Simple Diet

Simplicity and minimalism are related systems but they are not the same. Simplicity says to do things as simply as possible. Minimalism says to decide what’s important to you and get rid of everything that keeps you from that.

With both of those in mind I started thinking about weight loss systems.

Most diets work.

As long as you follow the rules for that specific diet including their rules for a maintenance program once you reach your goal weight.

Weight Watchers works because their points system causes you to eat fewer calories.

The rice diet works because when you can only eat those few foods you tend to eat fewer calories.

South Beach, Paleo, and Keto work because they limit your consumption of carbs which usually results in eating fewer calories.

Residential food programs work because their limited menus mean you eat fewer calories.

Beginning to see a trend here?

If calorie reduction is the common denominator of all weight loss programs, why not just focus on the calories?

So I decided to get rid of the clutter of special programs and go for simplicity.

Back in April, I told I want to lose 100 pounds in two years (that’s a safe rate which tends to result in keeping the weight off) and it told me I need to eat 1384 calories per day.

When I was at Structure House they gave me a formula for figuring out your calorie needs. It says when I reach goal weight I will need about 1300 calories per day to maintain that weight.

So the simple diet for me is to eat 1300-1384 calories per day.

Of any food I want.

Cheesecake? Sure, just count those calories.

Potato chips? Sure, if that’s how I choose to spend my calories.

FitDay lets me enter what I eat into their database and it tells me how many calories I am consuming.

And there will be no transition to a maintenance program since by the time I reach goal weight I will have been eating the right number of calories for two years.

Easy. Simple. Not cluttered.

And working.



My ten foods

It has become a thing to do among the people who eat the primal/paleo/caveman way to make a list of the ten foods you would want to take with you if you knew you had to survive on a deserted island but could only take those ten foods with you. Apparently, this island has unlimited cooking facilities. And seasonings don’t count so I listed them without a number.

  1. beef steak
  2. chicken thighs
  3. bacon
  4. eggs
  5. almond butter (like peanut butter except made from almonds)
  6. bananas
  7. pumpkin
  8. broccoli
  9. ghee/clarified butter (butter with the milk solids removed for those who avoid milk products)
  10. dark chocolate

salt & pepper and other seasonings like herbs, spices and garlic. Who can live without garlic?


And here’s a sample day’s meals and snacks I could have with those items.

Breakfast: Fry bacon; cook eggs sunny-side up in bacon grease adding salt & pepper. Crumble bacon. Mix bacon into eggs and eat.

Lunch: Season and bake chicken; steam broccoli then top with ghee adding other seasonings as desired.

Dinner: Season then broil steak; microwave canned pumpkin; melt ghee over pumpkin and add seasonings. I like salt & pepper on my pumpkin but cinnamon with nutmeg is also popular.

Snacks: one or two pieces of chocolate; sliced banana topped with dollops of almond butter


Yes; there’s a lot of fat in these meals. You need it to make up the calories you are not getting from breads, pasta, potatoes, rice, and beans.

If I felt the need for a baked treat I could mash a couple of bananas, stir in an egg and a few tablespoons of almond butter and bake it. It comes out like cake. I like to then melt ghee over the top of it to make up for having no frosting. 🙂

If I had one more item on my list it would be canned fish. I can eat tuna or salmon right from the can but it is also good mixed with an egg and seasonings in a 2-cup bowl and microwaved for about 3 minutes to make a fish patty. And the omega 3 oils you get from fish are a good thing.

BTW, it is understood within the primal/paleo community that the beef and ghee would be from grass-fed cows, the bacon would be free of nitrites,  the almond butter would not have sugar in it, and the chicken thighs and eggs would be from free-range chickens. But just eating this way (no grains or beans, and for many no dairy) without doing all that is still better for your body than what most of us were taught to eat as we grew up. IMHO, of course. And that of many other amazingly healthy people.



Saying goodby to Weight Watchers

No, I’m not leaving the entire program, just the local group with whom I’ve shared support over the last four months. I left that great noontime group in Anoka, Minnesota, today after celebrating my 20 pound weight loss this summer. I will miss them but I will stay a member of Weight Watchers so I can continue to use their on-line tools which have helped me so much and so I can visit other groups as I find them on our travels the next few weeks to help keep me on track.

The other major tool I’ve started using is a version of the caveman a.k.a primal, Paleo, real food, way of eating. The basic premise is that you should only eat foods that could have been found growing wild. That includes meat, fish, birds, nuts, fruits and vegetables that existed before man started farming. No grains, no processed food, no chemicals you can’t pronounce. Now, I’m still easing my way into this so, for now, I’m mostly focusing on the no cultivated grains or potatoes. And for some unknown reason, I’ve lost my craving for chocolate!

