Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 14

The past few days have come and gone with relative ease. No big splurges planned this weekend, and I resisted the few that the little voice in my head tried to talk me into.

This is a really easy diet to follow. But it's a really hard diet. Does that make sense? It's simple. There are no weird juices to drink at specific times, with the exception of the hot lemon water in the morning. There are no bizarre restrictions like "no citrus on Day 3 and 11" and once you've figured out a few breakfast, lunch and dinner options that work for you, you can repeat them.

But at the same time, it's the same food. Over and over. If you thrive on variety, you can mix it up with different seasoning blends, or maybe even take some new veggies for a spin, you wild child, you. But basically, I eat eggs, mushrooms, peppers, lettuce, cucumber, carrots, chicken breast, turkey breast, fish, yogurt and fruit. There's only so much you can do with salsa, trust me. When I get to the point of trying to add it to my yogurt? Someone stop me.

17 Days is simultaneously a really short time commitment and an eternity. My craving for peanut butter toast? Still nagging away in the background.

I'm getting really sick of grilled chicken breast and salad. And baked fish and vegetables. But I really do like the way I feel - energetic, lighter, even "thinner" if that makes sense. I don't look any different, but I feel stronger. I think it's worth it.

I've got three days left, and then on Thursday it's on to Cycle 2. I'm down another 1.5 lbs, to make 8.5 lbs total. That's more than half-way to the goal I set for myself for September.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 10

Our internet is out at home for the week so I haven't been able to update.

This diet is actually getting easier. I am still craving toast with peanut butter and I don't think that will ever go away, but it is not as hard to look forward to my salad with protein for lunch. I'm also not starving before dinner.

I weighed myself on Monday and I was down 5 lbs. This morning, I've seen the scale move an additional 2, for a total of 7 lbs lost in 10 days. Obviously I'm not expecting this rate to continue, but it's nice to get a headstart, is it not?

I'd like to be at 15 lbs lost by Labour Day, which I feel is a reasonable goal. I've got 7 more days on Cycle One, and then I can move on to Cycle Two and two servings of glorious starch. Oh, legumes. Lentils. Beans. Corn on the cob. I'm very excited about it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Yesterday I went to the wedding of a former coworker and good friend, and then love of her life. It was a blast.

Gary and I before the ceremony.

I definitely did not stick to the 17 Day Diet guidelines. But I hadn't planned to.

In the morning, Gary and I got up and went for lunch at the bakery down the street. Baked goods and cheese are my favourite treats, and this place was heaven. Gary ordered a delicious looking salami and havarti sandwich and this incredible red pepper soup; I deliberated for quite awhile before making my selection.

I had already planned to eat whatever was served at the wedding and enjoy it. Since I was taking the day "off" anyway, would it hurt? I might as well have a sandwich with cheese on a fresh bakery bun, and throw in some sweets to top it off.

But I didn't. I planned for one evening off the diet, not one day. I knew that if I splurged, I'd regret it, feel depressed and then I'd give myself an excuse to keep eating whatever I wanted.

I've worked really hard for a week, why throw that all away?

So I ordered a garden salad with buffalo seasoned chicken breast. Honestly, guys, it was amazing. One of the freshest, tastiest salads I've had from a deli EVER. It was completely satisfying.

At the wedding, I had 3 or 4 glasses of wine (over the course of the day), some cheese and crackers, and at dinner then I ate until I was satisfied, not full. The prime rib roast and yorkshire pudding was really good, and the carrots and asparagus were also pretty tasty. I enjoyed the cheesecake dessert and a wedding cupcake.

My one regret is the midnight lunch bun with salami and cheese. I should have skipped it. I felt quite sick when we got home, and given that I stopped drinking and started dancing so I could drive us home, I think it was the rich food.

Today I'm right back at it. I did have a tiny piece of the lemon cake Gary bought at the bakery, but I own that choice. Tonight's dinner is cod with cajun seasoning and green beans. I've had yogurt and fruit and a ton of water, and my meals are planned for the entire week.

Celebrating with friends is important, and part of the great joy of life. But I'm trying to remember that a celebration isn't an excuse to fall off the rails entirely, because getting back up hurts more than giving up that second piece of dessert!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 4 & 5

Day 4 wasn't a walk in the park by any means. 17 days is staring to feel like a very, very long time.

