The Gradual Diet Excerpt

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Healthy FoodOne steady drop of water, over a period of time will get the same results as a sudden flood. That single drop, continuously applied will erode the most stubborn rock. The most difficult part about dieting is getting started. So let’s start easy. The method I have developed is called “The Gradual Diet,” and it is for those who are clearly in need of losing some weight but have a tough time with the whole concept of dieting. The keys are knowing yourself, knowing how much weight you truly need to lose and the point at which a diet becomes a lifestyle change.

Here’s how it works

Begin by cutting in half what you would eat on a normal day. It doesn’t matter what you ordinarily eat, the kind of food or the amount. Only know that you are going to cut that amount in half. Don’t worry; you will not starve. Your body will feel comforted by the fact that it is familiar with the kind of food that it is getting. You may feel a little bit hungry, but that’s o.k. It is best to get a realistic idea of the amount of food you are ordinarily eating before you begin. Many times people will sabotage their good choices by suddenly increasing the amount of food intake, before they begin a diet. This is panic eating and panic dieting. What I recommend is kind of like sneaking up on your self. So just allow yourself the opportunity to cut back. On the other hand every individual has specific dietary needs and nutritional requirements. What I am recommending here is for those who are definitely overweight and have tried other diets and failed.

The Gradual Diet

So, after you’ve cut in half a single day’s worth of eating, the next day go back to your old diet. This doesn’t mean that you are now overeating, just eating what is normal for you. Relax and be comfortable with the process. Repeat this pattern for a week. One day you follow the new or gradual diet; the next day you follow the old diet. The second week add a gradual diet day. Cut in half your old diet for two days and then go back to a regular course of meals for one. Do this for two weeks. After two weeks increase your diet days to three. Do this for three weeks and so on.

Notice that to get to a place where you are “dieting” more than you are following old patterns, will take a month and a half. Clearly, you will not see as drastic a change as you might have with other diets because you are not starving yourself. You are changing your habits gradually. However, you will definitely be eating fewer calories, therefore you WILL SEE POSITIVE RESULTS. Remember, I am using the arbitrary amount of half, based on the assumption that you are overweight from eating too much. The object is to think in terms of getting what you need to be healthy, rather than what you have become used to consuming.

Further Options

You are going to love this part. You actually get to choose your diet food. On your diet day, if you do not want to do half portions you can choose the Zone, Weight Watchers, South Beach, etc. It really doesn’t matter which program’s meals you prefer. You can even alternate your diet choices on your diet days. The bottom line is, it is all about calories. This method gradually changes your lifestyle of eating. You will always have one day a week when you can satisfy your cravings. Go a little crazy, but always return to your moderate eating. We all have special occasions, such as weddings, showers or birthdays and we shouldn’t have to give up everything associated with celebrating. Work around these special occasions. Allow yourself to enjoy the food you eat on these days. You can do it!

Exercise

Exercise on the gradual program is viewed in the same way that eating is. Start easy and work yourself up to more exercise days. You get to choose if you want to exercise on the old diet or new diet day. Like the diet, find a pace and a style of exercise that works well for you at first and gradually increase your exercise program. Naturally, if you are starting with zero exercise then an increase will be simple. Remember, ANY amount of exercise is better than none.

I suggest starting with simple walking. As you start losing weight you will feel better and be able to walk further and faster and even to try other, more advanced exercise. If your health permits more strenuous exercise, then by all means do so. Remember it’s all about calories-the number of your intake versus the amount you burn. I prefer moderation to extremes. I believe in being good to my body and it will be good to me. I don’t push it beyond its limits. I might also mention I don’t like pain. You don’t have to suffer terrible consequences to get fit. You do have to be dedicated to a lifestyle that keeps you happy and healthy. You can get lazy about dieting if your attitude is that of defeat.

Attitude is Everything

Another very important aspect of this diet is attitude. Attitude is another choice. See, you are in control of your attitude, so pick a good one. Right? I get a visual picture of myself at my best and make that a goal. If your imagination is not that vivid, then find a picture of yourself that pleases you and place it on your refrigerator or anywhere you can see it as a constant reminder of what you will achieve.

Keep a calendar of “old diet/ new diet days”. It will motivate you to stay with it.
Your exercise program should also be recorded. Once you have programmed yourself to this lifestyle it won’t be necessary to keep records, it will become a part of you.

Educate Yourself

I can remember how shocked I was when I read on a cereal box (nutritional) that it is 130 calories for a single serving. I noticed that the serving was 1/2 cup, so for some reason I decided to take out a measuring cup and see how much cereal that really was. I measured a 1/2 cup of cereal. It is not much. It certainly was not a full bowl of cereal. I started to measure everything that I was eating and I was amazed! The recommended serving sizes were ALWAYS smaller than the amounts I was used to consuming. What’s the conclusion? Keep a measuring cup on hand. If we look at that bowl of cereal once again, when you add milk it increases to 180 calories. So beware of the amount of food that is equal to a serving. Sometime you think , well I only had a bowl of cereal and WOW!, it could be close to 400 calories if you have eaten it with a full cup of milk. Read the labels carefully and compare. It may be worth it to you to get a little bit more food or eat something that tastes better but may have a few more calories. Either way, your decisions will be based on facts.

Desserts and Rewards

Positive reinforcement is better than punishment. So, I say reward yourself! One of my favorite meals is dessert. I don’t think I’m alone in this. Most people like dessert more than anything else. One of my favorite desserts on my diet days is a delicious good-sized fudgecicle with only 100 calories. There are quite a few out there. I like “Skinny Cow”. They are tasty and satisfying. I use substitute sugars whenever possible. Splenda, Equal etc. Use these substitutes on oatmeal, fruit, anywhere you would ordinarily use sugar. It really makes a difference. Don’t forget herbs. There are no calories in a sprinkling of herbs. A little olive oil and rice vinegar complimented with oregano, sweet basil or dill adds a distinctive flavor. Everyone has a favorite herb. Pick yours and enjoy! A lot of the nutrition bars are high in calories, originally meant to build the body with proteins. Some of these health bars are substitutes for meals, not snacks. What that means is if you have a bar for lunch, then that is your lunch. Most of these bars need to be cut in half for a snack. There are some bars that are only 120 calories, but they are small.

Yogurt is another good choice at snack time. Shop around. Read the labels. You may find that you will be better able to stick to the good stuff, the more educated you become about your body. Yogurt is especially healthy for women because of the calcium content. Raw veggies are healthy, but did you know the dressing you dip them into is high in calories? I mix olive oil and seasoned rice vinegar in a jar and keep it to dip my veggies. I use it on my salads and also as a marinade for chicken. It’s the little dips and dollops that increase your fat intake. Thank goodness for lite whipped topping. Two tablespoons are only 28 calories. Top your cakes and desserts with whipped topping instead of icing or real whipped cream. When applying dressings such as your favorite brand of mayonnaise or mustard, read the label to determine what a “rational amount” might be. Drink diet soft drinks instead of sugar filled ones. Better yet, try tea as a substitute for soda or coffee. Did you know that oolong and green tea actually boost your metabolism? Try hot tea in cool weather, iced tea in the warmer weather. You will gradually acquire a taste for these substitutes and include them in your lifestyle.

Don’t get discouraged.

Your weight will fluctuate. Give it 6 to 8 weeks. The more overweight you are the quicker you will see a weight loss. The less weight you have to lose, the longer it will take because your maintenance is at a lower calorie intake. Your body has taken time to adjust its metabolism to maintain the your present weight. It will take time to reset itself.

The Miracle Body

Your body is a healing machine. This magnificent machine compares to no other. The inner workings of the body are just astounding. The filtering and purifying of antibodies, the distribution of nutrients to various organs in the body is just a few of the myriad of functions the body deals with on a daily basis. We know that the care we give a treasured machine will insure its performance and endurance. Let’s treat our body in the same way and with the same respect we treat any other machine in our lives. Do not abuse or, don’t laugh, torture it. Yes, overloaded and sluggish bodies resort to reserve status, which forces the body to be laboring constantly and exhausting all its resources. Love your body and demonstrate this love through action and your body will love you.

Don’t beat yourself up

Be kind and good to yourself. Some days will be harder than others. It’s O.K. Keep moving forward. Pick yourself up and start all over again. Even a bad day has the promise of a better tomorrow. Don’t lose sight of your goal. This life plan is not designed to promote self-destructive behavior. It’s not a matter of being a Pollyanna or wearing rose colored glasses, ignoring your faults. It’s a matter of emphasizing the positive and keeping sight of your goals.

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