The Weight is Over – Part 3: Happy Holidays; Week One is Done

Yesterday marked the first full week on my new diet plan, something I explained  last week following my full-exposure proclamation that I was going to get serious and lose weight.

My deadline to get my body back is July, when I turn 60.

I’ve already discussed how many diets I’ve tried before, and what a life-time loser I was at losing weight. Typically, I’d start a diet and then grow discouraged and quit, gaining even more weight in the process.

This time, I’m not going it alone. I’ve signed up with Matthew Lister at Align Private Training on Pine Street here in Redding.

My first meeting with Matthew was easy. We talked, he weighed and measured me (well, that part was not easy), and he outlined my “bite-by-bite” eating plan.

When I started, I figured I’d eat the same plan for as long as I was with Align. I learned last week that actually, my eating plan will be a moving target that follows the ebbs and flows of my personalized weight loss.

For now, my plan has six feedings: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, and bedtime snack. Each meal is a careful blending of fats, carbs, slow carbs and proteins. I also drink lots of water, like 60 ounces a day. With that much liquid, you don’t own it, you rent it.

I can have all the vegetables I want, but truth is, I’m not a big vegetable fan. But I’m learning.

Some of you have asked for examples of what I’m eating.

Right now, my typical breakfast is cottage cheese topped with fruit and some nuts. Or I could have scrambled eggs made from three whites and one whole egg, and some fruit on the side. My mid-morning snack might consist of some apple slices with peanut butter.

So far, lunch is my favorite meal because it allows “slow carbs” like spaghetti, sweet potato, brown rice, beans, squash and even a slice of dense wheat bread. The next snack of the day could be Greek yogurt with avocado. Dinner might be chicken, tuna, or lean pork, over a big salad topped with vegetables like mushrooms, onions and peppers. Finally, my midnight snack might be some string cheese, or some cottage cheese and avocado.

So I’m not going hungry, not by a long shot. In fact, it’s hard to make sure I eat everything. But I’m not eating the foods that get me in trouble, either.

Matthew said that he might keep me on this food plan anywhere from a few days to many weeks. He said it’s possible that by the time I’ve lost all the weight, I may have been on many, many “diets”  and food combinations by then.

I wondered how he’d know when to change my eating plan.

“When it stops working,” he said.

There are a couple of rules: Drink 60 ounces of water each day, eat within one hour of waking in the morning, and never skip that protein-loaded bedtime snack.

I came to my second meeting with Matthew expecting to work out. I was not expecting how hard it would be. As Matthew is fond of saying, he works the parts that aren’t people’s strong suits, since that’s where we’re weak.

There’s one particularly memorable move where you put your back flat against the wall, and then slide your butt down as if you’re going to sit in a chair. But you stop there. Then you extend your arms out flat against the wall, as if you’re crucified (sorry, that’s the only image that comes to me). Before I started, as he described what I’d be doing, Matthew told me he would have me hold it for 60 seconds. I almost laughed. Sixty seconds? That’s nothing. At the 30-second mark I was ready to stop. There may have been some begging.

I still go to the YMCA, where I mainly do cardio, like the rowing machine and bike, but I leave the weights to when when I work at Align. So I’m getting lots of exercise.

Since I started this diet I’ve noticed a few things about my social and work interactions, such as when I attended a recent party. I was struck by how much I usually look forward to the food at parties. This time, as I drank my sparkling water with lemon, the party was more about well, just talking to people.

Now there’s a concept.

Also, because I work from home, my business meetings are usually held in restaurants or coffee shops. Take Starbucks, for example. My formerly favorite Starbucks drink is a black & white (mocha and white mocha) latte with half the pumps, non-fat, with an extra shot of espresso; no whipped cream (I refuse to say “no whip”). Sometimes, if I were hungry, I’d buy one of those little pink cake pops, which I believe are less than 200 calories. At the time, I saw them as practically a diet food. Oh, those days seem so long ago.

Now, it’s me, a cup of hot water and a tea bag. And my meeting. No lattes. No cake pops.

