Thursday, July 31, 2014

A mostly Medifast transition day!

So, I weighed in at 255 this morning, just over low, and have decided to do an 'almost not Medifast' day.

Breakfast (replacing: Medifast Shake)
2/3 cup egg whites
1 Laughing Cow wedge
4 slices turkey bacon

  • 202 Calories, 4g carbs, 8g fat, 26g protein

vs Medifast:
90 calories, 13g carbs, 2g fat, 11g protein

2x the calories, lower carb. This breakfast fills me up much better than Medifast ever did.

Morning Snack (replacing: Medifast Bar)
5.3 oz Strawberry Cheesecake Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup Bear Naked Chocolate Granola

  • 230 calories, 33g carb, 4g fat, 15g protein

vs Medifast:
110 calories, 13g carbs, 4g fat, 11g protein

I actually used too much granola today, and can probably cut the amount in half, saving 65 calories, 10g carbs, 3g fat, and only losing 1.5g protein. I really, really like this as a snack. The last time I tried Greek yogurt, I did not like it, texture-wise and flavor-wise it just didn't work. However, the cheesecake flavor masks the 'weird' flavor, and the crunchy granola mix-in really fixes the texture problem. This stuff is really good, and I will be trying more flavors as I go. The stuff I'm eating now has sucralose in it, and I'd like to not be eating much of that.

Lunch (replacing: Medifast Hearty Meal with Cheese and Chicken)
Quest Bar - Cookies and Cream

  • 180 calories, 22g carbs, 7g fat, 21g protein

vs Medifast with add-ins
263 calories, 15g carbs, 11g fat, 29g protein

I really, really liked the Quest Bar. It was very dense, nicely sweet and cookie-like. It's got good macronutrients. Again, we've got Sucralose and Stevia in it, which isn't ideal. However it is more ideal than a candy bar and bag of chips. These guys are pretty expensive, but I think I'll keep eating them if they hold up. Which means I need to find a place to buy them in bulk for cheap.

Afternoon Snack (no change)
Medifast Pretzel sticks.

  • 110 calories, 14g carbs, 2g fat, 11g protein.

I'm not changing this up today, but eventually I'll want something non-Medifast here that is higher protein and lower carb. I can easily see this ending up being canned tuna regularly, since it's protein-dense carb free. I'm one of those weird people that like canned tuna plain, so I can get away with that, I don't need crackers and mayo with it.

Dinner (no real change)
Tonight I'm going to make a turkey burger in a portobello cap bun, add cheese, and eat a few tater tots. Other than the tater tots and cheese, this is basically the same meal I'd normally eat.

  • 413 calories, 23g carbs, 9g fat, 53g protein

Dessert (replacing Medifast SoftBake Smoothie)
1 Scoop Isoflex PB/Chocolate Whey Protein Isolate
.5 oz Neufchatel Cheese
1 Tbsp No-sugar added Quik

  • 168 calories, 6g carbs, 4g fat, 29g protein

vs Medifast with add-ins
190 calories, 21g carbs, 6g fat, 21g protein

I'm going to end my day (presumably, if I don't snack extra) at:

  • 1303 Calories
  • 102g carbs
  • 34g fat
  • 155g protein

I'm also hitting 2433 mg sodium and 29 g fiber.

My 'IIFYM' targets for today (including my gym trip) would have me eat another 1200 calories, 59 carbs, 68 fats, 70 protein, and 31 fiber. I'm not yet to that point though, as I'm still transitioning. That said, I'm very happy to be eating different food, even if it is from the supplement store and not the grocery store. I think doing things this way will give me a much greater chance of success, because I can keep up my habits, shift away from them slowly, and not be tied to big shipments of Medifast.

So far so good! I'll keep cranking up my calorie intake, adjusting my macros, adding more foods, and see what happens!

Friday, July 25, 2014

If It Fits Your Macros - doing some math!

So, I want to convert from Medifast to IIFYM now that I'm at the tail end of my weight loss goal, as I think it will improve my ability to keep losing fat and to gain muscle. However, that means I have to do a lot of work into what my TDEE actually is.

If I go to and put in my numbers (Male, 43 years old, 6'2", 255 lbs) and plug in my desk job with no exercise, it claims that I have a BMR of 2223 calories and a TDEE of 2667/day. this seems fairly accurate with what MFP claims as well

So, to lose 1 pound a week, I need to consume 2167 calories a day with no exercise. To lose 2 lbs a week I need to consume 1657 calories a day with no exercise.

