First of all a mandatory warning: don't do it at home! If you want to put yourself on a diet, ask a doctor. What you'll be reading here is my process, what worked for me might not work (or even be dangerous) for you. This is just a report of my experience, not a step-by-step tutorial.
It's all about the attitude
I believe the most important thing that I learned is that "diet" is not a punishment that you inflict to yourself in a finite time frame, but a whole new attitude at eating.
This basically means that your diet actually never ends or you are going to gain weight back very quickly. Don't worry, it's not as bad as it sounds, keep reading.
The first month, or how I did it all wrong
So. Trial and error. The first month was all about error.
My first approach was to simply remove fat and carbohydrates and reduce sugar.
My new friends were green vegetables and white meat (chicken, turkey and low fat fish mainly). Very little potatoes and carrots of course.
No more butter, just a teaspoon of olive oil when needed (fortunately we don't miss that here in Florence, Italy). Pizza and pasta were my new enemies. Soda and beer the anti-Christ, water my new master.
I won't lie to you: the first week is pure hell. Don't even bother to weight yourself, you'll be suffering without losing one pound.
If you stick to your diet for one week, things start to get slightly better, not because you don't pain but at least you finally see the results. Not sure why but it seems my body needs one week before burning the exceeding fat under the skin. From that moment on motivation kicks in.
I weight myself every other day, always at the same time in the morning. My body fluctuates quite a bit during the day, so if you miss your daily appointment with the scale, skip it that day, you'll spare yourself a disappointment.
After one month the good news is that I was not suffering anymore for the reduced income, but my body collapsed. And I'm not talking metaphorically. One morning I woke up and I could barely stand. That day I had the best breakfast in one month, even though it seemed the best of my life.
A new balance
That episode forced me to rethink my method.
I understood that carbs are not my enemy, they are actually pretty important in my diet.
The new balance was:
- Little carbs in the morning. They give you an energy reserve that lasts the whole day. But –this is important– don't take carbs after lunch. Once a week I reintegrated pasta or pizza at noon if I knew I had an intense afternoon.
- Drink lots of water during the meals. Drinking a lot during the meal makes you feel full earlier.
- Sugars are actually fine. During the diet sugars are not bad, it's pure energy the body consumes right away. When I feel hungry or feeble I drink a glass of half-water-half-fruit-juice or eat an apple or a pear.
- Light at night. The last meal of the day should be very light. No carbs whatsoever (sorry, no late fridge-cold Pizza), no food meant for breakfast, no fat (yeah that includes bacon).
- Eat regularly. Especially don't reach the table hungry, I always end up eating more than I need if I do. I eat breakfast at 8am, lunch at 1pm, dinner at 8pm. No exceptions.
- Eat at home. Or at least prepare your meals at home.
So what do I eat?
Salads. Huge bowls of salads, with tomatoes, little cheese and some grilled chicken maybe.
Risotto with very little rice and a lot of vegetables (zucchine and onions for example).
Salad with green beans, potatoes, tomatoes and black olives.
Veggie-balls with actually any kind of vegetables and a dice of cheese in the center to spice it up.
Beer or soda, once a week. Water diluted fruit juices any time I need it.
I believe the best suggestion I can give is to be constant with your diet. Make a program and stick to it. One days maybe you feel you need extra energy because you've been standing 2 hours at the post office, or you took the bike for a 30 minutes ride, or you worked late to meet a deadline.
Your mind will tell you that you deserve some culinary satisfaction, don't listen to him/her! S/he is a liar! You might feel tired but you don't need more energy. Stick to the plan.
It's finally over
This new system brought me to lose approx 200gr every two days. Very slow –I have to admit– but steady. 12kg later, my body stopped losing weight, if I wanted to lose more I probably had to reduce carbs or sugars in the morning but I'm happy with the result and I can say the diet is over.
Not because I'm back eating like before I started, but because this is my new diet now. The way I eat changed drastically, now I meet the body scale once a week and my weight is steady.
I should probably increase the output as well (ie: exercise more), that would definitely help with the heart, but if I work out I need more energy and losing weight becomes harder (at least without an expert's advice).