My new diet

Our bathroom scale tops off at 280. Two weeks ago, I stepped on it after a shower and bam! The needle smacked its wall with an audible tink. I couldn’t believe it. I knew that I felt badly in general, but I thought it was for other reasons. And I knew that I was fat because things like trimming my toenails were difficult. I’ve been overweight for several years. But damn. I didn’t realize that I was pushing towards 300 pounds.

I had done Atkins before, as well as low fat, and had moderate success with them in the sense that I dropped a little weight fairly quickly. But they were both failures in the sense that I couldn’t stick with them. After my weigh-in, I realized I had to do something and right now. But the thought of both low carb and low fat diets was depressing.

And then it dawned on me. It’s the calories stupid.

The problem, for me, with staying on diets is giving up the foods that I love the most. The top two happen to be Pepsis and bread. I like sipping Pepsis all day long, and I love bread. Low carb kills the Pepsis, and low fat kills the bread. (Yes, I’m aware of Diet Pepsi, but I’m a super-taster, and I just flat don’t like artificial sweeteners.)

So I thought, what the hell. Suppose I build a diet around my favorite foods. Is it just a matter of trimming back the portions? If so, I can handle that. I can sip my Pepsi slower and eat my bread in smaller bites. And how many calories do I need?

Checking online, I discovered a rough formula that several websites agreed with, and used it to calculate that, for a sedentary man of 180 pounds (my target weight), about 2500 calories a day are the norm. Then I started checking the calories on my typical meals. Holy cow. I had been shovelling down almost 4000 calories in a typical day!

Long story short, after a visit to the grocery store and some web surfing, I discovered that I can indeed eat what I like and stay within the 2500 calories simply by buying a little bit more wisely (e.g., thin sliced bread and small Pepsis with twist-off caps) and cutting down the portions somewhat.

I divided my day into thirds, and alloted myself 840 calories per third. Anything I didn’t use, I could carry over. But not from day to day, only from third to third. So last week, I drank my Pepsis and ate my bread, and quite honestly, other than the fact that I was counting calories, I hardly noticed I was on a diet.

And I discovered that some foods, like certain brands of bead 'n butter and dill pickles, are zero calories and make great sides for sandwiches. I discovered that I don’t have to have a mixing bowl full of rice and a whole can of chili beans to be satisfied. I discovered that eating slower filled me up faster.

I did worry a little bit because I ate pretty much all day long (within the calorie count) and felt full and satisfied. I had been used to gaging other diets by how miserable they were making me feel. And by the end of the week, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t taken any heartburn tablets the entire week! :eek: Major big deal for me.

Plus, along the way, I learned new ways to cook things — like eggs in a soup bowl sprayed with Pam and microwaved. Eighty-eight seconds, and they’re perfect! I learned that pickled beets (about 30 calories for four) sprinkled on a salad adds enough zing that it doesn’t need so much dressing. I learned that one sandwich will satisfy me as much as two if I take smaller bites and eat more leisurely.

A typical day for me might go something like this, in order: an egg sandwich with coffee (including sugar and Coffeemate), a peach, a slice of bread, more coffee, a hamburger, a salad, a Pepsi, some popcorn, a Butterfinger Crunch (100 calories), some more bread, a Stoffer’s dinner, another Pepsi, some more bread, an ice-cream sandwich — real ice-cream — (170 calories), some potato chips, some cookies, and a chocolate drink.

Who the heck couldn’t stick with that!? :smiley: (Of course, your favorite foods will vary, but adjusting for that…)

Anyway — and here’s the big deal — I stepped on the scales Monday morning, and joy oh joy! 277 pounds. It stopped three pounds shy of 280. I dropped at least three pounds last week, and probably more. With that feedback, I’m now going out and walking as well. (We have a big lot, and I made a walking trail.) That’s probably burning more calories.

Anyway, it’s working for me. Both my sister and my wife were so impressed with the results and the whole idea of it that they’re doing it too.

