All the Things

A recap of steps we took for 6 months to lose 20 pounds.


1/9/20245 min read

vegetable stand
vegetable stand


I think I'm caught up now with what I wrote last year but didn't publish until now. I'm still on the weight loss journey. My husband and I both lost 20 pounds in 6 months, May through October. My target was 45 pounds. I figured 6 months would do it, that's 2 pounds a week which is a good steady rate.

Due to the diabetic scare I cut out ALL sugar. That’s right ALL of it. No refined sugar of any kind. No desserts, no candy bars, no cookies, no jelly/jam or syrup. Nope. I was already not drinking soda pop of any kind. I drink water. It took me two years to get to that point but thank goodness I was already drinking water. I can have tea or coffee in the morning. I figure I have to take it one step at a time. Because it’s a lifestyle change not a diet that you can toss once you’ve reached your goal. Then you’ll just gain it all back. No sugar and no soda pop.

The new one is no fried food of any kind. Do you know how hard that is when you go out to eat in these United States of America? Especially the Midwest. Think about it. Even if you eschew fast foods and go to a sit-down restaurant, there’s French fries, fried chicken, fried fish, hamburgers, hash browns, hush puppies, tater tots, and the list goes on and on and on. No fried foods.

Here’s a tough one. No alcohol. Nope. Not for 6 months. Pick 6 months where there’s no food holidays. Do not attempt over Thanksgiving or Christmas and watch those birthdays. Thankfully for us there are no immediate birthdays during the summer. Plus, summertime is full of fresh fruit and salads. Yay. Rabbit food, fall in love with rabbit food. My new mantra is EAT THE VEGGIES!!!! I repeat it several times a day.

Do not eat anything but whole grained bread. Just don't eat it. We eat rye bread or pumpernickel. Swirl bread which is a combination of rye and pumpernickel is popular around here. It's hard when you go out to eat so for 6 months, we didn't go out to eat. We ate at home. At home, you know what is in the food and how it was prepared. At a restaurant you can't be certain. Most restaurants don't offer whole grain options. They make rolls. Some of them offer fancy bread alternatives but you're better off not eating the bread because they are going to serve some kind of starch with the meal anyway.

The next item is planning the menu for the week, fish twice per week, poultry twice per week, a vegetarian entree once per week, and red meat (beef, pork, lamb, game) only once a week. We switched our main meal from evening to lunchtime. We use the plate method: half the plate is non-starch vegetables, ¼ is protein and ¼ is carbs. We used smaller plates. We slowly reduced from dinner plates to salad plates.

The piece de resistance? A protein shake for dinner. I researched protein powders. You have to read those ingredients. I ended up with Orgain. I tried Transparent Labs and we really liked the flavor but it’s too expensive. Orgain is good with more flavor choices and less expensive. 28 g of protein, 0 g sugar and 15 g carbs due to fiber, which is good for you. Check the labels though. Some of the flavors have sugar in them. We mix ours with 2% milk and I use zero calorie coffee syrup to mix in some different flavors. There’s Torani and Jordan’s Skinny to choose from plus others as well. Walden Farms also makes coffee syrup, syrups and salad dressings. I like the salad dressings and I swear the maple syrup really does taste like maple syrup. These do have artificial sweeteners in them so there's that.

Next, use all low-fat or no-fat dairy products. That includes sour cream, milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. Do not buy flavored yogurt. Buy plain yogurt and add your own flavor. That way you can use it in savory dishes as well as adding fruit for a sweet dessert. The reason you don't want to buy flavored non-fat yogurt is because they put lots of sugar in it to make up for the loss of taste from removing the fat. Yup, it's either fat or sugar for flavor, so beware.

We do use butter. We buy butter that is made from grass-fed cows. It's a healthier choice and it tastes better. Butter is a treat. We use it sparingly on toast in the morning. That's our breakfast every morning: two eggs over easy cooked in olive oil, one piece of whole wheat toast with butter on it, a tomato sliced up and coffee with 2% milk in it. I use Stevia for sweetener, and he does without. We use mainly olive oil for cooking.

Drink a glass of water when you get up in the morning. A big 8-ounce glass of water, first thing. It will take care of lots of problems. Just do it. Drink a glass of water.

We lost twenty pounds in 6 months. Not our target but not bad. He only has 5 more to go. I have 25 more to lose. But after October was Thanksgiving and then the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice holidays. We were happy to maintain through those days. I mean there are parties, neighbors bringing cookies, family traditions, business and group banquets and more.

We kept our weight loss. We only allowed ourselves one cocktail or glass of wine at get-togethers. Okay, I have to admit that we went out to a concert, dinner and then found a wonderful little jazz wine bar. We splurged. We weren't paying attention and drank a bottle of wine. I crashed hard. With the diabetes, new to insulin, haven't been drinking for 6 months - wow. I was ok, not great the next day but vowed to take it easy. So the thing about alcohol is, not only does it add calories and bump up the glucose but after a couple of drinks, you no longer care about the stinking diet and eat everything. Yup, dessert, carbs, ALL the food. Limit the drinking.

We paid attention to how many carbs we ate. Here's a typical social banquet: steak, rolls, mashed potatoes, corn, baked beans, tossed salad and dessert. Think about that. That's a protein, one choice of a non-starch vegetable and the rest is all carbs! Four to be exact! That's typical. We went to a buffet style brunch and the usual breakfast foods were there, eggs, toast, waffles, pancakes, sausage, ham, hash browns, etc. They had fresh fruit and granola on top of yogurt parfaits. They had donuts, muffins, and dessert. They had a prime rib carving station and a custom omelet station. No non-starch vegetables. Not a one. I had to ask. They grudgingly said they might be able to find a tossed side salad for me. It's a restaurant, really? Ask. There's got to be a cucumber or zucchini hiding in the kitchen somewhere.

Now the holidays are over, so we are back on the diet wheel. Exercise kind of goes out the window during the holidays as well. It's winter and cold out here so we're lucky to get in one walk a day. That's our little one-mile walk. We are going to have to gear up and add indoor exercising. I'm not much of a social exerciser so going to the gym is not enticing. I have been using hand-held weights and lifting on MWF. Those are my three weight days. I do 8 reps of each exercise and at least one round a day. Sometimes I get motivated and manage to get in 3 rounds a day. Do whatever you can. Do you realize you can get in 20 - 30 knee bends in one minute? I used to be a dancer, so I do plies while I'm cooking. Especially if I'm waiting for the microwave to finish. I can do 40 demi-plies while I'm waiting for a 2-minute cooking time to finish.

Just start. Anywhere. Exercise and EAT THE VEGETABLES.