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Need Help #2 - Bye, Bye Meat?

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ok. Here's the deal. I need to lose weight. 25-30 pounds to be exact.

I'm done having kids, done nursing, done having "excuses" to lug around this extra weight. I started going to the gym three days a week again back in November, so I'm started on the exercise part, but I need some work in the "food intake" area.

I've also found myself sucked in to a contest with some of my fellow SEOs. Basically, ten of us are going to live blog our weight loss attempts over the next two months. There are five women and five men participating and we're gathering up sponsors. (Anyone interested? Email me.) At the end of the two months, the man and woman with the highest percentage of weight loss will go head to head in a vote. Winner gets all of the sponsorship money for the charity of their choice.

Now obviously, I'm going to be playing for the milk banks.

We've got $2500 raised so far and we're all working our contacts. There's a good chance we can get the pot to $10K or more.

That's obviously pretty good motivation for me. I mean geeze, fit into skinny jeans AND help the milk banks? It's a win-win.

So to pull this off, I need a game plan. I'm going to be relying on bento boxes for portion control and healthy eating while I'm out and about (no more fast food) and I'm going to be mixing pilates into my workout schedule to cover me on the days when I don't make it to the gym.

Beyond that, I'm giving VERY serious consideration to giving up meat. (Please do not even think of suggesting I become a vegan cause it ain't gonna happen. I can live without meat, I refuse to live without organic dairy and organic eggs. :-P) I know several of my readers are vegetarians/vegans and I would love it if you'd share your favorite recipes and resources.

(NOTE: I'm reminded now of why I don't generally write and publish posts on the fly. Clearly people are reading this post and thinking I'm giving up meat as a "diet" to lose weight. That is not what I mean. I'm saying I'd like to try giving up meat because there are health benefits to doing so and because it will force me to work harder to incorporate whole grains and new veggies into my diet. There are sources of protein other than whole milk and peanut butter. ;) Giving up meat does not mean eating tons of fatty foods as protein replacements.)

It will be a challenge for me as I don't like tofu, lentils or red/black beans. That said, I fully recognize the health benefits of eliminating meat from my diet. So...I'm willing to experiment with tofu, but let's aim for tofu in terms of stir-fry and maybe chili or spaghetti...not tofu as in "this chocolate dream pie made with silken tofu is fantastic! really, I promise!" ('cause I believed them and they're wrong.)

I also need a cheering squad/accountability squad. I need people to pester me about working out and what I eat. That might be in the comments here (because I get email notice) or even in the comments over there once I start posting later today. In an ideal world, some of you would join me. :) If anyone is interested, let me know and I'll post weekly accountability posts here on The Lactivist where everyone can share their progress.

So, what do you say folks? Anyone have any tips, resources, ideas? Anyone want to join me in publicly saying "yeah, yeah, I'm fat. Let's get this fixed?"

Oh and is it cheating to eat a bunch of junk today to get it out of my system and to give me more weight to lose? (I kid! I kid!)

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  1. Blogger Maria | 6:34 AM |  

    I would gladly cheer for you, and if I had the weight to lose, I'd join in. (I'll pause for you to throw something at me...virtually of course).)

    One of my friends made this "chili" a few weeks ago, and I absolutely loved it. It is meatless, and packed full of nutrition. You can substitute any bean that you enjoy. I like Garbonzo.

    anything can be substituted for fresh
    ingredients, but this is the quick and dirty version)

    4 cans of stewed tomatoes (usually
    nice to mix it up with some Mexican-style, some Italian

    3 cans of any beans of your choice (I use garbanzo, kidney and pinto typically)

    1 small can of corn

    Other vegetables (potatoes, carrots
    and onions are all good)

    All seasoning is to your taste
    preference:chili seasoning, ground pepper and
    salt, cumin, basil, oregano, garlic

    A few tablespoons of red wine vinegar

    Cut everything up into bite-sized portions. In the order
    in which I listed them, place into a large pan on high
    heat. Add all ingredients, stirring frequently. Bring it
    to a boil, stir, then take the heat down to a simmer.
    Cover and simmer for as long as you can (the longer the
    better!). It CAN be ready as soon as it boils, but it is
    better even the second day.

    I'll cheerlead for you, btw...and I'll post a second recipe in just a minute.

  2. Blogger Maria | 6:35 AM |  

    I like soups... I have a ton of great recipes, but I will try not to take up all of the comments!

    Tortellini Soup-- It changes each time I make it, because I add whatever vegetables I have around.

    3 tbsp butter
    2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I use the stuff that comes in a jar)
    2 med celery stocks, chopped (about 1 cup)
    2-3 med carrot, chopped
    1/2 head of cauliflower
    1 sm onion, chopped
    8-10 cups water plus bouillon cubes (I use vegetable cubes, chicken is also good)
    2 packages chopped spinach (Fresh when I have it)
    18 ounces cheese tortellini
    2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
    thyme and basil to taste

    1. Melt butter in large pan. Add garlic, veggies (except spinach). Cover and cook for approximately 10 minutes. Add spinach and cook additional 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally throughout.

    2. In crock pot (or separate pan) heat water and bouillon cubes. Add veggies and herbs allow to simmer/warm for as long as you can stand.

    3. Approximately 30 minutes before serving, add tortellini.

    It is also good topped with parmesan cheese.

  3. Blogger Jillian Frank | 6:37 AM |  

    I'm on a commenting roll today.

    My hubby and I are (bad) vegetarians. Occasionally, we'll eat meat (usually chicken) if it's free-range and organic. That being said...