The idea is to decide first, “What is my deal-breaker food?” For me, it was Pepsi and bread. For my sister, it is chicken and potatoes. For my wife, it is sausage and egg croissants. We’ve calculated our calories, given ourselves the luxury of our deal-breaker foods, and whatever else is left over in the calorie count, we’re free to eat what we want. Of course, we have to be nutrition conscious. It won’t help to deprive ourselves of vitamins and minerals. But still, it’s the easiest thing I’ve tried. I’m really not even sure if it’s officially a “diet” per se.

That’s it. I am curious whether anyone else has tried this, and if it worked for you as well. Also, anyone interested in trying it, here are the formulas:

Male: 14 (sedentary), 18 (medium), 22 (active) times your ideal weight.

Female: 12 (sedentary), 16 (medium), 20 (active) times your ideal weight.

Those are estimates, of course. And there might be extenuating circumstances for you. And here’s a great website for calorie counters:

They have calorie counts for every food imaginable, including fast food brands and whatnot.

That’s essentially the premise of the Weight Watchers Flex plan: No forbidden foods, just forbidden quantities. You eat whatever you want as long as you stay within a certain weekly limit.

It works a treat, espcially at the beginning. Now that I’m within ten pounds of goal, though, it’s slowing down a lot.

Heck, if I get within ten pounds I’ll be delighted! :slight_smile: But seriously, if I get that close and slow down, maybe I’ll calculate ideal for 160 and eat that. Should hit 180 pretty soon thereafter. Interesting information about the Weight Watchers thing. Thanks for that.

Good luck on the diet and let us know how it is working.

I tried weight watchers years ago and it worked but then I slacked off and the weight came back.
I need to increase my activity level, but I am in a vicious circle that I am to worn out to exercise and if I don’t exercise I can’t increase my energy.
I work at a desk all day, I have a long commute and then like an idiot I go home and sit in front of a PC more often than not.
I try to at least putter in my shop as any activity is a lot better than sitting in front of a PC or TV.
I’m now up to 231 pounds, I shed 5 pounds in the last month just doing more puttering. But this is probably the limit without real exercise and diet.
I gave blood today and for the first time my BP was 130/90. It has never been this high. I’ve got to get going on eating better.
This said after I ate a Bacon cheddar mushroom meal at Wendy’s.

Maybe we should keep a diet thread going to encourage each other. That is largely what weight watchers is for, encouragement.

Yes, you do have to cut back as you get lighter. I started out with 22 points a day (at 50-100 calories per point depending on fat and fiber). Now I only get 20. However, everyone still gets an “extra” 35 points a week to play with and you can earn up to a few more a day with exercise.

And the encouragement does help. I go to weekly meetings and I’ve never been able to stick with a plan this long before.

Yes, I have been doing essentially that for a month now and I have lost almost 10 pounds. I never trusted the fad diets and I don’t want to spend my money on a program to tell me what I already know, which is that I have to eat less and exercise more. I eat a balance of carbs, fat, and protein. I have to keep between 1500 and 1700 calories per day for my goal weight, and it is coming off slowly, about a pound per week now (the first week I lost 4 pounds.)

For me the revelation came in keeping a food diary online that showed my exactly how many calories I was eating. I was meticulous in logging every bite for the first few weeks to see what I could eat and how big a portion size was. That was the key - it helped me change my eating habits and now I have learned to listen to my hunger and full signals and I really don’t feel deprived. And I am someone who likes to cook and likes to eat. I realize now that I don’t need to diet, I need to have realistic ideas of what it is to eat healthfully, that includes allowing myself to eat Halloween candy as I did last night. Today I will scale back a bit to help balance that, and have a good workout. If I had to cut out things like that all together I would not be able to do it for long.

It is just a point in my life when I thought if I don’t make changes now I am going to steadily gain weight - as I approach 30 I know my metabolism is not going to be what it was at 20. I want to be a good role model for my son, who just turned one and is eating what we eat now. I also want my husband to be healthy, even though he is not overweight.

I thought I would lose faster at first because I am also working out again, doing cardio 3-4 times per week and toning / strength 2 times a week. But I don’t mind as long as I am steadily losing, as I see this as a long term change for my health, not as a quick diet fix. My clothes are fitting better and I am down a jean size, which is a nice reward!

