50 pounds down in 85 days (Day 87)

 I can’t believe how fast time has flown by. On top of that, I can’t believe I lost 50 pounds so easily in such short period of time with ketogenic eating.

I have had a lot of questions about what I’m doing from you guys, so I’ll try to quickly answer a few of them here.

What is Taco Star?

I mention eating at Taco Star at least twice per week. This is the best Mexican food I have had. Ever. Quality, fresh ingredients,  simple, no-frills, real food. I pay $7 for 2 pounds of nachos. Two pounds. And that huge mealzilla is loaded with grilled, seasoned steak, lettuce, fresh salsa, some refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, and the most red and green salsa you will ever put to your lips. It’s so filling, that’s typically my meal for the entire day. It’s like three meals in one.

I enjoy a really regimented plan where, on Mondays after TOPS weigh-in, I treat myself to the nachos with the chips. On Fridays, while everyone else eats Papa Murphys pizzas, I treat myself to Taco Star’s Super Nachos without the chips and ask, instead, for a bed of shredded lettuce. I have found, though trial and success, that the corn chips they include once a week aren’t hurting me at all. In fact, they could be helping me continue to lose weight. I typically don’t eat corn (no offense, corn), but I assume that the number of chips when compared to the ginormous portions of meat and vegetable in the dish means that I’m really getting *just* enough carbohydrates to keep my metabolism guessing.  That, or in the end, they’re so negligible, they don’t even matter. I don’t sweat the small schmear of refried beans, either. I live a little.

Taco Star needs to expand outside of Colorado. The world needs you, Taco Star!

How did you lose so much weigh so quickly?

It’s magic! OK, maybe it’s not magic.

1. Keeping track. I journal what I eat every day, from a Pringle potato chip as a snack, to 2 slices of cheesecake for dinner. Every bite of food gets recorded. Period. It makes me accountable for every choice I make so no ‘food amnesia’ creeps in. Journaling has also helped me suss out food intolerances I never knew I even had until I started associated feeling a certain way with specific foods.  While it’s depressing knowing I can’t go at cheese the way  thought I could, it makes me happy knowing that really keeping track of those foods is resulting in losses most every week.

2. Accountability. For me, it TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly www.tops.org), a not-for-profit weight loss group that meets all over the country once per week for weigh-ins and support, fun, and a program. Weigh ins are private, you are always respected, and even on a week when you gain, everyone says, “we’re glad you’re here.” And they mean it. There’s nothing quite like being able to meet with local men and women who also want healthy weight loss, and they support you regardless of weight loss program. I typically just say that I have to avoid sugars and glutens, and everyone gets that. I don’t feel like I’m being preachy, but when I’m asked what I’m doing right, I tell them I make healthy choices and avoid sugar and gluten/wheat. And people get it. Plus, since so many of us these days are pre-diabetic and have food allergies, more and more TOPS members are going lower-carbohydrate, so I fit right in!

3. Eat when hungry. Stop when no longer hungry. Learning true hunger signals is so, so important. I only eat when hungry, unless I know I am going to be out of the house when I am typically going to need lunch or breakfast. In this case, I eat when not hungry as a preventative measure to prevent hunger (and possibly bad choices) later. The other time I eat beyond satiety is on my Taco Star days. Even though two pounds of food is quite a bit in terms of weight, in terms of calories and carbohydrates and in nutrients, it’s what I need. It’s more or less Intermittent Fasting on those days (with Taco Star as more or less the only meal), and I know that since I am full for hours and hours afterwards, I was all right with that food choice (I have no aversions to any of the foods present in my Taco Star Nachos. Calzones with a wheat dough and too much cheese would be another matter entirely, and would likely result in a gain on the scale in inflammation, since I am intolerant to both wheat and to cheese in appreciable amounts).

