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Designing A Diet that Works for You

Yikes! If I see one more piece of chocolate it will be too soon. How many days will I wake up groaning “I’m never going to eat again” because I’ve over-indulged the night before?

Design the Diet you Need

Design the Diet You Need

Drinking, eating, partying- all stuff I love have made my post-holiday reality check a nightmare. January is here!

You may not feel this way- maybe I’m the only one.  You might be perfectly happy with how you did with the holiday indulgences, and perfectly okay with your weight.  No morning -after loathing for you.

But just in case you are like me- this might be the month you’ve been dreading.  Statistically, 60% of American women are overweight, so I’m assuming I’m not the only one facing a few extra pounds this January.

Now, I admit, I’m wimpy about diet plans.   I don’t want to have to decline all my social invitations because I am on a restricted diet. If that’s what it takes, I’d prefer to die fat and happy with a drink in my hand.

So, rest assured, this isn’t going to be some blog about a strict diet. Nor will it be 100 tips on eating less.  This is going to be about how I found the only way I could make the diet thing work.  Just for me. And, maybe it will help you too.

First of all, Every Body is Beautiful:

Now, I’m not one to harp on the need to be thinner. As a matter of fact, I think women are beautiful in many sizes and shapes. I admire those who are happy in their bodies- whatever their size. I’m trying to become that way also, but I’m not perfect yet. I for one, have a Renaissance body-like angels on the Sistine Chapel. Each of those naked little cherubs on the ceiling with curves and dimples could be me.  I will never be stick thin- I have a really big bosom, small waist and curvy hips.  As a woman of the stick-thin 70’s, fighting my body type is something I’ve done for years, so now I’m just working hard to accept mine.

Still, I find that as I’m getting older I have to take better care of myself, no matter what the number is on the scale. I shouldn’t carry around extra pounds, because it exhausts me.   When I party too much, drink too much alcohol, or eat too much sugar, I start to feel tired and grumpy all the time. I guess it feels like the engine isn’t running as smoothly as it did when it was new.

For me, I’m not looking to be model-thin. My goal weight is 137 lbs- not particularly skinny for my 5’3” frame. However, I have found that what it takes for me to lose weight and go below that range doesn’t feel good to me

I guess at the end of the day, there are many women who are heavy that are beautiful-and women who are thin that look gaunt and unhealthy. No matter your size; it’s important that you feel good about your body and that it does what you need it to do. You need to decide if you should lose a few pounds and no one can decide that for you.

Figure out what you need in a plan:

I also believe that many diets work.  Our bodies are pretty amazing,  and if you follow a diet plan you are probably going to lose some weight.  Here’s the rub- if it’s not the right plan for you, you could be totally unhappy while doing it, and gain the weight back.  When you’re unhappy or uncomfortable doing something, you won’t continue doing it. So, to be successful in losing weight, you have to find a plan that fits with your lifestyle- one you can do forever.

For me, I wanted a plan that allows me this:

  • To be healthy- I wanted to eat foods that are good for me and support my body with good nutrition
  • To have variety- I don’t like things that eliminate an entire food group, or won’t allow me to have a steak or a  glass of wine when I want it
  • Not to impact my life too much- I don’t want to have to decline all my social invitations because I am on a restricted diet- if that’s what it takes, I’d prefer to die fat with my friends and a drink in my hand

Building a plan just for me:

So I decided to consider my lifestyle and try to understand what would work for me.  I realized that a food plan that works on a day in the office isn’t a good fit on the weekends or holidays when I needed flexibility. So, maybe it’s not “one size fits all” for me.   It took me a while to find a routine that worked – and I found the key was to mix it up using several diet strategies.

So what I do is eat as healthy as I can Monday through Thursday and then change the plan on the weekends when I need more flexibility to be with friends or having fun.  So, here’s my basic food plan that I use,  and you can share yours with me. The point for me is keeping it simple.

  • Monday through Thursdays– I follow the Mayo diet.  You can find it at the Mayo’s clinic website  It’s an easy food plan based on the food pyramid. I follow the plan pretty closely and
    • I allow myself unlimited fruits and vegetables.  For me, it’s important that I always have something to eat if I’m hungry.
    • I use the same menu plan for several days- and that simplifies it also. I’m lucky because I don’t tend to get bored with the same meals for several days and I don’t have to spend so much time planning each day.
    • I found this diet works when you’re feeding a family. Baked chicken, potato and vegetables, and a salad with dressing can work for your family’s dinner also.
    • To further simplify things, if I’m alone I use a microwave and only make a single dinner to limit the temptation.
  • Friday through Sunday– On the weekends I need more flexibility. When I have events I’m going to, or when I like to have a glass of wine or a cocktail I use another strategy.  On those days I just follow a rough calorie count of 1200 to 1400 calories a day.  I allow myself to eat what I want, but just try to stay within that calorie number. I just don’t want to plan as much and this works great.
      • TIP:  For those of you that have a smartphone, I’ve found that tracking your food and exercise helps a lot.  Currently, I’m using MyFitnessPal app on my Droid- but there are several good ones out there.  The app stores have customer ratings so you can find a good one pretty easily.
  • Holidays and “uh- oh” days–  Ok, let’s be realistic here.  There are days when I know I’m just going to be eating more.  It’s  important to me to enjoy holidays, weddings, and especially cocktails with the girls. If you know you will overdo (like I finally realized) you have to find a way to deal with it. So, why not switch to another plan? Well, after trial and error-  I found something that works really well.  I just try to taste everything, but not go “hog wild” and stop when I’m no longer hungry.  On these days, I just try to catch myself when I’m overdoing and tell myself “put the fork down”.  These days are rare (maybe 1-2 days a month) but I find it helps me to have this plan because I know I will not follow my other plans when  I’m facing a day like this. And, if I don’t have some kind of plan, I give up and go hog-wild.

