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How I Lost 20 Pounds In 9 Months Without Dieting

by | Sep 23, 2009
Quarter Pounder

Quarter Pounder

Today one of my best and oldest friends, David Goodman, shares his remarkable story of how he dropped 20 pounds this year so far “without hardly trying.”

He says the influence I’ve had on him through conversations and articles here at Summer Tomato has helped him make better food choices almost subconsciously.

David and I have a long diet history together (he’s the friend from college I mention in the link), and I am honored to have him share his success story with you. Though he says he is only beginning his journey, I think we can all agree he has made tremendous progress already.

Congratulations Dave!

Dr. Darya: Or how I learned to stop worrying about my weight and love food

And drop 20 lbs in nine months.

by David Goodman

In December of 2008 I weighed 225 lbs. As of yesterday, I weigh 205 lbs.

It’s actually hard for me to view this as a big accomplishment. I have been planning to lose a lot more weight. (My goal is to weigh closer to 165 lbs). But the funny part is that while I have been “planning” to lose all this weight, I have, as Darya pointed out, lost a significant amount. And I have lost it, I can assure you, without being on a diet.

Darya told me that this was exactly the kind of weight loss she believed people could achieve by following her advice. She also reminded me that if I kept up this same pace every nine months, it wouldn’t be that long until I reached my goal. And significantly, I certainly won’t be gaining more weight, which is often the trend for people as they get older.

When Darya asked me to think about how I lost these 20 lbs, the reason was hard to pinpoint. Because it hadn’t occurred rapidly, and because I didn’t actively try to lose weight with a restrictive diet, it was almost like it didn’t “count.” Also, because I haven’t reached my ultimate goal, I don’t really feel like a success story just yet.

On the other hand, losing weight without trying is pretty awesome. And if this weight loss keeps up and stays off, I’ll be right where I want to be in 18 months.

So how did this happen, you ask? As far as I can tell, it went like this:

Darya and I have been talking about food for the past year. I have never been much of a cook and I ate out for most of my meals. I think I was eating fast food about 5-10 times a week.

As I talked to Darya and read her blog, I found myself thinking more and more about “good” food. In fact, without really meaning to I started categorizing food into two groups: “real” food and “crap” food. From what I could tell, simply put, real food grows in the ground, or eats food that grows in the ground. Crap food is made in laboratories and/or mass produced. It is fried or filled with sugar or both.

At first my categorizing food as crap didn’t really stop me from eating it. I was used to my routines and didn’t think about actively changing. Talking and thinking about health, nutrition, and good food made me want to behave differently, but I figured I would need to make major life changes to accomplish that, and I hadn’t gotten around to it yet. This is what I meant when I was “planning” to lose weight.

But I think it was hard to read and talk about healthy food and not incorporate some of that into my life. Slowly, without realizing it, I just started eating green vegetables more often. I definitely put more nuts, fish, and brown rice into my diet too. I don’t think I was eating those foods very much at all before I started talking to Darya about healthy food.

(Read more: Get Fit By Becoming A Food Geek)

Most of all, I stopped eating fast food so much and started making more meals at home. This happened so gradually that it is hard to remember the exact chain of events. Nine months ago it was 5-10 times a week for fast food. These days I usually go more than a week without having it at all. Last week I only had fast food once (I had a cheeseburger at In-N-Out. Sorry Darya, but in my defense, I was pretty drunk).

(Read more: Don’t Eat This, Don’t Eat That: Why Fast Food Is Never Healthy)

My eating is still far from perfect. I could do a lot better on the size of my portions and I still eat crap food from time to time. Also, to reach my ultimate goal of 165 lbs I think I am going to have to start exercising more. During the last nine months the most I did was go walking a few times a week. My gym attendance was inconsistent at best. But I think what my experience really shows is that gradual progress is possible with a few basic, common sense changes to what we eat.

Also, the food that I have been making and eating at home has been delicious. I don’t miss the crap food that I haven’t been eating and I look forward to the fresh, healthy food that I’ve been preparing.

Maybe this losing weight thing doesn’t have to be so hard. Maybe it’s just a matter of paying more attention and really being conscious about what we are eating and whether or not it’s really good food.

(Read more: How To Get Started Eating Healthy)

Have you lost weight eating real food? What are the biggest challenges for you?

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For The Love of Food

by | Sep 11, 2009
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

First and foremost be sure to check out my guest post over at Geek’s Dream Girl, Get Fit By Becoming a Food Geek. Also, Michael Pollan wrote a thought-provoking Op-ed on food and healthcare and the Nutrition Diva gives us more to ponder in the world of food and health.