4. Make decisions. Accept the results. Move on. Keeping track of food helps you conduct n=1 experiments with weight loss (n=1 means an anecdotal study where you are the test group). I remember about 3 or so weeks ago, I had a Big Mac meal from McDonalds on a Monday (+  fries) after having also had Red Robin (Their Oktoberfest burger with pretzel bun and two servings of their steak fries) only two days before.  So within two days, I made two gluten-filled, high-cheese + potato choices that resulted in a bad situation overall. I not only had a gain for the week, but I well overdid nightshades (potatoes–and I have an aversion to those). I had gluten, so my legs swelled, my nose ran, and my inflammatory system had to fight for all it was worth to protect my body from the allergens I willingly ingested. One of those meals I could have tolerated most likely, if I had been consumed on the day of the weigh in, giving me a week to lose the inflammatory water weight gain. TWO meals in short succession now started causing cravings for foods I typically never crave anymore.

So not only did I gain weight that week, I felt physically horrible, bloated, sick, congested, swollen, sore, headachey, hungover and depressed–and I had cravings to boot. In the past, I would have responded by eating Pop Tarts (I’m not going to lie, guys). This time, because I recorded EVERYTHING, not only did I not conveniently “forget” how awful those foods made me, I cemented those words into my brain, onto paper, and into words and “Because of this, I felt__” objective statements. Three times. Leave emotion out of it. Leave the guilt behind. Make your choice. Write it down. Record the aftermath and learn from it.

Because I look at each meal choice as an opportunity to learn something, I became more enlightened, happier, and less of a perfectionist.

Do you eat what you cook? And you still lose weight? 

Absolutely I do. Am I nutty about eating cheesecake five times per day? No way, Skinny Mae.

I try to only incorporate one new food in per day (and I journal it, making sure there are no hidden food aversions there for me), tops, and I freeze  or give away what I know I won’t be able to finish. An example: I love my cheesy crust deep dish pizza, but more than a minimum amount of cheese does a number on me, so I only eat a slice a day (sometimes two). This way I can test a recipe without (hopefully) experiencing inflammation or weight gain. This obviously won’t work if you have a food allergy. I avoid soy because I’m allergic to it.

I like savory foods. When I eat my Velveeta-like Cheese Fudge for lunch, it’s because it contains a high amount of fat and moderate protein and lower carbohydrate amounts, all of which fit into my percentages for the day.

What plan are you following? I want to do what you’re doing.

We’re all so different so I can’t tell you what will work for you. I have friends who are successful with Weight Watchers and who are miserable with ketogenic diets. I know ketogenic dieters who starve to death on Weight Watchers. I know high-fat dieters, low-fat dieters, vegans and vegetarians. I know people who juice and people who eat raw. It comes down to your needs physiologically, spiritually, and ethically.

That said, I:

  • Stick to 20 net carbs (or less) per day 90% of the time with a typical ratio of about 65% calories from healthy fat, 30% calories from healthy proteins, and 5% calories from carbohydrates.
  • Enjoy one SOP (slightly off plan) meal per week and make it ‘just another food choice so it’s not a ‘last supper’ effect (meaning pigging out).
  • Journal every bit of food that goes into my mouth.
  • Am accountable to an outside source (TOPS and you in our Mid-Year Resolution Challenge).
  • Have decided that losing weight and being healthy is more important than the momentary high junk food brings.
  • Am never losing this weight again.
  • Love my food. Always. ALWAYS.
You can read what I’m doing in the tab up top that reads “Mid-Year Resolution” to see how and what I’m doing, but do what works for you. There is no one right way to lose weight healthfully and feel terrific. The right way is the way that has you feeling terrific, with some loss, and with being so happy with your food, you don’t care if it takes one year or five to get into those skinny jeans… because you just love it.

Now on to how I’ve been doing with our Mid-Year Challenge… Be sure to do your thing. I am thrilled share my progress and thoughts, but I’m not the person you should necessarily look to for dieting advice (I’m not a paid nosh-a-titian). Be sure to subscribe for updates by adding your email right (in the sidebar) or through Feedburner in the title bar up top. You can also click the tab up top that says Mid-Year Resolution for regular updates.

