Thursday, September 13, 2012

Modification, not starvation

I didn't think it was possible to be any more sore than I was yesterday. I was wrong. I don't think there is a single muscle in my body that doesn't feel Tuesday's workout with Pete!

As I mentioned, I had a long conversation with Pete after his boot camp class, and I learned a few new tips for maintenance that I think will really help me. It's no secret that maintenance is HARD for me, mainly because of stress eating.

The questions I had prepared to ask Pete weren't necessarily about ME, but questions that I thought everyone might find helpful (after reading his book, "Lose It Fast, Lose It Forever"). But as we talked, I found myself asking for advice on the issues I face with maintenance. Some of these things may seem very obvious, but the way Pete talked about it put it all into perspective for me, and it made so much sense!

One of the things Pete learned to do during his weight loss was what he calls "modification, not starvation". He took his favorite foods and modified them to be fewer calories so they would fit in with his weight loss plan. He said the key is to pick foods that still satisfy the craving (so, for example, if you're craving ice cream, eating some yogurt isn't going to cut it). He used the example of popcorn--he used to love the large, buttered movie theater popcorn; now, he'll have the same amount of air-popped popcorn with a little butter spray.

He admits that you may not love the substitutions at first, because you're not used to them, but you're saving roughly 1300 calories by choosing the latter (in the popcorn example)! I told him that I'm an ice cream girl, and he suggested the 40-calorie fudgesicles; because even if I ate the entire box, I would still only eat about 1/4 of the calories that are in a pint of premium ice cream. Here is the example Pete used in his book about modifying his breakfast (notice that he's eating the same amount of food):
Pete's "before" breakfast

Pete's "after" breakfast
I talked to Pete about my binge eating, and while he agrees that bingeing is not okay, he knows that it happens sometimes. And he suggested choosing foods that are lower in calories (like the fudgesicles) to minimize the damage done during a binge. Basically the lesser of two evils ;)

When I first saw some of the examples of foods in Pete's book, I was surprised by the processed foods. I pictured The Biggest Loser Ranch to be void of all things processed. To quote from Pete's book, "At first, we modify only to form that Forever Habit and lose that next pound. Truthfully, we are only 'eating for weight loss.' After we see success in that area, we start modifying because we're 'eating for health,' or you might call it 'eating for life,' which will involve many more natural, whole, and unprocessed foods."

When I talked with Pete about this, he said that when he was over 400 pounds, he was going to die from obesity quickly; so his top priority was to cut calories and lose weight, even if that meant using processed foods. Gradually, he turned toward more unprocessed foods. He used the example of soda pop. For someone who drinks soda on a regular basis, cutting it out cold turkey is really difficult; so he believes it's okay to switch to diet soda, and then maybe flavored water, and then, eventually, just water instead of soda.

That is exactly what I did during my weight loss--I used fat-free sour cream, Crystal Light, Fiber One bars, and other processed foods because they helped me to lower my calories and stay on my plan. Eventually, as I lost the weight, I started to buy less processed foods. I eat fairly healthy, for the most part, but eating all unprocessed organic food just isn't realistic for me on a day-to-day basis.

I asked Pete if he still counts calories every single day, and he said no--that he knows what his limits are. He monitors his weight, and if it goes up a little over the course of a week, then he'll count calories again to get it back down, but he can usually look back on what he was eating and figure out what caused the gain. He said by keeping a log, you can usually see what went wrong, and then you can make a plan to fix it.

For example, I asked him about marathon training. I said that I'm always ravenous the day after a long run, and I eat everything in sight. Pete suggested that I eat a large volume of lower calorie foods; I should plan on having a lot of foods with a high water and fiber content (fruits, veggies) to really fill up the day after my long run without doing a ton of caloric damage. It seems so obvious, but I never thought to do that before!

I also mentioned how I tend to gain weight in the summer, typically from the stress of my kids being home and constantly fighting with each other. He said that I should make a plan for next summer, so that I know ahead of time how I will handle things without the stress eating. Since I know the stress is coming, I can plan ahead exactly what I will do.

I wish I had a whole manuscript of our conversation, because I learned so much, and it's hard to convey it here (I believe everything we talked about can be found in his book, though). But I've started to look at some of my regular foods differently, thinking about how I can modify them to be less caloric and still stay satisfying. And I'm definitely going to come up with a plan for the day after my long runs, as well as summertime next year.