    We eat a lot of vegetable stir-fry. I also make a really yummy dish that has lentils, a bunch of veggies, and a bunch of yummy spices. Here's the base recipe I use: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Lentils-with-Tomatoes/Detail.aspx
    I usually make it with onions, peppers (green and red), green beans, squash, tomatoes, and some spinach added right at the end. Spice-wise, I use chili powder, cumin, cayenne powder, sea salt, and black pepper. You do need to season it well... otherwise it's pretty bland. Also, I top it with a bit of grated cheddar cheese.

    We also eat Morning Star Spicy Black Bean Burgers about once a week... We eat eggs for dinner usually once a week. And again, you don't like black or kidney beans, but we also eat a lot of bean burritos (wild rice, black and kidney beans, salsa, a bit of cheese, sometimes spinach on a whole wheat shell).

    Portion control is important. I would also look into substituting your regular pasta with Quinoa pasta. It breaks down like a protein and is better for you than regular pasta. I would also switch to sprouted breads/bagels instead of regular whole wheat bread products. Cut out sugar... add foods that are high in fiber.

    I've also found that yoga is great at strengthening and toning (and overall mental well being). You might want to give that a try too.

    Good luck to you. I'm still nursing my 8-month-old, and I've been lucky enough to drop all of my pregnancy weight and some of my pre-pregnancy weight. I'm scared to think of what's going to happen when Jude (my son) stops nursing and I have to somehow curb my tendency to eat every sweet treat that comes my way.


  4. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 7:01 AM |  

    Wow, that soup sounds yummy! I may have to try that this week.

    I've got a fantastic chili recipe I've cultivated over the years that's heavy on the veggies. We replace the beans with mushrooms and diced carrots. (same texture, no yucky bean taste) I've always used ground turkey, but I think I could leave out the meat and be ok.

    Also going to try buying a few "meat" products from morningstar farms today. I'm hesitant on that stuff both for taste reasons and because I have concerns over large amounts of soy in my family's diet...but I'll give them a whirl.

    Oh and no throwing things at you maria. I have lots of skinny friends. They rock and give me inspiration. :) I'm not really fat, but I DO very much need to drop 25-30 pounds.

  5. Anonymous Mandi | 7:05 AM |  

    I have a great suggestion for you. Kevin Trudeau's books. He has one on weight loss and the others are about the natural cures to ailments. If you have a K-Mart around you, that is where it is cheapest to purchase. As for the meat, you could still have chicken or turkey I would think - just in smaller portions. Here's a great recipe that I sub tofu in for chicken and I love it! It's even good as leftovers. It comes from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine.

    This fast-cooking Moroccan chicken is sweetened with honey, warmed by ginger, and flecked with fresh tomatoes.

    Serves 1
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 garlic cloves, slivered
    2 medium tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
    3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/2 cup packed chopped fresh cilantro
    1 1/2 teaspoons honey
    1 boneless, skinless chicken breast half or tofu (about 6 ounces)
    1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (about 1 cup)
    Coarse salt and ground pepper

    So that everything is ready at the same time, start the couscous while the chicken is simmering; then keep the couscous covered until ready to serve.

    In a large (10-inch) skillet, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic; cook until starting to soften, about 1 minute.

    Stir in tomatoes, ginger, teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, half the cilantro, and 2 tablespoons water.

    Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated but is still somewhat saucy, 6 to 8 minutes.

    Stir in honey; add chicken and zucchini.

    Return to a simmer; cover. Cook, turning once, until chicken is cooked through and zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining cilantro. Serve over couscous

  6. Blogger Fat Lady | 7:31 AM |  

    OK, I have a lot to say about this, but I'll try to keep it short.

    Giving up meat is probably not the greatest way to go about losing weight. You might lose some initially, but you definitely won't lose long term. In fact, depending on what other changes you make to your diet, you might not lose in the short term.

    Are you planning on giving up all meat, including poultry and fish or just red meat? If you're going to give up all meat, then you have to seriously consider what alternate forms of protein and fat you are going to put into your diet.

    I know you mentioned tofu and beans which are both protein, but what about healthy fats? You also have to consider that tofu - and most soy products - are processed foods. I have a friend who recently went back to eating meat after more than 10 years as a vegan because she realized that she was eating so many processed foods and felt, as many people do these days, that a diet of whole foods is much healthier than one filled with processed foods.

    Also, I am always wary of weight loss efforts that involve eliminating a particular food or food group. I've found - and believe me, I've been on almost every diet under the sun - that when you eliminate a food, it leaves you with cravings that either wind up making you eat more of other stuff you don't really want. Or if you do lose weight, you end up putting it back on when you return to eating that food.

    I've found, in my experience, that exercise is a much better thing to focus on when trying to lose weight. Some kind of weight training to help build muscle - because muscle helps burn fat - and lots of cardio to boost your metabolism. The pilates and the gym are cool - but I would also recommend something more cardio focused - walking, swimming, jogging, skating, biking - something along those lines. Even if you do it for just a very short time each day - as little as 15-30 minutes it can make a huge difference.

    If you want to make diet changes, rather than eliminating a food, I would recommend making a conscious effort to only eat when you're hungry and to stop eating when you're not hungry (rather than when you're full). And, for the most part, try to listen to your body and primarily eat the foods you crave.

    We have all kinds of customs and rules about food that often have us eating when we're not hungry and eating foods that aren't satisfying to us. You don't have to eat dinner just because it's dinner time. And if you're craving broccoli first thing in the morning, better to eat that than an apple you don't really want.

