The Weight is Over: Part 11 – What’s a Girl to Eat?

oh nuts

Ah, nuts! These are allowed as fat in Doni’s “nutrition” plan.

It’s been almost exactly two months since I committed to the Align Private Training plan with Matthew Lister here in Redding. It feels as if I’ve been doing this for years, not months.

As I reported last week, I’ve lost 15 pounds and just as many overall inches. I don’t know when I’ll be done, but I think I’ll know when I start to get close.

It’s nearly time for Brad Garrison to photograph me for the Month 2 update. I am seeing a difference in my shrinking body and my increasingly baggy clothes. I’ll continue wearing the same Maui shirt for each photo shoot. And I look forward to the day when that shirt hangs on me like a Maui mu mu.

In these past two months I’ve left the Old Doni behind, and am moving forward with the Evolving Doni. The two Doni’s walk differently, exercise differently and think differently. Most of all, they eat differently.

I’ve already talked a lot about the workouts I do under the direction of Matthew. Last week I whined about Satan’s bicycle, also known as an air bike.

I’ve marveled at how I barely recognize myself during these workouts, every Monday through Thursday, for up to an hour and a half each day. I’m exerting myself physically in ways I’ve never done before. I feel stronger, more energetic, and can work with increasingly heavier weights. I can hold the plank position and wall sits longer.

Matthew Lister makes it look so easy.

Matthew Lister makes it look so easy.

I have made peace with the abdominal crunch, formerly one of my least-favorite exercises.


Hard to tell with all the laughing, but this is a crunch. Photo by Brad Garrison.

But as important as the workouts are, the nutrition aspect is equally crucial.

“Nutrition” isn’t really my word, but I’m getting there. “Nutrition” is the word that now refers to what I would have called a “diet” in my Old Doni life. Before, when I thought in terms of a “diet”, it boiled down to one question: What can’t I eat? That was one of my biggest questions when I first started this program. Just tell me what’s forbidden and I’ll do my best to resist those foods. 

But that’s not what happened. I got my head around the concept that I’m not “on a diet” – but rather, I am following a “nutrition plan” — a set of menus that are fluid. If I stay on this particular nutrition plan but stop losing weight, or if I become sick of the monotony of eating the same foods day in and day out, then Matthew will give me a different nutrition plan that includes different food options.

By calling it a nutrition plan I’m consciously eating nutritiously, and for me, for now, that means no grains, no sugar and no starchy vegetables. Sure, I could be  “on a diet” that just counted calories, one that might also allow me to eat all kinds of processed, crap foods. And honestly, if that was the plan I was offered, I would have gladly taken it. With pleasure. Pass the Skinny Cows, please.

My first nutrition plan with Align included expansive lists of allowable slow carbs (things like oatmeal) and regular carbs (like yogurt or cottage cheese), proteins (lean meats), some fruit and lots of vegetables.

For me, having too many choices was my undoing, because I found myself eating too much of the things I was supposed to have in limited quantities, and not enough of the things I could eat an unlimited supply of.

Right now I’m on the most simple food plan of all. It’s an extremely short list.

My best food friends are roasted deli chickens, avocados, apples, celery, lettuce, red and orange peppers and Greek yogurt.

doni's diet food chicken apple avocado

I eat breakfast within an hour of waking, and have a cup of coffee with Stevia and a splash of half and half, and I eat plain Greek yogurt with diced apples.

For my morning snack I have Greek yogurt with nuts or avocado. Or apple with peanut butter. For lunch I usually have a salad loaded with red peppers, celery and some chicken. For my afternoon snack I’ll have apple or celery sticks with peanut butter.

For dinner it’s something in the lean meat family, with lettuce and avocado. For my bedtime snack I have Greek yogurt with some nuts.

I’ve learned to always have my refrigerator stocked with my allowable food. The vegetables are washed and chopped, so they’re ready, like fast food, but healthy fast food. I keep jerky in my car’s glove box, in case I’m caught between meetings without a snack. And in a pinch, I can have up to two protein shakes a week. But they’re the exception, not the rule.

I’ve developed a few little food treats, like red pepper scoops filled with sliced turkey. Delicious!

Delicious? Who am I?turkey and peppers

The Old Doni’s “delicious” foods were things like bear claws, croissants and Heavenly Donuts’ chocolate French crullers, and Krispy Kreme’s hot glazed donuts. My favorite fast food was an In ‘n Out cheeseburger with grilled onions (Julia Child told me it was her favorite, which must make it right) and a chocolate milkshake. Pizza. Pasta. Cookies. Those little pink Starbucks birthday cake pops (so small they couldn’t be that fattening). Hershey bars with almonds (the nuts made them nearly a health food). See’s butterscotch squares, and butterscotch suckers.

And, by the way, this was the first year that I can remember that I didn’t buy Girl Scout cookies.

All are foods of my past. I seriously wonder when –  or if – I’ll eat them again.

So, how about you? What do you eat to lose weight? What are your favorite “allowed” foods?

Click here for Doni’s previous “The Weight is Over” columns. 

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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