Diet Free Life Feed

Back to living diet free

(Only thing is I don't binge and I don't skip the gym.)


I saw a variation on this message yesterday on Facebook and took it as a sign -- especially the part about "You're going to try new techniques and they're not going to work." 

Because the new technique I've been trying the past month or so hasn't been working for me. I did OK the first couple weeks but then everything slowed and stopped.

I have no idea who wrote this -- all I know is that I needed to read it.

This quote allowed me to email the publicist and tell her I was dropping out of the test. She was super nice about it. 

The book, which comes out next month, is great and I highly recommend it (not sure I can tell you what it is yet) but my warped diet mentality goes back so many decades that I felt my inner rebel throwing monkey wrenches left and right and the craziness welling up again.

Don't get me wrong -- I still weigh out portions and journal my food, but I'm back to following the principles of Robert Ferguson's Diet Free Life. It's not a diet -- hence the name. It's all about eating every three hours or so, making protein the cornerstone of your meals, keeping snacks between 100 to 200 calories and portion control.

This time around I thought I'd do something really novel -- I'm reading all the literature instead of just diving in half cocked.  I'm making sure I'm putting together balanced meals with the right portion size and the right mix of carbs, fat and protein.

My head feels lighter already. That's step 1.

Why, hello there 'invisible calories'!

How am I doing? Quite well, thanks. I'm down a little more than 2 pounds from the last time I stepped on my home scale, which was the end of January. 

I'm tracking my food on My Fitness Pal, and today I decided to track ALL my food. What does that mean, you ask? 

In the past, I wouldn't bother with a squirt of ketchup, a couple slices of tomato, a tablespoon of psyllium powder, etc. I just now added up all those incidentals and -- whoosh! -- my daily calories went from 12 hundred something up to 1500. 

This was something that was nagging at me as I watched the scale stagnate while on Weight Watchers. What about all these "zeroes" -- aren't they counting for something? 

Now that I look at my food diary, I can see that they add up, which lightens my psyche. All those zeroes may have been tipping the precarious see-saw from weight loss to weight maintenance. 

What exactly did I tally today that I would have ignored?

Breakfast: 1 tablespoon psyllium husks - 15 calories

Dinner: 2 tablespoons ketchup - 40 calories; 3 big slices of tomato - 66 calories; 2 slices Vidalia onion - 32 calories

After dinner: another tablespoon of psyllium - 15 calories; 2 tablespoons aloe juice 2 calories.

(I know -- ridiculous. Who logs 2 calories? Bear with me; this is for SCIENCE.)

image from

I just wanted to see how many little bitty things add up to move the needle.

If you lived here, you'd be home now

I just got back from Target, where I bought a Flash superhero T-shirt for the teenager (tomorrow is some sort of superhero spirit day), a dollar's worth of Dr. Seuss erasers, some fancy striped drinking straws (props for photo shoots) and a 2.5-pound bag of skinless, boneless chicken breasts.

I added up all the protein in that bag and thought to myself "No way in hell am I supposed to eat this much protein in one day!"


I had a check-in with a trainer who was giving me eating pointers and she threw out this figure -- eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

Eat all the chicken
For me, that comes out to a little more than 200 grams of protein per day, which seems a bit nuts. Now she's not a registered dietitian and said that she was not an authority on eating, so I did some Googling and apparently the 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is something that was recommended to musclehead bodybuilders way back in the day, but for the most part no one is recommending that anymore. 

It's more like 1 gram per kilo of body weight (about half of what I was trying to shove down yesterday) or 1 gram per pound of lean body mass (also around the same number).

Chickens can rest safely now -- I am not coming to get you.

Needless to say, eating yesterday was stressful, thinking that I needed to slaughter entire fields of chickens to get through the week. 


(Stressful eating makes me, ummmm, eat, and not hard-boiled egg whites. More like fistfuls of Cheerios.)

But I did get a good takeway from the trainer meeting, and it's something I already knew from Robert Ferguson's Diet Free Life program. It's all about keeping your blood sugar stable throughout the day, because those rollercoaster peaks and valleys encourage fat storage and cravings.

The trainer's recommendation is not to go carb crazy at breakfast, which is what a lot of people do. Instead of a superfruity smoothie or a bagel, I should reach for protein, fat and non-starchy carbs to kick the day off with a smoother start, blood-sugar wise. Her recommendation is to leave the starches and fruit to mid-day, and get back on the low sugar/starch bandwagon at dinner again so you don't wake the craving monster. 

(I have a craving monster and she is a polar bear.)

It's funny when I look back over posts I did a couple years ago (like that polar bear one). While I'm glad I got over that plateau, I always wonder why I don't follow that great advice I dished out in 2012 for more than a minute.

If you lived here

(Aww, man. I set out to write a post about protein and this life lesson dumped itself on my keyboard.)