Since I’m trying to eat real food within the Weight Watchers points plus system, life gets a bit challenging. All fruits and most vegetables are zero points and I don’t eat grains. That means I actually need to eat fats to get enough points to stay healthy. Olives and nuts have become staples for me. And avocados are a “good” food. Bacon is allowed and I can put real butter on my vegetables. Which all sound wrong.

But must be right. After all I’ve been losing weight at the rate of five pounds per month. Which is a rate that makes my doctor and me happy. And it feels like something I can continue to do the rest of my life.

Now, I need to continue to reduce the wrong things I’m still eating and start doing more exercise to tone up. Wish me luck.



ps. BTW, I’m also now eating some dairy products. Some programs say that’s OK and others don’t but I choose to believe the caveman caught a female goat or something occasionally. This means I’m actually allowed to eat a bacon double cheeseburger occasionally as long as I dump it off the bun then eat it with a knife and fork. After all a traveler needs to be able to eat SOME road food. 🙂

How I’m eating pizza on my diet

Some people have expressed an interest in how I’m eating nowadays that’s letting me loose weight each and every week without regular exercise. So, I thought I’d write a bit about that. This will probably be the first of a series of my sample meals.

First some background. Any of you who have been reading this blog for awhile know I am using Weight Watchers, with their points plus calculations, as my primary weight loss program. Only one of  you knows I’m using Primal/Paleo eating as part of it too.

Primal whatal you ask? Primal/Paleo eating is basically pretending you live in the hunter/gatherer era so you only eat what people would have eaten then. We’re talking about the time before cultivation here so you are basically supposed to eat meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables that would have grown in the wild, berries, nuts and seeds. I’m doing a VERY modified version of that. So modified that all I’ve really done so far is cut out all rice, pasta, and bread and most things made from flour except for the occasional bag of Cheetos and my friend Nancy’s brownies. People who eat strictly Paleo also say no dairy products but I figure my ancestors were clever enough to catch an occasional female animal and milk it so I still eat some cheese every once in awhile.

Like today. We ordered pizza. Pizza?!! How is that primal? And how do I make that fit within my points plus limit of the Weight Watchers program?

No, I don’t fill up on tossed salad first to kill my hunger. I really don’t eat big meals anyway, I just eat four or five times a day instead. If I filled up on salad I would be too full to eat pizza.

Plus, I don’t like the meats with which most people top their traditional pizzas so I get my pizza topped with chicken and mushrooms. The mushrooms and tomato sauce have no points so I only have to count the chicken and cheese. Chicken may well be the lowest point topping available once you get beyond vegetables.

Then, because I no longer eat pizza crust I scrape the toppings off onto a plate and eat just them. This large dinner plate full of toppings is only four points plus and it’s plenty to keep me going for a few hours.

Then I throw away the empty crust.

Isn’t that wasting a lot of food you ask? Yes. But, I decided that’s better than wasting my health.

So I get to satisfy my craving for pizza without blowing my points plus budget. For me, that’s a win-win situation.



ps. If you decide to try this, please do your own calculations for the pizza you choose. I deliberately did not tell you the brand or size of serving I eat as pizzas vary so widely. I will say I like leftover pizza. I may add olives to my leftovers to bring the points up a bit.

Getting Healthy: Flavorful Vegetables

My mother was never much of a cook and neither was I. Cooking is one of the things I retired from when Dave retired from his day job. But Dave doesn’t enjoy cooking either and eating mostly restaurant or frozen dinner meals has not made me healthy. So I am trying, within my limited physical capabilities, to learn to cook healthful foods. I have been reading and saving many recipes for making vegetables then trying to figure out how on earth I’m going to be able to do all that prep work.

One of the challenges I face is that neither Dave nor I have ever been particularly fond of vegetables. We pretty much stick to frozen broccoli, carrots, and green beans. But, I crave variety. So, I’m working on a theory of how to meet both of those preferences.

Here’s my theory. Start by cleaning out all the old spices in my cupboard. We did that three years ago but I’ve been told spices only keep their full flavor for a year so we should probably do it again. Then we should buy the smallest containers we can of these spices: onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, dill weed, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and whatever else appeals when I get to the spice section of the store. We should also buy a small bottle of sesame oil.

The recipe for vegetables then goes something like this. Steam a cup of vegetables until just tender crisp. Melt a tablespoon of butter and add a teaspoon or so of one of the above flavorings. Toss the vegetables in the butter and serve. That would give us eight different flavors of each vegetable. Multiply that times the three types of vegetables and you get nearly a different flavor each day for a month. Once we learn which flavorings we like most we can start combining flavors. I already know I like onion with dill. And I like garlic on most anything. But having only a small container of each of those will help me remember to also use the other flavors to help keep me out of a rut.

What do you think? Does this sound like it should work?



ps. I just remembered that some of the recipes I’ve been researching used lemon juice or orange juice as a flavoring. Now I have more than a flavor per day. Orange/cinnamon carrots sounds good to me. Lemon/garlic is popular. I think I may be on to something here.