Tuesday, November 20

I ate this:
Breakfast: My typical nosh platter (easy to eat while I work) list here Mine is 10 green olives + salami + cheese + 1/4 cup mixed nuts
Lunch: I worked through lunch
Dinner: 1.5 pieces of Velveeta Fudge and some butter cream frosting I wanted to make for fun (I need the fat tonight)

Notes: I am getting a little nervous about Thanksgiving. There’ll be 12 of us. It should be fun, though.

What I learned:

I really have learned a lot about food and perfection and negative behaviors over the last few years.

I firmly believe not everyone is always in the right space to embark on a meaningful weight loss journey. I know I had to mature, grow, fail a few times, and realize that it’s all a part of the process. What are you learning about yourself in this process?

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  1. thanks for sharing your journey. It does seem like you eat very very little most days! So is it a sort of fast most days?

  2. My husband and I have been on the keto diet with the restriction of 20 carbs a day and boy did it work great. We both lost a total of about 85-90 pounds and now we are just keeping track of what we eat and eat better. Eating better really does help you keep in tune with your body and you learn alot about what your body can handle and what is making it sick.

    • You are so right! And wow.. Wow wow wow on your losses!

      Whenever I eat wheat and feel miserable, I look back and wonder if I lived life in a state of constant inflammation, congestion, and pain. The answer is yes! It was my “normal”.

  3. Congrats on the enormous loss…you are wonderful and amazing! Eat wonderful low carb treats tomorrow! Then…go shopping!

    I am stuck…have not lost for weeks…religiously eating under 20 carbs…or less per day…so I will try to be more active, hard to do since my arthritis has flared due to swings in weather! I have returned to Rx meds for it….I have been off meds since 2005!! But I have asked for a two month supply…hope they work and then I am finished with them….for years, once more! I do not want this pain to grip me for life!

    Happy Thanksgiving to all! Eat well…and enjoy!


    • Try eating 40 carbs for a day and see if that gets things moving again! That, seriously, has been what works for me. I guess it keps my metabolism guessing just enough to keep the home fires burning bright!

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. robyn herron says

    interesting about your wheat aversion. I think I have the same thing. Last night i ate one slice of LC bread with dinner and was up on the scale today and had tummy trouble! 🙁

  5. This is great info!!! Many thanks & WELL DONE!!! 🙂

  6. Congratulations!!!!
    You’re doing great!!
    Your family must be so proud of you, not to mention feeling proud yourself. It’s a great accomplishment. I don’t know what your goal is, mine started at 80 and I’ve lost 71 so far. But, this is not a destination, and I’ve made that mistake before.
    I wish you continued success in your choice of eating healthy, and your website!

  7. I am having such a hard time. Although I have lost 15 pounds, its been since September!! I have hypertention and some low carb foods are soo full of sodium I can’t eat them. Thank you for your site. It gives me incentive.

    • Hi, Kim! Sometimes what takes the longest is figuring out all of the medical issues. I try to avoid added salt, but a lot of the foods I eat contain salt, so I bnow how hard it can be. Here is to your health and kicking hypertension in the heiny.

  8. Tracey Lago says

    Wow, Jamie – THANK you so much for posting this! You have so much to be proud of. I know you probably cringe a bit when you get the “you’re such an inspiration to me…” comments (and a big responsibility to live up to – no?) but it is true. What I like best about your sharings, your journey musings, is that you AREN’T preachy and you realize that any way of eating has to be a way of life and to say, “never again eat a delicious dessert unless it’s low carb” is unrealistic and frankly demoralizing. No one wants to feel like a failure. Your positive attitude about adding a less than perfect food now and again – and not having it be the end of the world – is refreshing. ‘Cause let’s face it: I really believe that if anyone says they’re 100 percent “compliant” (with low carb, no sugar, low fat, whatever the plan) is either lying to us or themselves. We’re HUMAN! We love our food. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be reading blogs like yours and reaching out to others for/and giving support with our nutritional issues. What I took away most from your posting today is the journaling. Of course, I’ve heard of this before, but I see it in a new light now. Journaling not as a source of guilt, but of finding trigger foods that cause cravings or feelin’ poorly later.

