15 @ 150

59.4photoLisa’s plan calls for four mini-meals of 150 calories plus a normal dinner. People hate counting calories. I know I do. I wrote down everything I ate and what it cost in calories for years. I made recipes where I calculated out to the calorie how much a serving would “cost” me. That’s a lot of work!

But there is an easier way. First, you eventually learn that a banana is 100 calories and so is an egg. An apple is 50 calories and an almond milk latte is 50. But what if you’ve never counted calories and are finding it difficult to start now? Writing down every bite of food I eat? That was the most difficult step of WW for me.

As usual I whined about this to Lisa and she sent me a little list. 15 mini-meals for 150 calories. No counting. No writing. Just whip together and go. Here they are:

1. Light English Muffin with turkey slice
2. Light bagel with cream cheese
3. Turkey sausage on toast
4. Stir half cup ricotta with a few mini chocolate chips plus sugar free dulce deleche.
5. Low cal whole wheat tortilla spread with one TBS of nutella, brown slightly on both sides of pan til gooey.
6. Hot chocolate made with almond milk plus a calcium chew
7. Two slices 35 cal bread (Aunt Millie!) plus two fat free cheese slices, grilled
8. Chobani yogurt with fruit
9. Chobani as an onion dip. Half cup with 6 Pretzel Thins
10. Hungry Girl “Pie One On”
11. Grits, half cup almond milk, and a herb/garlic laughing cow wedge
12. Oatmeal, truvia, sugar free maple syrup
13. Waffle with blueberries (microwave blueberries in some sugar free maple syrup)
14. Half a fiber bar
15. Apple with a TBS cashew butter

Those are all Lisa’s, but I don’t eat sugar, sugar free, or fat free products. Nor do I eat meat. But I love soy sausage! Less calories, too:) I do also love the low cal Laughing Cow cheeses, Chobani yogurt, and grits. Almond milk is my go-to treat. So if like me you want no sugar or meat, but prefer real butter on your toast, or the whole egg, not an egg beater, or a whole grain slice of bread, be like me. I eat 3 minis at about 200 calories each. You just have to watch how much cashew butter goes on the toast or how many nuts you chop into the oatmeal.

I stopped writing down my calories after awhile, if you stick to basics, and this was Lisa’s pep talk to me, just mentally adjust to eating those 15 or 20 auto-foods you love, and you will lose weight. Even if you like full or low fat versions, you’ll still lose, just slower. I lost 25 pounds in a year, so half a pound a week, but feeling fully satisfied and never hungry. I am not sure how many calories I eat these days. I just try to be mindful of portion size and hop on the scale once in a while. It always points down a pound or so. Because I still have a ways to go.

Of course I’m doing yoga. Been walking since I got those great gel shoes, too. See you at the finish line, or next week when the topic is one of my biggest obstacles: emotional eating.

Lisa Plan Over Easy

sneakersKey parts to Lisa’s food plan (not a “diet” but a way of eating for life.) are mini-meals and exercise. Just trying to stay even is a struggle as we age. I had an early, surgical menopause, and then weight loss got really challenging. About the same time, I transitioned into many more writing hours after an super-active life. These events did not do my body any favors. Hence, the plea to Lisa for help.

Mini-meal Basics
Lisa’s mini-meals are 150 calories (600 calories for four) then a normal dinner (depending on how many calories your body needs to consume to lose weight). I tried eating just 150 calories and was hungry after an hour. Always. Lisa said if you play with your plan, you won’t be hungry, but you have to find what works for you. She eats at 8, 10:30, 12:30, then 2:30 or 3. If dinner is after 5, she’ll have another mini and take it off her dinner calorie count.