    Another rule I have when I'm being healthy and losing weight is if I do crave something sweet or kind of junky - then I have to eat the best possible version I can get my hands on. So if I want chocolate - I don't just eat a snickers bar, I have a small piece of Godiva (or better if I can get it) which ends up being less calories and more satisfying.

    I think when you try to lose weight from a perspective of being good to yourself, rather than from a position of depriving yourself, you have better results.

    Now, I know all this advice is coming from someone named "fat lady," so you may be wondering how valid any of it is.

    All I can say is that when I allowed myself to live the way I've described to you I lost 75lbs and went from a size 18 to a size 6 in less than 5 months without giving up a thing. I kept the weight off for more than 2 years until a back injury kept me from exercising for about 8 months. And I struggle everyday with the emotional issues that keep me from getting back to the very simple, easy and healthy way of life that I know allows me to be the weight I want to be.

    Now, of course, if you want to give up meat because it's a lifestyle choice that you want to make, regardless of the weight loss implications - then more power to you! I understand the various reasons people chose to not eat meat and I think most of them are very valid. I just don't believe it's an effective weight loss tool.

    Sorry to ramble on, and certainly, whatever approach you choose, I will support you whole-heartedly.

  7. Blogger JudyBright | 8:03 AM |  

    I know you're going to do what you want, but I don't think giving up meat is a good weight loss plan. Cutting back depending on your diet might be good. You need high quality protein to build the muscle that burns calories.

    Anyway, have you looked into the glycemic index? Eating low glycemic foods keeps your blood sugar under control and helps weight loss considerably.

    I know it sucks, but bread is one of the worst things to eat as far as weight control goes.

    Cutting carbs will go much further in weight loss than cutting meat :)

  8. Blogger Eilat | 8:26 AM |  

    So, I cant say Im fat, but I did have a pesky 10 pounds hanging around for about 18 months after my son was born. I went to the gym and ate vegan wraps for lunch (I am NOT a vega) and nothing budged.

    Ive got two words for you:

    The FIRM!!!

    It is the best set of at home exercise DVDs. I have the one with the "incline box" so it is step aerobics but the step changes from 8" to 16" (for awesome butt work) and an incline step for great leg variations. I lost the 10 lb, eat basically the same and look better than I did before I had my baby.

    Im going to sound like a commercial now, but:
    The FIRM uses light weights with aerobics so you get toned while doing cardio. That is the secret. The DVDs are 30-45 minutes long and work you HARD. But that is all I had to do.

    A few warnings:

    * The instructors are SUPER peppy and have the cutest southern accents. It can be very cheesy and get on your nerves, but its worth it.

    * The cardio steps can seem confusing at first, and I felt silly for a few weeks, but if you keep at it muscle memory kicks in and now they seem easy.

    So, may I suggest that you invest in a FIRM system (usually $60 at Target where you get 3 DVDs and the step -- they have a few versions, but I hear they are all good) instead of pilates at home. I started out going to the gym and doing the DVDs only when I couldnt get to the gym, and now I never go to the gym! I get a MUCH better work out at home in less time.

    I am a carnivore, so I cant help you with your kicking the meat habit. I do think you should not get rid of fish, though. The protein and omegas are so healthy. You really cant go wrong with a nice grilled salmon, or sauteed scallops or stir fried shrimp. YUM!

    Good luck with the weight loss!

  9. Blogger Sara | 9:23 AM |  

    I'm probably going to be disagreed with, but I'm not sure cutting out meat is the best way to go. If you don't like beans or tofu I worry that you'll rely on cheese and other dairy for your protein, which usually is much higher in fat and calories. My suggestion would be to cut out red meat (or make it a special treat in small amounts), but turkey and chicken are good lean, low fat and calorie, sources of protein.

    When I've lost weight I've been successful by exercising and keeping track of what I'm eating--counting calories and/or just keeping a diary so I felt accountable. I know that I have the best luck when I avoid cheese, too much bread and cereal (though whole grains are important in moderation--I just tend to overdo it) and concentrate on making sure I get lots of vegetables. Whatever you do, good luck!

    Maybe I'll join you---I've still got 10 lbs of baby weight on me and really should lose 10-15 on top of that!

  10. Blogger Ahmie | 10:20 AM |  

    sorry can't really help much with recipes, for me weight loss and health improvement come with following more of a Sugar Busters style food plan (TRYING to impliment that again but I need quick-to-grab food during the day especially now with teething baby and demanding toddler). If I cut meat out of my diet, I feel like total crap, especially when it's replaced with really quick-to-blood-sugar carbohydrates like white flour pasta (I'm ok with whole wheat pasta but the texture just really throws me off to the point of not bothering).

    I need to lose about 40-50lbs I think but I'm not stressing about it much because I have plenty of other stuff to stress about.

    Hmmm... well, one thing, as a treat that is high in good fats and protien and low in sugar/refined carbs, I love me a bowl of plain oatmeal with three squares of Trader Joe's Pound Plus 70% Dark Chocolate and two tablespoons of Trader Joe's salted peanut butter. Only sugar is from the chocolate and it's not much, plus there's the dark chocolate antioxidents and it's like 12% of your daily iron and a good dose of protein.

    now I'm hungry.

    I'm also craving egg salad with horseradish and minced garlic and onions (I call it Dragon Egg Salad and often sprinkle a little cayanne pepper on top too). that may qualify for you and work for your bento on a bed of lettuce?

    good luck, I'm cheering you on but too finanically strapped right now to contribute cash.

