VeganMoFo: The Plan

I’ve always struggled with my weight.  From the time I was born until the time I graduated college, I gained weight.  I didn’t eat healthy foods and I didn’t exercise, although being in marching band in high school and college probably helped.  Band practice is grueling in Florida’s August heat.  During college I took a full load of classes, worked part time, played in a touring band and was in a relationship, and by the time I graduated college in May 2003 I had reached 200 pounds and was pretty miserable.  It seemed like the first time in my life I could decide how to use my time, so I started exercising and eating better.  I don’t remember exactly what I ate back then.  I was vegetarian, but I don’t think I was incredibly healthy in the way that I think of healthy now.  There were a lot of salads with fat free ranch, veggie dogs, anything that was low cal.  Whatever I did, it worked.  I lost over 70 pounds in 15 months.  I even became a self proclaimed gym rat.  I was in the best shape of my life, and looking back, I was probably a little too skinny.  I’m a curvy girl, big boned if you will.  I’ve realized since then that I’m just not meant to be skinny, and that’s okay.

I’ve gained back more than I would’ve liked to since then.  I’m nowhere near my top weight, and I’ll never be that big again.  But in the past year or so, specifically the past few months, I’ve gotten lazy.  I always eat fairly healthfully, with lots of veggies and such, but what with all the major changes in my life recently I may have turned to the taqueria more often than I should’ve.  Now that I have a place to live and will hopefully have a job and the return of a regular schedule soon, it’s time to shape up and slim back down a bit.

I don’t believe in diets.  I think most of them are ridiculous.  The last time I started a weight loss effort I devised my own plan based on common sense, and that is what I’m doing again this time.  Eat less, eat the good stuff, and exercise more.  There’s not much more to it than that.  I like to call it a “plan” rather than a diet, because it’s not a diet.  I’m still going to eat plenty, trust me.  It will just be the right kinds of foods, and not too much of them.

So here are the “rules”, which are more like guidelines.  I’m not going to get all upset if I go outside the parameters every once in a while.  These are my goals:

– Only eat when hungry, and stop eating when full.

– Exercise often.

– Unlimited fruit and veggies as long as they’re prepared in a healthy manner.

– At least one serving of raw veggies a day.

– Only whole grains.  No refined flour.

– Rely less on wheat, eat other grains more often instead.  (I don’t have an issue with wheat, I just think I fall back on it too often.)

– Get fats from healthy sources like nuts, seeds, avocados and oils in moderate amounts.

– Minimize use of refined sugar, use alternatives like maple syrup, agave nectar and stevia.  (This shouldn’t be an issue except for baking.  I already use stevia in all my tea and coffee.)

– No soda.  (I always drink diet so it’s not the calories that are an issue, but I’m sure I’ll be better off without it.)

– No alcohol on weekdays.

– No eating out.  (This won’t be an issue for a while since I’m broke.)

– Eat seasonally and locally as much as possible.

– Eat foods in their whole forms, no processed food.

– If I want, I will allow one “cheat day” on the weekend.  We grill and tailgate and have people over for sports, so this will allow me some freedom.  I’m not planning on going wild though, I still have to be sensible.

So there it is, The Plan laid out in bullet form.  It’s common sense.  I know all these things, it’s just a matter of doing them, and I’m starting tomorrow.  I’ve gone through about half of my cookbooks and started a list of recipes that either fall within these parameters, or that I can adapt.  That will be another post.  I’m definitely planning on keeping my cooking interesting and blogable.

Wish me luck!  And strength.  Anybody have any tips or recipes that might help me out?

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20 Comments »

  1. shellyfish said

    You’re going to rock and roll! You have a plan, and that is one of the most important keys to success. I feel that by deciding to only eat whole foods you really allow yourself huge helpings of nutrition, but without the empty calories and unpronouncables of processed foods and drinks. Giving up soad is one of the best things to lose weight, too, diet or not. I wish I could find the links, but there is much information on diet sodas and weight/water retention. Plus it’s chemicals you don’t need.
    We are all rooting for you! When there are lots of big changes (and stress) it’s so normal to go to old habits or become more lax about things, but you are going to be just fine!

