the diet

Most people begin a diet at the beginning of the year, but this year I decided that the best time would be after Fat Tuesday (or Paczki Day or Mardi Gras) ON Ash Wednesday, which is tomorrow! OK, it’s not really named after me, but still, don’t you think that seems just right? So today I fattened up with a paczki of the Traverse City variety, which is not nearly as delicious as the real Hamtramck variety, but I digress. Did I just say that I fattened up? Well, I was already too fat before I even bit into the paczki. I could say it was “baby weight,” but really I shed the true “baby weight,” and now I’m left with the I-ate-too-much-when-I-was-pregnant-and-didn’t-exercise-enough weight. Oof. After Wren was born, I shed the weight pretty easily because I was walking and then running a lot. A beautiful summer and fall stretched out ahead of me and it was really easy to get out with just a baby and really easy to eat healthy, fresh food. Now given how difficult I find it to grocery shop with the two, getting out to exercise has been difficult. And eating really healthy during November and December involved a lot more will power than I was willing to muster so I said, sure pass me another Christmas cookie… So here I am in February and I just feel chubby and yucky. It could be that I’m still struggling with how to shower every day too… ahem. So, here I am.

I didn’t need to share this with you, but I thought that it would help me to stick with my plan if I shared my struggles and successes along the way. First I wanted to make a list of all the diets I’ve tried in the past 20+ years. That’s right, I think I’ve tried one diet or another since I was an early teenager. Maybe earlier actually. Here goes the list, but I think there are more, but I can’t remember them right now. One thing I am sure of, you can find out today the equipment I have used to achieve the perfect body that most women desire.

  • Weight Watchers (three or four times?)
  • Jenny Craig (twice?)
  • Nutrisystem
  • medical weight loss treatment
  • South Beach Diet (three times?)
  • train for a marathon approach to losing weight (twice)
  • Ayurvedic approach
  • Eat nothing white
  • vegan and vegetarian eating for weight loss
  • Body for Life
  • Skinny Bitch
  • French Women Don’t Get Fat
  • Body Sculpting Bible diet
  • low carb
  • eat NO junk food ever again approach
  • Jillian Michaels
  • Spark
  • counting calories
  • counting fat
  • low fat
  • Biggest Loser diet
  • paleolithic
  • the I’ll diet tomorrow approach (almost every day)

And I’m sure there are more, oh my. And almost all the approaches worked and I lost a bit of weight, but I would get bored (or hungry!) and stop. I feel a bit queasy and distraught when I think about all the time I’ve wasted thinking about my weight and body image over the years. If I had put that energy and thought into something else, I bet I could have found the cure to some disease or come up with a million dollar idea. Best not to regret they say, but I do.

I never have been into fashion or make-up or caring too much about how I looked when I left the house, but recently I realized it was because nothing ever really looked good on me since I was short and stout. Skinny jeans, are you kidding me?! More on this topic in a future post…

Speaking of short and stout, most of the time I don’t realize that I’m only 5’1″ tall. Seriously, I just don’t think about it and it has never really bothered me to be short. But when I picked up The Petite Advantage Diet: Achieve That Long, Lean Look. The Specialized Plan for Women 5’4″ and Under, it was like being hit on the head. Duh! You can’t eat like your husband who is A FOOT taller than you and expect to lose weight, or expect to not gain weight. Or eat like most of the people I eat with because I’m usually the smallest one. Duh! again. Why had the reality of this never really occurred to me?! I suppose it was hidden in many of the approaches to slimming down that I tried, but it was never out there, loud-and-proud.

The diet isn’t brain surgery, lovelies; it involves eating small portions of protein-rich, satisfying whole foods with lots of veggies and fruit. I hate “diet” foods so I’m thankful that the diet really only calls for consuming actual foods and not strange, man-made concoctions with lots of ingredients I can’t pronounce. The books lays out a three week meal plan to follow, which is nice because I don’t have to do any calorie-counting or overthink what to eat (should I eat a salad with poached chicken or should I have a vegan burrito with some kind of healthy “cheese?” Hell, I’ll just have a few cookies and another cup of coffee…) It also involves caloric cycling with some days a bit higher in calories than others. As far as exercise, it calls for a simple gravity band routine that I can do at home, or really anywhere there is a door. This was also appealing to me because I’m not going to commit to finding (and paying for) childcare on a regular basis so I can drive to a gym and workout.