When I told her I was hungry after an hour her advice was to not just have a small yogurt or piece of fruit but combine protein and carb. Her suggested menu for me was a whole cup of cooked oatmeal at 8 am, cup of yogurt mid-morning, a sandwich using those great wheat rounds (tuna salad made w/yogurt, egg salad, peanut butter w/sliced banana) at noon, and another snack at 3 with a regular dinner. And you know, that works for me. I swap out the first meal, and just have yogurt and fruit, then later, when hunger kicks in, I’ll have oatmeal or a sandwich, depending on what time it is. I eat more than 150 for my mini-meals, maybe 200, so I have three instead of 4. It’s important to listen to your body and what IT needs when. Everybody’s different. Find your own mini-meal path.

Exercise
It’s no secret yoga is my exercise of choice and as my teacher said last weekend “you’re as young as your spine is flexible” so, you know, yoga is good. It’s good for mind and body and I love feeling open, balanced and at peace, all of which yoga gives me. But I do want to add in some cardio, because one of the things I want to do more of is get out into the world. Lisa loves dance, she went of U of M for dance back in the day and has always been a dancer. I like to dance at parties to music, not in classes where everyone has to follow a pattern. Patterns confuse me. Lisa swears by Zumba. Maybe some day I’ll try it but for now I’m going to walk.

One of the things that inspires me is to have the right equipment for the job at hand, be it a good kitchen knife and cutting board (for all those veggies I chop) or a pair of sneakers that really do the job. You know walking shoes are ugly, right? Well, my last pair were. So I was thinking, hmmm, maybe hiking boots. But really, me, hike? I want to, I really do, but I don’t think it’s going to be happening before our Seattle trip, where we will be walking a lot, so I took myself to Kohl’s and got these babies pictured above. They’re stronger than they look, not canvas but a thick soft material and all gel inside. Toe heaven:) I’m so excited about these shoes I’ll probably go for a walk later today.

Speaking of excited, exercise is also a great mood lift. So if you are down about your inability to lose weight, get moving and accomplish two goals at once.

Real Dinners
Lisa is a great cook and I’ve been her dinner guest a number of times. She knows I’m a vegetarian, so she caters to me (I know, lucky me!) and will cook fish with yummy sides.

Dinner Menu

Tomato Bisque Soup: to 1/2 cup add cup of veggie crumbles, 1/4 C water, 1/4 C chick peas, sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Shrimp Scampi (4 large shrimp = 35 calories each!)

Hungry Girl’s Spinach Cheese Pie

Roasted Veggies: 375 oven, lay veggies of your choice on foil, drizzle with olive oil, wrap tight in two pieces of foil for an hour, take top foil off bake 25 minutes more.

Apple Cup: cut up apples, microwave with a few cinnamon red hot candies, stir. Crumble half a graham cracker, stir, and top with whipped cream.

Eating Herself Thin

Lisa.photoA few years ago, my best friend Lisa decided to lose weight. I thought she looked great, but then, I was officially obese. It took her more than a year, but she whittled away substantial pounds (25-30) and this is how she did it. Mini-meals. Every 2-3 hours. She joked to her husband that she was “eating herself thin.” And wow did she ever.

There’s more to her plan, of course. Plenty of cardio. She walks her miles and likes dance classes. Almost three years later, she has kept the weight off, has boundless energy, and looks fabulous. As every woman who has ever gone on a diet knows, keeping the pounds off is the difficult part.

Stars know I’ve had plenty of experience there. Not a better yo-yo on the planet than yours truly. And at the time of Lisa’s weight loss, I was struggling with some difficult numbers for cholesterol and blood sugar. I asked her to help me work her plan and, like the bestie she has been since fifth grade, she pitched right in. It was an uphill battle, because yoga is my exercise of choice and I love cake, but she gave me the goods, including recipes that were simple to adapt to my vegetarian palate.

It’s been a slower process for me than for Lisa, as I had to be brought round to no sugar and limited refined carb rule by a second bad blood report. I do not want diabetes more than I want cake, chips, and cookies. On the bright side, we brought my cholesterol down without medication. and I was losing weight. Just very slowly.