This is one of my constant regrets (is it a regret or a frustration? regret sounds so sad and I ain't sad), something that itches back in the recesses of my psyche. 

  • Why is this taking so long? 
  • Why don't I pick something and stick to it?
  • Why do I sabotage myself?
  • Why do I start some thing and see the scale go up instead of down?
  • How do those people lose all their weight in a year or two?

Pardon our brain dumpMy exercise is spot on, I eat super healthy food, my water drinking is way better than it's been in years, I'm going to bed at a reasonable hour now and getting around 8 hours of sleep a night, I log nearly all my food ...

... nearly all my food ...

(Cue the INXS-themed blog post from two years ago...)


So, in summation:

  • More protein but not MOAR PROTIEEEEEEN.
  • Superhero T-shirt.
  • No blood-sugar rollercoasters.
  • INXS songs and angry polar bears.
  • Drinking a blackberry smoothie as I finish this BECAUSE IT'S LUNCH AND IT'S FRUIT TIME.
  • Real estate analogies to weight loss.

Thank you, carry on.

Can I go 'scale silent' for 21 days?

My weight-loss guru pal Robert Ferguson sent me the most updated version of his Diet Free Life system. I've long been a fan of his extremely common-sense approach to losing weight, first with the original Food Lovers' Fat Loss system, then with his Diet Free Life system. 

The upshot of Robert's plan is to eat nutritionally balanced meals and portion-controlled snacks every few hours to keep your insulin and other hormone levels stable throughout the day. 

Boom -- that's it. No restrictions, no eliminating entire food groups. 

The only caveat to that is the 3-Week Clean Start plan, which cleans up your eating and cuts out a few things like alcohol, added sugars, fried and breaded foods, sodium and white flour.

I'm already a pretty clean eater so this part of the plan won't be a big stretch for me, plus I've been test-driving a meal-delivery plan the past few days,which makes meals super easy -- they're waiting for me in the fridge and they're very clean (more on that Friday).

But the thing that really has me nervous is this -- you weigh yourself on Day 1 (which was Monday) and you don't weigh yourself again until Day 22.

Can I do it? 

This would mean having to "trust the process," which is a favorite phrase of mine. Heck -- I even have a coffee mug that says it!

Trust the process mug

(OK, coffee mug, I will trust the process.)

It's hard out there for a control freak. 

So I'm going to put my faith (and weight) in Robert's hands and log my clean meals and snacks for 21 days.

So far so good but I still tend to go overboard on my afternoon snacks -- I need to keep that 100-200 calorie range in mind and not go all "endless buffett" (A banana, and some Greek yogurt to balance that out, with perhaps some nuts on top, and some green juice ... you get the idea). 

Diet Free Life is radical in its "unradicalness" (don't think that's a word), but that's the point. I felt myself getting too wrapped up in devices and apps and books and widgets and gimmicks, and I needed to "unplug" from all that -- or at least most of that -- and just eat healthy foods that I enjoy and that what my body needs. I need to unlearn all the "crazy making" habits that have done absolutely nothing to make the scale move. 

I need to lose weight but I also need to live diet free, and I think the two needs can coexist.

Keep it simple, superstar.

Empty bottles
Tossed them in the trash this morning.

See those empty bottles? I dumped out the contents this morning, flinging two "miracle" supplements in the trash.

And -- poof! -- there goes my magical thinking.

They were just two of the many supplements hyped by a certain TV doctor. I had tried and tossed many more supplements that he suggested, and all they got me was nauseous and lighter in the wallet.

I'm sticking with a multivitamin that has plenty of vitamin D, fish oil, and an occasional boost of calcium. That's it.

I went jogging with the dog yesterday (my mutt is not a great running partner -- he was on the tree and fire hydrant tour), and one of my favorite No Doubt songs came on the iPod -- "Simple Kind of Life." 

"Simple -- that's what it has to be," I said to the dog, who really isn't all that interested in my weight loss ramblings. His diet is definitely simple -- a bowl of low-fat grain-free dry food and the occasional Milk Bone.

I tend to make things more complicated than they need to be -- fistfuls of vitamins and minerals, certain superfoods I should be eating, ticking off boxes for drinking water, weighing, measuring, logging, journaling, tracking, counting, uploading, downloading.

And did any of it work this year? I'm exactly the same weight as I was this time last year.

I need to strip back a few layers and keep it more simple. It won't be easy but it definitely can be more simple and less fraught with anxiety.

And fraught it is -- every week I step on the scale, the number is accompanied by a brief and angry "AARGH." 

I did that again this morning when I stepped on my shiny new Withings scale. I am not one of those "throw out your scale" kind of people. Instead, I like to see the numbers behind the main number -- what my body fat and muscle numbers are doing. 

