I’ve been ruminating on weight-loss again, dear reader. You may not know how this usually goes, but a basic summation is this: I wonder. I consider. I weigh the good and the bad of sharing. Then sometimes I speak out. Here’s the other part of the equation, summation, whatever: If you think this is a trick. A fad. A magical cure for weight-loss. Then close the browser. It’s blood. sweat and tears. It’s something that never ends until you die. I’m on good terms with the fat-days, but there isn’t a day I don’t have to be mindful. If the fad and miracle cures worked then you wouldn’t need them, would you? Argue all you want, I’ve lost ten stone, kept it off for over fours years. I’ve done and gone through more than I’ll ever share. I know this struggle. I grapple with it daily. I walk the line between the scale and health. So, if you think it’s easy, then, Spanky, good luck and goodbye. Now, if you know this is a piecemeal bit of understand from someone who really wants to help, a puzzle we all have to work through, none of us possessing all the pieces, then let’s try solving this together, dearest Reader. Today I’m looking at how I created a long-term meal plan for myself. Not the plan, but the foundation of what’s been an unbroken, unmitigated success. I’m not even sure why I t works so well at times, but I stick to it. Determination, unflagging, unyielding is an absolute need. Let’s take a light look at some of the steps I’ve taken, a lot I only realise now as steps, I groped blindly a lot, but slowly I’m seeing why I do so well. Arrogant, eh? Okay, this is a bit different, the order might be off and each can be read first then the paragraph can be read.
Understand that food is made too much of.
If food is more than fuel, that can be okay, but if it’s made to be more than you, then it’s a problem. If you don’t want to participate in a holiday binge, eat food you know you shouldn’t because it’s quirky, decadent or just ridiculous, then know that you’re in the right. People enjoy food, that’s great, but they’ll gladly punish you for not wanting to enjoy it too. Swap food for say alcohol, imagine having drink forced on you and then you look at food being forced on you and realise it’s no different. If you don’t want to or shouldn’t: Don’t. Your world won’t end if you can’t eat that bacon-lard chocolate swirled fudge ice-cream float. (I think I just threw up a little) You need to accept that too. As much as other people will be a problem, you’ll be your hardest foe. So know you can’t eat certain foods because they’re inherently bad for your well-being mentally and physically. The former isn’t thought enough of. I could use so many examples, of social media, blogs, all different places, but here’s the best one: Once there was a man, at-least twenty six and a half stone that needed all that food, no arguments could change that view no matter how sensible and what wouldn’t he have given to be better, he just never knew it. I weep for myself, I never knew how wrong I was. Or how ill.
First you find the foods you need to be healthy.
How? Eat everything! That sounds counter-intuitive? Well, let’s expand it: Eat your vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds. Whatever way you can get them, forget the nice foods no natter how much they try to pretend health. You’ll sort those out eventually. Basic is best when starting. Too much added rubbish won’t cut it here. This doesn’t really stop. You go back to foods you hated and learn to love them, over and over again. You ditch foods that aren’t up to snuff. I ate quinoa and hated it, but it was full of good stuff (Note the lack of focus on one single nutrient) I kept at it and now it’s a staple. I loved squash and continue to eat it and even grow it now. I’ve gone from sugary versions of good food to more natural versions. Ditching sugar in my yoghurt, nut butters etc. It sounds simple and is really, it’s in the execution, the long-term execution that is, that you’ll completely screw up. Burn those foods into your routine until you can’t do without them. I started shovelling ground flaxseed into my yoghurt because I needed fibre. Not because of any spurious health claims, just because it was high in fibre, no doubt I reap other benefits, but I started with a simple idea. I needed fibre, vitamins of many varieties so I went to Google and worked at it. I still am, I just know a lot more now. I’ve never felt better either.
Then you find the foods in those you’ll like. Perhaps love.
That first part sounds terrifying, I know, it still is but there is an upside. In exploring all of this you’ll find new tastes for your recovering taste-buds. It can be funny to find yourself almost guilty for eating a plain sweet potato. When you find something that suits it’s a genuine joy. You’ll still have foods that aren’t going to be thought much of, but these beloved foods. To outsiders it’s a strange kind of love, I mean where’s the swirled lard? (Urk!), but you’ll understand the simple joy of taste without the bad. There’s a lot of choice out there, you have to take it slow, but you’ll see that there’s so much to healthy beneficial food than what you might have thought or been led to believe.
Then you collect and craft recipes.
Repeating a dish or a combination of food too often will cause burn out. No matter how beloved you will tire of it. Thankfully there are blogs to suit all your dietary needs, a wealth of information just waiting to be discovered. I’ve talked about this before (Here) so here’s the next part: You’ll have to change them to suit you. Less of the fat, more of the diary, whatever you need. You’ll need to begin crafting versions of the recipes that will work for you. Make them faster to prepare, more flavourful or wholesome or just fill them with all your favourites. Make them yours is what I’m getting at.
You improve your skills and start with variations within the limits.
There are many ways to prepare a sweet potato, say, you can steam, mash, sauté, roast etc, those are skills, well techniques, quiet you!, so then we use variations to increase those. We add spice blends, we change the fats used or omit them entirely, we cook it quick, or really slow, we push this one ingredient to its limits and then we have so much choice thanks to all that work. It combines with a recipe, a side and suddenly there’s almost too much to choose from. So you pick the best of all worlds, er, recipes, to carry on with. Sure you’ll have limits, you just won’t notice them after a while. Not much at least.
You abandon the rules of others and substitute your own.
Let them eat their swirled…Okay, I’ll stop. Let them eat what and when they will. That ever present them who try to stop us eating cereal for dinner, from drowsing out pasta with seed butters, from adding whatever we can get away with to our baked goods. When your ultimate goal is to eat better you have to accept your becoming a weird food person. That’s okay, there’s lot of us, you know? And we’re enjoying all that we’re eating. Tradition has its place, but this is ours and we’ll eat what we want, however we want as long as it’s healthy and nutritious!
Shuffle, let go, take back and keep going.
I never want to eat anything but this…and I’m bored with this already. It can happen slowly or quickly, a staple recipe becomes tiresome and you’ll have to reach into your bottomless bag of recipes and ideas and try something new. Or old as it were. Sometimes a recipe left lingering in the background can make a comeback with a few tweaks or just when combined with another set of ingredients, ones you might not have tried when first using the recipe. If you find yourself bored with your meal plan, then change it up. If you have recipes that’ll suit and can be easily used in the place of a current one, hence the advice to collect a lot, then you can get over these bumps on the road. There will be recipes you’ll stick with for a lifetime, those are great, but don’t be scared of the occasional flash in the pan, it’s easy to get discouraged when a seemingly wonderful reliable recipe falls flat.
Understand the pitfalls, the food-hate days and get over them.
This is hard, possibly one of the hardest things you’ll do. Depending on your dietary restrictions it can be a huge burden. There will be days you’ll hate every single minute of food preparation and consumption. You find ways to get over this. You make sure there are days with quickie meals, as few or as many as needed. You spare the really extravagantly prepared meals for a once a week, or once a fortnight, treat. I like a meal with a basic outline, say: Amaranth and Chicken with a vegetable side. That way I know I’m getting something good, but I can spice it up as I see fit or leave it simple as suits. But I don’t end up eating a poor meal because of lack of planning. Flexibility is important as is restraint. Do watch yourself if you find you’re focusing too much on the decadent styles of meals. If a meal contains too much fats, sugars or salt then cut it out or separate the components and spread them over multiple meals. Sweet Chicken, Sweet Sweet Potato and Sweet Amaranth (Not creative, but it works as an example) wouldn’t be a good idea, but if I take out even one part and cut down the rest it becomes better.
Have fun. Enjoy every bite. Be proud of every success, no matter how small.
Today I ate a simple meal of chicken with garlic stuffed inside, amaranth with nut butter, cinnamon, a bit of maple syrup, raw garlic and salt mixed in, with sweet potato with a salt and sugar mix fried in butter and olive oil. It was delicious. More than I ever thought it would be. But that whole meal was in accord with my diet and because I know that I could enjoy it all the more. I’ve learned how to make amaranth a great side, a few simple tweaks between each variation, but it’s meant amaranth is now a staple that will also serve as a break to the monotony of meals. I’m proud of that. But if I’d followed the rules I’d never have tried amaranth that way in the first place. If I hadn’t learned how these ingredients work in other recipes I’d never have tried it. So a meal was a success and I was proud. Then I made pancakes that were nice and thick and fluffy and my arm is sore from patting myself on the back so hard.
I don’t know who this helps, maybe no one. Maybe it makes no sense at all, I don’t know. I just want it out there, I want to take the struggles, plunge my hand into that dark morass (As opposed to a lessass) and pull something bright, however dim, from it. I’ll be back sooner rather than later. With that pancake recipe actually. See you soon.