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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tip: A Salad a Day Keeps the Weight Away

Glory be, I love this food plan! I weigh myself once a week (or more; let’s face it, even I cheat!), and yesterday was my weigh-in day, and I lost two more pounds. I’m like an alcoholic who’s finally gotten sober and becomes addicted to sobriety, talking about it all the time. Seems all my friends and family members want to join me in my food plan, and they’re losing weight, too. As a result, healthy eating and losing weight top the list of our conversation topics.

I don’t mind. It’s a good thing to see folks around me climbing on my bandwagon toward success. It helps me, and I help them.

I keep saying I’m not on a diet; I’m on a food plan, and I can eat whatever I want, as long as I keep portion size in mind. Last week at the supermarket I saw samples of cake. I took one of the small slices, unwrapped it, and took a nibble. M-m-m good, one of those moist pudding cakes. I moved my cart to my now-favorite section of the supermarket, the produce section, and I took a second nibble of the cake.

Isn’t it funny that the first bite of dessert is always the best? I swear, it’s downhill from there. The second bite was good, yes, but the first one was better. I saw a trash bin near the corn and tossed the remainder of the cake in the trash. It’s fun being completely conscious of what I consume. I fulfilled my sweet tooth without mindlessly inhaling the entire slice of cake.

Let’s get back to the produce section. One of my biggest food-plan tips would be to make at least one meal a day a salad. I never get bored with my salads, because I get all sorts of add-ins. Oh, sure, I use the usual lettuce (I prefer Romaine), spinach, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, and other items from the produce department, but I love to add things that surprise my taste buds, too, such as fresh basil, tasty croutons (in moderation), chopped pecans (in moderation, and chop them yourself; they’re much tastier than the pre-chopped, expensive ones), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, beets (either plain or pickled), olives (in moderation), granola, dried cranberries, raisins, dried blueberries, corn kernels (in moderation), cilantro, and you name it. Don’t forget the protein, though. Yes, add enough protein to make the salad stick around, so you’re not hungry in a couple of hours. Here’s my favorite protein to add: an egg; chopped leftover pork, beef, fish, or chicken; a chopped slice of chicken bologna, chopped turkey bratwurst…you get the picture. Simply remember the portion size. Limit the protein to the size of your palm of your hand, and you’ll be within portion limits. The leafy greens, however, do not have to be measured or weighed or anything. They’re good for you, and the more greens you have in your bowl, the fewer fatty things you’ll put in it.

Do be aware that some of the items I listed as add-ins are high in fat—avocado, seeds and nuts, olives, croutons, and the like, so include them in moderation, just enough to taste.

When it comes to the salad dressing, forget all those “diet” or low-fat dressings! You’re usually paying for added water, that’s all. All you have to do is know how much dressing to use. Use no more than two tablespoons, and I assure you, when you toss your salad, two tablespoons of dressing will coat every leaf and other item in the bowl. Trust me. If you want more dressing, you can add in a little plain yogurt to your creamy dressings or a little more vinegar to your vinaigrette dressings to expand them almost harmlessly.

So today’s tip: A salad a day keeps the weight away.

Knowing that you will have a salad for lunch or dinner makes meal planning simple and cuts down on your shopping decisions, both in a supermarket and in a restaurant. I like things simple, don’t you?

Before I give this week’s statistics, I need to add something that several people have written to warn me about. I have a goal of losing one pound a week, but people tell me that goal is unrealistic; some weeks I won’t lose that much, and as I stay on a food plan, my body will adjust, and the weight won’t come off as quickly as it does at the beginning of a food plan. These folks are completely right, so I should have clarified two things.

My goal of one pound a week is an average loss. In this way I won’t be disappointed when I lose less than a pound, because some weeks I have lost as many as three pounds, and the average is still good. Secondly, I set my goals high, maybe even unreachable, but I’d rather aim high and do well, if not perfectly, than aim low and perform less well.

If you’re reading my blog and thinking of losing weight, please sign up to follow my journey. You’ll get tips along the way, and we’ll all support each other in our goals. The more the merrier.

Now for today’s statistics:

Original weight: 245
Weight last week: 226
Goal weight for this week: 225
Actual weight this week: 224
Goal weight for next week: 223
Total pounds lost: 21
Final goal weight: 150

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