  11. Blogger Amy | 10:22 AM |  

    Okay first I want to say that I eat a primarily vegetarian diet myself. This is in large part due to my husband being vegetarian.
    BUT, from a diet perspective, I don't think that cutting meat is the best way to go. Yes, do cut sausage, bacon and hamburgers. But lean steak, salmon, baked chicken ~ these are the "bread and butter" of diet foods. First, you need the protein when you are exercising a lot. But most importantly in my perspective, protein cannot be converted into fat AND it makes you full. So eat it. It is perfect for dieting. Good luck with whatever you do.

  12. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 10:52 AM |  

    Fat lady,

    Don't let what I wrote make you think I am giving up meat as some crazy "diet" in order to lose weight. That's not the goal here. The goal is to work on my diet and what I eat and the reality is, I need to make some changes.

    Meat, as a whole, is NOT good for you. Yes, it can fill some vital nutrient needs, but there is nothing you get in meat that you cannot get from other whole foods. You don't see Elephants out there wasting away to nothing. ;)

    I have two primary reasons for wanting to cut meat out of my diet during the next two months.

    1.) I actually eat very healthy. I love veggies, whole grains, fruit and such. The problem is, I eat TOO much. I could sit down and eat a 12 oz porterhouse with no problem. I'm not a 'scale back' personality. It's going to be easier for me to not eat meat than to try and cut it down to tiny portions.

    2.) I need to cleanse some of the crap from my system. I cannot afford to buy organic meat. The regular meat we buy in stores is chalk full of herbicides, antibiotics and tons of other things I'd really rather not put in my system. I'm also very anti "big-farm" when it comes to animals. I abhore the way slaughterhouses practice. The stories that come from people who work inside them are horrific. Absolutely horrific. As I do some more research into food options, I find the thought of meat from these places actually turns my stomach.

    Now if dad had gone hunting this year and I had a freezer full of meat I know was killed quickly and was processed safely...I'd probably be all over it. Unfortunately, dad was sick and didn't go.

    So...I think I'm going to give this no-meat thing a try. I may find it works great. I may find I want to add some fish and poultry back in. I won't know until I get into it, but I want to fully explore my options.

    As for lack of protein and calcium and other things. It's an absolute myth that you need meat to get those things. There's a ton of protein in whole grains, green leafy veggies and legumes. I also LOVE eggs, cheese, milk and yogurt. If I stick with limited amounts of organic dairy, I can easily meet my protein and calcium needs.

    If someone likes meat and doesn't want to give it up, I totally get that. But this whole "you have to eat meat to be healthy" thing doesn't fly with me.

  13. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 10:56 AM |  


    There is NOTHING wrong with carbs.

    There are loads of things wrong with BAD carbs.

    Carbs are not bad for you. Fat is not bad for you.

    BAD carbs and BAD fat are bad for you.

    (Sorry, just a rant directed at the world in general.)

  14. Anonymous Jake | 11:36 AM |  

    Not sure how much it will help, but I have a love/hate relationship with the South Beach Diet. The beginning is intense - for me I can't imagine giving up heroin is worse than giving up sugar - but ultimately it relies on the good carb v. bad carb distinction you ranted about, along with controlling sugar to control craving. I have fallen off the wagon pretty regularly but my husband has turned it into a very healthy lifestyle (we both lost over 40 pounds but I put some back on with sugar lapses). You can take off a ton of weight and maintain it with a diet much like the one you already have - whole grains, veggies, etc. After the first stages, you can eat some foods in large amounts. Lean meat is fine. Like you I see meat as more of a health concern than a weight loss issue.

  15. Anonymous Brenda Z. | 11:42 AM |  

    Ok- I am DEF with you on the losing weight. My thing is portion control too. I have the eating everyone's leftovers disease- I actually just joined a gym on Monday and I love working out and I have about 20 to lose too. You kick my butt and I'll kick yours!

  16. Blogger Anna | 11:47 AM |  

    Jennifer, your last comment made me laugh, even though I'm sure that was not its intended purpose. Did you REALLY think you could blog about any sort of "diet" without stirring up controversy? Really? C'mon - surely you've been around long enough to know better than that! ;-)

    My brother switched to a vegetarian diet just over two years ago, although he does still eat fish. He is by far the healthiest person I know. I'll shoot him an email and see what tips he has for getting started, and he loves to cook, so I know he has a ton of good recipes. He also does a juice fast twice a year, and the "master cleanse" fast twice year (so, he fasts 4x/year total). Let me know if you want info on those - I have a bunch floating around in email from him.

    Now, I know you're pretty set on cutting out all meat, but I would consider keeping cold-water fish in your diet. Not for the protein (although it's obviously a good source), but because of the Omega-3's. Yes, you could take a fish oil supplement, but a nice fillet of grilled salmon just sounds so much better!

    As for vegetarian recipes, I LOVE this chili (from Robin Miller on Food Network):

    1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
    4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
    1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
    1 (15-ounce) can white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
    1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    1 cup frozen baby lima beans or regular lima beans
    1 cup chopped onion
    1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon minced pickled jalapeno (from can or jar)
    2 tablespoons chili powder
    2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano or regular oregano
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
    1/3 cup couscous
    1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
    1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients but the couscous, shredded cheese, cilantro and salt and pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.

    Five to 10 minutes before serving (depending on temperature of slow cooker) add couscous, cover and cook, until couscous is tender. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.

    Just before serving, top each serving with shredded cheese and cilantro.

    A few notes... you can substitute whatever beans you like, obviously. Also, 1/3 cup of couscous, dry, does not look like NEARLY enough for this pot of chili. It's enough. Trust me!

    Good luck... I have a loooong ways to go before I can really think about losing weight again, but I'll be rooting for you!

