Go to any fitness or healthy living blog, website, or other self-help area and the advice to eat boring is the main suggestion. When I see it, I really have to roll my eyes. When it comes up seems to be more for those 10 vanity pounds or the people that are trying to go from fit to ripped. Maybe there are others on a bigger weight loss plan doing it too, but this just seems to be another fad and gimmick.
It is hard enough to retrain yourself to eat healthy, get in activity, and exercise at least 30 minutes per day. Then, do that not for a few weeks or months but for the rest of your life. So the idea that you would eat lean chicken and broccoli every meal or some slight variation of that forever is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. Never am I going to do that. Food, like it or not, is as much about sustenance as it is cultural connection.
I’m down 46 pounds so far. 7 pounds left for my happy weight, 12 pounds left to give me some wiggle room. Thus, I’ve been looking around at what I need to do when the weight is off and I move into steady state mode. The odds are against me. More than 80% of people that lose at least 10% of their weight gain it back and then some, and some estimates are as high as 97%. I’m reading up on metabolism, calories needed to maintain, and keeping to healthy habits. I read this one article that blew me away and gave me some scientific perspective on keeping off the weight. It demonstrated how those that became overweight and obese physically change themselves and need different tactics to maintain weight loss compare to the forever skinny crowd. Here are some take-aways – former dieters that keep the weight off:
- Eat on average 1380 calories per day compared to non-dieters that eat 1500 – 2000 calories per day. Although men would eat about 420 calories more than women.
- Limited their fat intake to about 29% per day and generally modified what they eat to keep calories in check, like eating lower calorie dressings. Not so for the the forever skinny.
- Exercised for longer periods than non-dieters. 60-70 minutes of walking or 35 – 40 minutes of higher intensity aerobics such as running to keep their metabolism up. This averages to about getting 200 minutes per week compared to the recommended of 150 for the typical person.
- Eat breakfast everyday.
- Weigh themselves at least once per week to keep on top of pounds that may be creeping in.
- Limit television time.
What was striking in this study is that the habits of those that could keep the weight off had nothing to do with boring eating. Yes, diet is consistent and continuous self control to keep within the appropriate calorie-in/calorie-out ratio was maintained. But, boring food was not explicit. The real thing is that they avoided splurging, weekend binging, and over-doing it during the holidays and emotional periods. It comes down to discipline and control.
And, while I’m only a scientific study of one, in no way did I ever eat boring the entire time I was losing weight. My food was varied, flavorful, and still nutritious even if lower in calories, lower in fat and avoidance of processed carbohydrates such as flour/breads. If I had to eat boring, I’d be back at almost 170 pounds again after extreme deprivation.
Last night proved it. Here is what I had for dinner.
Turkey Puttanesca over Zoodles and Spaghetti Squash
Recipe serves 8
Single serving 266 calories
Sauce (for 8):
Jar Pemberton’s Puttanesca with Calamatta Olives Sauce
1 lb ground organic/no antibiotic turkey
5 oz cubed eggplant
2 T Tuscan seasoning
1 T chopped garlic
1/4 cup red wine
2 pinches kosher salt
Noodles (single portion):
3 oz Zucchini noodles
1/2 cup Spaghetti squash
Spray pan with cooking spray. Sauté turkey with Tuscan seasoning, pepper, salt. Add in eggplant and garlic when turkey is almost done cooking. When eggplant is almost done, add in red wine to deglaze pan. Add in Puttanesca sauce and reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Serve over noodles.
This is less about a recipe and more technique. I spiral my own zucchini which I find much fresher and less slimy than when purchasing pre-spiraled at the supermarket. It’s easy and it’s fun. For the spaghetti squash I simply cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, then place skin side up on a foiled pan. This goes in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until squash is fork tender. I take a fork and scrape the squash out which creates strands (spaghetti).
For this recipe I take the zucchini and squash and saute lightly to heat up but still keep the zucchini firm. I’ll add a small pinch of kosher salt and grind black pepper over it while cooking too.
This was absolutely not boring. But with simple substitutions like vegetables for my noodles and ground turkey rather than beef, I had a satisfying, flavorful, nutritious and filling meal. And Tom? He was more than happy with the dinner (he had a little more than a single serving!) – he even said he would have it again.
So there you have it, never think for a second you need to eat boring to lose weight. The goal is building up a habit of healthy living and mindful eating. Keep your macros in mind, the sugar low, and the activity strong and we can all lose the weight and keep it off.