Staying Balanced After Losing 12 Pounds: The Food Diaries

Our diarist had recent success with losing some weight, now our expert offers some advice to help her maintain her weight

The author loves low-cal Arctic Zero ice cream. This week she made Arctic Zero mint chocolate chip milkshakes.

The Stats
Age: Almost 28.
Height: Five-foot-nine.
Weight: 149.
Location: Georgetown.
Profession: Consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton.
Self-described activity level: “High. I live across the street from the gym and try to go every day. I live with my significant other, love cooking and having friends over for dinner, and enjoy drinking socially. I do not like to deny myself anything, but try my best to find healthier alternatives. Within the past year I have lost about 12 pounds. I’m not sure if it’s from consistent exercise, but I just like to think that I have ‘lost my baby fat.’ ”

Day One

7:30 AM: Hustle in the morning to be out the door by 8:00 AM. Monday is the day that I never go to the gym in the morning. I pack partial lunches for myself and the boyfriend. I made chicken salad for the week last night with just baked, skinless chicken breast, one container of 0 percent Fage yogurt, carrots, and salt and pepper. I put his on wheat bread and skip the carbs for myself. I also make it a point to keep some sort of fruit salad in the fridge, so we both get a cup of blueberries and another Fage for me.
8:30 AM: Arrive at work, fill up my water bottle, drop off my purse and head down to the café to grab breakfast. The café is really expensive, but Monday mornings are my one exception. An egg-white omelet with ham and cheese and plain white toast, which I religiously make into a breakfast sandwich every Monday morning.
1:00 PM: Lunch time! Fill up my water bottle again when I go to get my lunch from the office kitchen. Lunch is also the time I allow myself one diet soda.
3:00 PM: Snack number one: Mix my blueberries and Fage yogurt together at my desk, I love that its only 100 calories and a great source of dairy. I am not a fan of milk, so I try to have eggs every morning, and some other form of dairy once a day.
4:30 PM: Snack number two: my office doesn’t close until 5:30 PM, and the last hour is always tough unless I have a meeting. Time for a Special K snack bar.
6:15 PM: My gym is always packed, which means I can never get an elliptical in the afternoons, which, in a way, is a plus for me. I take a spin class two to three mornings a week, but I hate the treadmill. I know it’s important to mix up cardio, so I walk on a high incline on the treadmill for 40 minutes. I also make a point to drink an entire liter of water regardless of which type of cardio I am doing that day.
7:30 PM: My boyfriend helps with dinner by grilling two steaks. I make a salad with tomatoes, carrots, and a little bit of 2 percent Mexican cheese while heating up a leftover cheesy potato dish for him to have with his steak. It might sound crazy, but we both love vinegar. Given the option, that is the salad dressing of choice for both of us, always.
9:00 PM: I love HBO’s True Blood and missed it last night. Before watching it on demand, I make Arctic Zero milkshakes for us. I love, love, love this “ice cream.” It has 150 calories in the whole pint, 14 grams of fiber, high in fiber and is fat free. Sometimes after my spin classes in the morning, I’ll make one of these milkshakes and add a banana. But tonight its two cups of mint chocolate chip, one cup of skim milk, and a handful of ice cubes.

Day Two
7:10 AM: I had every intention of going to spinning this morning, but just couldn’t make it. I recently read that if you are simply too exhausted for the gym, don’t go. It’s better to get a good night’s rest. This does however; give me extra time to make breakfast, one 100 calorie wheat English muffin, and ½ cup of liquid egg whites. I packed my yogurt-and-fruit combo the night before, and also made my lunch, a frozen Smart Ones ravioli dish, but I’ve added about 1½ cups of chopped, frozen broccoli. I have lunches like these three-four days a week, and add broccoli to all of them.
8:30 AM: Same deal as yesterday, I drop off my purse, fill up my water bottle and proceed to inhale the breakfast I made.
12:30 PM: I’ve been in meetings all morning and have only 30 minutes for lunch. The ravioli and broccoli combo with cheese is surprisingly much better than I expected.
3:00 PM: By the time the afternoon rolls around I am starving. I try to eat my Fage yogurt with blueberries slowly, and fill up my water bottle again, but an hour later I have another Special K bar. I like these bars because they are sweet and salty with just 90 calories, but they are also a little too small.
6:00 PM: I leave work 10 minutes early to get to a total body conditioning class at my gym. The teacher Tuesday nights is amazing, and the class fills up quickly. I round out my workout with 50 minutes of circuit training and then 20 minutes on the elliptical. I could have stayed longer but have dinner plans with friends.
7:30 PM: Sushi with the girls. I don’t want to negate everything I just worked so hard for at the gym, so I order a bowl of edamame, four pieces of nigiri tuna, and am so thirsty I down four or five glasses of water.
9:00 PM: Back at home, I make my lunch for tomorrow. A Lean Cuisine pasta, again with the broccoli, blueberries, 0 percent Fage yogurt, and a small container of chicken salad.