The one aspect of the book I can’t really get entirely behind is that the author, Jim Karas, seems to be anti-cardio exercise. Cardio just makes me feel so much better and this emotional boost goes a long way to making healthy choices and having a good attitude toward life. I’m not going to give it up, but since it’s only playing a very small part in my life right now, it’s not much to worry about anyway. There’s really not time to overdo it since I sometimes can’t find time to take a shower or clean yesterday’s dishes…

I also contacted the author to find out if I needed to adjust the calories since I was nursing. He said I could safely add about 200 calories, which I decided could be a couple extra pieces of fruit or something more satisfying like a small handful or almonds or some low-fat, natural cheese.

Are you still reading this post? Man, I realize this is probably getting boring and somewhat embarrassing for me , but I just wanted to get it all out there. Tomorrow I will post one of those awful “before” photos and some numbers (yikes!) so wish me luck! Please and thank you.

Now for you, lovelies. Any tips or tricks you’d like to share? PLEASE send them my way. Pleeeeeaaaase! xo

p.s. Happy Fat Tuesday! Any amazing indulgences you’d like to share? Giving up anything for Lent? Good luck to YOU!

0 thoughts on “the diet

  1. I’m all about the Paczki, too, sister. I refuse to buy a par-baked one from the IGA and because I couldn’t make it to Potter’s this morning, and well, let’s just say I’m upset. (One of my Polish friend’s mom made us some in high school and no pastry’s ever been able to live up to it since.)

    I’m mostly upset because like you, I’ve got it in my mind that tomorrow’s my first day without sugar. I mean, I’ve really got to knock this s@*! off. I’m not as concerned with numbers (weight) as I am with a pair of jeans that I reeeeeally want to wear on my birthday. And very shortly after that is bathing suit season and I’ve promised myself that *this* is the year. This is the year that I am going to totally ROCK it. (I’m totally going to wear shorts! In public! Someplace other than the backyard to paint the west side of the house!) I’ve got serious work to do.

    My only tips are no sugar (no cookies, ice cream, cakey thingies or candy), lots of protein & fiber-rich foods and water, water, water. Like it’s my job. (The results are perfected when teamed up with a fairly aggressive routine of weights/cardio 6 days/week. Working on that, too.) I am okay with fruit–and bread, because I’m not a huge bread/pasta/carb fanatic–and I would be setting myself up for an uphill struggle if I said no alcohol. I could definitely do it, but with no sweets of any sort to fall back on, I’d rather have just the tiniest cushion. Say 3-4 drinks a week, which I think is very moderate and doable and about what I consume now.

    My triggers for sugar are excessive caffeine consumption (when I come back down, I really want sugar–so coffee is totally out for me for the forseeable future–tea is much better for a constant blood sugar level); lack of sleep; procrastination eating (I’m never bored, but I use food as a diversion); lack of preparedness (getting caught not having healthy meals and finger foods at the ready); and lack of exercise (when I work out hard and often, I just *want* to eat well–I crave it). And all of these things are so viciously tied together–what a ridiculous balancing act. If I don’t sleep well (because I’m nervous/worried/overcaffeinated), then I can’t get up and work out in the morning so then I feel sluggish and become unmotivated to eat well (sugar = quick endorphin release, no?) and then cap it all off with several cups of coffee or a gasp, Diet RockStar when I *really* want to skyrocket. How sick is that? And more shameful still? I know how to fix it. And I am still at the heaviest I’ve ever been. Blech.

    So before kids, it’s definitely time to change. I love being healthy. I *want* to be. I know *how* to be, which is not something all people can say. (Giving extra thanks for having parents who are both RNs!) And I’m not giving anything up for Lent. While I doubt there’s anything Catholics pride themselves on more than carrying around their own personal crosses, I don’t do guilt. And without totally going there, I don’t think that’s what Jesus would ask. At least, not the Jesus I know. (And yeah, He loves glitter.) Instead, I am committing myself to health. Wholeness. In preparation for what’s to come. The Resurrection, a baby, a bikini. Whatevs.