I do two circuit training workouts a week, which I think  probably burn about 350 calories per class. I also try to hit the elliptical at least once, which is about 700 calories generally.

So my 'extra' burn on a standard week is 1400 calories, or 200 calories a day. Spreading that across the week, it looks like I need to eat at around 2400 calories a day to lose 1 pound a week, or 2050 to lose 1.5 pounds. I like the idea of losing a little more than 1 pound a week, so I want to target that number.

Now, for the next step, I weigh 255 pounds and have a target of 2050 calories a day. IIFYM claims that that would be 'reckless' with no added exercise, however with my exercise level that should be considered closer to an 'aggressive' plan, which seems accurate to me.

With all that plugged in, IIFYM came back with the following guidelines:

189 grams of protein/day
85 grams of fat/day
133 grams of carbs/day
51+ grams of fiber/day

That seems totally reasonable. Now, lets look at what a normal day should look like on tis plan and see if that makes any sense at all with what I want to eat...

Breakfast - Egg white omelet (237 calories, 8 carbs, 5 fat, 37 protein)
2/3 cup egg whites
2 wedges laughing cow
3 oz grilled chicken

Morning Snack - Medifast bar and Almonds (280 calories, 18 carbs, 20 fat, 17 protein)
1 Medifast Crunch bar
28 grams almonds

Lunch - Medifast with cheese and chicken (260 calories, 15 carbs, 10 fat, 26 protein)
1 Mac and Cheese
3 oz grilled chicken
1 wedge laughing cow

Afternoon Snack - Greek Yogurt and Granola (230 calories, 33 carbs, 4 fat, 15 protein)
5.3 oz Yoplait Greek 100 Strawberry Cheesecake
1/4 cup Bear Naked Heavenly Chocolate Granola

Dinner - Chicken and vegetables (557 calories, 30 carbs, 33 fat, 39 protein)
8 oz grilled chicken
1.5 cups mushrooms
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup black eyed peas

Dessert - Smoothie (225 calories, 21 carbs, 9 fat, 22 protein)
1 Medifast soft bake
1 oz Neufchatel Cheese
2 tbsp PB2

This would end the day at:

1,789 calories (261 remaining)
125g carbs (8 remaining)
81g fat (4 remaining)
156g protein (33 remaining!)
29g fiber (22 remaining)

So, I need to supplement this with a high-fiber, high- protein, low-carb snack in some way. A quick look sees I can replace one Medifast crunch bar with a Quest Bar and add another Quest Bar (170 calories, 3 carbs, 6 fat, 20 protein) and end up here:

2,029 calories (close enough to be a rounding error)
137 carbs (just over)
90 fat (just over)
186 protein (just under)
42 fiber (under, I should add a fiber pill)

That's pretty freaking close, actually. My first thought is 'holy crap, that is a LOT of food'. My second thought is this is going to be restrictive in very similar ways to Medifast for most days, since trying to hit those targets is going to be tough. I'll also want to change up dinner a lot more, with different meats and starchy veggies.

I'll need to come up with a LOT of different meal plans/options, and I'll also want to look at ditching Medifast mac and cheese and expand my lunch options.

So, there's some stuff to blog about for the next couple of days! Meal planning. Medifast takes meal planning out of the equation, so this will be a change of pace.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Transitioning off Medifast soon!

I'm at 255 (+/- 1 lb) and while I did not hit my goal weight of 240 yet, we've decided to start the transition off of Medifast towards more 'real' foods. To that end, we've made a few purchases that should help things moving forward.

Now though, I'm going to talk a bit about meals and snacks and how things used to work, how they work now, and how they'll hopefully be working in the future.

Breakfast, before Medifast:
Skipped it many days, sometimes had a big bowl of sugary cereal (1.5 cups) with 2% milk. Lots of days I had a gas station hot dog or biscuit, or 2 McDonald's burritos or a sausage biscuit, or a Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuit. (0-600+ calories)

Breakfast, on Medifast:
A Medifast shake or 3/4 cup Medifast cereal and 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk. (90-140 calories)

Breakfast plans now:
Kashi GoLean High Protein cereal or Fiber One Chocolate cereal and unsweetened vanilla almond milk, or egg whites with cheese and mushrooms, or a protein shake. (100-200 calories).