The scale helps to keep things simple by hooking up to a Withings phone app, which also keeps track of other tools, like Bodymedia armbands. You can check your progress with charts on the app, and if you have a Bodymedia, you can also track your activity and sleep efficiency.

I've got the exercise pretty much nailed down -- five days a week, half of it strength training and half cardio. 

But the food -- I can unravel an entire day of good eating with a late-night trip to the kitchen. How to stop that? 

With some well-planned little "snack kits." I'm going grocery shopping soon and my cart will be full of fresh produce and clean proteins. I'll then haul out all little plastic containers and portion out my kits. Simple.

More and more I keep hearing the same refrain -- the word diet needs to remain a noun and not a verb. It's also something that comes up in the work of my favorite weight-loss hero Robert Ferguson. He has a follow-up program to the Food Lovers Fat Loss Program called Diet Free Life. The whole point is to stop "dieting" and start eating normal portions of regular, clean, healthy foods in a balanced way. It's a far less neurotic way of looking at eating. 

Proteins, carbs and fats -- all the major players are there and almost nothing is forbidden. If you want fries with your burger, then fine -- eat SOME fries and ditch the bun. Simple. If you want salmon and broccoli for dinner, then have it, but have a palm-sized portion of salmon and make sure you have enough broccoli. Simple.

Pink gatorade towelI never, ever, ever think about throwing in the towel -- that would be ridiculous. In fact, I want a new towel -- specifically one of those cute pink Gatorade towels. (I need one and can't find them anywhere!)

I'll be kicking off 2013 with a simple workout -- the Commitment Day 5k with my sister, her daughter and my son. All we need is sneakers. Simple.

And every night I will take time to recommit to my simple plan with a simple snack and a simple glass of water.

I like the phrase "keep it simple, stupid" but I changed the phrase in the headline. No one should refer to themself as stupid. 

What else will I be doing in 2013? Here's a peek, which I'll be writing about this month:

  • Studying to become a Weight Loss Specialist.
  • Putting my money where my mouth is.
  • Writing down my goals with a concrete, realistic timeline.
  • Making most of my carbs plant based.
  • Firing up my willpower muscle.
  • Having someone else do the cooking for a week.

Those are just a few of the tasks this month. And now, a lovely little simple song:


Feelin’ so fly, like a cheese stick

Apparently, I’m not the only person who thought the lyrics to “Like a G6” had to do with mozzarella. I found plenty of parody videos on YouTube that prove that, and you will be rewarded with one if you read on...

Anyway! I’m all about the cheese sticks this week because I’m Carb Stepping.

What’s that?

That is part of Robert Ferguson’s new Diet Free Life system, and I was privileged to have him send me the system so I could write about it.

But before we get to steppin’, a little background.

I’ve long been a fan of Robert and his sensible approach to weight loss. If the name sounds familiar, he co-developed the Food Lovers Fat Loss System, an infomercial staple since 2008. The idea is that you don’t have to give up eating your favorite foods to lose weight. 

Robert is no longer involved with the company that markets the system and decided to develop a new system based on the latest research from his own Diet Free Life center in Ventura, Calif.  The principles are similar but are a little more detailed.

Here’s where Carb Stepping comes in. It’s an option he offers as a metabolic jump start and as a way to discover how many carbohydrates you can enjoy while still losing weight. It’s perfect for people like me, who I like to refer to as “metabolically jaded.” I’ve been eating healthy since healthy eating was invented, so it takes A LOT to get my body to go “Hey, let’s release some of this excess weight.”

You take this plan a week at a time, starting with a pretty darn low carb limit. After a week, you weigh yourself and if you’ve lost weight (pretty much a slam dunk there), you increase the amount of carbs you can eat. And so on until your body “hits the carb wall.” If that happens, you reduce the carbs a bit until you get to a place where you’re still losing weight and you stay there until it’s time to Carb Step again.

I like the idea and, believe it or not, I’ve never cut my carbs way down before, so this is something that my body isn’t used to, and it’s used to a lot.

StringstersEnter the cheese stick (not the name of a calcium-rich Bruce Lee movie).

Today is Day 1 of Carb Stepping and cheese sticks are my friends (and my favorites also have trivia questions!). So are the carton of Egg Beaters and my collection of mustards. And the giant clamshell of baby spinach! Can’t forget that. Since I’m supposed to eat every 2 to 3 hours, the hunger pangs have been manageable, and I’ve been drinking lots of water because often, one can become a little, ahem, backed up with lower carb plans.

But I’m psyched for two reasons – I know I’m going to lose weight this week, so I know I’ll get more carbs next week.

This experiment is forcing me to look at foods in a way that I never have before and it’s only a week, so the light at the end of the tunnel is somewhat close. And I’m not going to do the dumb “prime rib and butter” low carb thing either. I’m going to stick to lots of lean protein, low-fat cheeses and leafy greens.

And now, for a little entertainment: