Friday, August 27, 2010

A Way of Life

by Laurissa

Wow, it sure does seem like August is the month for “new beginnings.” In addition to my new empty nest which I blogged about a couple of weeks ago, and since I’m miserable adjusting to this empty nest, I decided that I might as well go ahead and make myself totally miserable and start following a vegan diet. Well, that wasn’t my exact thought process, but after being on a vegan diet for almost two weeks now, that’s how I’m feeling.

I started this diet (or “way of life,” as diets are now often called) because, oh, well, I guess that I’ll come right out and say it: I’ve gained a few pounds over the past decade. I thought it might be a good idea for me to lose this extra weight now before it becomes more of a health issue than it might already be.

Anyhow, I’m dying (just a slight exaggeration) without chocolate ice cream mixed with chunky peanut butter in an oversized mug, buttered toast, and melted cheese on practically everything. Hmm…I wonder how I gained those extra pounds.

As you can see I don’t really miss meat in my diet. It’s the dairy products that I’m having a hard time doing without, in particular, the high fat dairy products. I guess that’s why I chose a vegan diet instead of a vegetarian diet that eliminates meat, but might allow for eggs, butter, milk, cheese. And I’ve been eating only those foods that have a low GI value (glycemic index).

I’ve been walking when the weather allows and on the days it doesn’t, I’ve been thinking about walking (that counts doesn’t it?). The only dairy product I’ve consumed has been one non-fat plain Greek yogurt -- so not too many indiscretions.

By the way, I love Greek yogurt! The thick, creamy texture is wonderful. It’s hard to believe that for all of the ice cream, cakes and cookies that I enjoyed eating before my self-inflicted new way of life, I don’t like sweetened, fruit or other flavored yogurts, but have always preferred plain yogurt. Also, I don’t like sweetened coffee. Oddly, I can eat a half gallon of chocolate ice cream quicker than I’d like to admit to, but can’t eat a sweet yogurt or have a teaspoon of sugar in a cup of coffee. Go figure.

But almost two weeks later the scale is only showing a loss of a pound. Shouldn’t it be more than a pound? I’ve been suffering here! I don’t know what to do. Should I go off the diet (I know, it’s not a diet, it’s a way of life, but it feels like a diet) and just quit eating chocolate ice cream mixed with chunky peanut butter, buttered toast, and melted cheese? That’s what I’m thinking about doing. But if I don’t stay on this diet, will it only make it easier for me to slip back into my old eating habits? Knowing me like I do, I think that might be what would happen.

So until I decide what I’m doing, if anyone has suggestions for non-dairy substitutes for chocolate ice cream, butter and melted cheese ( I can live without cheese, it’s the melted cheese that I need), I would really, really appreciate hearing them.


PatRemick said...

I consider myself semi-vegetarian, which allows for a whole lot more freedom --and weight loss (combined with Weight Watchers, I'll admit) -- because I can't imagine giving up EVERYTHING, like cheese. I went to the Library to get some books last weekend to make sure I was doing the right things nutritionally and guess what, there are a whole lot of books for people who are semi or almost vegetarian -- not so many for vegan... what does that say? LOL

Gina said...

Laurissa -

The sad truth is that what you eat or how much you exercise has nothing to do with body weight. There are Fat Fairies who come in the night, and if they really like you they will leave you a few pounds. [They love me a lot!] Why else would I have not lost weight last year when, after 5 days of non-stop vomiting, I spent 11 days in the hospital having major surgery and eating NOTHING for most of those 11 days? Or the year the buses went on strike and I walked to and from work (5 miles each way)? Not to mention other diet-and-exercise failures (Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, training to walk a half-marathon, two hour Karate classes 3-6 days a week, working out on gym machines with a trainer, etc., etc.) Oh, well, maybe your metabolism operates the way it's supposed to and you'll get results.

I've been a lacto-ovo vegetarian most of my life, but have also tried living vegan* and found it tough - you have to read labels very carefully. There are soy based "ice creams" and "cheeses," and after awhile you can almost believe they are palatable. I'm not fond of yogurt generally, but Greek yogurt actually tastes good!

*My ex-husband is vegan, one of our many differences.

Anyway, good luck on your lifestyle change. Even if it doesn't work for weight loss, a vegan diet is relatively cruelty free.

Martha Reed said...

Hi, Laurie. Good luck with making the change. I've discovered that I actually like soy milk better than dairy and a friend of mine prefers almond milk so try to have fun experimenting with your new food choices!

I've also discovered that exercise is the only thing that works with weight loss. I find that if I exercise 5 times a week I can eat whatever I want - and the choices get easier as you wean yourself off the bad ones!

Joyce Tremel said...

I went to a nutritionist a few weeks ago because no matter what I do, I can't lose weight. We went over what I ate on a daily basis, and it turns out I wasn't eating enough. My metabolism shut down because I was eating less than 1500 calories a day.

She put me on 1800 calories a day--the catch being that it should be nutritious food--not desserts. It's really hard to eat that much! I've lost a whopping 2 pounds. But I'll take it.

Joyce Tremel said...

One other thing she said was that to lose weight you only need 75 minutes per WEEK of exercise in addition to your normal daily activities. That's only about 15-20 minutes per day. If you over-exercise it has the same effect as eating too little--it shuts down your metabolism.

Wilfred Bereswill said...



Jenna said...

This is probably not what you want to hear, as it's not at all what you asked for... but you could try Atkins. It's the total opposite of what you're doing, and might shock your body into changing. Everyone knows about Atkins, right? It's low carb and - in the beginning, anyway - high fat. You get to eat as much cheese as you want, melted too, but you can't put it on bread. No pasta, no rice, no baked goods, no potatoes, no fruit, no chocolate or other sweets. No ice cream, but as much meat and cheese and green veggies as you can eat. Whole hog sour cream, butter, etc. but nothing with sugar in it. Less than 20 grams of carbs a day for two weeks, and then you can start adding a little bit in again as long as you keep losing weight. The carbs turn to sugar in your blood and gets stored as fat, and you need to go into something called - I think - lipolysis, which is where your body burns its fat reserves because you're not giving it enough sugar (carbs) to process on a daily basis. Very interesting concept when you understand how it works. It's hard to do, especially for someone who's a carb lover, but if your thing is dairy, it might not be so bad for you. Something to consider, maybe?

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Okay, now that I made my point, let me restate. I like meat.

I also like eggs and this egg recall is killing me. All the hard work and pain of those pour female working chickens gone to waste. I mean, I was in the room for the birth of all three of my girls. I know... I can imagine the pain of childbirth. And laying an egg a day must be somewhat equivalent. And the only way to repay those pour chickens is to not let all those eggs go to waste.

Sorry. I lost my focus a bit.

I used to do a lot of work for Sea World - San Antonio. The Environmental Manager there was a Vegan lady. What a pain in the ass it was for me to take her out to lunch or dinner. There was this fabulous Bar-B-Que place called Rudy's right next to the park. BUT NO!!!! Couldn't even eat the fabulous cream corn they made.

Of course I'm kidding. Well...

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I'm hungry.

Thinking of a Bacon Egg & Cheese Burrito.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

and another cup of Starbucks.

Gina said...

Different strokes for different folks, Will. Ribs always look like skinned children to me, lobsters and crabs like cockroaches and spiders, and the thought of chewing on something as strong yet delicately uplifting as wings just creeps me out. You couldn't pay me to stop being vegetarian!
[Needless to say, when I was in Scotland I did not eat the haggis.]

Wilfred Bereswill said...

That's the problem with the internet. You all can't hear the hysterical laughter as I was typing.

But I did go down and get me a bacon, egg and cheese burrito.

Gotta support those Chickens.

Ramona said...

I will echo Wilfred's "I like meat."
So I can't really help with the diet or way of life thing.

I can make a hopefully helpful suggestion about the walking. I walk every day--outdoors if the weather allows, indoors with a DVD if it's too hot. It's not about weight loss so much as mental health. Also, I do a lot of brainstorming while I walk.

I'm an advocate of daily exercise of some kind, even just a 20 minute walk around the block, a half hour working in your yard, or a yoga program on TV. Move around every day and your brain will thank you for it.

Laurissa said...

Thanks everyone you're giving me so many excellent ideas. I apologize in advance for any typos here, I somehow haven't had my first cup of coffee with soymilk yet. But I'm working on it. :-)

Pat-Thank you for your help. I was wondering if I shouldn't look into something like WW, and I find it interesting that you found more books for semi or almost vegetarian than for vegan. This eating vegan is so tough to do.

Gina - I'm glad to know that someone likes me, even if it the fat fairies! LOL

I hope, I hope, I hope, that this isn't a metabolic thing with me and I won't be able to lose weight. Hearing that you've been doing this a long while and that even you find the vegan diet extremely difficult is making me think that I should adjust the vegan diet (oops, way of life) to a vegetarian diet.

Martha - I agree; I actually prefer soymilk with my morning cereal over milk. But the five days of exercise! Why does there always have to be a catch? :-)

Joyce - First off, I'm so jealous. Two pounds? Congratulations! That's wonderful.

Secondly, did the nutritionist give you a specific diet to follow other than no desserts? Or just tell you to stay under 1800 calories?

Will - Thanks for making me laugh, "nuff said!" LOL

Oh, but wait, I will say thanks for reminding me of how much I miss those breakfast burritos. Now my oatmeal and soy milk pales in comparison. Sigh. :-)

Gina - thanks for squelching all of my breakfast burrito cravings with your last comment. Although now, I even have to wait awhile until I'll be able to eat my oatmeal. haha :-)

Laurissa said...

Jennie - Thanks for your suggestion about a low-carb diet. Definitely food for thought. I would love to be able to eat all of the melted cheese I want to, and still lose weight. :-)

Ramona - That's definitely been an upside for me. Since I've increased my walking, I've also been brainstorming a lot, too. :-)

Karen in Ohio said...

Laurissa, you'll figure it out. Kudos for getting started, and before your weight and health have gotten totally out of control. It's much easier when you don't have a mountain of fat to lose.

Here are my tricks to having lost eight pounds this year:

Limit bread and other products with white flour to two slices per day. This works better if you change to real whole wheat (and not just a little bit of whole wheat in a loaf of white bread). That means no cake, no pie, no doughnuts, and no packaged foods.

Diet drinks will only make your weight worse, so don't go there. Instead, drink unsweetened iced herbal teas. They're refreshing, and have zero calories. (One I like: four decaf green tea bags and two of Celestial Seasonings Sweet Coconut Thai Chai tea, with two quarts of boiling water, then refrigerate (you can also make this as sun tea). The chai is naturally sweet, and even people who don't care for coconut seem to like this.

Another trap for hidden calories is alcohol. Instead of a glass of wine with dinner I substitute an ounce of tart cherry juice concentrate (known as Fruit Fast) in eight ounces of chilled water. Also refreshing, plus it has tons of antioxidants, and a component that helps lose weight. (No clue what that is, but it works.)

Park your car further from the store than you usually do, walk to the grocery if you can, do your own housework. There are a lot of things you can do. And if you must have cheese, at least don't eat the American junk in plastic envelopes. Get some real cheese, the harder the better, and savor every nibble.

Laurissa said...

Karen in Ohio - Thanks for your great suggestions, in particular, drinking unsweetened iced herbal tea. I do drink a lot of diet pop. Maybe that's been a problem for me and I didn't even realize it.

Congratulations on losing 8 pounds! I sure hope that I'll be able to say the same by the end of this year. :-)

Patg said...

On the west coast, so always late or last here. I never could loose weigh either, tried all those junk diets, but nothing, and I have a cholesteral problem too, so had to really consider food.
First off, I wouldn't touch cow juice with somebody else's mouth. Sorry, pure fat and junk and a sorry state we force our children into.
Second, you have to study fat and get over fearing it. Saturated fat is your problem, not all fats, so look for fats in vegtables to get it.
Shop the edges of your supermarket. All the processed junk in the aisles is mostly bad for you, all processed foods are. Especially all those lunch meats and packaged cheeses. So you have to think in terms of everything fresh, or lowly processed and eating 6 times a day NOT 3.
Bread is the killer. Though you shouldn't go Gluten Free if you do not have a Gluten problem, some gluten free products can help keep you out of the bread aisle.
I've lost a solid 12 pounds doing this, and my fish oil tables and more fish in my diet has brought my triglycerides down from 158 to 78.
Remember all soda is evil. Ninety percent of snack foods are too, and unfortunately most crackers fall into the snack category. Learn to eat with out them. Peanut butter and fruit spread out of the jar--NOT spread on something.
And Will! You bet!
I am human, I eat anything that won't eat me back!!!!

W.J. Howard said...

I'm allergic to gluten and caesins (in cow's dairy, soy and corn.) If I don't eat any foods containing the stuff, I lose weight, fast. If I sneak in even a small amount of the cow's dairy, soy or corn, because my body will tolerate a little of that stuff, I'll still gained 3 to 8 pounds over night. Oh, and I work out 2+ hours a day.

There are lots of great detox diet books on the market that can help you determine if certain foods you eat are causing the lack of weight loss. Just be careful because some are not so good. I always recommend the Detox Yourself by Jane Scrivner.

Laurissa said...

Pat G -I like how you said that you "had to really consider food." I'm going to start doing that. You're a wealth of info and I really appreciate your helping me with this.

Congratulations on your weight loss and on improving your cholesterol!

W.J. - In keeping with what Pat G offered about "considering food." Your suggestion for a detox book is an excellent starting point for me to find out if a particular food might be slowing my weight loss. Thanks so much for suggesting it!

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Remember, I'm a simple guy. Here is the engineer's appraoach to this issue.

Calories eaten - Calories burnt = weight gain or loss

Simple physics.

I'm all for walking. Great stress relief, good time to be creative, but realistically, unless you're chugging along at a 15 minute per mile clip (4 miles/hr) or more, you really don't burn many calories. To prove it, get on a treadmill that calculates calorie burn. Or put on a heart monitor, calculate your aerobic heart rate range and see where your at during your walk.

Laurissa said...

You make a good point. I've been a little afraid, that perhaps, maybe, I should increase my exercise. :-)

I'm sure that when I'm walking I'm not walking at the pace that I should be in order to lose weight. I know this because, I can easily walk 45 minutes outside, but there's no way I can easily walk on a treadmill with the speed set at 4 miles/hour (I've tried)!