Order me around - tell me how to lose weight (vegetarian-friendly)

Mods, I’ve put this in IMHO as I’m looking for advice. Feel free to move if necessary.

I’m very overweight and also vegetarian. I’ve always been overweight and have had some luck with diets. Primarily, I get really horrible feelings about dieting because of various childhood ‘issues’ (persistently being on a diet and excluded from things, being berated by one parent repeatedly and yelled at for eating in front of him, etc.), but on the other hand I hate being overweight. It’s really a mix of being horribly busy and also using food when stressed.

As an adult, I consulted a doctor to try to find weight-loss advice. He did offer me medication (which helped losing the weight, but also prevented me from sleeping due to being really hot and agitated) but both the doctor and the nutritionist couldn’t instruct me what to do as a vegetarian. They always offered me regular diet books and told me to take the meat out. That doesn’t really work.

I would really like to know what I, as a severely overweight person, should be eating. I know a lot about what I shouldn’t eat, but I’d like a diet that’s going to let me lose weight but also be good for my health long-term. Weight Watchers was somewhat helpful, but it didn’t tell me what to eat – just how much of it I could eat. I’d like to know about protein and fat and carbs. What should I be aiming for? Should I not be worrying about it? What about vitamins?

Also, is there any good fitness programs out there for people like me?
FYI: I’m in my twenties and female. I know I can walk, but that gets tedious, and I’m looking for some variety Anyone have videos and stuff like that? I tried Tae-Bo but it was really too difficult for me to keep up with. Most of the stuff I’ve tried is really too fast for me.

I’m also thinking about the medication option. I am severely overweight and in the class of people that I probably should be taking medication to drop the weight. The metabolism-boosting drug did help (I lost 20 pounds in the first month) but was difficult to deal with. Does anyone have advice here?

Books on dieting for vegetarians with qualified medical background would be helpful. Advice from successful vegetarian dieters is especially welcome.

Many vegetarians usually gain weight due to the fact that they replace meat with tons of dairies. Is this your case? What do you use as a protein source? Protein should still be a part of your diet, soy meat is great as it is relatively low on fat, but still high on proteins. My weight lifting brother recommends soy meat to everybody, even his meat eating friends!

In any case, there are two truths about any diet you hold. Exercise is always good, as well as keeping your food intake varied. Eating the same food over and over is not recommended.

As for sports, there ought to be a lot of sports and activities you can try out. It sounds to me like you would enjoy something where you can work in your own individual pace: have you tried swimming, or going to the gym? They are both activities where it’s easy to keep it in your rhythm, while still getting a good exercise.

I went from overweight to slim by changing diet to vegetarianism. But still, we are all different people with different bodies, and for some it’s just very hard to lose weight under any circumstance. What’s important though, is that you keep a healthy attitude to food. Enjoy it, but keep a good check on what you really eat, and you should be fine.

Other good protein sources: tofu, lentils, beans, peas (cheek pea soup - my favorite dish ever!), nuts, dairies. They take a bit longer time to prepare than meat replacements and such, but they are very rewarding, and very low fat.

You can make a lentil stew with pasta in less than ten minutes, as soon you get the hang of it. Nice to cook up after a sweaty work out session, no? :wink:

There are also special vegetarian alternative protein sources, which are usually regional - ask your local store!

You may want to look into yoga as well–Living Arts has a good one called something like yoga conditioning for weightloss that isn’t too fast, but can boost your heart rate a bit–esp. if you combine with walking/swimming/whatever you like. Also, try adding in things like squats and lunges and wall push-ups and sit ups after the walk. That way you build a bit of muscle and burn lots more calories.

Also, I found that if you replace sugar (like dessert) with fruit, that can help cut calories in a pretty painless way. As does eating TONS of veggies before you have your main food dish–Have a BIG veggie filled (no dressing if you can) salad, then have what would normally be side-dish veggies (in slightly larger portions) and then have the main dish (in a smaller portion). This can help trick you into feeling fuller, faster. In fact, you may get away with not eating the (pasta/pizza/whatever) because you are stuffed with veggies.

Have done the weightloss thing before, as you can probably tell :slight_smile: Good luck.

