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Hi Meg !

I started this as a reply to your post, but it got so doggone looong that I thought I should label it as such so others wouldn't be ambushed ;-)

Thanks for the kind words you sent my way. I'm glad you found my previous thoughts useful, although with all the helpful input that comes from all the folks on this board, I'm just a small voice. I only know what works for me, but I don't have a clue what will work for you or anyone else. The following doesn't directly address your situation. It just outlines what I do, which is all I know anything about. I don't know if it will provide anything helpful, but since you asked for my thoughts, here goes . . .

In the first week of November '00 (if interested, see “My New Jeans Don't Fit Now” Post ), I drew the proverbial line in the sand and made some Promises to myself. As a result, I've trimmed off around 90 pounds in the past six months. It was not my intention to do it within that time frame, it just worked out that way :-) I expected it to take a year. You might follow the same routine and not have the same percentage-loss results. My life/routine is undoubtedly different from yours. However, if you learn & develop what works for you and stick to it faithfully (< repeat that), I'd be willing to bet you will have good results.

Promise # 1 - I will not eat it if I don't know how many calories are in it. I've kept track (journal) of every single thing I have eaten in the past six months. I read all nutrition labels and have learned the calorie content by measure and/or weight of fresh foods. I created a folder that compiles what I've learned. I have memorized a lot by constant use. The Key to My Success = I prepare everything myself that I eat, with one exception: I eat lunch at The Golden Corral Buffet (reasonably good veggie bar) every Wednesday with my best friend as a treat for behaving the other six days, but I still eat healthy - mostly veggies, a baked chicken breast, etc.

Does that sound boring? Well, that leads to . . .

Promise # 2 - I only eat for health & nutrition now, not to entertain myself. I love to eat ('n eat 'n eat 'n eat . . .). Any excuse would do. That is why I would certainly weigh 300 pounds now if I hadn't changed my life style. Now, I only eat things that I like that are nutritionally valuable. When I reach my goal (180 - only 14 lbs away), I will controllably relax that somewhat.

Promise # 3 - I eat regularly in small portions. I eat something every two hours or so, either a meal or a snack. This helps me in knowing that when I finish eating, I get to eat again in just two hours. This keeps my metabolism fired up w/o unnecessary overeating. Meals are usually around 250 - 500 calories, snacks are usually
around 100 or less. Then I budget my daily caloric intake around that plan. More calories earlier in the day, tapering off, nothing but water within 2 hours of bedtime. I aim for 1500 to 1800 calories each day and never cross 2000 (well, maybe sometimes on Wednesdays by a little bit . . . ).

Promise # 4 - I eat only nutritionally dense & balanced foods. THIS IS CRITICAL!! I began with a blank slate, learning and compiling a list of what I needed to eliminate/avoid (bad fats, partially hydrogenated oils, processed foods, empty calories, junk etc.) and instead what I needed to eat to be healthy. Whole grains & seeds (Kashi, flax, soynuts, almonds, unprocessed brans, wheat germ, etc.). Veggies, fruits & berries (lotsa varieties). Soy, tuna fish, chicken breast, egg white, sea weed, good fats, beans, whole grain pasta & rice, etc.. This gets kinda complex & I'll spare you the glassy-eyed details. However, it's something I think is important to practice & learn. I will add some links for some sources to gather information at the end of this post .

Promise # 5 - I walk 45 minutes @ quick pace (3 miles) 4 - 6 times per week. I walk first thing in the morning (love this weather!), before I eat anything. I also do a few simple weights a couple times per week, but I'm naturally muscular, so it's not a critical element for me. No gym involved here at all. I develop the biggest body muscles (legs) by carrying my own body weight walking regularly. I have a manual treadmill, but I don't like it. Through the winter I walked 'round the halls in my church's very large basement (I have a key) and even more often I went 'round 'n 'round through my own house (rooms are connected in a circle) with my stereo cranked way up ^ ^ ^ and I'd boogie for 200+ laps; pumping two full 32oz Ragu spaghetti jars in the air for added arm/shoulder/chest work-out. [You don't have to be crazy, but it helps!!] When walking at home, I stair-step at each 15 minute interval to increase my heart rate - up/down 25 then 50 then 75 now 100 times each on a Coleman chest cooler. By golly, I am getting fit!! My at rest heart rate at this moment is down to 47 bpm. Six months ago I'd grow breathless walking just a block or two. My doctor put me on high blood pressure meds a couple of years ago. Two weeks ago my BP was 127/78. Cha, Cha, Cha!!

Promise # 6 - No Cheating. Remember, These Are Promises. I weigh or measure everything as needed. If I ate a cookie, I wrote it down. I usually chose not to eat the cookie because I looked at the actual calories it would add and the lack of nutritional benefit. It is a taut line that I refused to allow to slacken. It's not easy, but it is very rewarding and feels really, really good. Feeling good is excellent therapy (I read the book ;-) ). It feeds motivation, which feeds the feeling good cycle.

Promise # 7 - Water, water, water, water, water, water, water, then more water. I have three 2 liter jugs that I keep rotating in my fridge. I try to drink a minimum of two every day. I drink no carbonated drinks at all (I believe it screws up metabolism) and practically no juices (high calorie/low fiber). I drink a little milk (For D & calcium) and then just WATER. No alcohol whatsoever (high calorie/no nutrition). A little wine will probably come back into the picture later on.

Specifically Meg, regarding dining out for 50% of your meals, I have very little experience with that, so I am at a loss to address that with any confidence. I've included a few links below for tips that might help. Recognizing portion size control would be very important. Calorie counting would be an educated guess if you become familiar with them in your own cooking as I do. High calorie added fats/empty calories etc. could be a major pitfall dining out. One tablespoon of oil is 120 calories of pure fat calories.

Well, this got ridiculously long and I know I didn't directly address some of your questions. I don't like to try and give advice, so it is somewhat intentional. Apologies to anyone who got this far and learned nothing worthwhile from my rambling. If interested, perhaps browse through the links below for some of the info I have used to do what I do. Maybe it can help you develop your own methods that suit you specifically.

Good luck. Feel free to ask if you have any questions. I'll try to keep replies shorter next time ;-)

Just Sign Me . . . The Ever-Shrinking “Large Happy Dancing Bear”

Alphabetical List of Number of Calories found in Specific Foods
(Sorted by food Name)

Nutrition Analysis Tool

Nutritional Profile

Dr. Gabe Mirkin

Fast Food Facts (Burger King, KFC, Arby's, Subway, etc.)

Eating Healthy With Ethnic Food (Tip Sheet)

Tips For Eating Healthy When Dining Out

Health & Nutrition Resources

How Dieting Works

GNC Live Well

American Dietetic Association's Daily Tips

Cyber Diet's Lunch Court

Calorie Counting & Fitness Tips
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