General Diet Plans and Questions - Any tips on maintaining a diet?

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12-16-2013, 10:11 PM
I’m a new member to this forum and I have recently, after much toing and froing finally decided that it’s time to lose some ‘excess baggage’ and get into better shape. For obvious reasons I have decided that I’m going to wait until the new year before I start taking any practical steps, as I suspect that it would be rather tricky to start on a diet in the lead up to the Christmas, with all the delicious foods on offer during that time of the year :-)

And that invariably leads me to my question which is, do you as an individual who are trying to lose weight find it particularly challenging to adhere to a strict dietary regime during the Christmas holiday, or have you become so accustomed to your new routine that it’s easy for you to ‘stay away’ from the ‘goodies’? Also are more people ‘falling off the wagon’ during this time of the year, and how common is it for people to abandon their new weight loss programs, and how challenging is it to start all over again in those scenarios?

I wrote a post in the introduction section of this forum about a week ago, and the response I received was overwhelming to say the least. I was made aware of a low-carb diet, which I found particularly interesting as it doesn’t necessarily involve introducing drastic changes to my current dietary regime, which I believe would significantly improve my chances of achieve my goal of a slimmer future. I think if the changes are too severe and too sudden the odds of simply throwing in the towel will go up exponentially.

I do however wonder how effective a low carb diet really is compared to a more rigorous diet. A low carb diet is obviously going to take more time than a more conventional approach, but is it just as effective? There are numerous of stories out there about people who put in tremendous effort for a couple of months and who do see a substantial weight reduction, only to add on the kilos half a year down the track or so. Is that likely to happen if you go on a low carb diet, or is this method a more ‘guaranteed’ approach, even though it may take slightly longer to achieve the ultimate goal?

I have also done some online research trying to sift through the tons of information out there, and I did stumble across one article that I found quite interesting as it advocates taking several small steps instead of a few big ones, kind of like the low carb diet approach. It did emphasize on the importance of reducing your food portions and only eating three times a day etc, which obviously makes a lot of sense. It also talked about practical strategies, such as walking around inside your apartment for an hour a day instead of sitting down, having a designated “junk food day” and one concept that I found fascinating, which is introducing a “motivational jar”. This basically involves putting a dollar in a jar for the duration of the diet and if you’re successful in losing weight spend the money on yourself, or alternatively give it away if you fail.

I do believe that for a diet to be effective there has to be both a “whip” and “a reward”, meaning that there has to be multiple incentives to diet, other than just losing weight as a goal in itself. It’s going to be extremely challenging to accomplish this monumental task if there isn’t a reward or two along the way, and that’s why the concept of such rewards appeals to me. Are there any other types of rewards that could be implemented into a weight loss strategy that are likely to lead to similar positive outcomes? Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Anyway that is enough rambling for now, I do tend to “go off the scales” slightly when I’m talking about issues that I find interesting :-) Nonetheless, it would be good to get some opinions and personal accounts from other forum members on this particular subject. Has it been an easy journey for you, or are you finding it difficult to achieve your goals etc, and in particular do you think it’s going to be especially difficult for you to maintain your diet over the Christmas holiday? Are there any methods that you use to avoid being ‘tempted’ this time of the year?


12-16-2013, 11:40 PM
Hi Pete. I started my Dukan diet, which is a low carb diet, last October. I did fine through the holidays. This year, I am maintaining my weightloss over the holiday period. I consider it more important to maintain within my goal weight range than to be able to gorge myself at parties. The stage of the plan I am on does allow for two "celebration meals" a week, but they cannot be complete gorge festivals.

I don't seem to lose weight very quickly, and I only lost a pound a week, but eventually it all added up to 55 lbs! Men usually lose more quickly. In fact, everyone seems to lose more quickly than I. Low carb is just as quick and effective as other plans, if not quicker. As I have said before, once you get off of the blood sugar roller coaster that is created when you consume simple sugar and carbs, dieting becomes much easier. The cravings dissipate.

12-17-2013, 12:54 AM
While I just entered the maintenance phase, I lost weight very slowly and steadily. I didn't bounce around. While there were plateaus, the losses kept coming. I did not count calories, or points, or anything. I basically gave up sugar, and refined carbohydrates, and potatoes (all) and corn. I'd eat eggs for most breakfast meals, grapenuts on alternate days (a more complex carb), and had a diet high in protein, moderate fat, and very low in carbs since mid-2011. In 2012, the exercise really picked up.

So, to not go crazy, I would have 2 goodies a week.
One would be a small handful of chocolates made by the Amish at our farmer's market. The other would be 2 munchkins (donut holes) at Dunkin' Donuts along with a coffee.

That was it, 2 small desserts a week. I gave up ice cream in mid-2011, and haven't had any since. Once a month I might have dilled potatoes, or potatoes in a Brunswick stew. Same for corn, but on the whole, I cut them out.

Lots of protein snacks - sardines, tinned tuna, fish, filet mignon burgers (no bun), eggs, nuts, bean salads, etc. In fact, I work out 6 days a week, so my protein needs are high. At age 51, I had to rebuild strength in pretty much every joint, so there was a lot of strength training at first, and now I do strength, swimming, and high intensity cardio on alternate days. (I also do speed and stamina training in swimming, so the heart gets a workout that day too). Plus water polo once a week :smile:

Need a goody bad? If it is not one of my 2 treats a week, I go for berries or an apple. I have bread with my eggs on alternate days (pumpernickel).