Maybe one day I’ll change my holiday food traditions to comply with my new body and eating plan. But this year, I am not ready to do that. So I stuck with my annual tradition of making iced, roll-out Christmas cookies, something I did with my children, and I’m now passing on to my grandchildren. making cookies with Noni

Come on, I do have one of the biggest cookie-cutter collections in the world! How could I not make roll-out Christmas cookies with my grandchildren?

rolling cookies with Noni

Usually, over the course of baking, frosting and decorating those thin, buttery, beautifully iced cookies, I could eat about a dozen. Seriously.

This time, I did not eat any.

If I can make it through the holidays without eating any homemade cookies, eggnog or English toffee, this will be the first time I’ve not eaten those foods I like to make and eat at Christmas since I started making them back when I was in high school.

Also, my twin and I carried on our tradition of hosting a gingerbread house making night, which is so much fun. But there’s lots of loose candy, and even the gingerbread, if you want to take a nibble. Not a nibble for me.

gingerbread houses

What is the difference between the diets that failed before, and now? I think it’s two-fold. First, is something has clicked inside my head that told me now or ever. This Is It. I Mean It.

Second, it does help to have that accountability to meet with Matthew twice a week, where I’m not just weighed and measured, but guided through a series of exercises, most of which, had I been alone, I would have quit at the half-way mark.

Let me show you two photos. The first was taken Dec. 5 of me with my grandkids at the lighted Christmas parade. (Ignore the kids’ weird eyes from the night-time flash.) 
doni and kids at Christmas parage Dec 5

Now look at this photo of me and the kids, taken a few days ago.

doni with the kids at Christmas 2015

I can see the difference in my face, which is how it usually goes with me with weight-loss. The face and boobs go first, and my butt leaves last.

But maybe with the new workouts, that won’t be the case this time. Either way, I’m happy.

You know why? Because at the one-week mark of this diet, I’ve lost 5 pounds and 2 inches overall.

I don’t think I’ll lose 5 pounds a week every week. Matthew said he’d be happy if I lost two pounds a week. I’ll be happy if I just continue to lose anything each week.

But for now, that 5-pound loss has inspired me to hang in there and keep resisting the foods I want, and to ignore their calls.

And I’m inspired by so many of you who have joined me on this journey. Many of you have left incredible comments already, and yet others have written me privately to share your struggles and stories.

Help is on the way for not just me, but any of you who want to lose weight, and be more fit and healthy. With that in mind, notice that Joe has created a whole new section and a new tab at the top of the site, just for these weighty issues.

We threw this together fast, so it’s a work in progress. It will take time for this section to grow in content. Right now, we don’t even have a graphic element for our header. It’s just words: The Weight is Over: Diet/Fitness Forums, Tips and Stories.

One of my absolute favorite parts of this section is the forum, a place where you can drive the conversation about whatever you want (within the topic of health, weight-loss and fitness). I’ll start it today, and you can add to it as you please.

The section’s categories are skimpy for now, but as we grow, so will the content, including my weekly columns, and stories about healthy eating and cooking, and Q&A’s that tell of others’ successes.

For now, we’ve pulled from existing content that’s appeared here on A News Cafe.com over the last eight years. But over time, the content will be fresh. The point of this section is to not just to help me lose weight and get healthy, but for this section to help us all.

I know how supremely difficult it is to modify a life-time of unhealthy eating habits. I know how easy it is to quit, and to backslide into reckless eating. I know what a battle it can be within ourselves to do the right thing, even when we know it’s what’s best for us.

It’s as if I’m two people: the before Doni, who’s already mourning the loss of our annual See’s butterscotch suckers as stocking stuffers. And the Doni who misses her black & white Starbucks mochas. And the Doni who misses wine, beer and cocktails. And the Doni who really misses big hunks of hot bread slathered with butter.

But I don’t miss the shame. And I don’t miss the health risks.

So I look forward to the new, after Doni. One day at a time.


Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's 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's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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