Tuesday, September 12, 2006


For the past couple of years, I just can't seem to sustain the mental focus necessary to lose weight. It might seem sensible to take a break, but what I find is that "taking a break" just leads to gaining weight, even if technically I'm trying to be on a strict maintenance diet (that is, eating enough calories to maintain to my weight), for the simple reason that, at my best, I'll be on the maintenance diet, and then sometimes I'll go off, which overall leads to weight gain. (It's like if your financial plan is to spend exactly your salary, and then you sometimes overspend, you'll end up in increasing debt.)

So given that I really don't want to slowly gain weight over time, the only option I have is to continue to try to lose weight (which I need to do anyway), even though I may only lose very very small amounts (like ~ 5 lbs so far this entire year) or just maintain as a result.

Anyway, right now (the past couple of weeks) I am using the Weight Watchers "Core" plan. I've done this before, and I really like it, and I usually lose weight on it fairly easily for as long as I can keep it up.

On the regular Weight Watchers plan, called Flex, you get "points" to eat. A point is generally about 50 calories worth of food, but higher-fat foods are worth more points, and higher-fiber foods are worth fewer points (so that, for instance, most regular vegetables are 0 points for a regular serving). So it's basically kind of a modified calorie-counting plan. It's pretty simple.

Core is even simpler. You can eat "as much as you need to feel satisfied" of any of the foods that are considered Core, and then you get 35 points per week of any other food you want. (You also earn points by exercising, which is true on Flex as well.)

The Core food list isn't some small list of, like, cabbage soup, carrots, and chicken breasts. It basically consists of all fruits and vegetables, lean meats, non-fat dairy, eggs, non-creamy soups, beans, meat substitutes (soy crumbles, tofu, boca burgers, plain soymilk, soy cheeses, etc., but not sausage-type veggie meats or, for instance, chik'n patties), and whole grains (but not flours). The main things that are not Core are fatty things (cheese, nuts, etc.) and baked goods (bread, crackers, tortillas, cookies, muffins, and so on). Overall, it's basically a volumetric plan (emphasis on foods that have a low ratio of calories to weight), but made very simple by the list & rules.

It's working pretty well so far. The main obstacles to Core are that you have to basically cook your own food (almost no restaurant or fast food, or pre-packaged stuff, is Core), and if your diet relies on bread or other baked things, you're kind of SOL. I don't eat many baked goods, so that works out for me. My other challengs is to be sure to include enough really tasty Core foods (like avocados) so that I don't go nuts because of the lack of indulgence.

Anyway, this time around I've at least figured out what to do for breakfast, which is good. The only cold cereals that are Core are shredded wheat, puffed rice (not rice krispies, but the plain kind of puffed rice), and all bran, none of which I can stand. Oatmeal is Core, but I only like it if it's pretty well-sweetened, which is not Core. (It's OK with frozen blueberries cooked in it, but that takes more time that it's worth in the morning, even in the microwave; my tolerances for breakfast are very narrow.) Anyway, Kashi makes a cereal that is identical to shredded wheat except that is has cinnamon (Core) and sugar (1 point worth for more than one serving of the cereal), so that's what I've been having most days, and just counting the 1 point.

So it's going well so far. My tofu recipe this weekend was Core, and tomorrow I'll post about the other big dish I made this weekend. It's nice not counting calories and being able to just eat a (Core) snack anytime if I feel like it. And I tend to eat more fruit than otherwise, which is good.


sally said...

Just curious - are artificial sweeteners Core? Given that they have ~0 calories, I can't see how they would count for Points, but there also seems to be some abuse potential there.

Tam said...

They're Core, I'm pretty sure. But even if they weren't, you would just "count" them as part of your weekly 35 points, and they'd never add up to a point (basically). But I think they're officially Core, along with sugar-free gum, diet sodas, etc.