  2. shellyfish said

    I’m so dyslexic, I of course mean soda.

  3. Nicole said

    Good luck! I am sure you can do it, you plan looks good. The only advice I can think of that really helped me start exercising was to find something that I liked to do. I started taking a kickboxing class because I used to hate the gym and running and that helped me get back into exercise mode!

  4. mihl said

    Your plan sounds very reasonable to me. Good luck with it!

  5. Megan said

    I think your guidelines/plan sounds great!

  6. Jennifer said

    I know that a lot of people really struggle with their weight, and I commend you for your honesty, and common sense. Before I was a vegetarian, I was quite chunky, for one – I was lazy, but I also ate crap food. Once I gave up my car and went veg, a lot of the problem fixed itself.

    I wish you the best of luck in your journey to health. I’m glad you are doing it for YOU, not someone else, or just for appearances. I hope that you will find, like I did, that once you start eating healthier and only until you are full, it becomes second nature.

    Most of the recipes on our Veg*n Cooking blog are fairly healthy. We don’t use a whole lot of oil, fake cheese, or anything like that. You also reduce the calories if you make the burritos or quesadillas “bowls” instead of using the tortilla.

    GOOD LUCK! And keep your head up. You need a good support network, and I’d say at the very least you’ve got the blog community on your side.

  7. VeggieGirl said

    BEST of luck to you with this plan!! I know you’ll succeed with your health goals, so no worries 🙂

  8. Ricki said

    Your plan sound like a good one, and one that will work! I’ve also struggled with weight issues for. . .well, forever. I agree, it is common sense, and the hardest part is always just sticking to it (I also lost some weight by eating that way–not as much as you, but it did seem effortless at the time). Wish I had some wisdon on “how”–basically, just keep trying! But if you want some baking (and other) recipes with whole grains, no refined sugar, etc., that’s all that I post on my blog. Hope they help! 🙂

  9. aTxVegn said

    This sounds like a very healthy plan. If you envision the end result, I’m sure you’ll be very successful. I’m cheering you on!

  10. Carrie said

    Wow I really can relate to that. I got quite big, lost 50 lbs, and have since gotten lazy and gained about 10 lbs. back. It’s not a huge difference, but I just don’t feel good about it. So I too have been trying to convince myself not to diet, but to eat more sensibly. So I’m right in there with you, you’re post has inspired me to stop thinking about it and just do it already. 🙂

  11. Dana said

    I am going through the same thing right now, although I guess it would be what you went through earlier. I just graduated college, and now that the stress of school is over, I have a lot more time to focus on myself. I have always been overweight, but I have always preached a healthy lifestyle. So, I devised a plan too and am in week 7 of it, I’ve lost about 10-12 lbs so far, goal is around 60. I have set a timeline of about a year for myself so I don’t lose too quickly, and I chart my progress every week on my little blog http://www.livestrong.com/profile/muffintalknerdy/ I also track my calories, which I’ve found is the only way I can lose weight, because if not, I tend to really overeat. It becomes such a habit after awhile you don’t even notice it. I use http://thedailyplate because it’s pretty amazing, and I’ve had a lot of success with it in the past (20 lbs last summer) and their database is really extensive.

    I thought that becoming vegan would mean that the pounds would fall off and I could eat whatever I wanted (as long as it was vegan). This, however, was not the case, and my weight, which had been hovering around 190 unhappily for the past 6 months, shot up to 208! I am still working to take that initial weight loss off (how can I gain 10 lbs in 2 weeks and then need 2 months to take it back off?) and I hope to continue that down to my ideal weight.