    • So well said, lady. Yes, we WILL ROCK it this year and yes, I will feel good about wearing shorts in public too. And not just with having two cute girls on my lap to cover up my hated thighs…

      It is extra infuriating when you know what you need to do and yet, don’t. Let’s do this.

      So far so good, one breakfast happily eaten and lots of water consumed. I know it’s only 10:20, but I’m counting my successes…

      go girl, go!

  2. Timely post Ash…I started Weight Watchers 3 weeks ago and am down 7 pounds as of this morning! I do the online gig, no time for meetings and chit chat! The best part for me is the accountability with writing down what I eat, or actually punching it into my iPhone. Fruit and veggies are free- no points, alas, the peanut butter to dip those apples in is! Best wishes, call me when your tummy is growling- just think of the beach picnic we will have this summer, feeling and looking so much better! I decided I did not want to avoid cameras at Elliot’s graduation in May…I want to be front and present, grinning from ear to ear that the first Avi boy is launched! xo

    • Way to go, Sandy! 7 pounds is no easy feat. Kudos to you! Looking forward to the beach picnic where I am not overly self-conscious of my flab, yesssss. I love your goal – in front and present, grinning from ear to ear. You will do it!


  3. Go get ’em birdie mama! Remember those good old days when we had time for mama and me exercise class? I laugh now at the indulgence. (But I also remember how fit and trim we were that spring/summer). Alas. Wishing you well from our cozy. Anytime you want to get out and snow shoe or even walk with the strollers, I’m up for it. I’m needing a little heart-pumping myself.

    • Oh man, yes, I remember the days of mama and me exercise. I was channeling my inner Brandie voice just the other day when I was doing some squats with Phoebe in the carrier!

      I will be calling you, lady, oh yes, I will! Let’s move.

  4. I want to start running if you ever want to join me! Maybe an evening run, kiddos hanging with their daddy’s.

    Must first commit to buying expensive new running shoes and then put a $60 lift on one of them… that seems to be the hold right now…

    • Sounds good! I’ve run a couple times in the afternoon with the two in the Chariot. They get a nap in and I get a run, win win! But I would be up for some springtime evening runs too…

  5. I loved this post! We are so alike on this front. I spent all day yesterday driving from Copper Country (in the U.P.) waaaay back downstate, and there were no paczkis along the route, so my Mardi Gras indulgences included a gargantuan helping of hash browns and coffee with CREAM for breakfast (best. breakfast. EVER), Taco Bell for lunch, Bit O’ Honey and Pull ‘n Peel Twizzlers for a snack, and pizza for dinner. Yeah, baby! I sure know how to celebrate Fat Tuesday. For Lent, I’m cutting out sugar, maaaybe alcohol (but probably just cutting down there), junk, processed, etc. Doing whole grain, low meat/dairy/refined, basically everything I already do on a normal day (not a road trip day!) but minus my frequent sugar binges….which are becoming more of a problem. I’m also going to try taking some quiet prayer time and not snapping at my kids. As for the diets, it took me the better part of 20 years to figure out that counting ANYTHING (calories, fat grams, “Points”, ounces, or what have you) triggers a major sabotage function in my brain. Weight Watchers tends to be the gold standard in this country but every time I tried WW, I lost a lot and then gained MORE back. I know it works for many people, but personally I had to stop counting, measuring, and tracking to finally experience success. My friend calls it “dieting from dieting”. Well, enough of my midnight ramblings. Thanks for the post; it obviously resonated with me! Good luck!

    • oh man, that sounds like my road trip food, except I would’ve probably added a handful of goldfish, KitKat (my fave roadtrip candy bar) and one of those awful gas station waaaaaay too sweet fake latte type things, yuck.

      Man, it’s the sugar isn’t it? Such a trigger to more sugar.

      I love the “dieting from dieting” idea, but honestly, right now I need a real PLAN to follow to get going. So far, so good…

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  8. Good luck, Ashlea! I am VERY conscious of having a positive association with food and eating, and being HEALTHY and sure I am setting a good example. With three little girls, that is always on my mind.

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