My lunch was really disappointing, and I threw most of it out. I had a super stressful day at work, and I was craving toast with peanut butter like no tomorrow. Not fries, not chips, not candy or even a cookie - wheat toast.

I did cheat at my book club meeting, where I had about half an apple, a handful of edamame beans and 3 mini quiches.

The fact that I "cheated" by eating veggies and fruit is both hilarious and disturbing to me :)

Breakfast: smoothie with protein powder, berries, yogurt
Lunch: 1 can tuna on salad greens with cucumbers (too fishy)
Snack: Carrots, cherries
Dinner: Eggs with mushrooms, peppers, spinach and salsa

Today is easier.

I'm not at work today, so I'm hanging out at home, working on a writing project. I usually snack when I'm at home, grazing on little bites instead of eating proper meals, but today I actively did the opposite.

B: 1 apple (slept in), coffee
L: Large salad with half a red pepper, tomatoes, turkey breast and salsa
Snack: Cherries, yogurt, carrots
Dinner: "Key West" chicken - recipe to come if it's any good - and salad.
Snack: yogurt

Tomorrow I'm attending a wedding and have decided to let myself eat whatever is served at dinner - within reason. I'll do my best to make good choices.

I'll also have a glass of wine, or two.

It might be cheating, but one meal out of 17 days is not going to kill me - and if it does, then I guess I'll just be following it for longer.

Starbucks Bistro Boxes

Ok, so I'm not currently eating these, but how delicious do they look?

Starbucks recently launched these new Bistro Boxes. From what I understand, they are all under 500 calories. I'm a fan of the Protein Plate option at Starbucks when I need a light lunch or a bit of a heartier snack, so I'm delighted to see them and can't wait to try them out. In a few weeks. When I can have starchy things again. Like, maybe 4.

But until I can buy one, it really got me thinking about how I could make my own lunch more appealing, at least visually. I could roll up some turkey breast meat, make a little container for my salsas, cut my veggies neatly, arrange it all in a box. I'd look forward to that, instead of just a tupperware filled with some lettuce and chicken I threw in haphazardly.

Do you make 'pretty' meals for yourself?

Starbucks did not pay me for this. In fact, I paid them by visiting the location closest to me not once, but twice yesterday.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mediterraneans Abandon Their Famous Diet

I came across this article this morning and thought it was fascinating.

The Mediterranean diet gets a lot of attention, and I have to admit, I can understand why - it's a delicious and healthy way to eat, and it makes sense. It's sad to see that obesity is rapidly becoming a universal epidemic.

The comment about diets becoming meat-heavy when income goes up is also interesting. On the flip side, the article seems to indicate that lower-income communities are seeing a decrease in the amount of fresh vegetables and fish that characterize a Mediterranean diet. It seems you can't win for losing.

McCuisine is going to be the death of us all, I think.

Tortilla Chips, Redux

C1D3 (cycle 1, day 3) was full of challenges.

I spent the afternoon at a Stampede BBQ hosted by one of our media partners. It's the biggest party we get invited to every year, and the food is AWESOME. Free burgers, hotdogs, smokies, cookies, ice cream, chips, candy...and booze. All the free booze in the world, apparently.

I took a little baggie of turkey breast strips and filled my plate with raw veggies, and sipped a diet coke. Oh, diet coke, my delicious nemesis. But in the grand scheme of things, if it kept me from diving headfirst into a tray of smokies, then so be it.

After the party, where I was oh-so-well-behaved, I met up with Gary and a friend of ours and we hit a patio for dinner. The restaurant?

My favourite mexican restaurant.

I almost died. Seriously. But I tried, very hard, to make the best choices I could. Water instead of margaritas. A salad with chicken instead of nine hundred tacos. 4 tortilla chips (this appears to be the magic number) instead of an entire basket.

The salad had cheese on it, but I tried my best to eat around it. I'm sure the chicken, which was shredded and in a sauce, wasn't exactly strictly diet friendly, but it was delicious. And I only ate half of it, stopping when I was satisfied, not full.

I'm proud of myself. And today, I'm not sitting here wishing that I'd eaten a smokie. The food will always be there.