    You can read my food logs to see what I eat on a daily basis. Everyone’s calorie goals are different, but I have a desk job, and I’ve found I can only lose weight when I’m eating 1200 calories/day.

    Good luck!

  12. All very common sense – and I would like to add:
    – cut out all caffeine beverages. Including coffee.
    – don’t eat after 8pm (or less than 2 hours before bed)
    – check out the Glycemic Index guidelines

    I’ve actually seen my weight go up higher than it ever has been since I went strict vegan and cut out all dairy & eggs as well as other food allergens (legumes). I fight to keep my weight at 150-155, and have been over 160 for most of this year, struggling to keep it around 165-169 (within range for my height but I hate my ass and my breasts being so huge and prefer sub 155).

  13. jessy said

    wishing you luck! i don’t drink during the weekdays either! it took me a little a while to get used to not eating when i wasn’t hungry – but after a few days you’ll totally get into it! it’s kind of a fun challenge, and it really lets you get to know your levels of hunger and you become really aware of your body, too! unlimited fruits & veggies – yay! i find that cutting up lots of veggies on sundays is a good idea for us – when we’re looking for something to munch on they’re right there and ready to go! not dining out is a wonderful idea, and whole foods = hells yeah! gotta love stuff that isn’t processed, indeed!

    sounds like a plan for success & health! wahoooooooooooooo!

  14. julieannef said

    You can DO it!!!

    One thing that works for me, although I guess it’s common sense, is never have junk food at home. A few french fries out is a treat, but buying some for your house and expecting to only eat a little is setting yourself up for failure. Well, at least when I buy soy ice cream, I am setting myself up for failure :]

    -Julie
    Julie’ Kind Kitchen

  15. melisser said

    Halloween needs to be a cheat day! 😉

  16. Vegannifer said

    I think that sounds like a very sensible plan and I’m sure it will work! I, too, fall back on using wheat way too much. I should take inspiration from you and try to use different flours. Good luck!

  17. vegeater said

    Good Plan! I find that I do better if I get some protein early in the day. For some reason, it helps me make better choices later. I like Living Harvest’s Hemp Protein Powder.
    http://www.vegeater.com

  18. that’s pretty much my diet! Except that I only use sprouted “breads” & exercise every day oh and I abstain from oil 🙂 It’s the best “diet” – Its so rewarding to eat and live this way.

  19. Anyone who is interested in reducing carbohydrates from their diet should make a low carb diet food list. This is important because then you will be ready and prepared when you head out to the supermarket, know what you are going to need to buy and can meal plan from here.

  20. veganhomemade said

    Thanks for all the kind words of encouragement!

    Nicole – I already know that I like variety in exercise, so it’s good to start with that. I found that we have free exercise shows on demand, so I’ve been exploring those.

    Jennifer – Agreed that most of what you make is very healthy! Mexican-style can be really good for us once you cut out all the fatty extras.

    Ricki – When I’m in the mood for healthy baking I will definitely look over your recipes, thanks!

    Dana – Sounds like our stories are very similar. Thanks for the links. I have counted calories off and on, when I want to get down to the nitty gritty. It always seems like a lot of work for me since I tend to cook recipes with lots of ingredients. But I do like to count every now and then to get a more realistic idea of what I’m actually consuming.

    Jenn – Good tips! I’m still drinking one cup of tea or coffee daily. I may try to cut out caffeine for some sort of cleanse in the future, but for now it’s staying 🙂

    Julie – Totally agreed on not keeping junk in the house. That way I find the only time I have to use real restraint is in the store, and I usually shop with a list so I don’t stray from it.

    Melisser – Of course Halloween is a cheat day!

    Vegeater – Great tip. I try to make sure I get at least some protein with breakfast everyday. I especially like adding pb or almond butter to my oatbran.

    Right on Happy Herbivore! Your blog is a great resource for healthy recipes too.

    Healhtydiet – I’m not so concerned with reducing carbs as I am with mixing it up and eating a greater variety of healthy carbs.

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