Otherwise, my solution to lose, and maintain is to allow for pre-defined goody times. And, always have berries and apples on hand. Never run out!

As Valkyrie1 said - cutting out carbs lowers cravings. You would not BELIEVE how much I loved icecream. I loved it so much, I don't want to eat it again for fear of triggering anything! But this diet actually made dieting completely manageable.

Incidentally, if you're older, you may want to emphasize the lo carb diet, because that is the diet that will most quickly help get your blood sugar down, or reverse fatty liver symptoms, and lower triglycerides. In other words, reducing the food that rapidly converts to blood sugars, is excellent at resolving pre-diabetic symptoms (metabolic x syndrome, etc). And that's a big concern for a lot of folks, myself included.

Mad Donnelly
12-17-2013, 01:03 AM
You're new to low carb? Make sure you read and understand it. For obvious reasons but also so you can withstand the possible backlash from others. It really shouldn't still be as bad as it used to be, but there is still a lot of people who just refuse to believe it isn't dangerous.

They may be well meaning; but the bottom line is if it works for you and you understand it, no one else is responsible for your health so it really doesn't matter if they don't agree. I dunno why people insist you must agree with them.

"OMG, you don't eat fruit?" I'll be honest, I don't know a lot of people who aren't on diets for whom fruits are a major part of their intake.

I'm planning on staying a teetotaler as far as cookies and such even at Christmas. I figure I've eaten enough cookies to last me a lifetime. And once I've had enough turkey and nonstarchy veggies (well, I might splurge on some mashed potatoes), I will stop eating and only "visit". It'll be a good test.

I first learned from The Carbohydrates Addict" diet and then read about Atkins. Made sense to me. But those are "plans". I'm really just trying to eat in a way I can continue permanently and a "plan" seems counterintuitive as I do not plan to go "off" it only to fall back to the old way and gain it all back.

12-17-2013, 09:02 PM
Thank you all for your feedback, it’s much appreciated.

There is so much info to process and so many decisions to be made, and I guess the task of choosing the right strategy can seem a little bit daunting for a novice dieter such as myself.

I know there are lots of different diets and exercise programs out there that are probably all very effective and get the desired results, but my personal opinion is that losing weight shouldn’t really be too complicated, or should it? I guess what I’m trying to say is that it shouldn’t be overanalysed too much. I guess sometimes “less is more”, meaning that sometimes the less complicated approach is probably the best one.

I would imagine that society as a whole has probably gained more weight because we tend to eat more than we used to, and because we tend to be less physical active, so according to my average cognitive abilities the remedy would then be to eat less and exercise more, rather than a drastic change of diet?

Obviously if a person is only consuming junk food, a change of diet has to occur before any real improvements can be made, but for a normal person who has ‘average’ eating habits, cutting down on meal sizes plus more exercise should surely have the desired effect?

I intend to reduce my food portions considerably, only eat three times a day and start being more active and hopefully that should be enough to reach my objectives, although admittedly, it is probably going to take me slightly longer than if I were to take out a gym membership and become an ‘exercise freak’.

I will change some of the foods that I eat, but not everything, and I will definitely reduce my intake of junk food, but I think it’s unrealistic to stop eating unhealthy foods altogether. I think that I would set myself up for failure if I did that. Don’t get me wrong, it probably works for other people, but I think it’s the wrong strategy for me.

Anyway, we shall see how I fare :-)


12-17-2013, 09:49 PM
I would recommend reading Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It by Gary Taubes. It doesn't have an associated diet, just explains the hows and whys low carb works.

If you do decide to go low carb I would also advise you to plan to start the diet for a couple weeks before starting exercising because it takes time for your body to adjust to the limited carbs and many people feel weak and ill for that time. After you get through it, though, most people find they have more energy.

12-18-2013, 01:47 AM
The whole thing is about balance, and finding a "lifestyle" and not a diet!:hug::hug:

A lifestyle allows for holidays, birthdays, etc. It also says, you will commit, to more good days than bad food/exercise plan.

However, it also allows for the off days, when life sneaks up on you. As long as you keep in mind, to get back to your regular scheduled program!:D:hug:

We do not need to be deprived, we just need to have some dang common sense!:hug::D

12-18-2013, 11:43 AM

Seconding shcirerf.... I can tell you that what works for me is not deprivation. It is what I settled into, as something I can live with. I am still losing weight below goal at the same ultra slow tempo. I found that I could live with 2 goody days a week, with apples and blueberries as a fallback on other days when totally tempted. Also, I started with 3 days a week of exercise, but started to see such improvement (lowered resting heart rate, less panting for breath, stronger legs and shoulders) that I couldn't help but go more! And, folks at the gym began to know me and welcomed me as a regular.

So, I did not want to leave any sense of deprivation. It was only hard at the beginning.
It's just a happier life style now. I would only have trouble with this way of eating if I traveled a lot on business, or if I was a big party person, neither of which is true.

12-18-2013, 09:07 PM
I think taking it slowly and gradually is the way to go, at least for me personally. I believe that it’s going to be a lot easier to lose weight and to adhere to new eating and exercise routines, if these are introduced gradually. It’s probably going to take a little bit longer to reach my goal of a slimmer waistline, but I’m ok with that.

And yes, I do agree, it’s a lifestyle change more than anything else.
Once again thank you all for your advice and encouragement, it’s much appreciated.

Happy Xmas to all the members of this forum :-)