  17. Blogger Kathie | 12:42 PM |  

    I don't know anything about cutting meat from your diet (cause as a pre-diabetic, I worry about getting too many sugary carbs). However, the absolute most effective diet I ever did was Body for Life. It's a bit extreme, but if you're going to win big for the milk banks, it can work. It's got a great exercise schedule, and a very healthy diet to follow. I'd recommend it very much if you have trouble developing your own plan.

  18. Blogger Fat Lady | 1:48 PM |  

    Jennifer, I think you misunderstood me. I was not selling meat as a necessary food. Not by a long shot. I don't eat red meat and have frequently considered cutting out poultry. So I have no love affair with meat and would not encourage someone to eat it if they didn't want to.

    In your original post you put forward that you were considering eliminating meat as a weight loss measure and only suggested tofu and beans as alternatives for meat.

    I was concerned that you might not be aware of the holes in such a plan without being aware of the other nutritional options and considerations and was merely suggesting that you look into it further.

    I was not saying that meat is necessary and healthier than not eating meat. But I was saying that a vegetarian diet is not always a healthy diet - a misconception that many people have.

    I've known plenty of people who have chosen to become vegetarians without educating themselves on their nutritional options and, in the end, had much less healthy diets as vegetarians than they did as meat eaters.

    I merely used the example of a friend who found that she was eating an overabundance of processed soy products and chose to reintroduce meat to her diet because she felt it worked better for her. I did not mean to suggest that it's impossible to have a diet of whole foods without meat.

    I see so many people who make diet decisions based on the latest fad or random information. And so many diets people choose require drastic life changes that tend to be near impossible for most people to stick to long-term. I was merely suggesting a gentler approach to weight loss.

    It sounds like your reasons for wanting to eliminate meat from your diet are much more extensive and your plan for doing it better thought out than your original post suggested.

    Good luck with it.

  19. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 1:59 PM |  


    I didn't mean to sound as annoyed as I did. It was more one of those:

    1.) Kicking myself for not being more clear in my first post. (i.e. I don't like beans and tofu, so I won't have those as protein sources...implying dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, whole grains, etc...)

    2.) Feeling like my readers know me well enough by now to know I'm not a "jump on the fad" type person, but rather a "research the crap out of things" type person and thus, was asking for their help in finding good resources on vegetarian eating.

    Instead, I opened up the dieting can of worms of "Eat Meat!!" "No carbs!!" "You NEED Fish!!" "Bread is Evil!!!"

    etc...etc... :)

    Just got frustrating. :)

  20. Blogger evil cake lady | 3:56 PM |  

    the one thing meat is awesome for (and practically the only source of) is giving you vitamin B12. so make sure you supplement with it, because you could get B12 anemia and being anemic is no fun.

    that is all. good luck to you--can't wait to read about it!

  21. Blogger Radical Catholic Mom | 7:32 PM |  

    I would recommend before you do anything to get find a place that offers Metabolic Typing and take the tests that should be covered by insurance and see what foods your body does best with. The saying is "One person's food is another person's poison." So there are some people who may be a vegetarian and it is good for their body, others may literally become sick.

    Metabolic Typing is the best thing I have ever done in my life and I am dropping weight easily, eating good food, and not craving anything at all. INCREDIBLE! I now understand why every other "diet" has not worked for me before. Do a google search and you will find more info.

  22. Anonymous Megan | 4:38 AM |  

    Hi Jennifer,

    We are not vegans or vegetarians, but we just joined a CSA (farm share) this past Spring and Summer, and now we are doing the Winter Share too. I have found it is a great way to incorporate fresh organic veggies into our diet because the kids love them and my husband loves them (he has not really been a big fan of veggies in the past) and they are much much cheaper than the ones we could ever buy in the store organic or not.

    I just did a quick web search for a CSA near you (and I do not know much about your area, so of course you can do a more extensive one) and here is a site I came up with. The prices seem like what they are around here: $425-$475/season. But, keep in mind you can store a lot of these veggies by freezing them. Forgive me for boring you if you already have a farm share. Here is the site: http://www.greatercolumbusfoodshedproject.org/CSA%20List%202004.htm

    Also, here is a web site of a vegan
    woman who also has a farm share and
    uses her veggies to make all sorts
    of cool things: http://veganyumyum.com/
    I like how she has her site set up - very user friendly.

    Hope some of that helps.


  23. Blogger Barbara | 6:09 AM |  

    My issues are portion control and consciousness of what I'm eating. I've started joining my daughter in eating off of her toddler dishes from Ikea. The plates are small and the bowls hold one cup - just right for cereal, pasta, etc. She sometimes chooses to use a big plate like Daddy but that's okay. As for deciding that a small treat is okay (forgetting the other small treats) I am always better when I write down what I eat. Good luck introducing new recipes into your family's routine. My husband is pretty averse to change.