Eat a lot of beans, veggies, and fruit. I keep bags of frozen veggies as they are quick to cook up - just a little water in a non stick pan. Or you can prepare in the microwave.
I have my main meal for lunch and a light dinner. Try not to eat after seven o’clock. A high fiber cereal (Kashii is excellent) for dinner will fill you up for hours. Also eating an apple before each meal will help fill you up.
Is there a local mall where you can walk? I like to do that as I can’t use the “it’s too hot/cold/rainy” excuse. I don’t have a walking buddy yet but the shops are always changing so you have something to look at.
Best of luck to you!

Don’t be intimidated about joining a regular gym. There are far more people like you (and me!) than muscle-y folk in them. :slight_smile:

I don’t know anything about metabolism boosting pills-what did you take? I thought they were mostly junk.

The best thing is to plan ahead. Have fruit and cut up veggies or even a granola bar available at all times so when you are tempted you have something to fall back on. Good Luck!

In all likelihood, you’re going to make far more progress with exercise than you are with dieting. I would suggest that your priority for now should be exercise, not dieting. If you do want to engage in a diet that goes beyond common sense stuff you can figure out on your own (e.g. not eating chocolate, pastries, chips, crap like that) I would suggest you just need to be referred to a better nutritionist. It sounds like you got a real bozo to first time out. Don’t assume another nutritionist will be as non-helpful as the first.

Get to a good gym and ask to see a personal trainer. If your car was broken, you’d take it to a mechanic, right? If your tooth hurt, would you go to a dentist or would you try to fix it yourself? Go see a professional. A professional trainer will set you up with a program that suits your fitness level, based around exercises that suit your abilities. Gyms also have equipment that will suit your needs; Nautilus, weights, elliptical trainers, stretching exercises and bikes offer a way to burn off calories at your own pace with more variety than just walking around. I find elliptical trainers especially useful (I’m overweight, though I get the sense from your tone my problem is not as bad as yours) because they’re low-impact, especially on the knees and feet, but burn calories like crazy. You may find something else really suits you.

I know, gyms may seem intimidating. Shop around. What you will find is that a lot of the popular ones have a huge mix of customers, and a lot of them, if not most of them, are pretty ordinary looking folk who resemble your body type a lot more than Charlize Theron’s. I’m a good 40 pounds over my dieal weight but there are days I can be standing in my gym when there are 40 other people in the joint and be in the top half of fitness level there. Granted it can still be a little intimidating to present yourself to a professional trainer and say “Please help me not be obese” - I found it embarassing - but in my expereince they’re awfully helpful, and frankly, a little intimidation is better than diabetes and heart disease. It can always be a little embarassing to ask for help, but you need help, right?

And stupid as it may sound, you should also seek out opportunities to be active in other ways. Even relatively low-effort sports will tend to shake you out of a sedentary lifestyle. In addition to seeing that trainer, you might want to look into local co-ed leagues for softball, bowling, stuff like that. You dont have to be in great shape to toss a bowling ball or whack at a softball, and leagues like that will often accomodate any skill level.

But first and foremost, seek out a professional trainer at a reputable gym. Most will offer a free training session or two with your membership signup.

Good luck!

HOW vegetarian are you? If I can know this, I can probably help a bit. I need to know what you’ll eat, though. Will you eat eggs?

The problem I have with medication is that 1. I don’t trust the FDA after the phen-fen disaster and 2. what happens when you stop taking it? I’m not saying medication can’t be a great tool, but you have got to change your eating habits permanently or the weight will come back.

It’s worth looking at what vegetarian and vegan bodybuilders do. Check the links here.

Do you have a Playstation 2, by chance? If you do, I suggest Dance Dance Revolution as a fantastic way to exercise. If you already have the PS2, the initial outlay would be about $100 (the game plus a decent dance pad–the one that comes with the game is junk). You can probably get both a lot cheaper on Ebay. In fact, if you can find it, there’s a great game called Dance Dance Revolution Konamix (which I actually like the best of all) that runs on the Playstation 1.

I lost 125 pounds in the past year and a half or so–started out using a treadmill for daily exercise, but ever since I got DDR I find myself using it more and more frequently, to the point where I’m selling the treadmill. I even bought myself a $200 metal dance pad.

DDR has “workout mode” with peppier tunes, but you can adjust the difficulty level to where you can handle it (I still use the easier settings–the harder ones are too fast for me). You can set up a program for how long you want to go or how many calories you want to burn, based on your weight, and it will track your progress for you. Also, you have a choice of a whole bunch of different songs so it doesn’t get boring.

