Macheesmo

Cooking with Confidence
Musings

The Homemade Diet

by Nick

Anytime Betsy and I are out and about and the subject of Macheesmo comes up, everyone always asks her the same question: “How do you not weigh a million pounds?”

The assumption is that because I cook a lot and make what I hope to be delicious food that it must mean that we’re getting fat. In actuality, the opposite is true. We’ve both lost weight this year. So I thought I would take a post to lay out in detail what we eat on a weekly basis and talk about my general weight loss plan.

The Goal

I set a resolution this year to lose 10 pounds and I’m well on track to do that. I definitely don’t consider myself overweight at all, but I do have the general impression that my ideal weight is around 175 and at the beginning of the year I was clocking in at around 185 so it seemed like a good goal to get back down to that ideal weight!

Meanwhile, Betsy didn’t really set a goal to lose weight (trust me she doesn’t need to), but to just maintain her healthy weight and incorporate some more exercise into her schedule.

Our Lifestyle

Before I get into the specifics of what we actually eat every week, it’s important for you to know that we try to maintain a pretty active lifestyle. It helps that we live in a city so we can walk a lot of places which keeps us moving. Specifically though:

- I walk at least 2 miles a day commuting to work.
- Betsy walks probably a mile a day but lugs around a 20-30 pound backpack everywhere she goes.
- I try to run at least three times a week and play soccer once a week.
- Betsy does a pretty intense yoga session twice a week (I’ve tried to go and it’s really hard) and she throws in a spinning class occasionally as well.
- I bought some cheap dumbbells at Target and heave them around a few times a week.
- I chase my cat around the apartment regularly.

I think that an active lifestyle is pretty important and I just don’t trust diets or weight loss plans that claim you can lose weight without being active. I know that it’s technically true that you can lose weight and not be active. Trust me. I could engineer a diet that would shed the pounds and you could just lounge around in your PJs every day.

But, for me, losing weight is about more than just looking fab for swimsuit season. It’s about being healthy and happy. And I think that’s really only possible by staying active. I’d rather burn 3,000 calories a day and take in 2,500 calories a day than sit around and burn 2,000 calories a day and eat 1,500 calories a day.

The Homemade Diet

Diet isn’t really even a good word for the way we eat on a weekly basis. While we hope to lose weight eating this way, I don’t think of it as a temporary thing. The word diet implies that at some point you’ll STOP dieting and therefore go back to however you were eating before, but that’s not really what we’re trying to do.

These are the very few rules that I try to follow on a weekly basis these days.

Less Meat

Betsy and I eat meat only a few times a week now. Sometimes we’ll go the whole week without eating any meat. I honestly haven’t missed it all that much, but now when I do eat meat, I make sure to get really quality meat and I really enjoy it.

Very Few Processed Foods

What I mean by processed foods are things with more than 5 or 6 easily recognizable ingredients. These days, I would say that 90% of the food I buy follows this rule. When I shop these days I rarely count calories and instead count ingredients.

You Want it, You Make it

This goes with the processed food one, but basically if Betsy and I want something to eat and it’s normally a processed food, I try to make it from scratch. If I can’t make it then we usually don’t have it. This has led to a subtle shift in the way I think about a craving.

For example, say I want a cupcake. Well, I could go to the store and buy a Hostess cupcake or something, but under this plan, I have to bust out the mixer, flour, eggs, etc and whip up some cupcakes which only takes oh… 4 hours. In other words, I have to really want a cupcake to make it happen. It’s a lot easier to just grab some grapes and snack on them and then I’m usually full.

We Cheat

Nobody’s perfect and I’m no exception. While we both do our best to eat healthily, we also don’t beat each other up over it if we catch each other cheating a bit. Want some examples? Sure.

I have a major beverage problem. Almost all the cheating that happens on my end is beverage related: Coffee (with flavored creamer and sugar obviously), Diet Dr. Pepper, and beer. I’ve cut down on my intake for all of them, but I drink them all every week without fail.

Betsy has a Doritos addiction that is unwavering. I’ve made them, but her favorite flavor (Nacho Cheese) is basically impossible to replicate.

The Weekly Menu

 Ok. So I’ve blathered on and on about our lifestyle and rules and stuff, but what do we actually eat each week? Unfortunately, it’s kind of boring. But, here’s a breakdown on our schedule for a week.

Weekend: I usually make a loaf of no knead bread. We’ll use this for sandwiches, toast, and garlic bread throughout the week. I also make a big batch of salad that we’ll take for lunch throughout the week. Something like this quinoa salad. Sometimes I’ll make a big batch of something like burritos and freeze them.

As far as meals go, we’ll usually have smoothies for breakfast and I’ll usually make one weekend breakfast dish that I’ll post for Macheesmo. These are always under the breakfast category. For lunch we’ll normally have quick leftovers or a sandwich or maybe just some pita and hummus.

For dinners on the weekends we usually have larger meals with some wine and a meat or fish dish. Cooking a big meal over the weekend is relaxing to me and I really enjoy it.

Weekdays: Bets is awesome at making smoothies. We typically have one with yogurt, frozen fruit, orange juice and fresh bananas almost every day of the week. I’ll sometimes supplement this with some muesli, oatmeal, or just a piece of fruit.

For lunch, we’ll normally have a mix of leftovers, weekly salad that I make, veggies with hummus, or very occasionally a deli sandwich of some sort. Probably once a week, I’ll grab lunch out with coworkers also.

For dinner, we have at least a small salad pretty much every night. In addition to a side salad, if we’re pressed for time, we’ll have something frozen. Sometimes I’ll make a quick pasta sauce with veggies and serve it with whole wheat pasta. We also eat a lot of stir-fried veggies with rice.

Of course, we intersperse delicious dishes in all of this that are the dishes that you see daily here at Macheesmo and maybe that’s why people assume that we weigh a million pounds. To dispel this myth, I’m trying to post more healthy stuff also.

So that’s kind of an update on what we’re eating these days and how we get through the week.

I’d love to hear your comments on the simple rules I’m using or our basic meal schedule. Now if there was only a way to plan a diet to defeat this pesky receding hairline…