  24. Anonymous Abby | 8:58 AM |  

    I think cutting out red meat is a good place to start.
    My husband is trying to cut down on portions and drink more fluids as a way to encourage weight loss. Unlike you, HE needs to lose at least 80 pounds, if not 100. Obviously, we're taking this slowly, because we want the weight to stay off permanently, not just spring back.
    Another thing I agree with is cutting down on sugary foods, like white bread and soda. Eliminating "sweets" entirely may be impossible, but having maybe only 1 a week is better than 1-2 a day (this comes from experience!)
    He's eliminated fast food and soda, but I don't know how much of that you have, anyway.
    I know you go to Panera often, I would seriously suggest getting something like a whole grain bagel instead of any of the others, or even a bowl of fruit. I worked there, and this is just a fact, it's NOT any healthier than other fast food restaurants. The turkey and ham may be 99% fat free, but the mayo isn't, and the dressings on the salad are worse. I think people really believe it's a healthier option because it's "fresh" food, but fresh doesn't mean healthy. Most of the breads there are refined. I'm going on a tangent here, but I think it's important to think about what we do every day as far as choices.
    Exercising is something I think you have to build up to, to do it everyday, I mean. If you are going to start exercising, make a commitment to three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, for example, and start with 10-15 minutes each day, then add the other days or do 30 minute workouts three days. You don't have to exercise every day. Who has time for that, anyway, with even one kid?
    I've also heard that having 5-6 small "meals" during the day is better and eating breakfast is the most important start to a healthy way of eating. When we did South Beach, we ate three bigger meals and 2 snacks, and the snacks were bigger than a normal snack, and were healthy choices, like a turkey wrap in romaine lettuce with a low-fat cheese, or maybe two servings of veggies with laughing cow cheese. Just a couple examples.
    There are a lot of great ways of eating that are out there, and South Beach is good if you can stick to it, but you have to kind of do it as a couple, because it's really hard if one person is eliminating things and they are still in the house.
    We've tried a lot of different things, and they work if we stick to them, but like most "diets" if you don't stick with it, you'll end up with all the weight that you had before. It's really a mindset change, and that can take a lot longer than it takes to actually lose the weight.

  25. Anonymous Megan | 9:36 AM |  

    I went back and reread your post and thought of a recipe to give you for tofu that does not taste disgusting because I am not averse to tofu, but not in those silken pie recipes - I tried one for pumpkin pie and it just tasted like a big fat soy bean in a pie dish :)

    So, here goes, we make this all the time. The trick (and curse) about tofu is that it will taste like anything you add to it, but has a whole lot of water, so you have to really spice it up and then cook out the water.

    Tofu Scrambled "Eggs"

    1 pkg Extra Firm or Firm Tofu
    Italian Seasoning to taste
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Paprika to taste
    Garlic Powder to taste
    2-3 cloves of fresh Garlic
    chopped Onions
    chopped tomatoes (optional) and peppers (optional)
    Olive Oil for cooking it in

    Heat up some oil in a frying pan.
    Fry up some onions and garlic.
    Cut up the tofu into small cubes, horizontally and vertically, and throw it in the pan. Get a fork and keep smushing it down so the water comes out, and it starts to look like scrambled eggs (it will be whiter of course). Keep it on medium/med low and keep cooking it while you add the Italian Seasoning and Paprika. Stir it up. Keep it cooking while you add salt, a bit of black pepper, and the garlic powder. Then, keep it cooking, and add some tomatoes and peppers if you like.

    Then, just keep cooking it. If it looks like you need more oil, add some, but the idea is to get the water out and have it look kind of like scrambled eggs. Then pair it with some good bread and you are good to go.

    Oh yeah, one more interesting tofu idea is barbecue tofu.

    You just cut the tofu in strips as though it were chicken. Then you put your favorite BBQ sauce in the bottom of a frying pan and you brown it on either side on medium or med high. You can even marinate it ahead of time. Again, the key here is that the tofu will be tasteless unless you give it some flavor and slimy unless you cook a lot of the water out.

    Let me know how it goes. A lot of this is done by taste, so sorry for the lack of exact measurements.

  26. Blogger The Wards | 12:05 PM |  

    Congratulations on making such a healthy decision! This isn't really a "diet" tip, but the best piece of advice I've heard on the topic is to take time to SIT DOWN, whatever you eat. That means no standing in front of my kids' plates, the fridge, the pantry, etc. I ask myself, do I want this enough to sit down and enjoy it? Strangely enough, it works.

    Good luck!

  27. Blogger evil cake lady | 12:10 PM |  

    oops, i misspoke. (mistyped?) B12 anemia is something you are born with, not something you can get. but it is important for the synthesis of red blood cells, and without it you can get kind of tired. but you can find it in dairy as well as meat.

    so never mind what i said earlier!

  28. Blogger Julia | 12:30 PM |  

    I see you've gotten a ton of comments already, so maybe this already been covered. A great great terrific book to read is "Real food." It's a fun, interesting read about general dietary health, not full of technical charts or anything like that. After I read it, I immediately started dropping weight, without any real effort.

    Lots of luck!

  29. Blogger Cairo Mama | 3:06 PM |  

    You should try Bikram yoga. It gives incredible results fast if you do three days a week. I did it in DC and loved it! I googled Bikram in Columbus ad found this studio for you:

    Don't know how close this is to you, but it is worth it.

    It is a 90 minutes class done in a very hot room (dry heat). You hold each pose for a minute or more so it is stretching and strengthening at once. The body transformations I've seen are incredible. I wish there was a studio near me right now.
    Your first class, the goal is just to get through the class in the heat. You will have to sit down, but just do it. Sit down and stay in the room. The second class will be more bearable and by the third you will start to enjoy it after that it becomes addictive. It is completely de-stressing because your brain can't think in the heat and it works every muscle group in your body. Plus, the fast results help motivate you. You start and end with pranayama breathing and do standing work, then floor work. The same 26 poses in the same order, but it is not boring. I don't usually sweat, but sweat drips off of me during this so it is detoxifying too. It is invigorating. I am naturally a procrastinator and when I was doing this yoga I was never more efficient in my life then at that time. I am moving to Korea and the first thing I did was check to see if they have a studio (they do). So, hopefully, I'll be able to get my post=partum body back in shape. Breastfeeding took care of the weight, but not the muscle tone.

    A note on Pilates. Pilates requires exact movements. if you are doing it and it seems easy, you are probably doing it incorrectly. Once you learn the classical mat series, you should do it every day to see real benefit.

  30. Blogger Cairo Mama | 3:10 PM |  

    oh, and by the way, good luck! You can do it! Yay, Jennifer!

  31. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 3:11 PM |  

    That yoga sounds REALLY interesting, but I can't do anything that doesn't have onsite child care. :(

    The pilates is tough. I can do it, but dang is it hard, for the exact reason you said. You've really got to work hard on the movements and your core. It kicks my butt, which is part of why I think adding it back in is a good call.

  32. Blogger Rachel | 6:55 PM |  

    I'm a vegetarian for many reasons. Weight control is one of them. The reason I think it works for me to control weight is that I am sure to substitute vegetarian protein for meat. If I don't and fill up on carbs (even whole grains don't fill me up like a protein source) I am hungry again soon and end up eating more than I should.

    Some low fat sources of protein that might work for you: lowfat cottage cheese, kefir, Textured Vegetable Protein (throw in hearty soups, use for sloppy joes, taco meat, etc.), Quorn (meat substitute that even dear carnivore husband swears tastes like chicken), soy nuts, pepitas, pistachios, quinoa. I find that adding worchestshire sauce to recipes adds the flavor of meat.

    My other weight loss control is to drink 6-8 ounces of water when I feel hungry and wait 15 minutes before reconsidering food. It really works to fill my tummy and sometimes I find I'm not hungry after that time.

    Good luck!

  33. Blogger JudyBright | 7:38 PM |  

    There is NOTHING wrong with meat.

    There are loads of things wrong with BAD meat.

    Meat is not bad for you. Fat is not bad for you.

    BAD meat and BAD fat are bad for you.

    (Sorry, just a rant directed at the world in general.)


  34. Blogger Cairo Mama | 6:47 AM |  

    Here is a dvd that has the Classical Pilates series from beginner through super advanced. It is not a super exciting dvd, but it is just like having the teacher in front of you going through the series with the proper flow. It is good to go through it once or twice a day. I found that having it helped me do it more. I wish I could find it. I think my copy is in storage somewhere.


  35. Blogger Dana | 12:58 PM |  

    I just wanted to quickly comment that cutting out meat won't necessarily increase your weight-loss. I am a vegetarian and thought when I switched over would lose lots of weight. I have not. I've stayed the same. I think the key is to exercise and control your portions. Now if I could just take my own advise! I think there is also something to be said about balancing your carbohydrates and proteins. However, I'm not sure how that can be done in the most successful way.

    I am also looking to lose some weight, at least 10 lbs in the next 6-8 months before we TTC later this year. I'll keep checking back on your success and advise on how best to take the weight off.


  36. Anonymous Joe | 5:31 PM |  

    Here's my two cents. I talk to patients about this all day.

    The answer to how much to eat is in the palm of your hand. A palm sized portion of protien and starch at each meal, and unlimited vegetables. Try to skip lunchtime starch to avoid the afternoon crash.

    No books, charts, or guides needed!

  37. Blogger Elaine | 7:31 PM |  

    Ditto Judybright. I WAS a vegetarian for 15 years, but had to start eating meat again for reproductive reasons. Major life change for the positive.

    To lose weight-- EAT MORE VEGGIES. Like, tons, cooked, not cooked, whatev. Two servings at every meal, or more. (but be sure to drink enough H20 to process the added fiber)

    Fat is good for your brain and for vitamin absorption. Eliminating it will cause major health problems.

    Processed food = bad. It will bulk you up. Avoid it. This includes fast food. Avoid any food in a bag or package with multiple ingredients that you could not have reproduced at home!

    Also, just from a scientific standpoint, meat has many valuable vitamins and minerals that are most easily absorbed from meat and meat fats. I didn't want to believe this being a former vegan and vegetarian, but I learned the hard way.

    I used to be 30+ lbs overweight, but I began following the above guidelines, and for the past 10 years I have been a lean, mean (well, not really mean-mean) mommy machine!

  38. Anonymous Karen | 8:33 PM |  

    Hey Jennifer,

    I've lost 12 pounds since Christmas on the 'no food diet'. The nursling is having weird issues and I've eliminated all allergens (plus chocolate and caffeine for good measure ;-) It's basically meat, potatoes, rice and fruits/veg. Heh. But it works!

    On a more serious note, I too detested beans and tofu. I searched and tried and threw out nasty things until I came upon ones that were actually good.

    For beans, I buy Bush's brand in the cans. No generic, no dry beans. They aren't mealy at all. What a difference!

    For tofu, I buy Mori-Nu. It's in a paper carton (aseptic box?) in the produce section and it's shelf stable. Everything else I tried had a weird taste, but this is made in the sealed box and it's really good. I actually miss it now that I can't have soy :-(

    Here's a way to try Mori-Nu tofu:

    Tropical Smoothie
    1 box Mori-Nu tofu
    2 bananas (frozen)
    2 cups orange juice
    1 Tbsp lime juice
    1 Tbsp maple syrup

    This is the recipe that converted my family. If you try this and hate it, I'll make a donation to Mothers Milk Bank in your name!

