My 1500-Calorie Weekday-Diet

Lisa Torcato Language Services 17.06.2010

HOW I GOT INTO IT: I am 41, 160m high, 56 kg. I was never actually fat, though my weight has plummeted in some particular periods of my life. I don’t exactly remember when I got an awareness of my shape, but I’ve been careful for about twenty years now. I guess having a cardiopathic father and an obese mother was an important part of the process. I am describing my diet in details in the last section of this article. Since my teens I have been very active. I started Classical Ballet for posture issues and simply fell in love with it. Until today dancing is one of my passions! In the years to come I would try other dance styles. I participated in the volleyball team in secondary school, I used to bike and walk a lot too. By the time I entered the university, my life changed completely. The course used all my mental and physical energy. The college was far from home and I had to walk and take buses. During the undergraduate years I went down some kilos. Towards the end of the course, the rhythm fell, I was worried about my future as a professional and I gained about 6 kilos almost overnight. This was my first red-light. I was scared. So I started the first diet of my life. Boy, it was hard. I had little information and only my mother and her experience with hundreds of weight-loss methods as a “guideline”. I wasn’t used to control what I ate, never had to. I remember how hungry I felt and how many mistakes I made. These attempts taught me more than I ever admitted. I learned to negotiate with myself, to pay attention to nutrients, quantity and to adapt what I eat to my way of life. When you’re in your twenties, losing weight is absurdly easy. The biggest challenge is to keep it, to find the right balance between pleasure and commitment. I lost count of how often I fell into temptation, only to regret it bitterly at the last bit. But I persisted. Not once had I thought about giving up! I never took medicines either. Access to Internet got me in contact with an ocean of information to keep me healthy. Soon after I graduated, one of my professors made me a proposition for a Master degree. I got a sponsorship and things fell into a routine again. That was when I decided to go to a gym. Three times a week, for one hour. Never did it before, I just went jogging in the park randomly. I loved it. Loved meeting other people, loved the music, the aerobics and the way I felt afterwards: relaxed and happy. When I visited Egypt, I saw a belly-dance show which got me curious to try it. Both gym and belly-dance practice came into my life in 1994, never to leave again! During my Master degree years, my way of eating consolidated. I learned not to go out of it when I was not supposed to in order to avoid guilty feelings. I finished my Master and got a job as a teacher. I commenced my day early, finished mid-afternoon. As a rule, I don’t eat out on weekdays. I made it a point to do it as leisure activity. I also eat every two hours, which left me the option of taking food from home and this is fine with me. Dinner is my substantial meal of the day. I rescheduled my gym; that consisted mostly of aerobics, abs and light weight-lifting. Belly-dance on Saturdays. Thus the years passed: low-calories diet during the week. Well, I love cooking as much as I love eating. Sweets are my weakness. I am crazy about them. If I start, I cannot stop. One unit is never enough and leaves me with a frustrated feeling; better not to start then. So, during the week no

sweets, no fat whatsoever. But weekends are another thing. I realized I needed the chance to cook and eat whatever I like, as I like it. Therefore, Saturdays and Sundays are my diet-free, work-out-free days. I do what makes me happy, without thinking about health or metabolism. I came to be very content with this eating routine; I ate what was recommendable during the week and got a reward on weekends. My body relaxes and my metabolism is told that there is no shortage of food. This happened until last year, and then things got confused. I went to Norway to visit my boy-friend and was living with his family for three months. I had no choice, I had to eat what and how they ate. Norwegians have a very poor diet based entirely on animal fat: dairy products, pork meat in all its forms; and a damn lot of bread to accompany them. I saw how lucky I was to have grown up in a tropical country, surrounded by hundreds of types of fruit, vegetables and grains! Being there made me lose control over my eating and my health. I felt constantly heavy and full, like my stomach had stopped working. I tried to explain to people there that I needed to keep on with what I was used to, to no avail. Result: four kilos added, a sensation of polluted body and a complete loss of well-being. Even going biking for two hours every day made no difference. When I came back to my country, I set out to lose this extra weight and resume my diet. I was dully told by my body that I was going to turn forty. Downsizing took three times longer than before. During my twenties and thirties, it would take two weeks or so, with gym and less calories on weekends, to go back to my normal. It usually happened after I came back from holidays. This time it took two months of Spartan diet week and weekend and twice as much exercise. My metabolism had slowed down due to age. So back to Internet it was, to look for solutions. I found data about food that accelerates metabolism, like hot spices or ginger root, which I included promptly in my diet. I realized that making my metabolism go faster was the answer. The natural way of doing it is building up muscles. Furthermore, muscle training stimulates the production of growth hormone; avoids bone and muscle loss, common at this age. I started a moderate weight-lifting programme immediately, with the gym instructor’s help and orientation. It’s been going on for one year; my body fat percentage reduced. Weighting myself is no longer a method, since muscle is heavier than fat and grows (on the right places). All my medical check-ups came with excellent results and I feel real great. With this incident I learned to focus on health, well-being and quality of life. I also combine weight-lifting with spin for heart and lung conditioning. I go to the gym from Monday to Friday.

MY EATING ROUTINE: During the week I eat mainly healthy: no sweets, no fried food, no alcohol. I avoid fat, preserved and industrialized food; I try to include all nutrients in it. I regard my diet on a weekly basis, varying nutrition from day to day. I eat small things every two hours, so that the hormone cortisol won’t increase to melt my muscles or slow my metabolism down. These small things are a fruit of the season, a vegetable, which can be eaten raw (cucumber, carrot, pepper, ginger and so on), or nuts. I generally leave the most of my calorie intake for dinner, that’s when I relax. I hate eating while stressed at work or going to sleep on an empty stomach as well. I don’t have food cravings because I’m never hungry.

I have a very rushy and busy day. There’s little time for eating, except at dinner. From Monday to Friday I have half a papaya and a cup of coffee for breakfast (200 calories). Lunch consists generally of a substantial fruit like mango or banana or avocado (an average of 300 calories). The total of the small eating during the day is about 200 calories. I have a fixed menu each day for dinner, described below. I drink a glass of soya milk with it; a cup of fat-free, sugar-free yogurt with cinnamon powder for dessert.

Mondays are meet-free for environmental and health reasons. The meal is a full plate of boiled broccolis, caulis-flower, spinach, zucchini (it has to be at least four types of vegetables available at the stores) seasoned with herbs or spices. Tuesdays are for soup of any kind. Some of them are family tradition. Wednesdays: 300 gram grilled fish seasoned according to my imagination. Thursdays: 5 rye crisp-bread with fat-free cream-cheese and turkey-ham. (Say what you will, but this is my absolute favourite weekday dinner!) Fridays: 300 grams grilled chicken breast. Some may opine that there is too little carbohydrate in this diet. I answer that the fruit and vegetables I eat the whole day are full of them. I am proud that I can accomplish this quite easily now. I adapted very well to this life-style and I don’t think of changing it any time soon; not after twenty years! Well, if you have any comment, suggestion or doubt, just write to me. Lisa Torcato 19.11.2009

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