The Journey to a Whole New Body, Part I: The Dieting Mistakes I Used to Make

The most visible struggle of my whole life has been my weight. Over the last twenty years, I’ve tried most every diet out there, from Weight Watchers, to Atkins, to South Beach. In some cases, I lost 10 lb. or so, only to gain it back later. I’ve even added rigorous exercise along with these diets. I would gain some muscle, but not lose much weight. I seem to have finally found a solution, and it is the lifestyle eating habits proposed by Tim Ferriss in The 4 Hour Body. I have lost 25 lbs. in 3 months, and I’ve never felt better. Most of all, I have not felt hungry, deprived or tempted to abandon my diet. More on that tomorrow.

Before I begin, I wish to share one caveat here for those of you who are thinking of going on a diet: I was ready to make a change. Over the last two years of employment transitions, an expense account during a long consulting gig, and the loss of a loved one, my body weight sneakily increased by 20 lb. I was still wearing the same pant size, but one by one I started putting shirts back in the closet because the “dry cleaners shrunk them.” I finally stepped on the scale during the 2010 holidays, and I was shocked that I had gained 20 lbs. The signs were there, but I was ignoring them. I even started noticing a different in interactions with relationships and clients. I refused to live that way.

I still have 40 more pounds to lose, but I have no doubt that I will make it because I have adopted new habits — true life-style changes — that have become part of my daily routine. More importantly, I see my body and the way it operates in a whole new way that I will share as part of this series. I also can’t emphasize enough that I undertook these challenges when I also was experiencing the most happiness and balance in my life than I’ve felt in years. This is just one piece of the puzzle, and not unrelated.

I wish to begin this series by sharing some dieting mistakes that I made in the past, and perhaps you can relate:

  • Substituting whole wheat carbs for white carbs. This is a staple principle of the South Beach Diet. Fiber and grains are good for us generally, and a person who only needs to lose 5-10 lbs. can still eat whole grain carbs and lose weight if you keep your portions to the size of a palm. If you need to lose more than 10 lbs., you won’t lose by eating whole wheat pasta and whole wheat breads. I have eaten only whole wheat carbs for over 10 years, and I’ve not lost a pound doing so. You have to let them go if you have a lot of weight to lose. Another and better choice for fiber is beans.
  • Eating the right foods but with too much sodium. You should never eat over 1250 mgs of sodium per day. One serving of canned soup or beans can have that much if you’re not careful. Nothing retains water weight like sodium.
  • Eating gluten free foods. Gluten free foods often have higher calories than non-gluten free. Unless you have a gluten allergy, gluten free foods may actually cause you to retain or gain weight, not lose it.
  • Banning all foods that I want for long periods of time. This also doesn’t work because our psyche and body needs some foods that we should otherwise avoid to maintain our health and metabolism. I don’t eat red meat generally, but an hamburger a couple of times per month is actually good for me. Over time, you even lose more weight by having some of the “bad” foods in limited portions.
  • Eating protein bars, smoothies and weight loss bars. Remember, it’s not the amount of carbs. It’s the kind of carbs. The bar may be high in protein, and fairly low in carbs. But if it contains sugar, fructose (fruit smoothies) or high fructose corn syrup, you’re consuming carbohydrates that will spike your insulin and turn to fat. Look for low sugar bars, or low calorie protein shakes.
  • Eating fruit and drinking fruit juice. Fruit contains high levels of fructose, which raises your insulin levels and turns those sugars to fat. Fruit juices often add even more sugar. Rasberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are the best sources of fruit and anti-oxidants if you crave fruit. I don’t eat much fruit, so I take a B Complex, Vitamin C and Vitamin D every day along with the amazing Very Green capsules or powder from Trader Joe’s. Calories: 0.
  • Eating domino foods. I am tempted by salty and crunchy foods, so one bite precipates the need for another, and another. Whether it is a bite of pie, or a potato chip, don’t purchase or go near a domino food except on your “day off.” I love tortilla chips, but I restrict myself now to the occasional Mexican restaurant experience on my break day. I actually appreciate them more when they are not readily available.
  • Eating fried food. Yes, I know it’s fish or chicken. But it is breaded and fried. Leave it for your free day.
  • Drinking any alcohol other than vodka or red wine. Everything else is loaded with insulin-spiking carbs and calories. Imagine drinking a loaf of bread every time that you have a beer. You’ll stop. The best drink for losing weight, if you must have it, is vodka with water or club soda (Stoli Blueberry or Rasberry are more flavorful).
  • Eating a salad with high fat dressing. Think you are going to lose weight while eating a salad with ranch dressing? Think again. Basil Vinaigrette or an oil-based vinaigrette is much better than mayonnaise based dressings.
  • White potatoes are not good for you or your tummy. Period. Have a sweet potato instead.
  • Free Days. Yes, I know that I mentioned it above. Free days may work for those who eat at home regularly. I’m single and social, so I eat out quite a bit. I have found that three “free” meals dispersed throughout the week is easier for me than one free binge day, and I usually don’t notice as much fluctuation in weight.

Tomorrow … How I lost 25 lbs. in 3 months without going hungry.

6 Responses to “The Journey to a Whole New Body, Part I: The Dieting Mistakes I Used to Make”
  1. Diane Beebe says:

    I can’t find any reviews online for Trader Joe’s Very Green capsules except yours…..I have a question that maybe you can answer…..besides the benefits you mention did they help you poop? I know a little personal…..but I was wondering…….

  2. toddbouldin says:

    Diane, in my experience, the Trader Joe’s product does not impact bowel movements. The key ingredients enter the cells and energize them, but I hav not had any experiences with effect on bowels or stomach as a Cleanse might have.

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