  39. Anonymous Jessica Lietz | 5:39 AM |  

    While in grad school, I realized that I needed to do something so that I would not end up unhealthy like many of my family members. I was, after all, getting a masters in public health, so what good would I be if I were not healthy?! I started exercising more and adding more fruits and veggies and less processed foods. I was on the treadmill, getting started on my weight loss, when the Columbia was lost. I walked a lot both on pavement and on the treadmill, and I biked. I exercised about 60 minutes a day. Not that I had spare time out the wazoo, either- I had a full course load plus a fellowship plus a thesis I was working on. It took me about 6 months to lose 20 pounds, then another 6 months to lose 10 more pounds. I maintained that weight loss until I got pregnant.

    I really don't think that completely eliminating a food group is necessarily going to result in a magical weight loss. In my experience, a mixed, moderate approach is necessary. Some people need to cut out soft drinks and alcohol as their empty calories. Others need to cut down on the pastries and sweets. Certainly if you are eating a pound of meat every day, that is a good place to cut down on excess calories, but if you are simply eating the recommended 4-6 oz of lean meats a day, I do not think that is going to be the fix you are hoping for.

    I was always chubby- when I married I weighed about 145, and I gained another 10 pounds after that. So my non-pregnant weight peak was 155. I weighed 122 when I got pregnant. I'm only 5'3", so that 30 pounds was a big difference on my small frame. My cholesterol went from the 260's to 170. My blood pressure went from 140/90 to 110/70.

    The benefits to maintaining a healthy weight are myriad. For me, it is especially more important now that I am a mother, and especially a nursing mother. I know that what goes in, comes out in my milk. It also makes the difference as to whether or not I will live long enough to see my daughter have babies of her own!

    I wish you the best with your will power and endurance-- luck has nothing to do with it!

  40. Blogger Dawn | 9:53 AM |  

    Congratulations! I’ve just bestowed upon you the coveted Excellent Blog Award! I don’t recommend that you quit your day job, but I do think it would be a good idea for you to visit this post to view the linky love. Aren’t you curious what I had to say about you?


    Thanks for entertaining me!

  41. Blogger Shay | 7:51 AM |  

    Hey Jennifer, do you have an E-mail address someone like me could send you an E-mail at?

  42. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 7:52 AM |  

    Sure Shay.

    jennifer at thelactivist dot com

  43. Blogger Bri | 2:50 PM |  

    Jennifer, it's wonderful that you are looking to get healthier AND support a cause dear to your heart. I have been vegetarian for about a decade and have learned a lot about what that means (yes french fries are vegetarian, but you can't eat them everyday). I write a food blog www.figswithbri.com with lots of recipes. But the main thing is sticking with whole foods. The substitute meat products (especially Morningstar) are very processed. Tofu, (contrary to Fat Lady's assertions) is not processed in a bad way, any more than sauerkraut is "processed" cabbage. I have a recipe for vegetarian split pea soup that is delicious, cheap and full of protein, fiber, lots of good stuff.

    I also would recommend hard boiling some eggs to chop on to salads or have as a quick snack (you know, one or two, not a dozen in one sitting). Also, good, local artisan whole grain breads are a great way to have something filling that isn't going to turn straight into sugar. I often make open faced sandwiches, so I don't get too much starch at a time.

    I try to get nuts and or beans into most dishes as a way of making them more hearty and filling (like sauteing onion and chard and adding a can of cannelini beans, or tossing a handful of cashews on my salad).

    Best wishes to you on your food adventure. Eating locally, seasonally and whole foods is the best way to eat healthy.

  44. Anonymous Mama Bear | 1:15 PM |  

    Best wishes to you in achieving a healthier outlook and life... I am working on very similar goals presently. :)

  45. Blogger mommymichael | 8:52 PM |  

    ever hear of p90x on the infomercials? my husband and i bought it. i actually use it, *just cause he's deployed* but it does work. portion controls *eating 5 times a day!! you never get a chance to feel starved*
    and working out an hour a day. I started 4 months PP after my son was born and i felt great! i didn't realize i wasn't eating healthy enough until suddenly i started eating healthy and my milk production went through the roof!

    i got into shape really fast, lost weight and toned up, gained muscle strength. it's a great program.

  46. Anonymous Nicolette | 12:01 PM |  

    Three recommendations that can fit with all of your choices which are affordable, practicle and do-able.

    Check out ediets.com. You create your own eating plan, they tell you what fits, even fast food that are "safe", they create your 3 meal menus daily plus snacks AND your shopping list.

    When I was using their service, I would place the evening's menu on the 'fridge, my husband would read it and do all the prep (which really is all the cooking time) and I'd come home and throw it together.

    There was always more food in the day than I could eat (I'm not a snacker), I lost weight because it's truly based on portion control, and both my son and husband couldn't believe this was a "diet." The recipes were creative and tasty.

    Second option, the book Body For Life. Great, practical recipes, especially for busy moms or single guys.

    Third option, www.fitandfunny.net. Heard Austin Davis speak at a company function and he's so motivational and funny and practical, I just fell in love.

    So those are three different approaches for you to mix and match. Maybe a few of your readers will benefit too.

    Good luck!

  47. Blogger happykatie | 5:27 PM |  

    My guy is vegan and we're raising our daughter vegetarian, so I'm really familiar with the initial struggle of going meat-free. Now it's pretty easy for me - eating and cooking.

    If you're trying to shed some serious pounds, I really really think you should go a week sans dairy. sure it sucks (I'm a cheese-oholic, so I completely empathize), bit it WORKS!!! Then you can go back to your organic eggs and dairy after cleaning out a bit. ew, that sounded gross.

    Also, buy this cookbook:http://www.amazon.com/Veganomicon-Ultimate-Isa-Chandra-Moskowitz/dp/156924264X

    Yes, it's a vegan cookbook. But it's stupid great. :) Good luck gorgeous!

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