The Weight is Over – Part 2: The Diet Plan

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I’m back. Just like I said. Welcome to Week 1 of Doni’s Diet.

Last week I did a super vulnerable personal disclosure about my lifelong problem with my weight. I traced the beginnings of my weight problem back to my childhood.

This week, I’m in the present, decades beyond my chubby childhood. No more excuses. No more rationalizations. No more eating with abandon. No more using clothes to cover me and my shame. For that matter, no more shame, either.

With the help of Matthew Lister of Align Private Training, I know I can do this. I’m motivated. I want change. My birthday is in July, and that’s my goal date to have my body back. That seems doable. Where are all those AA sayings when I need them?

One day at a time … Easy does it …

I met with Matthew on Tuesday for our first official appointment. He weighed me. I was shocked by the number, but too numb to cry. He took my measurements, which was something I’d not done for years. I remember thinking when he said the measurement of my right thigh, that it sounded more like what a woman’s waist should be.

He took me through some stretches and moves to decipher my range of motion, so that when I start working out at Align, I won’t hurt myself on the road to health and fitness. I was heartened to see that really, I’m more flexible than I’d given myself credit.

Matthew’s big focus is body alignment, hence, the name of his company: Align Private Training. He said that ideally, our ears should line up with our shoulders, and our shoulders with our hips, our hips with our knees, and our knees with our ankles.  When we get too far out of whack,  our bodies assume that “old lady” profile, with the head stuck out like a turtle, and the shoulders and back curved. Not good.

I told him that really, I pride myself in having good posture. (I was thinking that he could save the alignment talk for people who needed it. I was there for weight loss and fitness.)

He took a before picture of my posture, and unfortunately, everything doesn’t line up properly after all. We’ll work on that.

Doni diet week one profile

See the green line that runs from my head to foot? That’s supposed to be lined up with my ears, shoulders, hips, ankles and knees. But on another note, do you know how much it pained me to post this photo of myself? I’ll trot this photo out again later, after I’ve lost a bunch of weight, with my after photo. Right now, it’s so damn embarrassing.

Finally, he took me through the “nutrition” plan, more commonly known as a diet.

He explained that every client has his or her own program, and it may fluctuate over time. More of this; less of that.

For me, at least now, he’s selected a plan that’s 23 percent carbs, 33 percent protein and 45 percent fats. This surprised me. I was expecting no carbs at all, and very little fat. Forty-five percent fat to me says croissant. Well, au contraire, because then I looked at what Matthew considers “fats”: nuts, nut butters, avocado, seeds, and about 1 – 3 tablespoons oil, such as for sauteing, or for a salad.

Speaking of salad, apparently, my bleu cheese days are over, because if I have salad, the dressing needs to be in the range of 35-calories a tablespoon. Tablespoon. Not a pitcher.

After I left the appointment I went to the store to stock up on fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and canned beans. So much food!

I also bought myself a bouquet of my favorite flowers, Stargazer Lilies, as my own personal atta-girl to express how proud I am of myself for not just doing this, but for making it so freakin’ public. 
stargazer lilies

I didn’t think I’d starve on this diet, but I was surprised to find that one of the biggest difficulties is actually eating all the required food for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner and bedtime snack.

Even so, do I crave sugar? Yes. Do I crave carbs? Yes. But I’m not hungry. At least so far.

I’ve been on this diet for two whole days.

In my pre-diet period, I’d wake up not hungry, so I’d barely eat breakfast, and then I’d not eat much during the day, but after sundown, watch out. I was famished, and I’d eat a huge meal, usually with wine or beer, and invariably, no matter how much I ate at dinner, I was hungry a short while later. Enter night eating where I’d graze on crap food, the worst possible stuff to fall asleep on.  Ice cream. Cookies. Popcorn with butter. Junk like that.

That’s over. No more of that.

There are a couple of other things, such as Matthew’s program requires I eat within an hour of waking. And that bedtime snack? It’s not negotiable, even if I don’t feel hungry. Two proteins and one fat before bedtime. And water, I need to drink about 60 ounces of it a day.

I noticed after I got the plan home that nowhere is alcohol mentioned. Or sugar. Or cheese (cottage cheese doesn’t count), or milk. I may have one slice of bread – the brown, dense kind – but that’s a “slow carb” that’s only OK at lunch.

I am still getting the hang of this new nutrition plan, and have probably consulted my little piece of paper 20 times today to look at the list of slow carbs, veggies, “snack carbs”, proteins and fats.

On top of everything else, I will keep a food diary of everything I eat and drink. But before that, I need to write out a menu of what I’ll be eating so I’m not scrambling at meal time to plan what to eat on the fly.

This is all so foreign. But that’s a good thing, right? The diet I’d grown comfortable with was not good for me.

I’ll meet with Matthew twice a week, and then the other days I’ll go to the Y and work with weights. Each week I’ll be weighed. I’ll let you know how I do with my weight loss (notice the optimism?) next week.

In the meantime, Joe is working on a whole section for our weight-loss journeys. We’ll have a forum, and recipes and diet and fitness stories.

One week down. I’m still here, and feeling fine.

How did it go for you?

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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53 Responses

  1. Avatar EasternCounty says:

    Dear lady, I’m SO proud of you.  I truly can not bring myself to look at myself in a full-length mirror sans clothes, and here you are, posting a photo for all to see, with clothes, of course.  How brave — and inspirational for the rest of us.  Once Joe has the planned page up, perhaps you could post the nutrition paper you refer to 20 times a day.  Of everything you wrote, the part that is most heartening to me is the “slow” carb information.  Ever since the “carbs are evil” nonsense came to the fore years ago, people have lumped all carbs together and stopped eating good carbs.  In fact, I’ve been tempted to develop a pasta recipe using white whole wheat flour instead of unbleached white flour.  White whole wheat has all the good stuff of regular whole wheat but not the bitterness; it’s just a different variety of wheat.  Looking forward to Week Two and beyond.  Christmas is a tough time to start a new eating plan, but perhaps you can look at it as a present to yourself — and the rest of us.

    • Oh, thank you. I had to laugh about your comment about a photo with clothes or without. Who knows what the future holds … a tasteful after photo …

      With each week we’ll add more content to this section. I’m excited.

      You mention Christmas being a hard time to do this, but I look at it as the perfect time, to help prevent me from packing on yet more weight between now and January.

      As I type I’m eating a bowl of yogurt with raspberries, bananas and walnuts. Pretty delicious. 🙂

      • Avatar EasternCounty says:

        It just occurred to me that by posting/sharing the Align nutrition page, it would a copyright infringement; so ignore that request.  Since Matthew Lister is in business to succeed (make money), this probably won’t fly, but do you suppose he could write occasional pep talks along with your weekly posts?  It would be wonderful if he — along with Michel Chetowski (apologies for the spelling, Michel, I don’t have your card in front of me) who advertises his Tai Chi classes on ANC — could offer online classes on ANC — for a price, ‘natch.  This could be a whole new direction of ANC!

      • Avatar Kerri says:

        OOH… I have a trick for you!!  If you take your yogurt and blend it with frozen fruit (I use frozen berries or mangoes), it turns into a sorbet-ish creation that satisfies (almost) the ice cream craving.  I’ve also done frozen berries with just water when I didn’t have yogurt handy.  Super delicious!

  2. R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    You look fine as you are, but if you need to lose weight to improve your own body image, you don’t have too far to go. Not saying it’s easy, just saying it’s doable.

  3. Avatar Chellie Mitchell says:

    You know what? You are lapping ALL those people still sitting on the couch saying, “yeah…soon I’ll start working on myself.” So…YOU GO GIRL!

    • Thank you, Chellie! I AM going!

      I understand both perspectives; my new goal of health and fitness, and my old way of reckless eating and sitting on a couch thinking I’d never get there, and saying someday I’d address it, so I understand.

      Everyone has her/his own season, and this is mine. And I welcome the company here on A News

  4. Avatar Viki Twyman says:

    I had a tiny little victory this week.  I DID NOT buy and scarf down an Everything cookie from Sweet Thangs!!! I’m pretty proud of myself for that – it’s a start on my road to eliminate sugar.

    • Good for YOU, Viki! That IS a big victory! I’m proud of you!  Eliminating sugar is difficult. It’s my crack, and I’m kicking it.

      Keep up the good work and let me know next week how you did. Pretty soon, with enough days behind us on this new nutrition, we’ll be on our way to a habit.

  5. Avatar Ole brierbush says:

    Thank you Doni for the tip.I put a green line on my bath room mirror.

  6. Avatar Diane says:

    DONI I find the program interesting and I see much success for you and I’m interested in losing weight for sure and have not been able to do it by myself because I do pretend diet. I eat whatever I want and as much as I want and then pretend that it won’t make a difference in my weight. Well it obviously does. How much does the alignprogram cost?  It would seem that way if its a program we should all join it. This is a tough time to start a diet during the Christmas holidays but I’ve done something like  that before and it does keep up that extra 10 pounds.

    • I can relate to your pretend diet. I’ve spent much of my life doing that.

      While I happen to be on this Align program (and there is a fee to participate) and I am confident this will work for me, I’m not saying that’s what everyone should do.

      The key is starting – something – almost anything – whether it’s Weight Watchers, or cutting out all sugars and processed foods, or cutting what you eat in half …. All those methods will work, if we stick to it.

      That’s the hardest part, and that’s where A News’s upcoming new section can help with support.


  7. Avatar Barbara Stone says:

    I’m fascinated by your journey! We have similar childhood issues so I totally “get” comfort foods.

    My week was mixed: I’ve started my Christmas baking and of course, I have to sample. I had latkes for lunch one day with a friend of mine. And I’m drinking way too much wine lately (I blame that on the weather…lol).

    I look forward to your next segment and good luck! Stay strong!

    • Darn, that Christmas baking! And it’s almost impossible to not taste as you cook. I made a batch of English toffee to include in my package to Joe and Marie and her family, and as I cut the pieces to put in the tins to mail, I felt like that scene in Flight with Denzel Washington with the tiny bottles of booze in the hotel honor bar.

      I resisted, but it was SO SO SO hard. I had a half an avocado instead. Not what my brain wanted, but it was a good distraction.

      Yeah, I think I will miss wine eventually. What I’m dreading are events (like one I’m attending tonight) that are plastered with illegal food. These are uncharted waters for me. Baby steps.

      Hang in there, Barbara. Check in next week and let me know how this week went.

  8. Yay for you!!  I gave myself a pass this week because we are knee-deep in our busy season – and I have not been able to drag myself out of bed early enough to get a run in.  Rats. But I’m cheering for you and I’m hoping to get my act together. Soon.  🙂

    • Cut yourself some slack, Erin. I know this is your busiest time of the year, with your business and music. Be kind to yourself. You’ll start running again when you’re ready. (Maybe you need sleep more than a run right now.)

      Thanks for the encouragement! I’m feeling good!

  9. Avatar Darcie says:

    Great start!  Just think if how happy we would be if we lost  5-10 pounds in January.   Here is a unique thought (for me anyway;   I am concentrating on eating healthy all season and NOT gaining those pounds!

    I did enjoy a party last night, but took a small salad plate through the buffet line and loaded it with the salad and veggies.   I enjoyed a couple of bourbon balls and a small piece of apple cake for dessert and no alcohol consumed.

    Guess what?  I woke with a headache.  Not sure if it was a sinus headache or a sugar hang over!   The sugary treats just were not worth feeling so yucky this morning.

    We are going to do this!


  10. Yes, I plan to lose 5 to 10 pounds in January!

    Good idea to use a small plate for the buffet line. Sorry about the headache, but maybe your body is telling you something.

    We ARE going to do this (you’re doing it!) .

    • Avatar EasternCounty says:

      Wow ladies.  Five-to-ten pounds in one month?  I’ll be happy with one pound a week.  I’m setting goals of small increments — five pounds each — and plan to congratulate myself with something special as each goal is met.  And that “something special” won’t consist of a ton of empty calories!  Whaddaya suggest?  New running shoes?  A better pedometer?  A manicure?

  11. Avatar Barbara N. says:

    My son lost about 50 pounds of dangerous weight. Doctor told him he was a diabetic heart attack waiting to happen. He had a good friend who also lost a lot of weight and was a huge help to him in his diet. Smart phones are awesome to track what you eat. He cut out the sugar and junk and started walking fast, then running and now his passion is his trail bike. You can do it. When I feel the need to get in better shape, I just try to keep up with my dog, a lab, when we walk off leash. To really walk fast, borrow one, put him on a leash, and holy crap…you will walk your ass off! My son lost those dangerous pounds, looks and feels better than he has in years. Still working on the very tiny beer belly! Thank you for the before, and looking forward to the after…you so deserve it!


    • You and your son are success stories, and it must make you feel so happy to know that he’s in a more healthy place. (I hope the doctor is pleased with your son’s progress, too.) I love the suggestion about taking a dog on a leash. (Your “holy crap” made me laugh.”)


  12. Avatar Joanne Lobeski-Snyder says:

    Excellent start to a worthwhile project.  I have little to report except that I did step on a scale and dutifully recorded the numbers and rounded up an old food diary to keep track of what I eat.  Oh, and my “before picture” can be seen on Facebook where I modeled for a life drawing group (clothed) and got a harsh look at a profile I don’t see in the bathroom mirror each morning.  Onward and upward with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.

    • Good for you for dusting off the food diary and tracking your food. (I’m doing that, too.)