But I kept at Lisa’s plan because persistence has paid off well in my life. It took me ten tries to kick cigarettes, but I did. 25 years ago. Persistence also saw me into becoming a published novelist, as I just would not give up. And now I have some persistence rewards to report on the weight front. I have not been obese for over a year. I don’t weigh myself like I should. I published two novels this year and a new edition of a third. I write in PJs or sweat pants. I had to buy smaller sweat pants this winter because they fell to my ankles every time I got up from my desk.

I thought they were just stretched out. I bought new jeans last summer but this spring they were so loose I could pull them on and off without unzipping. So this reluctant shopper took herself to the mall last week and tried again. I had not lost one size over the winter, but two. I still have a long way to go, but finally I feel the click Lisa talked about when you change your mind about food and how to eat it. Since starting Lisa’s plan, more than a year ago, I’ve lost 25 pounds. I have more to go, but this time, I’m confident I can make it work. Forever.

Lisa’s breakfast burrito: 80 calorie [whole wheat] tortilla, egg-beaters [1 egg], sprinkle of cheese. *Brackets indicate my modifications. Enjoy!

Girl On Verge

nineteen_NEWLife sort of sucks when you feel like you don’t belong anywhere. Like your parents don’t care. Like all the people you used to think were your friends suddenly aren’t. Like your boyfriend, if you can call him that, only wants you around at bedtime or in the backseat of the car. Like your life is falling apart and there is nothing you can do to stop it while everywhere around you people seem happy and content. You want some of that, but don’t know how to get it.

You can’t see into the future and your past is pretty damn bleak.

So why not do what you want? Your best friend, let’s face this, your ONLY friend, wants you to hitchhike across several states with her. Skip school for a week or two. Go visit some guy she’s crazy about. Her plan makes your body buzz, without weed or wine. It sounds so fun. You’ve never been out of your little town. And you can play the parents off each other so each will think you’re with the other one. And they’ll both be happy. For once, you will be, too.

An adventure. It’s Kerouac On The Road that your crazy English teacher made everyone read, and you secretly loved. Like you would marry Sal Paradise if he asked. If he existed. Hey maybe he does. Maybe he’s out there, waiting for you, his female half.

You don’t have the right tools for this trip, but you don’t know it yet. Soon, awareness will hit. And the shit you land in will test you and hurt you and help you learn to love for real. Safe trip, sweet Melissa.

Good Guys

DSC_4720Rumor has it women like bad boys. They want someone with an edge, someone who doesn’t call, someone who treats them like shit from time to time. This rumor is inaccurate.

Girls fall for bad boys more than women do, but this is because they still believe they can fix them. That they are the one girl in the world to whom this handsome hardass will surrender his tender love.

But girls grow into women, time passes, lovers come and go, and the good guys stay. If not in our lives, then in our hearts. It’s the good guys we marry and have children with. It’s the good guys who win. And good guys are just as sexy and gorgeous as bad boyfriends. Way more. Good guys make our hearts melt.

Yesterday, I met again one of the good guys in my life. It happened, where else, on Facebook. We had a lovely exchange and I got the chance to tell him what my tangled up young self couldn’t say then and wouldn’t fully know for decades: he is one of a very short list of good men in my life. Men who lifted me up, men who cherished me, men who made me believe in myself.

And he was just a boy in 1971 when he took me to his junior prom, took me to see my favorite folk singer Melanie at the Masonic Temple, took me on dates to McDonald’s for cheeseburgers and Cokes. Picked me up for school and drove me there in his pick up truck.  Was always sweet and caring. Never missed a phone call. Never missed a study date. (You realize that no actual studying went on, right?)

He made me feel pretty. Told me I was, and really, back then, I did everything I could to be not-pretty. It was my protest. Flannel shirts, thick wire glasses, no make up, no hair products, just wild and natural and not one bit pretty in the traditional sense of the word.

But a good guy always sees the beauty inside, no matter what kind of front a girl puts on with her jeans in the  morning. And for that, we love them best.