Pete said I really need to start thinking more positively, because I told him that I worry every single day, "Is this the day that I start gaining all this weight back?" He's at the point that he doesn't worry about that anymore, and I really hope to get to that place someday! But I'm grateful that he took the time to talk with me :)

Make sure you enter the giveaway for Pete's book, if you haven't already! (Giveaway is over now)


  1. That man speaks the truth. I keep telling people they can still EAT; it just requires some modifications. I'm excited for his book to come out. I'll pre-order it. :)

  2. I have learned to modify some of my favorites too but if I had a box of fudgcicles in the house I would eat the entire box!!!

  3. I have the same fear-that I will gain all my weight back. But, you lost SO much weight. And you run way further than I am able to run. You have developed discipline...lots and lots of discipline. You are even giving up your beloved peanut butter for 6 weeks! If you can give it up for that long, you can easily eat it in moderation. You are far stronger than you realize. And your strength encourages many. I return to your blog everyday knowing that I will be encouraged by your progress and proud of all your hard work :)

  4. It is so true that the substitutions may not be as well liked at first. That is one of my biggest problem, it's like my head says this can not be as good as what you "really" want. Loosing weight is such a head thing sometimes.

  5. Hi, I've been lurking and just wanted to say great post. It makes me feel more confident in the choices I'm making these days. Love your blog Katie!

  6. What great advice! I would love to read his book and take tips and advice to loose the weight! As people tell you all the time, thank you for taking time to blog. It really does motivate people such as me. I look forward to reading your blog every evening!

  7. Do you see the problem in your thinking? Eating more the day after a long run isn't doing damage; it's listening to your body's request to refuel.

    Eating high-volume, low-calorie food the day after a 1500-calorie run isn't healthy. Your body needs lots of protein and whole grains.

    Your weight loss is inspirational, but your dieting mentality during marathon training is dangerous. Please be careful, Katie. Restricting isn't taking care of your body.

    1. Pete didn't say to eat nothing BUT fruits and veggies. I tend to pig out on junk food the day after my long runs because I feel justified for doing so--and gaining 10-15 pounds during marathon training isn't healthy. Trying to watch my weight during marathon training isn't dangerous. I'm just trying to make healthier choices--pigging out on healthy, lower-calorie foods rather than doughnuts to avoid gaining even MORE weight. ;)

  8. I have modified a few things to fit my diet. My issue is also binge eating when I get upset. I'm sure it will work out

  9. The thing about processed foods really hit me: I struggle so hard with weight loss and part of it is this all or nothing attitude. I always think, "OK, I'm going to eat lots of fresh fruit and veggies, lean protein, etc" and then I end up falling off that wagon pretty hard. I need to learn that, since I eat mostly processed crap now, I CAN eat slightly better processed crap to get started and modify from there. It''s not all or nothing, especially in the beginning. Thank you! :) (And Pete)

  10. Megan Cilley

    I can't wait to read this book!!!

  11. Eggbeaters...duh. I've been making quiche to eat for lunches at work. That would be a way to cut down on some calories. I'm already using turkey sausage in it, but it sounds like I've got lots to learn.

  12. I really loved this!! Having a plan for the realities of with you, i dont know why i didnt think of that! I work full time & go to school full time & tend to 'fly by the seat of my pants' which doesnt help! Im gonna sit here & come up with a plan :)

  13. My problem after a long run is that I *want* foods other than fruits and veggies or high fiber items. I'd rather have a big brunch... I need to get away from the thinking that because I ran, that I am allowed those extra calories.

    Thanks for sharing!

  14. Sounds like an interesting book with some great advice!

  15. I hope I win the book! I loved Pete and I think he still looks fantastic. (He was in the Bowflex Treadclimber infomercial, right?)

  16. It sounds like you learned a lot from Pete. I need to work a lot harder at modifying my favorite meals, because as hard as I try to be healthy, its so easy to slip up. It's also interesting to hear that on the BL the used a lot of processed foods to jump-start their weightloss. I'm on a tight budget and it's not possible for me to eat 100% all natural, unprocessed foods all the time. I tried commenting on your other post, but it said that new comments were not allowed.

  17. I have never been obese, but binge eating is something I am only three days free of. It's hard, since my husband is a (hottie) toothpick, being bigger than him makes me feel even more discouraged!


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