I found that I wasn’t eating such bad things before, it is all just about portion control. I can eat whatever I want, just not very much of it. After I got used to a real portion I can’t imaging eating as much as I did before.

I only have about 10 pounds more to lose before I am comfortably in the healthy BMI range, but I will keep up my eating habits and exercise because I am honestly feeling so much better. The exercise especially helps me. Even if I don’t want to do a big workout I can do 20 minutes of yoga and stay on track.

I’m doing low-carb at the moment - it seems to suit me pretty well, so it’s horses for courses, eh? I find part of the charm of low carb is I just flat out eat less - there’s the big breakfast ( a gooey eggs and cheese and a bit of ham type thingy) then just two little snacks for the rest of the day - I think that does the trick as much as the extra exericse (ranted about at length in the pit) or the Atkins hype. Every Thursday I go wild and have a green salad - with croutons and dressing. A whole 10g of carbs there!

Good luck to all of the Doper dieters!


Here’s something else interesting I found since I started this. I have always thought I was not a breakfast eater, I was never hungry in the morning and would often go until lunch without anything and eat then. Oh well, I thought, some people just don’t like breakfast, right? My biggest meal was always at night. Now I spread the calories out better and since I am not eating a huge meal at night anymore I wake up hungry in the mornings. I think this is the way it is supposed to be, but it is so odd for me to want to eat at 8 AM! I had to get used to going to bed without feeling full. Not hungry, but not full. I think all those years of not wanting breakfast were just a result of eating too much in the evenings.

Good luck to everyone! I like the idea that it isn’t really a diet but just the way a normal person should eat.

Jrfranchi, what is your deal-breaker food? Do you think you could formulate a diet around it? The closest thing I could find at Wendy’s to what you ate was a Big Bacon Classic Hamburger with 1/4 lb. Patty, American Cheese Slice, Bacon, Mayonnaise, Ketchup, Dill Pickles, Onion, Tomato, Lettuce, Kaiser Bun. That’s 540 calories, and would fit nicely inside my 840 per third of day. But Biggie Fries adds 440, and that puts it over the top, though I could take something away from another third.

Maybe you could fashion yours around fast food burgers if they’re convenient for you and you like them. Good luck!

Wow, Lib. Congratulations.

Can I share too?

I’ve made much the same discovery (“It’s the calories stupid!”) and progress you have, only over a longer period. After ballooning up to my all-time high of 330 pounds back in November 2004, I have, mostly through diet alone, dropped back down to 287 pounds and am steadily losing more weight. By this time next year, if I maintain my progress, I should be back to 240 pounds or so, which will be the weight I was junior year in college, and perhaps in another year after that be back under 180 pounds, which is what I weighed in high school. Hopefully long before that I’ll be doing sits-ups, pull-ups and crunches because I’ve got a lot of loose flab to tighten up.

I wrote “mostly through diet alone” because I have quite inadvertantly gotten more physically active with the extra weight loss. I walk more frequently and farther than I did a year ago, I’m not as discouraged by the notion of walking a mile and a half as I was just three months ago (in all fairness, it being autumn now and therefore cooler has something to do with that, too.).

There was a diet thread not too long ago when I stated my belief that obesity isn’t due to laziness, but a skewed work ethic. Many people are so hung up on fat = lazy that I’ve had a few arguments explaining that my obesity took hard work to achieve. Which it did! It took a long time, lots of effort, frequent purchases and consistent overeating over many years to get that size. Now, if I can work that hard to gain weight, I damn sure can work hard to scale back. It’s not easy, because just like an athlete has conditioned her body to respond to intense regular exercise and burning lots of calories, I have conditioned my body to no exercise and consuming lots of calories. But I’ve learned a few tricks to help cope as I change my ways.

First, I cut out eating dairy cold for a month. Once I started paying attention to my body I realized I’m probably, like many African-Americans, at least mildly lactose intolerant. Did wonders for my health. I’m less nasally congested, lethargic and flatulent. Ten months later I still sprinkle parmesan cheese on my omelets and today I ate a mozzerella cheese/tomato/Italian sausage calzone today for the first time in ages (not bad, but it was so greasy I’ve resolved not to do that again for awhile) – but no more chugging down whole milk, pure butter, margarine, yogurt, cheddar, ice cream or cream cheese for me! (Well, no more mindlessly eating those things, anyway.)