In other news this week I applied to and became listed at the website Alltop. Apparently this is some kind of honor and I’m supposed to put one of these badges on my blog. I’m not sure I feel comfortable putting one in my sidebar, but I’ll show you some of my options here. Let me know what you think.

Alltop. We're kind of a big deal.Alltop, all the top storiesAlltop, confirmation that I kick ass

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: I’ve been struggling with the Delicious tool bar on my browser this week, so my bookmarks there are not current. I hope to fix this soon).

I also invite you to submit your own best food and health articles for next week’s For The Love of Food, just drop me an email using the contact form. I am also accepting guest posts at Summer Tomato for any awesome healthstyle tips and recipes you’d like to share.

This post is an open thread. Share your thoughts, writing (links welcome!) and delicious healthy meals of the week in the comments below.

For The Love of Food

  • Get Fit By Becoming A Food Geek <<Nerds looking to get in shape can take advantage of their inclination toward excessive information. My guest post at Geek’s Dream Girl.
  • Big Food vs. Big Insurance <<Michael Pollan, as usual, offers a brilliant analysis of the benefits of healthcare (insurance) reform, and the residual benefits this will have on our waistlines. (New York Times)
  • Do sugar substitutes hurt or help with weight loss? <<Find out the latest on the controversial topic of artificial sweeteners and weight loss. (Nutriton Data)
  • Fast food lunches contain RIDICULOUS amounts of calories <<Do you eat fast food? Maybe you will stop after reading this. As supplemental reading, here’s my opinion on fast food. (Obesity Panacea)
  • Fruit Even Healthier Than Thought: Study <<Personally I’m not surprised to hear that there are benefits of whole fruits scientists haven’t discovered yet. I bet there are things we don’t know about whole vegetables too. (HealthDay)
  • For Your Health, Froot Loops <<B.S. of the week Maybe that last article explains why the FDA is allowing Froot Loops to be labeled as a “Smart Choice.” Oh wait, that doesn’t say fruit…. (New York Times)
  • Green Onions Recalled <<Yet another recall of industrial food. You have to be brave to shop for food at a conventional supermarket these days. As Arnold says in Terminator 2, “Come with me if you want to live.” (New York Times)
  • 7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fat <<Interesting read over at Tim Ferriss’ blog about the benefits of saturated fat. I would take these points with a grain of salt, but it is worth thinking outside of the box sometimes and questioning your long-held beliefs. (Blog of Tim Ferriss)
  • Soybeans With Garlic and Dill <<This recipe looks simple, healthy and delicious, and can be made with items that are available year-round. (New York Times)
  • Slow-motion sneeze is gross, and probably effective <<This video of sneezing is really gross, but I couldn’t stop laughing. Enjoy. (Los Angeles Times)

What thought provoking stories did you find this week?

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For The Love of Food

by | Jul 10, 2009
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This was yet another great week of reading around the internet! There are a couple articles here following up Wednesday’s post about never eating fast food. I found some great mythbusting about canola oil and saturated fats, and the B.S. of the week is aimed at all grocery stores for embracing the food ranking systems.

If you would like to see more of my favorite articles each week or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious, and share with me your favorites as well.

Submissions of your own best food and health articles are also welcome, just drop me an email using the contact form. I am currently accepting guest posts at Summer Tomato for any healthy eating, living and exercise tips.

For The Love of Food

  • Fast-food lunches rack up the calories <<Just to reiterate what I meant on Wednesday about never eating fast food. Read this, it’s astounding. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Not much convenience in “convenience foods” <<Speaking of convenience, what are we really gaining with all this junk food anyway? (Grist)
  • Is Canola Oil Healthy? <<There is a ridiculous amount of false health information out there, and people love to defend these myths with zealous fervor. Canola oil is a victim of one such campaign. In this wonderful (and relatively short) podcast the Nutrition Diva herself, Monica Reinagel, sets the record straight on canola oil. (Nutrition Diva)
  • Are Saturated Fats Really All That Bad? <<And while we’re stepping on people’s beliefs, check out Dr. Steve Parker’s well-researched article about saturated fats and their lack of correlation to coronary heart disease. Uh-oh. (Advanced Mediterranean Diet Blog)
  • Food rating systems: Grocery stores roll out nutrition rankings <<B.S. of the week is going to the entire notion of food rating systems. Newsflash: the healthiest foods are in the produce section and don’t have labels. Learn more in this excellent article from the Chicago Tribune.
  • So many diets. Which to choose? <<I adore this post by MizFit describing how she found her path to health. Few people exemplify healthstyle like Miz. (MizFit Online)
  • 5 Gym Benefits You Probably Hadn’t Thought Of <<People who exercise regularly for their entire lives know that the idea of a “good body” or “being healthy” isn’t enough to keep us going back. We workout because it makes us feel better and brings peace and joy to our lives. (Dumb Little Man)
  • 5 diet rules I swear by <<Friday is the perfect time for a little comedy. (a very foodly diary)
  • Fruit Salad With Ginger Syrup <<Just look at this gorgeous stone fruit salad recipe! Ginger and mint seem like the perfect toppings. (Eating Out Loud)
  • How to Handle Kitchen Thieves <<A recent wave of food-related crimes at the lab inspired this link. Most of us deal with an office lunch thief at one time or another. (Lifehacker)

What did I miss? Share your favorite links of the week!

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How To Eat Healthy In Restaurants: Healthy Tips For Real Life (series)

by | Jul 8, 2009
Quarter Pounder

Quarter Pounder

In my vow to stay home and eat healthy for the rest of the week, I’ve had a lot of time to think about all the places I’m not eating.

I’m not going out to meet a friend for one of San Francisco’s best burgers, for example. Nor am I going to another friend’s place to drink beer and play Rock Band.

Not today anyway.

I have many guiding principles for health here at Summer Tomato, but for me personally (and based on the emails I get, for many of you as well) the hardest part about upgrading your healthstyle is integrating it with your social life.

How many times have your best intentions to go home and cook a healthy dinner been derailed by an invitation to go out with work buddies or go to the movies? How often are your weekend’s best intentions ruined by birthday dinners and bar hopping?

That’s life. And it can make being healthy really difficult.

I always stress that the best way to combat these special occasions is to automate your health whenever possible. From my perspective, setting up your life so that healthy choices are your default–the path of least resistance–is your only chance at weathering the birthday cakes and holiday BBQs.

But it seems that for many of us these “special” occasions occur a little too frequently. A week rarely goes by that doesn’t offer an excuse to break our routine and indulge in something a little extra. And though this behavior is psychologically healthy and generally a good idea, too many exceptions can start to become the rule.

Not only do we sacrifice our health in these moments of celebration, we also begin chipping away at our good habits and before we know it they are gone.

Too many fun weekends and we give up on buying groceries and going to farmers markets for two, three or four weekends in a row. Then we go out more because we have no food at home (“Gotta eat somethin’!”), skip more workouts and the pounds start climbing back on.

Pretty soon your life is consumed with bad habits again, your jeans stop fitting right and you don’t even know what hit you.

So how do we deal with these events?

For me one important step in breaking this cycle has been to develop a clear understanding of how to navigate restaurants. Not all restaurants serve the same function. Some are simply cheap and convenient, while others are divine dining experiences to be remembered for a lifetime. And there are dozens of choices in between.

Over the next few weeks I will be describing each of the major restaurant categories and how to approach them to balance health and enjoyment. If you have any specific topic or issue you would like me to address in this series please send me an email and let me know.

(To continue following the How To Eat In Restaurants series, be sure to subscribe to Summer Tomato through email or your favorite news reader (RSS)–subscribing is always free of cost and spam.)

Today I will begin by describing the kind of restaurant you should never eat in: fast food chains.

Fast food restaurants are so unhealthy, evil and downright nasty tasting that there is really no good reason to eat in one for the rest of your life.

“Convenience!” They will shout.

But I don’t buy that argument. Wanna know what is inconvenient? Diabetes.

There is always a better option than fast food. If I find myself starving, behind schedule and in an unfamiliar neighborhood I do not consider pulling into a Wendy’s drive-thru and ordering a value meal. Instead I find a grocery store or local café. These places are just as ubiquitous, but instead of poison burgers I can get fresh food at reasonable prices. You’ve already given up on taste for this meal, there is no reason to give up on health too.

If you find yourself regularly eating in restaurants for “convenience” you still have some work to do toward upgrading your healthstyle. I am not in these situations very often because I plan ahead and make sure I always have something to eat.

The Summer Tomato guide can help you get started eating healthy.

The most important thing to remember about eating in restaurants is that you should save your indulgences for moments that are truly special. If you are desperate and just need some calories, eat the healthiest thing you can find. A bag of nuts, a piece of fruit, jerky or even a protein bar is a better option than a Quarter Pounder.

That burger in the photo looked exactly the same after sitting on my counter overnight as it did when I first bought it. Ick.

How often do you use “convenience” as an excuse to eat unhealthy?

Read more How To Eat In Restaurants:

  1. Healthy Tips for Real Life
  2. Neighborhood Convenience
  3. Sit-Down Chains
  4. Healthy Advice From SF Food Critic Michael Bauer
  5. The Truly Special Occasions

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