      Yeah, I hear you about seeing yourself for the first time. I’ve been under the “don’t look” philosophy for a while now. I can’t tell you what an unpleasant shock it was to see Matthew’s video of me walking from behind (to check my gait). Wowza! I had no idea. But now I do, and I’m not looking back. Moving forward, and so are you. We can do it!

  13. Avatar Mollie Flack says:

    Hi Doni: I met you once at the first artist reception for O Street.  I saw the Align advertisement somewhere, and have been thinking about trying it myself.  I have the same issues…..Last year I went on a grain free sugar free diet and it wasn’t too successful, except now it is easy for me to not eat sugar.   I am certainly interested in your progress, and will be praying for your success.  And I may even show up down there.

    • Hi, Mollie. That’s great that you broke free from sugar. I look forward to that day.

      It sounds like you’ve got the will power to try something new, if you feel you need/want to.

      Best of luck!

  14. I have to share a small victory. I attended a gathering tonight that had (what looked like) great food, and super fun cocktails with sugar-rimmed glasses. I ate dinner beforehand, so at the party I just drank sparkling water with lemon. I didn’t eat one bite of food. In my entire life, I don’t think I’ve done that.

    Now that I’m home, I’m having my bedtime snack of half an avocado and some cottage cheese.

    I can do this. I weigh in on Tuesday, so I’ll give the full report Thursday.

    Good night. Sweet dreams. 🙂

    • Avatar Terry Turner says:

      YAY! Doni!  That says you are on your way.  What a great victory, and thank you for the inspiration.

      I’ve been doing the thing you used to do – not eat much all day and binge on crackers, etc. at night, and watching the weight pile on.  This really makes me determined to take back control of what I eat.  Thanks!


      • Doni Chamberlain Doni Chamberlain says:

        I am on my way. And feel free to start whatever works for you to get healthy. We can be here for each other. I’m glad you’re here.

  15. Avatar Kristie says:


    Thanks for the inspiration! I have always enjoyed your columns in th RS…can’t wait to see your progress!


  16. Avatar Diane says:

    Hi Doni…..I am confused. Do you want us just to read about your weight loss or are you looking for people that will team with you to lose weight? I definitely could use help in losing weight. If I want to lose weight and partner with you guys is it best that I take the alignment class from Leicester? How much are the classes?

    • Good morning, Diana. Sorry for any confusion.

      To clarify, I’m not looking to have readers help me – I’ve got that with my personal trainer.

      But I knew that if I made my weight-loss struggle hyper-public, it would be the ultimate source of accountability for me. So that part is selfish.

      And then it occurred to me that many of you have similar struggles. What if I used my weight-loss and fitness journey as a way for others to face their challenges, too?

      Sometimes in our darkest hours it’s helpful to have a community of friends to embark on a difficult journey. Going it alone is possible, but well, it can feel lonely.

      With that in mind, Joe and Jim are creating an entire section that will feature a discussion forum (for conversations like these), and healthy recipes and stories and tips, as well as my weekly Thursday update.

      I happen to be working with Align Private Training to help me, but in no way am I saying that’s the only way to get fit and lose weight, or that everyone should copy my path.

      There are so many ways to arrive at those goals, and it’s different for everyone. You should choose what you think would work best for you.

      (And, btw, what I’m doing with Matthew Lister at Align Private Training is not a passive class where people sit with other students and get information, but one-on-one sessions that include nutrition counseling and workouts. It’s a huge, active commitment that requires 100 percent participation. )

      If you’re still interested, for prices and other information you can contact Align Private Training here in Redding.

  17. Randall R. Smith Randall R. Smith says:

    Archive National Geographic August 2013.  Cover story is about sugar and how our species became captive to this substance when it was rare.  Our simian ancestors had an important mutation which took the sugar from fruit (fructose) and allowed the liver to convert it to fat, rather than the conventional route to glucose for immediate use.  This adaptation carried us over times of starvation when those without the change perished.  Fast forward to today’s world where high fructose corn syrup is everywhere, not to mention the calories in other forms of simple sugar and the many problems of modern society surrounding diet and exercise.

    Turns out all the focus on cholesterol and fat probably was a distortion as the fructose to triglycerides miracle was the cardiac killing component rather than dietary intake of cholesterol which the liver dismembers and reassembles anyway.  So, there is still much to learn and profit by greater understanding.  I am returned to the land below 200 pounds and have a firm belief that this Christmas will not witness any gain, but will keep the trend line headed south.  Keep faith, keep spreading the word that self improvement is for everyone.  You’re the best!