Remember things take time:

This plan is flexible enough to work well for me. I know I can lose about 5 pounds a month while following it.  Now, that may seem slow- but I’m older so it might be much quicker for you.  I know it’s tempting to want to lose weight quickly- especially if you feel terrible about yourself.  But, it’s important that we view this as a lifestyle change- not a quick fix.  Even if you only have 10 or 20 pounds to lose, changing the way you eat for the long-term is much healthier for you.  So, give yourself time and don’t use crash diets that aren’t sustainable. If you fall of the wagon or have a high-calorie day, don’t worry and start right back up again the next day.  Nothing is irreversible.

Reward yourself:

I find that I need to celebrate all the little victories. Of course,  it sustains me and keeps me going- yes. But in addition, when I reward myself I’m validating that I’m worth it.  We all need to remind ourselves that we’re worth it!  So, I reward myself for many things- getting through a tough day, losing a pound, reaching a goal, anything that’s a move in the right direction. I’ll take a long bath, buy a new trinket, or call a friend and have a nice chat.  I reward myself for building good habits- so let’s be good to ourselves!

Takeaways- so remember these steps to building your plan if that’s what you want to do-

1)    There are many kinds of beautiful bodies. Your body is one. Appreciate and learn acceptance for the wonderful person you are.

2)  Identify what your goals are and what kind of things are important to you in an eating plan.

3)  Find or design a plan that gives you everything that’s important to you and it will be sustainable.

4)  Things won’t happen overnight- but they will happen.

5)   Celebrate the victories and reward yourself

So let me know how you’re getting over those holiday indulgences.  I’d love to hear what you think- email me at or comment here. Tell me about your personal plan and success.

Keep Rockin!


  1. Missy Leathers

    Hi Virginia,

    I love this article and your perspective on being a woman, appreciating your body, and doing what you can to be healthy but not beating yourself up when you slip. I like your idea of a different plan for weekdays vs. weekends – the weekends are so hard for so many people with regards to sticking with a meal plan. I also need to lose weight and would love to lose 20 lbs. I cook every night (not fancy meals, just basic fish/chicken/meat with a carb and a salad) because I love to cook and it’s my way of transitioning from the work day to relaxing at home. Also, my husband has Type 2 Diabetes so it is critical that he eat a balanced dinner at a regular time, and dinner time is a great time for us to share together and catch up on the day. So I digress…my problems are not what I eat, but how much…that old portion thing. I was not brought up to be a member of the “clean plate club” so I don’t know where my need to clean the plate comes from, but I do find that cutting portions is what is critical for me to lose weight. Also, I am fortunate to not be a huge sweet eater, but when I have something sweet I will start craving sweets. If I go 3 days with nothing sweet, the craving will go away. So why haven’t I lost weight? It’s back to the portion control problem…my Mom used to say “just put the fork down when you are full”. Simple strategy, but an effective one if I would just do it!

    • Virginia

      Great point Missy- I wished I loved to cook. it would make a good transition time and a moment to lower stress before we eat. I don’t have the clean plate club thing, but I find I eat in the evenings because I’m so tired. Good luck! V

  2. Sarah

    This is a great reminder. I personally found while breastfeeding by youngest that everything he reacted to in my milk was on the do not eat list for my blood type (diet).
    I lost almost 5 lbs in one week when I first started and since I started I dropped 15lbs of baby weight without really being strict. My reward times are when I am on my cycle. I can stick to nothing that week. What I can tell you about diets that really work fast is the minute you go off of them you gain just as fast if you are not careful. Great blog! Thank you!

    • Virginia

      I agree about the weight coming back on when you go off the diet. That is so disappointing! Sounds like you’ve hit something that works. I’ll bet being a busy mom gives you all the aerobics you need! V

  3. Dawn Biocca

    WOW great information. Well for me with Type 2 Diabetes it is that I have to eat three balanced meals plus three snacks a day. I can do the meals but the snacks is just not something I do normally. Dessert at the end of the day “YES” but snacking not really. I was diagnosed in May 2012 and by August I had lost 20 lbs and my A1C went from 8.5 to 6.5. The thing that did it was the tracking of what I eat and since I am limited on the carbs the tracking kept that in check. Now over the last few months I have not tracked and I have put back on about 3 lbs. Well this is the wrong direction for me to go.

    I am starting Weight Watchers. This worked for me in 2011 and I lost almost 50 lbs. I need to measure my food but I also need to cook for the family. I love to cook and bake and I do create meals on the fly – which most of the time is a success but every so often it is a bomb. On Weight Watchers I can do both. I have never had a big sweet tooth so being type 2 D was somewhat easy for me in that area – although soda was a big part of my day. Now I drink Arrowhead Sparkling Water (Alan has a carbonation tank and makes mine for me with zero cost – its great). But my thing is coffee with creamer. That is the one thing I allow myself and I use Splenda if I need it in tea.
    I am also very curvy with large breasts and I get frustrated when I have to purchase cloths. I have a goal to be down in the 140 – 150 range buy May 2014. I know that I can do it and I have the support of the family which is very important to me. If they are not in the same corner as you it is fighting an uphill battle.
    January is a great time to start eating healthier so here is to new year and a new me.

    • Virginia

      Congratulations Dawn! I am so proud of you, and it seems like you’ve given it considerable thought. That is so important when you’re looking to lose over a long period of time. I”m glad you brought up health issues also like diabetes- we must take those into account. Thanks for posting!