Next, I cut out eating starches cold. This was a big step for me. I eat pounds of fried white potatoes like depressed fat girls eat chocolate. So I quit that. Stopped eating cheap grocery store bread, pasta, rice, bagels, cookies, cakes, potato chips and ramen noodles, too. Ten months later I still shy away from most starches. My eating of burgers and sandwiches is much less than it was this time last year.

I’ve cut out fried foods almost entirely. I do cheat every now and then with a fried meat pie called a samosa they sell at the Dekalb Farmer’s market but I don’t eat nearly as many as I did when I first discovered them. I went for salads in a big way and cut back on dressing.

I was never a big soda drinker but I quit drinking sweet tea and powdered lemonade. Then I started drinking fruit juice. After that I began diluting the fruit juice with equal parts water. Then in the last three weeks I’ve started drinking nothing but water. But do you know how many sugar calories there are in concentrated juice? Folks, the stuff is unnaturally sweet. If you’re drinking fruit juices thinking it’s healthier for you, I urge you to dilute the stuff. You’ll get used to the taste of diluted sweetness, just as you will get used to lower salt.

Amazingly my cholestoral level is quite moderate for a man my size. My secret? I’m just guessing but, until very recently I ate eggs very sparingly. Having cut back eating so much fried food, I now eat eggs pretty regulalry – probably a two dozen a week (about seven three-egg omelets). They’re cheap, filling and great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. But I think I’m overdoing it, and even if my cholestoral isn’t high this can’t be helping, so I’ll be cutting back soon.

Anyway, I don’t have weekly weight goals. I don’t have deadlines. I don’t even own a scale, so I don’t even weigh myself unless I’m at the hospital. I just pay attention more to what I’m eating, how loose my clothes are, how much more energetic feel. Pretty soon I’m going to have to buy some new belts and pants, because my sister was teasing me about by clothes.

The key is consistency. If I am consistently doing things to lose weight, even if I overeat occassionally, eventually the weight will come off.

Now that you mention it, Askia, I notice that I cut way back on dairy too. I’m not lactose intolerant, but I guess I just haven’t craved it. I do have a box of ice-cream sandwiches, though, and they’re 170 calories each, which is less than a lot of those little Lean Cuisine nothing meals. For eggs, I’ve found that the Better 'n Eggs is really good. It’s made from real eggs, but has lots fewer calories and no cholesterol. You could make omelets with it, using the method I described in the OP. Just spritz a salad bowl with a shot of Pam, pour in the Better 'n Eggs, add your other ingredients, season, and cook (uncovered, it won’t blow up) until done. My microwave is weak, and takes about 80 seconds or so.

I’ve been calorie-counting since June. I’m probably the wrong person to talk to, because I’m going through a bit of a rough patch.

According to my numbers at, I’m supposedly burning around 2400 calories a day. Last month was a bit rough. I suddenly started freaking out about how my body looked, and I wasn’t as gung-ho about weightloss, so I ended up indulging . Plus I also think I got a little sloppy on measuring things and entering it all accurately. Plus we took a week-long trip when we ate out out for every meal. I tried to enter everything as accurately I could after the fact, but inevitably, error was introduced. For the month I recorded an average of 1900 calories a day, compared to 1700 on average over the summer. But, hey, I thought, I’m still eating less than I burn so I should keep losing weight. Right? RIGHT? Well, wrong. Either I did a really lousy job of entering my intake accurately, or my metabolism is a lot slower than fitday says and I’m burning less than 1900 calories a day.

I’m trying to soldier on through it, get a little more conscientious about measuring, and remember that even though I might have gained back a couple of pounds this month, that doesn’t overshadow my previous accomplishments. Between losing weight and exercising, I’m healthier now than I have ever been. As long as I keep exercising, and keep my intake under control, I am still ahead.


I’ve been on a modified SlimFast diet for a month or two now. I don’t do the six-meals-a-day thing but rather a three-a-day based around liquids. A diet soda, a pint of 2% (or less) milk, and a SlimFast shake for both breakfast and lunch. With lunch, I also add in a bag of microwave popcorn.

I had been in the neighborhood of 330. I don’t know exactly because we don’t have a scale that will hold me. I do know that my shirts fit much better now and just last night I noticed that I was getting some definition back in my cheeks.

The ones on my face, you silly!

I noticed you mentioned eating lots of bread and a lot of rice. Have you considered switching to whole-grain versions of both of these? The extra fiber in them will fill you up without extra calories–and whole grains have got wonderful flavor to them, if you ask me. I’m not saying to eat brown rice and tofu all day long; but if you can accustom yourself to a really good dark loaf of bread, it’ll be a help. And all that extra fiber has, umm, extra health effects as well.

The beets and pickles ideas point to something I find interesting: we crave fat, if I understand correctly, because it disperses flavor so well (and because it’s got a great mouthfeel). If you have strongly flavored foods, it’ll diminish the craving for fat sometimes.

My favorite junkfood snack is Frosted MiniWheats. They’re sweet and extremely crunchy, and pretty much zero-fat.


Low-carb breads are pretty good too but they get moldy quick, we keep ours in the freezer and an open loaf in the fridge. I don’t think the low-carb stuff has as many preservatives.

Hmmm, by your calculator I could add 300-400 calories each day to my total to about 2,000 calories. According to the site I track myself on ( I am categorized as lightly to moderately active and for my goal weight loss I need to stay under 1600-1700 cals per day. Since my start date my average intake has been 1530 per day, and I am losing about a pound per week along with the help of my additional calories burned through increased exercise. Your calculation for me allows me over 2,000 calories per day, but I think increasing my cals even 300 per day would slow me down considerably.

Maybe it is a better estimate for men? Or else my calculator is being very conservative.

As many preservatives as regular white bread, or as whole-grain?

In any case, I think that the preservatives are dictated more by the brand. If you live near a reasonable metropolitan area (e.g., Raleigh or Greensboro), you can get excellent bread from bakeries that will be preservative-free, unless you want to start arguing that honey is a preservative :).

Also, bread is pretty low-fat for the most part; baguettes are fat-free. It’s what you put on bread that matters.


Congratulations Liberal and best of luck with your diet. It’s sounds like you’re off to a great start!

Just as a side comment everyone metabolism is different. I’ve been counting calories for a very, very long time, and over time I have discovered that (for me), even when active (ie large, muscular frame 6’3" @ 225 lbs and 2-4 miles walking 4 X week + weight training sessions 4 X a week) that my daily burn rate is approx 10-12 calories per lb of maintained body weight.

It may seem a niggling point, but as you know when losing or gaining weight it’s the accumulation of lots of little overages or underages that make huge differences over time. Personally I would take the quotes I see on some websites of around 14 (daily maintenance) calories per lb of body weight for largely sedentary men with an enormous grain of salt.

The Harris-Benedict formula linked here is somewhat more involved to calculate but I think it’s a lot more accurate in terms of gauging real world daily calorie requirements for a given weight, age and and activity level.

I was about to mention making the bread not white but health food bread, but someone smart beat me to it. Have you considered plain popcorn? No butter, no butter flavor, just plain popcorn. Fiber is your friend.

Liberal, it sounds like a very sensible way to go. I understand where you’re coming from with the diets and wanting to eat the foods you like. I’m doing something similar to you but I’m struggling with hunger at the moment. So right now, I’m testing my satiety against weight loss. I’ve lost weight, but if I gain a pound or two back through the experimentation, I’ll have learned something valuable, at least. The hormones are currently conspiring against me, as well :rolleyes:

I agree that it’s fruitless to cut out whole food groups and especially those foods that you like. Limiting quantities as a rule and making exceptions once in a while seems to be entirely doable. I really like as others have mentioned. Making small modifications are helpful, too. Some adjustments I’ve made are using a mister and nonstick for frying, switched to 1% milk (I hate skim milk), less salad dressing and so forth.

Good luck to all, and be good to yourselves. :slight_smile: