For the past 12 weeks I participated in a research study on diet and exercise. The research study is based on DNA profiles, so it will help tell the researchers whether certain diets work better for people who have similarities in their DNA. I find this idea fascinating. Maybe someday there will be the option to have a customized diet, recipes, and meal plan based on your DNA. I wanted to share my thoughts and experience from the last 12 weeks.
The diet was relatively simple to follow.
- whole grains once a day,
- fruit once a day,
- focus on veggies and high quality protein,
- avoid sweets,
- lots of water, coffee, tea, but no other drinks.
I stuck to the diet really well for the first 8 weeks and saw great progress. As time went on I got a bit bored of the same meals (necessary since I have so many food allergies) and started to let temptation get the best of me. That single muffin on the weekend turned into twice a week indulgences turned into devouring candy. Oops. It was only over the last 4 weeks that I slipped up and I definitely saw the difference in my final results. The last 4 weeks have a net weight loss of about 2 pounds. I did however keep at it. Even with my mistakes I would get back to days of eating better, but consistency is key when it comes to this kind of diet.
Once again I’ve found that simple things have helped me make immense progress on my health and eight loss goals. Despite this being part of a research study I will continue to use these tools to help me make more progress.
MyFitnessPal is a great way to track your food and water intake. It breaks down how many calories you should eat, what the breakdown of ‘macros’ is (carbs, fat, and protein), and makes it simpler to realize how much you’re really eating. It also helps track weight.
The diet portion started us off, but eventually (around 6 weeks in) we were supposed to add in more exercise. I started slow since I wasn’t active much this winter and needed to not go all in if I was going to make it sustainable. Eventually, I added in weights, swimming about once or twice a week, and walking around 3 times a week. I tried a yoga class which I loved and need to get back to once my schedule lines up again. I know I should do more in this area, but I’m trying to listen to my body which is not a fan of high impact exercise.
I lost around 20 pounds and several inches off my waist and hips. I’m going to keep tracking my food, exercise, and inches for now because it helps me see where I started and encourages me to keep going.
I’m back to a ‘normal’ weight range, but know I don’t feel done yet. I have another 20 or so pounds I’d like to lose. I know what that weight feels like because it’s where I got to last time I lost weight and it feels fit and healthy for my body. In my adult life I’ve been everywhere from 120 pounds to 197 pounds and my goal is around 150.
What I Learned
Overall I know what works for me: sticking to a really specific diet that provides me with lots of healthy food, limited added sugar, and limiting/avoiding red meat. Booze is occasionally okay, but sugar and booze really mess up my digestion which means I don’t eat as well or want to work out the next day.
Adding in lots of low impact exercise (walking, yoga, swimming) and weight lifting helps, but only if I add in some carbs (I know people say protein, protein, protein, but this doesn’t work for me).
Now that the research diet is done I’m diving back in and focus on adding in more exercise to my day (and hopefully walking more soon once this latest snowstorm is over!).
Mostly what I have learned over the last several years of yo-yoing weight and various health issues (broken bones, depression, anxiety, weight gain from meds, a concussion, and just general life stress) I have had to learn to embrace what works for me. And that it’s okay if I mess up-I just have to get up and try again. It’s the same philosophy I use when it comes to personal finance and parenting.