of place.

Next I got a trainer. The truth is I had worked out some in high school, but since then I really havent at all! If you are going to invest in one thing to lose weight make it a trainer. Not a young sexy thing either. Get yourself an old man or lady. You want their knowledge, screw anything else. I found one that would make me an eating regiment and could teach me how to work out. Not to mention when you are paying for somebody to be there you dont miss a day at the gym. There is no excuse because you have an appointment.

Then armed with their meal plan, working out 3 days with them and 2 days without I started to love what I was doing. At first it sucks. I worked out so hard the first day I went home and passed out for 3 hours! Now I work out for roughly twice as long and can then go out that night. This is after 5 months of working out. Am I losing weight at the astronomical numbers shown by big diet programs? No. In truth I dont even follow the eating regiment anymore. I stick to something very similar though because now I enjoy eating healthier food and feel run down when I dont get my exercise in.

Something I touched on earlier that is very important for me is be prepared to eat always! Alot of us take in major amounts of bad food when we are in a rush and dont plan ahead. Also knowing the good meals to get when you are low on time will significantly help. Let me give you an idea of how I eat everyday.

Breakfast: Cottage Cheese double (knudsen?) Easy to grab out the fridge on the way to work.

10:00: Handful of Peanuts in desk drawer. If they are in my face I will snack on them.

Lunch: El Pollo Loco- Pollo Choice Combo. Its 1 chicken breast and 2 sides. Get a side of rice and the salad. Try and pick a healthy dressing. That or I buy those rotisserie chickens from the store the night before. RIp all the meat off and bag it. I then put some of that meat, some avocado and some turkey bacon into a whole wheat tortilla and have one of them for lunch.

3:00 Can of Tuna or 5 slices of lean lunch meat.

5:30 *Workout until 7:00*

Then immediately after I either run home and cook a healthy dinner or I hit up somewhere decently healthy to eat. Chipotle makes a wicked burrito bowl. Just dont go crazy on the sour cream and cheese. I also have a place nearby that makes boneless skinless chicken over brown rice.

The important thing is im lazy, so its convenience keeps me in check when I dont want to cook. Days where I woulda probably hit up taco bell or in n out are now filled with alot healthier food.

Oh! and if you are a soda junky, switch to diet. At first it is nasty as hell. BUt within a week or two it actually starts to taste better and I now find it far more refreshing then regular soda.

Thats it! No snacks, no yummy brownies that somebody just happened to make over the weekend and bring in.

Also grab yourself a workout buddy. Somebody who has similar goals to you. Id never think to try it but you could probably throw a post up on craigslist describing your situation and the gym you would like to attend. I just work out with one of my friends who saw me losing weight gaining a significant amount of muscle and wanted a piece of that action.

Finally give yourself and your diet a rest on the weekend. Similar to No-S. It will be great for your peace of mind! Work out hard all week, eat well too. Then when the weekend comes around dont feel bad for having those chips n salsa. Or grabbing a burger or some other unhealthy food with your friends. I personally think though its the reason Ive been able to stick with it. I dont think about my diet so much when being social. Remember you are changing your life, not going on a diet. This isnt something you are going to do for a few months. Make it something you do forever.
posted by Tinen at 12:36 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

oh! one more thing. Find a way to keep track of your weight other then in pounds. That will make you feel alot better then a scale. The way jeans fit is a great one. I personally have a belt that Ive worn almost everyday since I started. Ive since grown out of the holes built into the belt and have had to punch new ones with a screw driver. Ive lost something like 3-4 inches on my waist now.
posted by Tinen at 12:43 PM on May 30, 2007

Could the birth control pills be a contributing factor? I was on oral contraceptives for two and a half years and I gained weight steadily the entire time, more than 60 lbs total. I tried to eat carefully and exercise, but nothing I did seemed to help.

I had some really unpleasant side effects too, like uncontrollable crying and mood swings and depression symptoms. It was like never-ending PMS. I tried five different types of birth control pills, on the advice of doctors, and none of them helped much. Finally my doctor said to just quit. It turns out that what I experienced is relatively common.

I've been off the pill for four months now, and it's amazing how much more cheerful and energetic I feel - I feel like myself again. I've only lost 12 pounds so far, but it doesn't bother me much because I feel so much better.

