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!
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.
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.
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.
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?