    • Avatar EasternCounty says:

      I refer again to what my retired-pharmacist husband said years ago:  dietary intake of cholesterol isn’t the cause of blood cholesterol.  When that 60 Minutes program of years back on how disastrous eggs are for us sent egg sales plunging, we continued to eat eggs — and our cholesterol levels remain within the normal range.  Eggs are bad; carbs are bad; fat is bad; eat only this food with that food and only at 2:00 PM; grapefruit and eggs will make you lose weight — all proven wrong.

    • Thanks for the background about humans and sugar, Randy. It makes so much sense, doesn’t it?

      It’s nice to have a doctor in the house putting out scientific information in easily digestible lay terms for us.

      I’m with you on the goal this Christmas. There’s no way I could gain weight on this program, In fact, I know that come January 1, I will have lost weight. That makes me pretty happy.

      I think you’re the best, too, Randy. So glad you’re here.

  18. Avatar Ginny says:

    Years ago I read up on sugar.  Sugar is the killer for most people.  Doesn’t matter if it is honey or white sugar, it really isn’t good for us.  As long as I kept off sugar, I was in pretty good shape.  But, I became addicted to sugar again, some years back.  Now it is to get off it, again.

    You inspire me, Doni!  Keep up the good work.  And, more prayers for you doing what you feel you need to do.  ;o)

    God bless………

    • Knocking sugar out of our diets would be a good thing for us all. (Is sugar ever good for us? I’m serious. Are there are times when it’s beneficial?)

      You cut out sugar before, Ginny, and I have faith you can do it again. We can inspire each other. 🙂

      • Avatar EasternCounty says:

        If a diabetic has symptoms of low blood sugar — shaking, headache, fainting — the treatment is sugar.  A woman I worked with was diabetic, and she kept orange juice in the refrigerator so that if she had symptoms, she or one of us could give her a quick dose of sugar.  Soft drinks — not diet ones — would also suffice. That’s about the only time sugar is good for us that I can find.  Dr. Smith could elaborate on that.  Knowing that, however, does not change my “need” for a couple of dark chocolate Dove Promises.  Hey, dark chocolate has antioxidants as does red wine.  They both MUST be good for us in moderation, no?

        • A diabetic event is a good example, Eastern.

          But I hear you about the “need” for sugar, and chocolate. You know what I will miss this Christmas? See’s butterscotch suckers. Sigh. Oh well.

          • Avatar Ginny says:

            Orange juice or any juice is different that white, refined sugar.  I’ve heard people say the honey is OK, yet I have read it  is so concentrated, although natural, it is not good.

            Suggest for the oil, I put my olive oil  in a small spray bottle, and just spritz the oil into the frying pan. Works great, and sure don’t over use.




          • Avatar Old Brierbush says:

            I’m knocken on 80″s door and switched to honey about 20 years ago.My last blood test ,sept.1,2015 ,said every thing is just fine.I’m still plowing ground and sowing oats and baleing hay and liftin bales and feeding cows.I still get a little sugar in processed food .My mom had high cholestrol. Never knew my biolodgical father but he died at 68.

          • Avatar EasternCounty says:

            From what I’ve read, sugar is sugar no matter what the sweetener:  honey, corn syrup, white sugar, agave, syrup, molasses, golden syrup.  However, sugar in fruit fine in an eating plan.  That said, dried fruits contain higher amounts of sugar than fresh fruit because the sugar is concentrated and should be eaten in moderation.  We just returned from a trip to Trader Joe’s and stuck to our list:  no cookies or candy or yummy-but-not-healthful stuff.  One day at a time.

  19. Randall R. Smith Randall R. Smith says:

    No real science here except to say we are obliged to live in a world of sugar.  The reason why fasting blood sugar is a measure of importance next to temperature and blood pressure is because this vital nutrient is essential for us to have in proper amounts.  The brain can use only glucose for its energy needs.  Other tissues can and do use other high energy compounds, but the master gland is dependent upon glucose!  How we get it, how much is present, how we deliver it to the tissue via insulin, the role of exercise in keeping levels proper and most of all how readily abundant and generously supplied are the raw materials for what once was rather rare and precious are concerns we all should be taking very seriously.


  20. Avatar Canda Williams says:

    I’m excited about the new health section of ANC!  You’ll do great, Doni, and in the meantime you’ll encourage the rest of us.  I love this website! Always something new and exciting. xoxo

    • Doni Chamberlain Doni Chamberlain says:

      Awww, thank you, dear Canda. 🙂 I’m looking forward to the new section, too. (It’s under construction.)


  21. Avatar Cindy says:

    There is a great free phone app called ” Lose it” that makes logging your food easy and even fun.  It tracks  all kinds of things like fats and carbs and protein, as well, and even exercise.  I normally hate logging food – but you can even scan the bar code on the side of labels or put in your own recipes – check it out!