Lent, Day 34: How I Do It

April 1, 2009 at 7:30 am 1 comment

OKay… so… I’m down nearly 60 pounds now, and believe it or not, people actually notice!  I’m sure this has to do with the fact that my clothes actually fit now, thanks to Michelle and Lisa, but regardless… Easily the most common reaction I get from people is, “What are you doing?” and, when I tell them, “Wow, how do DO that?”

So this will be the overview post.  It will be redundant, but it’s the sort of ‘shop talk’ version of the ADF thing, so it might be interesting even if you’ve been reading awhile.

Here’s what I do:

1.  On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I diet. These are my ‘Down Days’.   On Down Days, I restrict what I eat to about 20% of my ‘normal’ intake, so yeah..it’s a calorie-restricted diet.

I use Weight Watchers’ Points system to track what I eat.  This would normally allow me about 30 ‘points’ per day.  (If you’re not familiar with Weight Watchers’ points, 1 point is equal to about 50 calories.  Points account for fiber and fat, though, so there’s a bit of a formula involved.  1 gram of fiber takes the calorie total down by 10, and I forget how fat figures in, except that the more fat there is, the higher the points.)  Ultimately, on Down Days I take in the equivalent to 300-350 calories.

2.  On Tuesday, Thursday and Weekends (Up Days), I eat whatever I want.  Literally.  I know that sounds nuts, but it’s what I do.  Cheesecake, pizza, onion rings, ice cream.. whatever.  Doesn’t matter. I can eat whatever I feel like eating.

3.  I do have a daily exercise regimen.  After the kids go to bed, I go downstairs with my laptop and walk on the treadmill at between 2.0 and 2.5 mph for about two hours, more if I feel up to it.  It sounds like a long time, but it’s actually pretty relaxing, and about the same amount of time I’d have spent SITTING on the computer or in front of the TV at that point anyway.   We have a makeshift table that fits over the treadmill that holds my laptop and papers or whatever else I might want to work on while I’m walking.

That’s basically it.  CR-diet MWF, life as usual every other day, and exercising every night.

In the interest of practicality, here are some sample meal plans I use during my Down Days:

Breakfast: Grapefruit (1pt)
Lunch: Salad with Asian Dressing (2 pts)
Dinner: Green Giant Health Blends: Healthy Vision (1.5 pts)

Total for day: 4.5 points (about 225 calories)

Breakfast: 1 Egg, fried (2pts)
Lunch: Green Giant Health Blends: Healthy Weight (3 pts)
Dinner: Salad with Asian Dressing (2pts)

Total for day: 7 pts (about 350 calories)

Breakfast: Banana (2 pts)
Lunch: Green Giant Health Blends: Healthy Weight (3pts)
Dinner: Green Giant Health Blends: Healthy Vision (1.5 pts)

Total for Day: 6.5 pts.

I also tend to drink a LOT.   I’ve always preferred ice water anyway, one of the few ‘healthy’ habits to which I am prone, but if I’m craving actual flavor (or just something warm) I’ll go for some peach-flavored green tea sweetened with Splenda.  When I’m feeling really hungry, this sort of curbs my appetite.


Aren’t you just miserable on the Down Days?  I don’t think I could ever do that!

The first week was really tough, but I’ve found that hunger pangs are not nearly so miserable as we tend to think they will be.   They also last only a few minutes and then go away.  Once I had a handle on that, the Down Days ceased to even be much of a concern.   I think that by as early as the second week, the Down Days ceased to be a serious issue.

Don’t you just eat twice as much on an Up Day?  I don’t see how that helps anything.

If you could physically eat twice as much as you normally would in one day, it wouldn’t help.  But most of us can’t do that.   The literature I’ve read says that on average, ADFers will eat maybe 10% more on an Up Day than they normally would.

And that’s only at first. I have heard the rumors about your ‘stomach shrinking’ and heard other sources debunking it, but I did notice a significant decline in my eagerness to eat after just a couple of weeks of doing this.  I also tended to feel full faster.

What about nutrition?  How can you get enough of what your body needs if you’re only eating every other day?

I can’t speak for most people, but this concern actually drove me to start making healthier choices overall.  My Down Day menus are very fruit-and-vegetable-heavy, as you might have noticed, but these days even on Up Days I am more likely to opt for a salad than a cheeseburger, for whole grain breads over white, for water over sugary beverages.  I just let myself eat as much of the GOOD stuff as I feel like eating, and then eat the less good-for-you-stuff afterward so I’m not actually filling up on it.

