Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The Hacker’s Diet & my weight loss secrets and successes

Back around November I starting thinking about getting “in shape” for pregnancy. I was not at my ideal weight and I wanted to concentrate on healthy eating. My theory was it would be easier to encourage healthy eating if mom and dad were leading by example. But I wanted to start before the baby arrived, so it would be a normal part of our routine, so I got a head start.

So my quest to have a healthy pregancy began, pre-conception. I started small. I tried to cut out things that contained high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and it’s in Everything! (mind you, now that I’m pregnant and my calories needs have increased, I do have HFCS back in my life, but in moderation!) But at the same time I started shopping smarter, avoiding the dangerous middle aisles of the store, sticking with the outskirts (produce, fish, meat, dairy). And thanks to my friend Karen, I have a handy dandy shopping list and on the back, when I print my list, I also make my meal plan for the week. I don't always come up with original meal ideas, but I have a list of tried and true things and they are tasty, quick and healthy. I find that if I plan out 3 meals a day for about a week, I shop better and don’t tend to buy food that sits in the fridge and goes bad. This way if I have fajitas with avocado on the menu, I buy and use the avocado (although those never go to waste in my house!!) At about the same time, I found a great website called The World’s Healthiest Foods. which is great for letting you know which foods have the highest nutritional value, how to buy and store them and easy, quick recipes. It’s a great resource.

I also found a website called Fitday that allows me to track calories. But more importantly it also tracks, carbs, protein, calcium, vitamins etc so I can check that I’m getting the nutrients I need. I also started taking a prenatal vitamin (I highly recommend the CVS brand if you’re in the market, easy to swallow and has never made me sick). So I would record my data each day to see that I was hitting my targets. I started at www.nutritiondata.com to get my calorie needs, this site also gives calorie needs for pregnant woman in particular, which was very helpful. So I kept track and I ate 1500 calories a day (which if my normal needs are 2200 would mean I would have an over 3500 cal/wk deficit which translates into 1 lb). And the weight started coming off. About a 1 to 1 ½ lbs a week, but I was able to maintain that amount of calories and didn’t feel deprived. (It's good to keep little snacks like funsize chocolates, so if you have some extra calories leftover you can have a little treat! But remember, moderation is the key) I also recommend www.dietfacts.com which is a great resource for calorie counts and you can upload data directly into fitday.

After a few months my husband started noticing my weight loss and got interested in how he could do the same (some people get the "freshman 15", for us it was the "1st 5 years of marriage 20"!) He figured we were basically eating the same thing, except I was losing and he wasn't! He found this website, The Hackers Diet and started reading. It reads like an engineer's guide to dieting (not unlike www.niceice.com, for engagement rings, but that's an entry for a different day!) The basic gist is that if you track your weight every day you can establish a trend line. The ups and downs of the scale are what discourage most dieters, but with a trend you can neutralize the ups and downs into a realistic trend. Thus began our daily weigh-ins. We bought a new scale (www.tanita.com) and were on our way.

I was about 5 lbs off my goal when I found out I was pregnant the 1st of May (but hey we were on vacation so it was a pretty good time to not have to totally worry about calorie counting!). At that time I gradually increased my calorie intake by about 200 cals a week until I was back to my normal caloric need. After the first trimester I increased to an additional 300 calories in order to start gaining 1 lb/wk. My husband is also well on his way to his goal (we should pass each other next week!) and is losing about 1 1/2/wk. He's pretty lucky, I send him to work on most days with breakfast and lunch and let him know the calorie counts, I'm his own personal nutritionist! Then he can determine how he wants to spend the extra on snacks. He has also started working out (I was too lazy for that!) I do try to keep active, but between living on the 2nd floor, laundry in the basement and parking far from the entrance at work I'm sure I'm doing fine and every now and then the hubby convinces me to go for a walk!

If you are interested in any of this, I hope you find these resources helpful. I found that the diffierent websites were a great way to start eating healthy and feeling better. No guarantees, but feel free to post with questions. If you don't like the computer (what would you be doing reading a blog though!) The Calorie King has a great book that is compact and portable and makes it really easy to count calories. So take any of this information and use it as you see fit. Good luck and here's to happy, healthy eating!

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