And so we begin.
The first week of any eating change is always going to be an adjustment, not just in what you eat, but how you eat. It’s also about breaking non-healthy habits, which in Joe’s case included too much grazing and not enough moving.
Over the years Joe’s intake of food to maintain his weight of 280 was not as much as you would think. The ongoing joke in our house has been that I consumed more then Joe — which I did and still do. But my advantage over Joe is that I’m more active — with formal exercise, walking or simply taking advantage of “found” opportunities for movement like climbing stairs instead of taking the escalator or elevator. This movement kept my metabolism high functioning, allowing me to eat more. It still was a matter of balancing my food intake, but get moving if you want to live a healthful lifestyle.
But no matter how much you move, you can’t get away from making significant eating changes as well. Joe was adamant that some vices remain, like a glass of nice red wine with dinner. He also kept his coffee habit — although he now drinks it black and has cut back significantly on the number of cups per day.
Here’s a look at how we made better choices for each meal for that first week:
Old Breakfast: pick pick pick pick
Left over kids cereal or bacon, a few slices of white American, Maybe a piece of fruit and then a bagel with cream cheese, or he made himself ham and eggs. Coffee with milk.
Breakfast is much more deliberate now. No picking or finishing someone else’s leftovers. Instead Joe had 2oz egg whites with steamed spinach and either a banana, pink grapefruit, or 2 clementines. Hearty enough to be filling but still healthful. And black coffee.
Old Lunch was usually a sandwich. Turkey or ham, cheese and mayo. If we had dinner left overs, that could become lunch. Or then he would again pick.
New Lunch is much leaner and more salad based: sesame seaweed salad, roasted or grilled chicken breast, seared tofu with balsamic, or some lightly dressed mixed greens with 3oz of protein.
Old Snack was a few more pieces of cheese, no water, or he would kill more leftovers
New Snacks are limited to banana, grapefruit and clementines. Or vegetables like 1 cup roasted broccoli with a touch of EVOO, granulated garlic and pepper or raw carrots or bell peppers. And lots of water.
Old Dinner: During prepping, cooking and eating the meal, it was not unusual to finish a bottle of wine. There was 8 -10 oz of protein —mostly beef chicken and pork, sometimes fish. Alongside was a generous helping of starch whether it was pasta, rice, potatoes, or polenta with the addition of butter, grated cheese, or ricotta. A good helping of salad with home mixed balsamic + olive oil dressing.
The problem was not with the meal itself which was relatively balanced, it was more about the portion sizes and the excess amounts of wine, butter and cheese. And the fact that dinner wasn’t the end of eating for the evening. An hour later he would be roaming through the fridge for a snack, cake, leftovers, nuts, candy cookies — I don't know, I can only tell you there was a crumb trail in the morning!
New Dinner isn’t about deprivation. It’s just about imposing thoughtful limits on portions and ingredients. One or two glasses of wine throughout the evening are allowed. And just 6oz of protein along with less starchy and dairy-laden sides: salad, brocollini prepared with shallots and stock, butternut squash. A good example is seared salmon, tomato cilantro salad, sauteed spinach and heirloom greens. Filling and interesting to eat so you don’t leave the table feeling hungry or deprived, but not as dense or calorie-laden as Old Dinner was.
The major challenge for Joe was to stop snacking and picking. Because when you pick you can’t track what you ate. He would only remember half of what he ate because picking becomes such an automatic reflex that you don’t even realize you are doing it. I have cooked side by side with my husband for years in professional kitchens. I would say to him more often then you can imagine, “Stop picking, stop tasting like it’s a meal” He would say, “I not eating anything” to which I would counter “What’s that piece of duck crackling hanging from your lip?????" To make these lifestyle changes, all eating has to be conscious. No mindless eating whether you are tasting in a kitchen for work or munching popcorn in front of the TV at night.
And while many of Joe’s favorites are banned for the time being, including pasta, bread and cheese, the discipline is paying off: Joe ended week one 7 pounds lighter than when he began!
STARTING WEIGHT: 276.4 LBS
CURRENT WEIGHT: 269.0 LBS
WEIGHT LOST THIS WEEK: 7.4 LBS
TOTAL WEIGHT LOSS: 7.4 LBS
Check in with us next Monday to see Joe’s progress and get ideas for your own.