Which, really, is as it should be, right?

I do take a multivitamin and a couple of supplements every day, just to cover my bases.

But if you’re eating cheesecake and cookies and stuff, how does this allow you to retrain your eating habits?

It’s a matter of perspective.  When I was dieting the ‘old-fashioned way’, the feeling of denial and deprivation I would go through when presented with something tempting and bad for me was frustrating.  That frustration nearly always drove me to cheat, which led to guilt, which led to more frustration, and (eventually) giving up.

The psychology of this sort of approach is interesting.  If I’m out on a Down Day and someone offers me something delectable, I don’t have to actually turn it down.  I just have to tell myself, “I can eat it tomorrow.”   That simple change makes a huge difference, because there’s no reason to feel frustrated or deprived.   I can put off anything for ONE day.

The beautiful thing is that nine times out of ten, when the next day rolls around and I am able to go eat whatever it was completely guilt-free, I find I don’t even WANT it that much anymore.  I might have a bite or two and then decide I’ve had enough, whereas before, once the decision has been made to ‘cheat’, all bets would be off and I’d eat the whole thing regardless.

Doesn’t it just kill you to make dinner for your family and not eat it?

It used to, but not anymore.  At first I just scheduled meals that the kids and Andy liked on the Down Days, so that it wouldn’t be as tempting.  These days, I am pretty much doing my own thing so often that I barely even notice.

Where did you get that table you use with the treadmill?

We made that.  I got a 12×36 white shelf board from Home Depot and two 8-foot 2×2 deck boards.  The deck boards were cut into 4′ lengths, and I screwed one into each corner of the shelf board to make legs.  This was OBSCENELY WOBBLY, which is why we called it the Terrible Table ™ for a long time.  Andy later stabilized it with some 1×6 scraps that we had in the garage.  That made it much nicer.  It fits right over the arm-bars of the treadmill and lets me work on my laptop while walking.

It should be noted here that credit for the table goes to Pangie, not me.  She made the first one.

What do you do while walking?

Facebook and chat, mostly. 😉  And write in this blog.  Sometimes I do actual work.  I should do that more often.

Wouldn’t you burn more calories running instead of walking for so long?

Jury’s still out on this.  My own informal research has suggested that walking for a long time burns more FAT than running does.  Running will deplete your blood sugar nicely, but while this technically gets the job done, some sources insist that by the time you have walked at a comfortable pace for 55 minutes, you are burning 75% fat calories and only 25% blood sugar.   By the time you’ve been at it for 75 minutes, you’re down to almost all fat.  With running, you deplete your blood sugar first and then hit a wall.

I have lost 62 pounds in five months.  Considering running is no fun for me, while walking and facebooking and chatting and playing Bejeweled is, by contrast, a lot of fun, I’d say walking is more effective in my case. 😉

Why do you only do this on MWF?  Why not the weekends too?

My mother was the first person I knew who tried this.  It always worked pretty well for her, but I found it irritating when her Down Days would fall on days when we would have them over for one thing or another.  Eating is usually a big part of any social event, so the fact that Mom was on a ‘non-eating day’, as she calls it, would make the rest of us feel a little awkward about eating.  She would excuse herself to another room or something so she wouldn’t be tempted.

I never liked that about this, so I opted for a modified plan.  Since most of our social engagements take place on a weekend, fasting MWF and allowing myself to swap out Fridays and Saturdays as necessary to accommodate social events made a lot of sense to me.  Technically, yes, this method should be less effective than actually sticking to a rigid alternating schedule, but so far I cannot complain about the results even so.

Isn’t this basically Zigzagging?

That’s exactly what it is, yes.  The only difference is that Zigzagging tends to be more ‘freestyle’, in that you might go two Down Days in a row and then have a really big Up day, etc.  ADF is more rigid, schedulewise, but otherwise they’re the same thing.

That’s all I can think of offhand.  😉


Entry filed under: ADF, Lent, Sleep, Successes. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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1 Comment

  • 1. Nicole  |  May 2, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Okay Jen, I know we have talked about this a lot, but Monday is the day. Dan is finally going back to work so I hope it will be easier with him out of the house (most of the day). So my 21 days starts Monday. Wish me Luck

    PS. Just in case I didn’t say this before I am so proud of you!

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