Biggest takeaway: Breakfast every day is critical to not over-snacking later, and almond milk is amazing.

Morning Snack, before Medifast:
Vendo-bot food, candy bars, potato chips, cookies, pop tarts. (200-500 calories)

Morning snack, on Medifast:
Medifast Crunch Bar, Almonds (85-110 calories)

Morning Snack plans now:
High protein meal replacement bars, Almonds (85-200 calories)

Biggest takeaway: Make sure you have reasonable healthy snacks at work. However, don't bring bags and boxes of them to work, since the work day is the place I'm most likely to graze. Bring exactly enough snacks for each day.

Lunch, before Medifast:
Fast food value meals, Subway, Qdoba Take Two menu, Indian buffet, Chinese buffet, deli soup and sandwiches, one large can of chunky soup. (400-2000 calories)

Lunch, on Medifast:
Macaroni and cheese, sometimes with extra cheese and chicken. (100-200 calories)

Lunch plans now:
Continuing to eat Medifast Mac and Cheese, but will look into frozen dinners, canned soups, and other options, as well as bringing leftovers for lunches. (100-500 calories)

Biggest takeaway: I simply can't go eat buffet/fast food 3-5 times a week at work. I need to make sure I bring a lunch every single day and have lunch outings at work limited to social events with friends a couple times a month.

Afternoon snacks, before Medifast:
Very rare, actually. This is likely due to the fact that most of my lunches were massive 1000-2000 calorie piles of sodium and fat. If I skipped lunch then this would be Vendo-bot, though. (0 calories or 250-500 calories)

Afternoon snacks, on Medifast:
One of a variety of crispy Medifast snacks (90-110 calories)

Afternoon snack plans now:
Protein bars, nuts, yogurt and granola, or some other reasonable snack. (100-300 calories)

Biggest takeaway: Afternoon snacks are critical to balancing out the day. Eating three small meals works much better than one large one, so I need to make sure I've got this covered with things brought from home so that I'm  not hitting the Vendo-bot for a candy bar and chips.

Dinner, before Medifast:
While I made many home cooked meals, and a lot of them were actually relatively healthy, portion sizes were a little out of control. Tons of rice, tons of pasta, breads, etc. However, many nights, especially right before Medifast meant lots of fast food. We were going out to eat 4-6 nights a week, with planned meals out after workout class two nights, and then the other nights were pizza, or Mexican, or a sit-down restaurant, or fast food. (800-2500 calories)

Dinner, on Medifast:
6-9 ounces of lean protein, 1.5 cups of mushrooms, sauces. (400-600 calories)

Dinner plans now:
4-8 ounces of lean protein, more vegetables, including adding back in grains, and reasonable bread/pasta and sauces. (500-1000 calories)

Biggest takeaway: Cook every night. Don't come to the dinner table starving because you ate crap all day at lunch. Have a stocked pantry and refrigerator, and get fresh meats and veggies regularly. Going out to eat should be a special treat and not the default. When you do go out to eat, have reasonable servings.

Post-Dinner snack, before Medifast:
Chocolate chip cookies, cakes, cupcakes, ice cream, Sonic Blasts, McFlurries, frozen yogurt, frozen custard concretes with mix-ins. (200-800 calories)

Post Dinner snack, on Medifast:
Medifast smoothie with a soft-bake mix, cream cheese, and PB2 (120-150 calories)

Post-dinner snack plans now:
More Medifast smoothies, and possibly coming up with other smoothie recipes using protein powders, real peanut butter, and other ingredients. (120-250 calories)

Biggest takeaway: While I really do want something dessert-like every night, I need to make sure that the high-calorie choices are very rare treats and not daily occurrences. This is where we are most likely to keep buying Medifast products for the foreseeable future, as well.

Before Medifast, I was consuming anywhere from 1600-6000 or so calories a day, and gaining weight when I wasn't tracking. I doubt I had many 6,000 calorie days, but I am sure I had more 4,000 calorie days than I would have ever expected.

Now, though, I want to take my average Medifast day (1100-1300 calories) and transition into a more reasonable 2000-2500 calorie diet. I'm not planning on jumping directly up to 2500, obviously, but this is the overall goal, to get myself to a place where my normal day is at a calorie level that should make it easy to lose about 1 lb a week if I exercise, and maintain if I don't.