Can’t help you much with the food since I’m not a vegetarian and basically just cut way back on my fast food (which I still eat very frequently–just less of it and healthier choices) but I do wish you luck on your journey. The first time I went on a shopping spree at a non plus-size store made it all worth it for me.

I lost about 20 lbs when I went from omnivore to vegan - I cut out sugar and dairy. That helped me IMMENSELY. Even with things like olive oil in my diet, I still managed to lose weight.

I highly recommend cutting out dairy and sugar if you can, or at least vastly reducing the amount you eat. I think it’s so much easier to eat as a vegan now than it was even three or four years ago. There are some really yummy products out there.

As a vegan, I ate a lot of hummus, beans, tortillas, and veggies - I used to make soup out of just about anything I had lft in my fridge.

www.vegweb.com is a great place to start for good vegan recipes.

Good luck!


Folks, thank you for all the responses.

Does anyone have an entire weight-loss plan for vegetarians? Preferably one that doesn’t go too extreme (cutting out all sugar and dairy)? The thing is, I live in the Midwest. Exotic ingredients are tough to find here in central Iowa.

All the individual suggestions are helpful, but the problem is I need an entire plan, not just recipes. Something step-by-step. I can create a healthy meal, but I’m interested in creating a healthy diet.

In terms of protein: I do eat dairy but I have cut back on that quite a bit. Yogurts, occasionally cheese as a treat. I drink mostly soy-milk because I’m worried about protein intake, and try to eat beans and legumes often but it’s try to work that conveniently into my diet.

My major problem is time. I work nights and don’t get home until about 2 or 3 am. This makes a gym membership impossible. I work at least 10 hours a day with a 1 hour commute each way, so time is the problem. Also, my roommate sleeps in the common area so I can’t cook when I get home. Because of my lifestyle, I end up having to scrounge around for food at odd hours and don’t have a lot of time to cook. This schedule also makes it impossible to see a personal trainer. I actually have a gym membership, it’s just that there are no 24 hour gyms available.

This schedule probably isn’t permanent, but I’d like to make headway the best I can now rather than waiting.

Dance Dance Revolution sounds like a good idea. I am a gamer and have thought about buying this since I could do it in my room while other people are sleeping.

Yes, eggs or dairy is fine. I am not really all that strict - I would probably eat a bit of meat occasionally if I liked it, but I don’t.

Well, this is the thing. I’m probably twice the weight or over that I should be. Dropping a lot of weight is really helped by the metabolism-boosting medication, just that I found I missed, er, sleeping. This isn’t a substitute for changing eating habits - you are hungrier, so if you just eat whatever, you don’t lose weight. It just sort of helped me get going. My body tends naturally toward being overweight - I was put on a weight-loss diet for the first time as an infant, before I was one year old.

I’m just curious to hear from anyone who’s used these medications as well. My problem is that, because they’re habit-forming, I had to see the doctor a lot and, well, he was an insensitive jerk about weight loss. I’d have to get a new doctor.

I know you’re looking for a plan, instead of random tips, but I’m going to offer some more random tips anyway ! :slight_smile:

One advantage of random tips over a ‘plan’ is that plans are very hard to stick to. If all you did, for example, was switch from white to whole wheat bread, you’d be better off than if you made a plan and didn’t stick to it.

About me: I’m veggie, so far avoiding the apparent genetic legacy of obesity that runs in my family (touch wood …) through luck, good eating and exercising.

My one big piece of advice to anyone who wants to eat healthy: Buy a hand blender. Really. You can use it to make smoothies for breakfast (milk + juice + bananas + fresh/frozen/canned fruit + any powders or oils or supplements you’re taking) and tasty soup (boil up your favourite vegetable w/sauteed onions and garlic, remove water, blend), both of which are quick, easy, very healthy, and simple to clean up after.

Dairy’s a tough one for vegetarians. It’s a good and easy protein source but there’s so much fat involved. I myself don’t eat any dairy because it seems to exacerbate my seasonal allergies. I miss it terribly, but it’s not as hard as I had thought it would be. Start by developing a taste for less of it - I know double cheese pizza is divine, but it’s pretty good with only one layer of cheese, it just takes some getting used to. Also try using a small bit of strong-flavoured cheese (eg Romano, Parmesan) instead of a large amount of mild (eg cheddar, mozzarella) to get used to it.

Focus your efforts on getting enough lo-fat protein, it will make you full and give you energy to burn during your workouts. Veggies usually don’t get enough of it. But be careful: my naturopath suggested I put protein powder in my smoothie, and I swear if I drink it but skip my cycle to work, I put on a few pounds ! So be aware: more protein requires more exercise.

Give up white foods: sugar, flour, rice etc. All it is is basically proper food with most of the nutrients stripped off to make it look/taste better. Whole grains are (again) much more filling, and have all kinds of nutrients that will keep you healthy and stave off diabetes and so on.

Really cut back on fast food. That stuff has staggering amounts of fat. Literally. Consider it a treat, rather than ‘food.’

Exercise: I second the yoga suggestion. I don’t know how good it might be for weight loss, but (a) you can do it easily in your house, at your own pace, (b) it will noticeably increase your strength and flexibility without pain, and thus (c) it will give you more confidence about yourself and your body. You’ll notice a difference when you work out in other ways, for sure.

Oh yah, and definitely get a new doctor !

Thanks for the advice. When I previously dieted I used a blender.

The reason I’d like a whole plan is that I have no real idea what I should eat, overall. As I said, I can make a healthy meal but not a healthy diet. I want to know how much of what to eat. Having an actual plan - eat this, this and this - and I can work with that, I can make substitutions if necessary. Every other diet simply told me what NOT to eat, or how many calories to eat, but that’s just not specific enough.

I’ve always been fat. I’ve always had a bad diet. I need a good diet that I can stay on long-term. That’s why I don’t want to go with a fad diet or something drastic. I want to change my eating habits and learn how a person should eat to be a normal weight, because I honestly do not know.

Regarding the yoga - I bought a tape but I guess it is Power Yoga (??) and it is way too fast. Any specific recommendations for something slow enough paced for a jumbo like me? Thanks.

Hi FluidDruid,

First off, congratulations on your decision to lose weight. You’ll probably end up feeling better in the long term.

I don’t have an entire plan for you to follow, but I do have some suggestions in addition to the good ones that several people have already made. My main suggestion? Get a good Indian cookbook. Indian food is (primarily, though not exclusively) vegetarian, main dishes are made up of fiber, protein, and vegetables (lots of beans and lentils, for example), and little or no dairy. My boyfriend makes recipes out of several cookbooks by Madhur Jaffrey, including this Indian cookbook and this vegetarian cookbook . Many Indian dishes can be made ahead of time, stored, and reheated when you want to eat.

The only real drawback to Indian cooking is that the spices and herbs needed for a lot of recipes can be either hard to find or expensive. But I bet there’s an international market somewhere near by where you live (can get spices in bulk at a lot of international markets), and you can get smaller amounts of spices at places like Wild Oats or Whole Foods. Spices do well if you freeze them and just replace them in your spice jars when you need more. Plus, once you have them, you don’t have to get more for a long time! Also, a lot of people think Indian and other ethnic foods are too spicy. But there are many dishes made where spices add flavor but not heat.

I would also recommend things like making quick stir-frys with chopped veggies and teriyaki sauce/soy sauce/rice vinegar. Serve it over brown or jasmine/basmati rice. You can add things like tofu, tempeh, or quorn for protein.

Soups are great. You can make soup out of just about anything, and it’s filling and healthy without being high in calories (especially if you cut amounts of oil used to sautee vegetables, etc.) Soups also keep very well. If you have one day a week where you can cook a couple of main dishes and freeze/refrigerate them into individual portions, you can eat for a week on one afternoon’s worth of cooking.

For dairy, try things like nonfat yogurt (I like Brown Cow yogurt myself; it doesn’t have all the artificial flavor/color that comes in regular brands), lowfat or nonfat cottage cheese with cut-up fruit, and if you do need to use cheese in a recipe, use less of a stronger-tasting cheese or lowfat cheeses (mozzarela is relatively low fat, for example).

One thing to know is that you’re more likely to lose weight in the long-term if you include some fat (good fats like olive oil, avocadoes, canola oil, etc.). Just try to avoid things like transfat and saturated fat. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, while found in a lot of prepared foods, is not very good for you.

Learn to read labels! Try not to eat anything that has more than 30% of its calories coming from fat. If you do some simple math when you read a label, you can figure out the calories from fat percentage by multiplying the fat grams by 9 (since there are 9 calories in a gram of fat). If a serving of something is 150 calories and there are 3 grams of fat per serving, that’s 27 calories from fat, or about 1/6 of the total calories - under 20%. Whole grains are good for you. If you eat bread/bagels/tortillas/pasta, get whole-wheat versions. And read the labels to make sure whole wheat flour is a main ingredient, at least above whatever form of sugar they’re using in the bread product.
In terms of exercise, if I were you I’d try to get some form of cardiovascular activity (walking, swimming, hiking, biking, etc) and some stretching/yoga/pilates in a few times a week. Doing light weight training is also a good way to lose some weight, since muscle burns more calories than fat!

I guess the most important thing is to make a few changes and stick to them. Then make a few more. There’s no need to try to lose your weight super fast - you didn’t put it on super fast, did you? Good luck!

IANAYoga Expert, by any stretch, but I’m happy to share my limited experiences …

There are many different kinds of yoga/classes/teachers/videos etc … and with its increasing popularity and corresponding increase in marketing, it’s really hard to know what to do !

I think it’s best to start with a class. I understand that a lot of people are really self-conscious about this kind of thing. To this I respond: (a) nobody will be looking at you, they’ll be looking at the floor/ceiling/teacher/their feet etc. Honestly, it’s impossible to do yoga while looking at your neighbour and thinking “Look at how stupid that person looks!” and (b) once you’ve been to a few classes you can strike out on your own or with a video.

The reason classes are so important is that instructors can help a lot. You could be doing something wrong and have no idea that you are. A good instructor will help you to do the pose properly, and - importantly - doing it ‘properly’ doesn’t mean looking like that hot young thing on the video, but doing it so it works for you and your body. (For instance, my husband’s hips are funny so when he does some poses, they look very different from when I do them.)

Also, since there are so many different varieties you may have to shop around before you find one you like, and going to one class is much more helpful than buying a video in this regard.

I personally prefer Iyengar. It’s very slow-moving, the idea is basically to get into a pose and keep it for as long as you like. Other types are more focussed on breathing, movement, strength, or other stuff I’m not clear on … but from my experience Iyengar has been most focussed on me/my body, as opposed to ‘finding my inner lake’ and co-ordinating my movements, which I’m not so good at.

Oh, and re: food - this just occurred to me as I was polishing off the Vegetarian Lunch Special at the Ethiopian restaurant around the corner and mlerose reminded me. This may initially sound harsh but: Find some recipe books from traditionally poor, tropical countries (Africa, India, Latin America etc). These people know how to live with very little meat or dairy, and the recipes are generally very healthy - grains, veggies, etc. The meal I just ate was very low in fat, high in protein, and tasty !

Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. John McDougall have veggie weight loss books out–McDougall’s is called Maximum Fat Loss, if memory serves. Both have recipes and menus to tell you what to eat and when. There’s also a support board for McDougallers (as they’re called) at www.vegsource.com. There are some amazing success stories posted there.

When I went vegan, I lost weight. My best advice is whole foods, and no sugar (fruit’s ok). There’s something about refined sugar that sets up a rebound effect and makes you continue to want it. Once you’ve gone a couple of weeks without it, though, you stop caring about it anymore.

Good luck!

I’ll second everything cowgirl said about Yoga (including a preference for Iyengar). Lots of schools, and if you get someone who is more interested in “opening your chakras” when you just want to be able to touch your toes, or someone who thinks you should be able to bend like a pretzel the first day when you want to ease into something gentle or someone who is aerobic when you want meditation, you won’t be happy. And take a class. You can try a tape if you want, but you really need a class to get you aligned. Call around and talk to instructors. Most will say “no, my class isn’t going to be for you, but my friend Ann teaches one that you might like.”

If you never have, keep a food diary before you start dieting. You may learn (like a vegan friend of mine) that your downfall is something like potato chips. She had herself convinced that vegan=healthy - and if you go through a bag of organic potato chips every day, that just isn’t so. Another raised her kids vegetarian - until the cholestoral of her four year old went off the charts (heredity and too many eggs for protein), they added fish at least occationally (they still consider themselves vegetarians - in part because they want to CHOOSE when they eat fish - and it isn’t an every day thing).

I also learned that I’m best dieting when I keep a food diary while I diet, so I’m accountable to myself for the food I eat. Weight Watchers, before they went to that horrible points system, used to have you check off boxes on a portion chart - 2 meat/protiens, 3 breads, 3 dairy (something like that) and that can be a good methodolgy to use.

And Ames is a college town. It may be the Midwest, but there are worse places for a vegetarian to be than Ames.

Best of luck.