Fat Tuesday: What is This Diet All About?

Yes, I used the “d” word. But don’t panic, Jeff,  I’ll explain everything!

As I mentioned way back in my first “Fat Tuesday” post, I’m a computer geek – both at heart and by profession – and I love data. Now that I’ve been on this program for a month and a half I finally feel like I have some solid data to provide context to the experiences and anecdotes I want to share.

The Facts

Overall, what I have seen is steady, and in my opinion, fairly remarkable progress. That is NOT a comment on my personal ability to diet, but rather on this program to cause real, meaningful, visible weight loss in a short period of time, and with minimal discomfort. But I’ll dig into that more in a moment.

Here are the actual numbers:

Week # weight Waist Belly
0 188 43 44
1 180 39 41
2 177 39 41
3 175 37 41
4 174 37 38
5 171 37 39

As a chart (who doesn’t like charts, right?) it looks like this:

(The weight – the blue line – aligns to the left Y-axis, while my waist and belly measurements use the right Y-axis. That gives a better sense of overall progress and relative movement)

Like I said, steady downward progress in a minimal amount of time. 17 lbs, 6″ off my waist, and 5″ off my belly, to be precise. Or an average of 3.4 pounds, 1.2 waist inches, and 1 belly inch per week.

The Feelings

The results are there, but how have I felt during the process? In a word, “fine”.

I’m never hungry, although there are moments of cravings that relate more to boredom or just a desire to have a particularly tempting dish in my mouth (looking at you, Love Plus Flour Bakery).

The first two days of the diet were a little rough, but rather than hunger pains I really just felt “off”. After that the most challenging part of the program was remembering to eat on a schedule, and deciding what to eat for the one “real” meal of the day (more on that in a minute)

Any momentary discomfort, however, is more than counter-balanced by the progress I’m making. I find myself looking at tempting foods and thinking “is it worth derailing this progress?”. And while most times the answer is “no”, there have been moments when I made the conscious decision to go ahead, splurge, and accept the consequences.

The Form

And what is the process, exactly? While not exactly a trade secret, the exact process is something that my coach, Jeff, would prefer I not get into to too deeply.

That said the program works like this:

Overseeing everything I’m about to tell you your coach. This is the person who will explain the program in detail, and explain it again because one time through usually isn’t enough. And then one more time if you need it. They know all the tips and tricks. They understand the underlying goals of each aspect so they can help you bend the rules as needed (or tell you where bending them is a bad idea. Your coach is your link to both sanity and structure. If you have questions, or need a shot of encouragement, or a smack upside the head because you had a doughnut moment (again, looking at you Love Plus Flour Bakery).

  1. 5 times a day (roughly every 2-3 hours) you eat a pre-packaged small “meal” (the program calls them fuelings, I tend to call them “feedings”. Like you do for an animal in a zoo. This is probably why I haven’t asked to be a spokesman for the program). While there’s a large range of bars, there are also crunchy snacks, pasta, mashed potatoes, shakes, and even coffee additives. As you might imagine, the fuelings/feedings are small. But they are comprised in such a way that they’re remarkably filling. Coupled with the fact that you’re eating every couple of hours, and you end up being in a steady state of full-ness throughout the day.
  2. Once per day you eat a prepared meal that is composed of a lean protein (anywhere between 5 and 7 ounces, which is a lot more than you’d think until you actually weigh it out) and low-carb vegetables.
  3. Water, water, water. At least 64 ounces a day, but preferably 90 to 100. No, coffee doesn’t count. Yes, I asked.

And that’s pretty much it. If you are exercising, the number of “feedings” and prepared meals change. If you are on certain medications, the process may change.

And when I say “that’s it”, I mean it. Anything I didn’t list above is on the “no” list. Soda pop, alcohol, waffles, chewing gum – all these and more are no longer on your list.

But don’t panic, it’s not forever. With an average drop of 5 to 15 lbs in the first two weeks, and 1-2 lbs every week after that, math would show that this isn’t a diet that can continue forever. And it’s not meant to be. As I described in my blog post “The Same Five Pounds“, this diet helped me break through barriers that other plans couldn’t do.

But do I expect to be eating bars 3 months from now? No (also “yes” but I’ll explain that in a minute).  Once you hit your goal weight, you transition back to normal food, but hopefully apply the good habits you’ve learned.

This is why Jeff insists on calling it a healthy lifestyle program, rather than a diet. Because it’s not about the bars and the shakes. It’s not even about the “lean and green” prepared meal. It’s about the habits, awareness, and behaviors that those things help you internalize so that you apply them even when you’re eating “regular” food.

What Have I Learned?

So what are those lessons, exactly? It’s pretty simple to sum up. None of this, I should point out, is a particularly huge revelation. You can find this advice in almost any diet book, program, or even your friends.

As I said before, the thing that this program does (or at least did, for me) was put a structure around it that helped me develop the right habits, and also provided a source of nutrition that was easy to consume (both literally and figuratively) to give my body a kick in the right direction.

  • Water. Drink it. A lot.
  • Eat every 2-3 hours. Yes, you may feel like a Hobbit. That’s OK, because in that story, they were the heroes. If it helps, imagine yourself to be a heroic hobbit, who heroically eats every 2-3 hours.
  • Eat small meals (ie: NOT like a hobbit).
  • After eating your small meal, wait 20 minutes before agreeing with your stomach that you’re still hungry.
  • While your waiting, drink some water.
  • CHOOSE your food. Always. Don’t grab and go. If you know you won’t have a chance to be thoughtful about your food choices in the moment, be thoughtful about them in advance so they’re ready when you need them.
  • That doesn’t mean you can only eat healthy food. But you can always eat “good” food. If you want junk, make sure it’s really REALLY good junk, so that you feel like it was worth it.
  • Own your food choices. Own your good choices and allow yourself to feel good about them; and own your bad choices and realize it’s not the end of the world (or your diet).

When I said that this isn’t a “forever” diet, but that I would probably continue it, what I meant was that I will probably use the pre-packaged food when I know that I would otherwise make a string of bad food choices. For example, I wrote about how keeping kosher while traveling can be a challenge. In that situation, the program will help me out a lot. But even during the week, when I’m just grinding away at my desk. The bars are REALLY convenient, and they get the job done.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

With all of that said, here are my numbers for week 6:

  • 5′ 8″ tall
  • 51 yrs old (that’s still teenager, in hobbit years)
  • 170 lbs
  • 38″ belly
  • 36″ waist
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