See Also:

Study: One in Six Customers Pays Attention to Calories on Menus

Will a Chipotle Burrito Be a Food Diarist’s Undoing?

The Cold, Hard (Caloric) Facts: The Food Diaries

Day Three
6:20 AM: My alarm goes off for my spinning class. I lay my gym clothes out the night before my morning workouts, and have found that to be really helpful in moving toward the door. I also fill up my water bottle the night before as well. An hour later I’m back from the gym and ready for the day.
7:40 AM: I make egg white breakfast sandwiches on 100 calorie wheat sandwich thins for myself and the boyfriend, pack up my lunch and am out the door.
8:30 AM: Arrive at my desk (I think you know the routine). By 9:30 AM, I am already on my second bottle of water and my breakfast sandwich is long gone. I also have been asked to attend a lunch meeting where I know they are serving pizza, and a farewell happy hour for work. The boyfriend has also organized a happy hour for later on as well.
1:00 PM: I was preparing to go light on the pizza and had my chicken salad for a snack earlier in the day. As soon as I was done, my meeting was canceled. So I heat up my lunch and drink another entire bottle of water. I am all for having a few drinks after work, but am trying to pace myself on healthy foods so I don’t cave later and have chicken wings and fries for dinner, and more beer for dessert. I forgot to mention, I am really cracking down hard on myself because the boyfriend and I have decided to go to Mexico for my birthday in a month. I don’t want to crash diet and balloon back up after the beach, so I’m trying to consistently plan and have a healthy alternative.
3:15 PM: I am always ravenous on days that I go to the gym in the morning, and the idea of yogurt and the same berries I have eaten for the past three days is boring. I resort to heading downstairs to the café for a container of melon with a few strawberries, and a bag of soy crisps. I only recently discovered these and choose them over potato chips. An entire bag has 140 calories and 10 grams of soy protein. I also got a second diet soda, which I know is bad, but I am planning to fill up my fourth bottle of water, and finish it, before the end of the work day.
6:00 PM: Happy hour number one. I opt for a glass of water with a lime instead of a margarita. It’s not very exciting, but I’m only staying for one drink, and this restaurant’s specials haven’t even started yet.
6:30 PM: Finally meeting up with the boyfriend and friends for $2 beers. The boys have ordered wings and I help myself to all of the celery sticks. Three light beers later, I have a glass of water and half of another beer before leaving around 10 PM. When I get home I make a small salad with a scoop of chicken salad, tomatoes, extra carrots, and vinegar, with one final glass of water.

Day Four

8:45 AM: At work, I immediately fill up my water bottle and finish off my egg white/wheat thin breakfast before 9:00 AM.
1:30 PM: Today has been so busy with meetings that I haven’t had time to think about snacking. For lunch I finish off the last of the chicken salad I made (about two cups), another bottle of water, and a diet soda.
4:00 PM: Between the last of my afternoon meetings, a coworker is offering cake to everyone. I have a very small piece that is just enough to satisfy the craving I have actually had all day for cupcakes and cookies, and a size I know I can also work off at the gym tonight. I finish another bottle of water before leaving for the day.
6:00 PM: I am planning to be at the gym for close to two hours tonight, and don’t want to run out of energy, or walk out starving after my workout. I have a 190 calorie six pack of peanut butter sandwich crackers, which I eat slowly while cleaning up around the apartment. I then go across the street to the gym, spend 45 minutes on the elliptical to help with this afternoon’s cake and last night’s beers. After that, I take an hour long total body conditioning class. I am starting to love these classes. It hits everything I need to work on and the teachers are great.
9:00 PM: Date night. The boyfriend and I go to an Italian restaurant in Georgetown. We split three pieces of crab brusetta. I order their lobster pasta that has a spicy red sauce. I only have about half of the pasta, but also have a glass of red wine. It’s so incredibly hot outside; I also have three of four glasses of water. On our way to the movies we stop at a coffee shop. The boyfriend orders an espresso, while I opt for another glass of water with a lime.
10:30 PM: I love snacking at the movies (who doesn’t?), but I read about how unhealthy the popcorn at the theatres are. Instead, usually I will make a bag of 100 calorie popcorn at home and bring it in a ziplock bag (don’t tell anyone.) Tonight, I discover that they offer 100 calorie frozen yogurt, which is perfect with this heat.

Day Five

10:45 AM: Anytime I don’t get enough sleep, I am always hungry. When I get to work I open a new bottle of water, have half a cup of the liquid egg whites I made this morning, and a medium iced coffee with a splash of skim milk. I’ve also had a Kashi peanut butter and chocolate protein and fiber bar.
3:30 PM: I’ve been in meetings all day and don’t have a lot of time for lunch, so I grab the yogurt and blueberries I have been keeping in the fridge at work. Another bottle of water and I get to leave work a little early.
8:00 PM: Dinner with girlfriends at a Mexican restaurant. Six of us split an order of queso, chips, and two pitchers of margaritas, which comes to two drinks each. I also split steak quesadillas with one of my friends, and have about three glasses of water during dinner. After that, we head to a bar where I have three vodka sodas, but also alternate with water. It’s so hot out that all I really want is water anyhow. Happy Friday, let the weekend begin!From Our Expert

Madeleine Said, a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator based in Bethesda (301-602-8002), says: “Congratulations to the diarist on her 12 pound weight loss this past year! She doesn’t say if she also changed eating habits in addition to working out more but right now she’s at a good weight for her height so maintenance should be her goal right now. She’s also on the right track by focusing on lean proteins and plenty of veggies with her meals. Here are my suggestions to make those meals even healthier and more balanced, provide more energy for workouts and help her stay full between meals.”

“First, add some whole grain carbs to your meals. These will provide the energy your body needs for your workouts and the fiber you need to help you feel full longer. Carbs get a bad rap because we eat a lot of processed ones like white bread—processed grains have been stripped of fiber and nutrients. Select whole grain carbs such as oatmeal for breakfast, or add whole wheat couscous, brown rice, or whole wheat or rye bread to your meals. And with a little planning, you’ll be able to swap out those frozen lunches that are low in fiber and high in sodium with some packed lunches that will hold you till your afternoon snack. Keep bringing that chicken salad and expand your options by including other good protein foods such as tuna or eggs. Wild Planet tuna is a great choice; it’s low in mercury and high in omega three oils. Hummus, raw veggies, and a whole wheat pita packs easily and provides another lunch option that is less processed and provides more fiber and nutrients than the frozen entrees.”

“Adding some healthy fats to your diet will also help you feel f
ull longer by slowing down digestion. Also, healthy fats help control cholesterol and control inflammation in the body. Adding a small amount of olive oil or avocado to your salads will provide flavor, nutrients and help with satiety. Throwing a small handful of walnuts or sliced almonds into your yogurt will help you stay full till dinner. Another plus of including some fat is that nutrients from fruit and veggies are absorbed more readily when fat is included in the meal.”

“One last idea: If workouts come at the end of the day, a healthy carb snack about an hour or so before the workout will give the boost needed to give that workout her best effort. Swap your current bar choice for something a bit higher in calories and healthier carbs. Check out the various Powerbar varieties to see what might be appealing. You can find more good info for fueling workouts in Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Handbook. Good luck and have fun in Mexico!”

Are you brave enough to keep a food diary? We dare you. E-mail with your contact information, where you live, and a paragraph or two describing why you'd make a good diarist. 

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Follow Well+Being on Twitter

More >> Health | Top Doctors | Well+Being Blog