Too long; Didn’t read summary
- Eggs and avocados for first meal
- Spinach, whole milk or heavy cream, and frozen berries in smoothie form, for second meal
- Lots of vegetables and some sort of beans for final meal
- Aim to keep your body in a fasted state for 16 hours each day
- Follow guidelines 80% of the time and don’t sweat the rest
- heavy cream
- frozen berries
- green peppers, red peppers, orange peppers, yellow peppers
- whatever pretty vegetable calls your name
- black beans
- refried beans
- kidney beans
Everyone has an opinion on diet. I bet someone is telling you their opinion very loudly right now. This article might be too specific to be of interest. I know you have an opinion on diet and I’m sure you’ll question some of what I’m going to say. That’s okay. I’m still experimenting.
A couple of weeks ago, I told you my approach to dieting. I want to find a diet that is lifelong, healthy and easy to keep. I’d like to tailor it to my body and develop good habits that I don’t have to think about.
I’m implementing small changes, checking in with my body to see how it likes the changes, and keeping the changes I find easy to keep. The goal is to find the healthiest diet I can maintain.
My past diets
Until the age of seventeen, my diet consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, lentils, rice, cereals, vegetables, yogurts, pickles and spices. Delicious.
Then I discovered a website called “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals” and was horrified to learn that the dairy industry subsidized the veal industry. The summer before I went to college, I stopped eating one non-vegan product every two weeks. By the time I started school, I was fully vegan.
See? One change at a time is the way to do it. From the ages of 17-27, I almost never consumed dairy or eggs. I ate a lot of salads, a lot of fake meat and dairy products, a lot of pastas and nachos, etc.
I turned back to simple vegetarianism around age 28. I don’t have a good reason why. Cage-free eggs exist, but the dairy industry still subsidizes the veal industry. I like logic, but I’m not always logical.
For the past few years, blissful apathy was my chosen route. I ate a lot of strawberry yogurt, egg salad sandwiches, pastas, bean tacos, chocolate chip granola bars. I went out to eat quite a bit and had leftover restaurant food even more.
My ideal diet
And then, at age 35, I started to chase Life Bucket List Items #18 and #19, the totally cliché goal of chiseling out a six-pack of abdominal muscles and the slightly less cliché goal of maintaining those muscles for a year.
Since this was the year of the body, I figured this was a good time to knock out life bucket list item #36 — be a teetotaler. Teetotaler is a fun word. It means one who abstains from alcohol.
If you know me, you know that I love drinking alcohol. The taste, the memories, the social relaxation all bring up fuzzy and happy endorphins. While my lifestyle mostly adores alcohol, my body, sadly, outright disdains it occasionally. I’m experimenting for my body. I’m chasing health. That’s the story I tell myself and the story I tell others when they ask if I’d like a drink.*
That was my first diet change that sparked the new mindset. What does my body need?
What have others done?
Here’s a happy thought. Everything has been done before. People already have bodies that make me burn with envy. What do they eat?
First meal: eggs and avocado
I went hunting through the world of fitness and adopted changes that seemed easy. I read success stories on bodybuilding.com and started eating fried eggs and avocado for my first meal of the day. Easy and what so many people with lovely bodies ate.
Then I read several years worth of the Nerd Fitness blog and adopted intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting, for me, means I eat for only (approximately) eight hours during each day. I eat my first meal around noon, my second around four and my last meal around seven.
The biggest selling point of intermittent fasting, for me, was that I was already doing this without thinking. I’m never hungry when I wake up and haven’t eaten breakfast in over twenty years. With a new bright-line rule of only eating from 11am-7pm or 12am-8pm, I avoid the late night binges that never end with my stomach in a good mood, the 3 am pizza after a long night of Cards Against Humanity.
You know what I’m talking about. It’s mindfulness. You could also argue that “fasting can help promote weight loss and muscle building when done properly.” Here’s a 6,000 word article on intermittent fasting that convinced me and that you should definitely read before criticizing me.
Second meal – spinach smoothie
Fit people seem to drink a lot of smoothies, so I started drinking a smoothie as my second meal. Two cups of spinach. 1/4 cup of heavy cream mixed with 3/4 cup of water or one cup of whole milk. One cup of frozen berries. Blue is the best berry.
I’d play with this formula too, of course. The possibilities here astound and excite me.
Third meal – sautéed veggies and beans
At that point, I was still going out to dinner a lot, but I kept my current guidelines in mind, cutting out or trying new foods that I was experimenting with.
And then, a few weeks after the spinach smoothie implementation, I started cooking dinner for myself. This was the most monumental change. I started inviting people to my place to eat instead of suggesting we meet out.
This is such a “duh” realization that I know I already know, but holy amaze balls is it cheaper to cook at home. I know this. I know this. But I never implemented this money-saving tip. Maybe I did in law school with premade garbage.
Now I buy eggs and heavy cream and frozen berries. I buy avocados, green peppers, red peppers, orange peppers, yellow peppers, zucchini, squash, eggplant, spinach, and whatever pretty vegetable calls my name that day. I buy black beans, refried beans, kidney beans.
And I cook! I turn on the stove and sauté the vegetables and warm up the beans, feeling extra generous with the olive oil.
And then I eat. I eat until I’m full.
No grains and no sugars.
You’ll notice that there are no grains in my ideal, healthy diet. From my experimenting and my research, I’ve come to believe that grains should be minimized like sugars. Avoid rice, breads, cereals, starches. These things cause the flab. I think.
Oh, this diet is cheap! So cheap! Did I mention how cheap it is? And there’s so little garbage created. Vegetables usually don’t come in containers. I could go on and on.
This all occurred within the last three and a half months. I’m telling you, you got to chase the momentum. Start small and chase the momentum. You’d be amazed at how much you can accomplish when momentum is on your side.
This is a good diet, for me. In an ideal world full of blenders and safe produce, this is the diet I will follow.
In reality, I’m still a bit too nomadic for the ideal healthy life. I can follow this diet without much thought if I’m in the United States, but I’m going to Asia soon, so we’ll see.
Thoughts? Tips? Books on fitness you liked? I’m still learning and welcome feedback. I still don’t have six abdominal muscles visible and I still feel like I have a lot to learn and a ways to go.
*I made this resolution in late September 2017 and indulged in a couple of cocktails at a fancy hotel bar in Beverly Hills in early October 2017. I’ve received A+s on my resolutions chart since that time though. And since my body didn’t hate it, I think some sort of moderation is possible eventually.