I know that switching to a non-hormonal method is not a good option for everyone, but it is something to think about.
posted by beandip at 4:19 PM on May 30, 2007

Hi CF, Gawd you really do sound sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I know where you are going with your frustration, I don’t know about you but my downfall always is, I expect to see great results after about week three, and then when I don’t, I fall big time off the wagon, and like you the ‘dust off and start again process’ doesn’t come quick or easy and doesn’t come without a dose of disgust with myself. Judging by the huge response for your plea for good advise, I would say those experiences are pretty much not exclusive to us.

Do you mind if I stick my oar in and say what I’m finding really helpful and what definitely doesn’t work for me? I’m a lot older than you so I’m at a stage where exercise alone does not work, it just helps tone. But it is still very necessary for sure, for sure, for sure! Instead of worrying whether your new town will have a YMCA or exercise opportunities, why don’t you get a good DVD which incorporates resistance training and aerobic? I’m not from the US, so I can’t recommend one (although make sure you don’t go for one of those superhuman model stick types) And like one of your responses says..make it a routine…say first thing every day or the minute you get home before you cook dinner, turn on the TV etc. Routine is a great plan, leaves no time for brooding and when those NEGATIVE thoughts creep in (which for sure will and for sure will) , it decimates those thoughts that drag us down. It passes!

To tackle food, the best book I’ve ever read is Stephen Gullo’s the Thin Commandments. It is the most down to earth, accurate, constructive book I’ve ever read on the subject. IT’s about a strategy to tackling your trigger foods, because we all have trigger foods, the foods we abuse, that sends us off on almighty binges which blasts any good efforts and bring us back to square one .. but it’s a lot more, so I don’t want to sell it short with my description, but if I can just give one example…woman on good eating diet, doing well, at a party and is offered loads of temptations, she chooses between a chocolate mousse and a cookie…she reckons the cookie has less calories so goes for it..what does that result in? the mother of all binges when she gets home. Because cookies were a food she craved, she ‘woken’ those cravings again with a vengeance, whereas mousses weren’t something that normally rocks her boat or is ready available to her, so that night would have been the only splurge on that particular food…getting the drift? This is why I also think that having a ‘eat all’ day per week is not a good idea. If you have slip ups, that ‘s one thing but don’t legitimise a free for all day…it just reawakens addictive cravings. I think the daily weigh in on the scales is a horror idea as well as when the scales is your friend and you see the pounds drop, it’s great … but personally I can’t emotively deal with the long periods of time when that scale does not move or worse still goes up…I know I know, periods etc can make your weight fluctuate, but I think we have enough to deal with without having to psychologically set ourselves up to deal with disappointments that those damn scales can deal us also. And I really don’t believe in this 1000 calorie per day stuff, as you say it so well yourself, all that achieves is making you quit earlier…you said that 1600 worked for you before in WW, well there you are, you’ve answered yourself…1600 works for me too especially if the quality of food is good, personally I don’t like WW as I believe they allow for too much sugar in the diet which raises insulin. You are less likely to binge eat, if your blood sugar will stay balanced meaning less insulin released and less (if any) fat stored. Eating regularly takes planning so we need to be organised

I do keep a kinda record though this pains me. But sometimes when I feel like I have been on a diet FOREVER, I look and see I have only been on it 10 days. My record consists of three columns which need to be ticked off daily
a: MIBS (my abbreviation for Muffins, Icecream, Biscuits and Sweets) I tick off that I haven’t succumbed to these, my next column is Exercise and my third column is my Vitamin Supplements (that I’ve taken them).. If the diary is too complicated I won’t stick to it, so I just tick tick tick ..this reminds me to do the exercise, take the vitamins.

Make all the good habits as easy and routine as possible, and I would love if someone could help me too look more long term as I always slacken after about three weeks, when you slacken you are on that famous slippery slope that brings you right back to square one

My God, I can’t believe that a Therapist would actually suggest you make collages of supermodels to inspire you…doesn’t it just show you how misunderstood addiction to food is, would she/he tell an alcoholic to imagine a supermodel drinking iced tea for inspiration, very frustrating for you to deal with that.

It’s been great reading your blog, although you may not realise it nor it being your intention, this is so helpful for all of us who join in and bounce ideas around. We are all in the same boat trying to make out what works out best for us individually
posted by mackers1001 at 3:22 PM on June 14, 2007

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