The Saturday Skinny: Remember the big picture when trying to lose weight

By: Don Chaddock, Managing Editor
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The holidays are a time of weight gain for many in America, myself included.

Over the course of three weeks in November, I somehow managed to find eight pounds, knocking me back up to 193 pounds on the scale. How did I allow such a thing to happen? Easily. A pumpkin cupcake here, some movie candy there and viola -- instant weight gain.

Rather than falling into the trap of self defeat, I dust myself off and move forward. As of today, Dec. 1, I've managed to drop back down to 188. I need to lose another three pounds to get back to where I was and lose an additional 10 pounds to hit my final goal.

The attitude I have today is one of confidence, not cockiness. I know I can lose the weight if i make healthy choices. Those eight pounds I re-gained? They are a great reminder of why I must stay vigilant. They also remind me this is a lifetime journey and not a short sprint.

When I find myself getting discouraged, I only need to look at the bigger picture. Two years ago this month, I weighed 303 pounds and my youngest daughter was born. One year ago today, I weighed 268 pounds, having lost 35 pounds the previous year. Today I weigh 188 pounds, or 80 pounds less than I did a year ago and 115 pounds less than two years ago. Now, those eight pounds I regained don't seem so daunting. Also, knowing I only have three more to lose to reach my short-term goal seems very achievable.

Why do I share all this? Because I know I'm not the only one battling weight over the holidays. It's easy to fall off the "chuck wagon" (as I refer to it) when there are so many treats readily available at office parties, holiday parties, mixers and family feasts.

We're all human and there will be slips, so I try to be easy on myself and make healthy choices. Did I have mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving? Yes, I did, but only one helping (not three, as I once did). I didn't overeat, that's the key. Regroup and focus to achieve your goals. Don't let self doubt, worry and guilt bury you.

Rather than a recipe this week, we're going to look at some meal plans designed to help you get back on track. This is what I did to drop that excess holiday weight. Do this for two weeks, coupled with regular exercise (30 minutes daily), and watch the weight drop off. Avoid high-fat foods, sugar, alcohol and bread. Try to make your dinner the smaller meal of the day.

Note: Under each category, pick any one.

1. Two scrambled egg whites with sauteed spinach or kale, one piece of fruit (apple, banana or orange)
2. 1/4 cup-1/3 cup cooked oatmeal sweetened with fruit (banana, cut up apple or berries)
3. 1/2 cup non-fat plain or vanilla yogurt with cut up fruit stirred in (banana, grapes, etc.)

(two to three hours after breakfast)
Piece of fruit or 6-8 ounces of nonfat yogurt (or some carrots)

1. Large salad (handful black beans, raw spinach leaves, two tablespoons low-fat yogurt dressing). Optional: chopped bell pepper, carrots, 1/4 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice. You may also substitute fresh salsa for the salad dressing.
2. Wrap with whole wheat 100-calorie tortilla, raw spinach or kale, 1/4 cup brown rice, 2-3 ounces shredded or chopped cooked chicken breast, salsa or low-fat yogurt salad dressing (or smear with non-fat plain yogurt). This is a great replacement for the standard sandwich.
3. A meal consisting of a serving of brown rice (1/4-1/2 cup), 4-6 ounces of lean meat (chicken or fish), small salad and five to six slices of roasted sweet potatoes.
4. A burrito using a few spoonfuls of refried black beans (no fat variety), 2 ounces of lean meat (optional), salsa, spinach or lettuce. (May have two.)
(two to three hours after lunch)
Same as morning snack

1. Any of the lunch choices listed above
2. Low-fat crock-pot recipes using lean meat, but limit to one reasonable serving
3. Oven-roasted pork tenderloin, grilled fish or roasted chicken breast (4-6 ounces), a small salad
4. A 20-24-ounce smoothie using one frozen banana, 1 cup chocolate soy milk (or non-fat regular milk), handful of raw spinach, handful of raw kale, 1 tablespoon peanut butter (for protein, or use protein powder) and frozen strawberries. Blend until smooth. This is a meal replacement option and is quite filling. Optional: 1-3 tablespoons of ground flax seed (for fiber and omega 3s).

1 cup frozen grapes or one piece of fruit

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