    Congratulations on your successful journey so far, Jamie, and thanks for sharing and allowing us to learn along with you.


    • Thank you so much for taking the time to write, Tracey! I am so happy to read what you have said. Your positivity and affirmation makes cleaning the bathroom for Thanksgiving company slightly more exciting knowing that you like me. You really like me! [/Sally Field]

      All celebrity jokes aside, I really do believe everyone has to find their own way–but I really think food intolerances are so often overlooked and it’s important to figure those out to prevent illness, cravings and inflammation. Julia Ross’ The Diet Cure really changed my thinking about food allergies.

  9. That was a great post, thanks for writing it. I am stuck without losing and sometimes even gaining, for a few weeks already, and one thing that I DID change was that I stopped tracking my food. I do make sure I’m eating well and keeping my carbs low, but who knows, maybe there is a difference between what I think and what is really happening. I will go back to tracking and see if it makes a difference.

    Your loss is just amazing for me because not only you lost the exact amount I need to, but you also did it in a VERY short time! I started eating low carb/keto even before you (July 23rd) and only lost 12 pounds so far… The way things are going with me (~ 0.7 lb/week), it will be 2014 until I lose my 50 pounds! 🙁

    I will follow all your tips and hopefully things will improve for me too, congratulations again!!!

    • It’s always good to shake things up a little bit from time to time, if for no other reason than to keep your body a little bit off guard. Keep me posted! You are going to be amazing!

  10. Fistly, LOVE reading your posts, and expecially your sense of humour 😀 A huge congrats on losing soooo much in that amount of time…( just over 4lb a week average? ). What an inspiration. I was wondering how are you feeling ( in yourself)…its been so fast, can you feel the difference in your body? Thanks again…. so glad I found your site 🙂

    • Hi Sharon. I am so glad you read and take the time to write! I feel amazing and so much more energetic! Whereas I never liked to get up to even answer the phone, now I’m to my feet and half way there without even thinking about it. I can shop longer without my back hurting, and I can walk for a long time without getting tired. And my clothes are getting really big. I hate the thought of sagging skin, but it’s better than skill filled with fat! And there’s always duct tape.

  11. Congratulations Jaime! I also started around the same time and have lost 36 pounds! I am happy with that but I know now where I must focus more. I have a battle with myself to journal what I eat. It’s like I resist that step out of shear defiance! Logically I know it will only help but I just hate having to do that. I need to go to therapy! Thanks for your candid posts, I relate to a lot of them. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


  12. arti aggarwal says

    great weight loss !!! so what is your current weight… ??? you always mention the weight loss.. never the current weight 🙁

  13. Congrats on your amazing weight loss, you are an inspiration to us!

    We don’t have a Taco Star here, but we do have Los Bravos, and we go there and I get fajitas. They are amazing and I just leave off the flour tortillas that come with it, which I would normally do anyway, as I have celiac.

    Oh and I am taking your Caramel Apple Cheesecake to my sister-in-law’s for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. It’s all made and in the frig and looks FANTASTIC. So, thanks for another great recipe…

    …and happy Thanksgiving!

    Deb G

  14. Well done, congratulations! I had no idea TOPS was any weight loss organization. I will have to look one up.

    • It’s not-for-profit, meaning that it is also not in it for the money. I love it! I couldn’t do as well as I have been doing without the weekly accountability and fun we have as a group. There are a lot of us, too! Maybe 20-30 in our group?

  15. This is such an encouraging and informative post. I have been thinking about a keto diet, and I love your recipes as well! Now if only we had a Taco Star…..

  16. Great work! I plan on losing around 20. I’ve lost 4 so far without doing induction or avoiding artificial sweeteners.

    I see you eat fudge and cheesecake, do you eat something sweet almost every day?

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