To do this, I just need to keep weighing, keep tracking, and keep bringing food to work and cooking at home. I got my kickstart. Now it's time to lock it in.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Week 26?! Yes, week 26! Broke through my plateau.

Ok, summer has been horrible for my blogging. It's also not done a great thing for my diet plan, I was in a plateau for quite some time, but this week I have pushed myself to make the right choices and get back on plan.

This summer has been great. I feel better than I've felt in ages, and we're doing a lot of stuff outside. We're also going out to eat a little more, and even treating ourselves. Since the summer started I've been on a cruise (made reasonable food choices, but did not 'diet'). Spent a week with my family (more reasonable food choices but still no dieting). Since we got back we've gone out to dinner a few times (reasonable choices, staying as close to lean and green as possible). We even had a small celebratory night out at a hotel, with dinner (reasonable), dessert (fresh cannoli), breakfast in bed, then crepes for brunch.

Finally tonight, we've got one more kid-free evening before our daughter comes back from camp, and we're going out one more time on a date night.

The key to all of this is that despite all of this 'not on plan' eating and activity, I've managed to maintain, and not gain. And then once I buckled down, this week I had over a 4 pound loss! I expect this is because I've spent most of the summer eating enough carbs to have glycogen stored up again, and this week I've burned through some of it.

As of this morning, I was at 254 pounds. Seven months ago, I was at 332 and had put a goal of 250 pounds as a far future goal, nearly impossible to attain. Now I'm a stone's throw away. I reset my goal to 240, so that I would go off plan and regain glycogen and still stay under 250 and have that be my maintenance weight, but now that I'm nearly there, I think I can do a little better.

So, while I'm not to goal yet, it is time to take a pretty hard look at things. In a couple of weeks (whenever I hit 250, I think) I'm going to start transitioning off Medifast and start eating more real food. I want to do the transition properly and then shift into a standard 'IIFYM' (if it fits your macros) style of eating to focus on building muscle and losing fat slowly. So over the next few weeks I'll be looking into that and see where I think I need to set my intake on carbs, fats, and proteins. I expect I'll still be low-carb for a long time, but not quite so low carb as I am now.

I'd like to be in transition before the end of this month, and off Medifast sometime in August or September.

Medifast has been amazing, even with the last few weeks (they were frustrating at the time, but honestly, I wasn't on plan consistently for any of my plateau, so it's hard to complain with 'maintaining/slight loss' when you aren't actually following the diet!).

The biggest lessons I've learned are: consistent meal planning, cooking every day, bringing lunch to work every day. Those are huge, because of course you're going to gain weight when you grab a biscuit at Mc Donald's for breakfast, eat chinese buffet for lunch, and then order pizza for dinner because you don't want to cook. One of those as a special occasion? Sure. All three in one day, and multiple days a week that look like that? Bad idea.

Ok! Enough talking. Time to break out some graphs. I've been a slacker this summer, but it's time to end this thing with a bang, so it's back to daily blogging and weekly graphs and charts!

Click to embiggen!
Here you can see the tail end of my plateau. It started at the middle of may when I hit 260 and then started hovering, dancing between 258 and 262 for a few weeks. I started this week in a good place, 258.0, my previous low. Even with dinner at Blueberry Hill, cannoli, and crepes, I only went up to 259.9 and decided to knock it out of the park the rest of the week. I hydrated, followed Medifast, limited snacks, and broke through.

The 6-week plateau is obvious here.
Taking a look at the weekly, you can see the stall, hovering at 259-261. Despite that though, I ended week 26 at an even 3.0 pound loss week, and that's good enough. I still think I can manage to hit my goal by mid-August.

And here's my weekly graph. Still pretty impressive, even with that flat bit. Not much longer now!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Back from vacation!

I was on vacation for about two weeks and managed a cruise and beach trip off Medifast and maintained!

I'll be posting a more detailed post this week once I'm hydrated, caught up from being gone for a while, and have some more data, but for now I'm pretty happy. Now it's time to get back on Medifast for the last bit of my loss and then transition and get my long-term plan in effect to build muscle.

But before I go:

Marshall and Christy, last week:

And us prior to starting Medifast: