Food, Musings

50 Points

I got the news right after my 25th birthday that I have high cholesterol. News which was accompanied by an ultimatum from the doctor: if it doesn’t come down, we’ll have to talk about medication. Not something I want.

Today, three months later, I have lost 12 pounds and my cholesterol is down almost 50 points. I even bought a bridesmaid dress this weekend that was two sizes smaller than I was wearing before. It’s been a good day.

Everyone asks me how I did it. I can’t promise to be an expert, but I can tell you what worked for me. Think of it as food for thought in the New Year.

The Diet

I am on a low fat diet. Not paying super close attention to the calorie count, but I am trying to keep my daily Fat intake under 50 grams of fat (about 30% of my total calories).

I also try to keep everything in moderation. My eating in moderation mantras:

  1. Don’t eat if you’re not hungry
  2. Stop eating when you’re full
  3. Be OK with not always cleaning your plate
  4. When ordering food at a restaurant, order something that will taste good tomorrow, and save enough for leftovers

The Tools

Tracking Food

I spent the first 6 weeks being really strict with everything I  put in my body. I took my time in the grocery store reading labels, and tracked everything through the website Daily Burn on and their fantastic iPhone app.

Essentially Daily Burn is a free version of Weight Watchers online – you track your calories and workouts. The features I like better than Weight Watchers are:

  • It breaks down your total calories (what percent is Protein, Fat, Carbs, etc.)
  • Because the food listings come from a user generated database, Daily Burn has everything (and you can add anything it doesn’t). Even most substitutions (no cheese or no mayo) at virtually all chain restaurants.

After the first 6 weeks of relearning what to eat, I am able to keep a mental count of my food. Though if I’m having a hard week (Thanksgiving, Christmas), I will start tracking more strictly again.

My Favorite Low Fat Foods

  • Real fruit Frozen Fruit Bars (Dreyer’s or the store brand) – as satisfying as ice cream, but not bad for you
  • Nonfat chocolate pudding – no fat, lots of chocolate
  • Simply Fruit by Fruit Roll ups – 50 Calories, less than 1 gram of fat
  • Cheerios – for breakfast, and brought in a ziploc to work for a snack
  • Rosemary and Olive Oil Multigrain Crisps from Costco – I’m addicted
  • Pretzels – I’m one of those people who can’t eat a sandwich without chips, so pretzels are my low fat substitute

Lots of Yum, not a lot of Fat

Weighing In

I weigh myself on my Wii Fit in my underwear first thing in the morning. The Wii Fit feels more impartial than a scale, and I like that it tracks my weight on a graph, lets me set goals, and shows both weight and BMI (Body Mass Index). You weigh the least in the morning, so I weigh myself first thing before I eat or drink anything. I also try to schedule my doctor’s appointments for first thing in the morning because I swear the doctor’s scale adds 5 pounds.

Victoria is skeptical of the Wii Fit


The doctor recommended that I work out 30-45 minutes 3 times a week. I started in the apartment gym, and walking around the block, but my favorite exercising at the moment is my XBOX Kinect.

The Kinect work out game is called Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. There are three types of exercises: your “Personal Trainer” who has you learn exercises, gym games, and work out classes. Because the Kinect can see your entire body, it won’t let you cheat on any of the exercises. It also tracks your calories burned for each session, and overall. It’s a lot of fun, and I love anything that I can do in my own living room.

Another XBOX Kinect Game, Kinect Adventures – don’t worry, the workout game doesn’t take your picture

In Conclusion: Don’t Kill Yourself

Diets don’t work for me when they’re too drastic. I have to be able to keep it up. So I make a lot of compromises.

For me, I try to be really good during week, but not stress so much on the weekend.

I also try to use substitutes instead of completely changing my diet. I only cook with Low Fat butter and Skim Milk. I buy low fat versions of my favorite foods or limit portions (but not totally cut out) food I love.

My best advice – work whatever works for you!

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