Breafast: smoothie made with protein powder, yogurt, 1 cup frozen berries, water.
Lunch: 3 cups romaine lettuce, 1 cup ground turkey, salsa
Snack: 1 cup plain yogurt with mixed berries
Snack: raw veggies
Dinner: salad with chicken, veggies, hot sauce

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 2: When Tortilla Chips Attack

Today was good and bad, in waves. I had a great breakfast that filled me up until lunch, which I took at 1:00. I was definitely hungry by that point.

I felt light-headed and distracted all afternoon, and then this evening I'm feeling great again. I need to start packing some kind of protein-based snack for the mid-afternoons, maybe a hard-boiled egg or some chicken breast.

Breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled with mushrooms and half a bell pepper, lemon water, coffee.
Snack (mid-morning): 1 cup cherries
Lunch 1: 1 cup plain yogurt with 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup carrots
Lunch 2 (at 3:00): 3 cups romaine, 1/2 bell pepper, turkey breast, balsamic dressing, 1/2 cup yogurt.
Dinner: 1 cup ground turkey with taco seasoning, 3 cups romaine lettuce, 1 tbs mozzarella cheese (technically you're supposed to use fat-free cheese as a condiment, but part-skim is the closest one can get, and it was a tiny bit), 4 multigrain tortilla chips.

Drinks - 3.5 L water, 1 cup earl grey tea

Yes, I caved and had 4 of the mini tortilla chips. They were on the table for Gary's salad, but I LOOOVE multigrain tostitos and couldn't resist. But I did stop at 4, a far cry from inhaling half a bag. Plus, he's put them away somewhere and I don't know where - not that I advocate hiding food, but if I don't know what cupboard they are in, I'm less likely to head there mindlessly.

I think I did great today. I did daydream of toast for an embarrassingly long time this afternoon, but I did learn that I will not die if I skip my afternoon cookie.

In fact, as my friend Dana said - I'm probably more likely to die if I DO have a cookie every single afternoon. Being overweight, and all its associated health risks, is a real killer. ;)

The 17 Day Diet

Maybe I should do a quick run-down of what, exactly, the diet plan I'm following entails.

When I first heard about The 17 Day Diet, I thought 'Gimmick!' because making claims of losing all the weight you want in 17 days is preposterous.

But then I read a little bit more about it, and coupled with a growing sense of panic (that wedding is only two months away...) and despair (why can't I make this calorie counting stick?!) I thought, why not?

I read the book, and while a few things stood out as a bit gimmicky, it seemed to make sense. It seemed do-able, and realistic, and maybe even something that could lead to a change in the way I approach food permanently.

The diet breaks down into four 17-day cycles. That's where the title comes from - it's not 'lose everything in 17 days!' as I had assumed.

The first cycle (Accelerate) is what the author calls a detox. I don't necessarily believe in the concept of 'detoxing' but fine. For 17 days, you eat reasonable but unlimited portions of specific proteins - salmon, tilapia, sole, tuna, chicken breast, turkey breast, eggs. You focus on 'cleansing vegetables' and consume them in unlimited amounts. The list is pretty extensive, and includes broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.

My new best friends! image credit

You get two fruit servings every day (low-sugar fruits to be eaten before 2pm) and you are to consume two servings of probiotics, in the form of yogurt, cultured milk or cottage cheese, kimchi, kefir, etc.

There are no starches included in the first cycle. This is probably the hardest part for most of us - no starchy vegetables, beans, legumes, not to mention grains. Also, no dairy aside from the yogurt.

The good news is that it doesn't last for long. In just over two weeks, you move on to a different cycle that alternates between eating like in Cycle 1 and days where you can add a whole schwack of foods, including red meats and starches.

Cycle 3 adds even more food, like booze. And ice cream.

Two weeks isn't a long time. Plus, no matter what diet plan I'm following, be it Weight Watchers or counting calories or a diet plan laid out by a magazine, I tend to binge on grain-based carbohydrates. Late night snacks of toast with margarine? Rice with butter? Pretty much anything I can find? Yep. Guilty. If I know that I can't have them, that might be enough to make me stop. Because even whole-grain toast with butter that I convince myself is healthy, isn't exactly the best snack, when you have three pieces every night.

