Food

The Ali Edwards Diet (Redux)

Towards the end of 2013, when I was in the thick of my last successful round of weight loss, I was blogging for Skeptoid (my favorite podcast, by the way, and if you’re not listening to it, you should be). As part of my blogging there that year, I wrote about the diet plan I was on at the time. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, I called it “The Ali Edwards Diet” (Edwards being the pseudonym I was writing under at the time).

It was meant to be a skeptical counterpoint to most fad diets, with their prescriptive and restrictive approaches to weight loss. And it basically laid out what I was doing at the time, what was working out so well for me … and continued to work well until I fell out of my good habits and started emotionally eating again.

Since I’m trying to rebuild those atrophied habits again, I wanted to go back an re-examine what I wrote then, and repurpose it for 2020.

As in 2013, my mantra this year is “eat less, move more.” It’s a simple calories-in, calories-out approach that does not artificially restrict any food group, ingredient, or dietary staple. It does, however, encourage me to better manage the overall quantity of food going into my mouth, and the food choices fall into line with that goal.

Aiding me in my food choices this year is a tool that I wasn’t using back in 2013: cognitive behavioral therapy. Brain Powered Weight Loss is a book I will devote its own post to in the future. For now, it’s enough to note that this is NOT a diet book, but a book that helps the reader self-examine why we eat the way we do and how we can control those habits and choices. I feel like one of the things that derailed me last time was the way I let go of all my good eating habits as soon as life got hard; I’m hoping to change that this time through.

For “eat less” I’m starting at 2000 calories a day as my initial target, since I have a higher body mass right now. In a nod to things I’ve learned about diet and metabolism since 2013, I now allow for six “planned” eating periods a day: three meals plus three between-meal slots (mid-morning, mid-afternoon, late-night). My current work schedule makes definitely designating dinner as the “big” meal every day difficult; instead, I am assuming about 500 calories between the three snack sessions and letting the other 1500 play out between the three meals.

I will say that, so far, getting back into calorie tracking this month has been more challenging than I expected. The tools are actually easier to use this time around; it’s the habit, and the food choices, that I struggle with. My aforementioned work schedule isn’t helping, since it swings between evening and day shifts throughout the week. In fact, it was this very work schedule last year was a contributing factor in my weight gain, since I was relying on a lot of take-out rather than cooking at home. But I’m managing.

For the “move more” I am going to be relying on Ring Fit Adventure for the colder months. At the moment, a gym membership is not something I would get my money’s worth out of; drive time and changing can turn a 30 minute workout into a 60+ minute time investment, and right now that doesn’t work for me most days. Ring Fit Adventure lets me control my pace and intensity right in my home. It’s also kind of fun.

Besides, at the weight I am at, I probably won’t need a significant workout to start dropping pounds. The calorie restriction alone will get the ball rolling, with just a minor workout routine to nudge it along.

Just as before, I will be employing gadgets to assist me. In 2013 it was a FitBit Flex, but that has since been replaced, first by a more advanced FitBit and then more recently by an Apple Watch Series 3. The tracking is more complicated, but in the end I’m not interested in exact data at this point — just in making sure I’m moving more than I have been in recent months. As time goes on, I will start paying more attention to the ample data the Watch claims to track.

I cannot, as last time, report any significant weight loss — yet. I’m less than a month in this time, rather than nearly 11 months in. I look forward to returning to the Ali Edwards Diet in December, though, to discuss just how successful (or not) it is for me this year.

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