I’m not gonna lie: I’ve struggled with my weight all my life. This isn’t new. But these past two years, despite no changes for the worse in my habits, and frankly some changes for the better, I put on a new 15 lbs on top of the weight I already wanted to lose, so I’ve been frustrated.
Here’s the part where I tell you I’m a vegan, and you try not to look surprised because most people think of vegans as tiny, wraith-like creatures. (And yeah, some vegan gurus sell veganism as an easy automatic route to skinny.)
Here’s the scoop: Any time you change your diet to cut out a whole food group (whether fat, carbs, animal products) you’re going to see some weight loss. But here’s another scoop: Vegan food isn’t automatically healthy. Easiest example: French fries are vegan. So are Oreos. (And now you know my two primary weaknesses!)
When I went vegetarian in 1989, I lost weight at first. When I went vegan in 2006, I lost weight at first. But over time my body got used to how I was eating, so the losses were temporary. And I was much much younger then.
When they tell you it’s harder to lose weight once you hit 40+, they are not joking around. And when people talk about the midlife midriff, that is also 100% serious. Like WHERE did that even come from?
What am I doing about it?
Well, #1 move is that I’m back to using one of the leading national weight loss company’s online program and back to tracking everything I eat. When every mindless bite sticks to the ribs, so to speak, more than it did before, it’s time to bring mindfulness to the table. And the couch. And the office.
Part of following this program is trying to not count calories and instead think about the quality and healthfulness of the foods I eat. Yes, French fries and Oreos are vegan, but who doesn’t think I’d be better off eating 45 calories via a piece of fruit or some veggies vs. a single Oreo?
This new version of their program is much more accommodating to vegans than older versions used to be. It used to be “expensive,” points-wise, to have the protein sources I relied upon, from tofu to beans and legumes. When much junkier foods “cost” you the same as a healthy protein source, it’s a lot harder to make the right choice. Now that they’ve adjusted the program to account for the overall value of eating those protein sources, it encourages me to make better choices.
By now you’re probably wondering what I eat…is it just salads?
And nope, I’m not a big salad person, although I certainly eat them sometimes.
Here’s a typical day:
Breakfast: I’m not a big morning eater, so I’m gratified by all the recent attention being paid to “intermittent fasting” and downplaying breakfast being the “most important meal of the day.” I tend to stick to an unsweetened almond latte and a banana somewhere around 10 AM.
Lunch: I do sometimes make salads. I eat packaged vegan Indian food pouches, like Spinach Dal and Chana Masala. And most often I make myself a little sandwich, sometimes with homemade sandwich salads made with smashed chickpeas or crumbled tofu, mixed with lots of condiments to make them seem like a tuna or egg salad. Sometimes with vegan deli slices and nut-based “cheese” slices. I use mustard and pickles or pickle relish. No mayo, instead I use avocado. I’m big on avocado.
Snacks: I often have fruit, including applesauce mixed with slivered almonds and cinnamon. Sometimes veggies. Sometimes I make 100% fruit frozen pops. Sometimes I go savory and have roasted chickpeas or just a handful of nuts, which are very satiating.
Dinner: I try to cook, but only things that take less than 30 minutes to make. They most typically involve sautéed greens (chard is my favorite), whatever other veggies I have around, and either stirring in canned beans or air-frying tofu. I’ve been on a kick lately trying new recipes from the vegan cookbooks I own, so that helps me mix up the flavor profiles of these nightly dishes.
You can check out my Instagram account at @ElisaCP to see all of these dishes.
The results? Well, four months in I’ve lost the “new” 15 lbs. I gained. Which is a pretty big accomplishment for me, but I’ve still got a long way to go.
And a whole lot of travel coming up…which always seems to throw a monkey wrench into everything. I’ll let you know how I do…and what strategies I used to be successful.
I’m setting the intention right now that I WILL be successful. Because I’ve got eight months before I turn 55 and I am planning to feel more alive!
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