You can repeat the cycles until you've reached your goal, and then it's on to Cycle 4where you eat 'clean' through the week and have treat meals on weekends. This is something I admire, the ability to eat what you want 20% of the time, and eat clean 80% of the time.

I've always been interested in the whole clean-eating movement, but giving up processed foods is hard for me. This method of phased adjustments to your diet might be the key - because honestly. Two weeks. Not that long, is it?

Monday, July 11, 2011

The 17 Day Diet: Cycle One, Day One

Day One shook down like this.

6:20 AM - Wake up.
6:25 - hot water with lemon juice. I was surprised by how disgusting this was. I like lemon water, and I often drink it at room temperature. But hot was entirely different. I choked it down, however, and moved on to a breakfast of 2 eggs that I scrambled with sliced fresh mushrooms and some baby spinach, topped off with a scoop of salsa. I also had a big glass of water and a cup of coffee, with a splash of skim milk (not technically allowed) and some splenda (also not technically allowed, but Truvia/Stevia makes me quite ill and I had it, so I used it.)

Thoughts: this breakfast was delicious. Fast, filling, spicy. I need a new, smaller non-stick frying pan because the giant stainless steel skillet isn't the greatest for frying eggs. So far, so good.

9:00 AM - Green tea. I don't love green tea. It makes me feel queasy, and sometimes I actually think I might throw up. But the book recommends it with every meal, so I subbed out my coffee for a cup of green Zen tea at Starbucks. It was quite soothing on my sore throat, but sure enough, after about an hour I felt nauseated.

9:00 - 5:00 - lots of water. Plain, cold water. About 3 L of it.

10:30 AM - 1/2 cup yogurt. I was starting to feel hungry so I had half of my morning snack.

11:30 AM - 1 apple. The other half of my morning snack.

1:00 PM - Salad made of lettuce and baby spinach, cucumber and cherry tomatoes, with turkey breast. Really could have used some dressing of some sort, and I'm not a dressing fan. I will be adding salsa or oil and vinegar to this tomorrow. I also had a serving of cherries, which I don't think are technically a "low sugar fruit" but they were in the fridge and I didn't want them to go bad. Cherries are expensive!

3:00 PM - 1/2 cup yogurt.

4:30 PM - baby carrots. I'm hoping that this will hold me over at the gym and until dinner tonight. So far, I'm feeling pretty good. Visions of cookies dance in my head, but I drown them with water. I am powerful. I can do this. I can do anything for 17 days. I keep repeating that to myself.

5:30 PM - 45 minute elliptical workout. Very, very hard - by the last 5 minutes I was holding on to the handrails for dear life. But I finished it!

7:00 PM - More water and 1 tbs natural peanut butter. Verboten. I was starving and felt like I was about to keel over, so I needed something quick. I figured this was the lesser of all the evils in the cupboard (which includes a Skor bar, wtf! Why did I buy it?)

7:45 PM - Salmon with lemon pepper seasoning, roasted cauliflower, green salad. I was absolutely famished by the time dinner rolled around. Note to self: eat a larger snack later in the afternoon. Eating dinner earlier isn't likely because of the time we go to the gym, but I will have to find some way to re-schedule my meals so I am not left with a growling stomach and light head.

After eating, I felt a bit uncomfortable and bloated. Which is weird, given the amount of water I had consumed, but I guess I did eat a big plate of cauliflower which can cause, er, fun for the digestion sometimes.

Overall, it was a pretty good day. I was only *hungry* in the evening before dinner, and my cravings for sugary, processed baked goods wasn't too bad in the afternoon when it is usually my downfall.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Something different

The menu is planned and posted on the fridge, the groceries have been bought and put away in a way that makes them easily accessible (I hope), and I`m ready for the week ahead.

Bagged salads were starting to get a bit expensive, and fresh produce is in season and cheap, so I bought a salad spinner and prepped a week`s worth of lettuce. It took about 10 minutes to wash, dry, and pack two heads of romaine, which came to $1.89. Worth the time, I think!

I`m trying something a little different this week. I read this book after reading about it on a few blogs. It`s basically a clean, low-carb (not no-carb), high protein diet. I can do anything for 17 days, right?

I'm going to try to post a daily recap of what I've eaten and how I've felt. The diet doesn't encourage intense exercise in the first 'cycle' but I'm not going to give up going to the gym.

Here goes...