Tag Archive | diet

2 Weeks on the 8-Hour Diet

I was at the library with my family, picking out healthy recipe books, when I stumbled upon a book called The 8-Hour Diet.  I skimmed it, looking for the gimmick, but didn’t immediately see it.  I showed the cover to my husband, who said, “That’s where you eat for 8 hours.”  I kind of rolled my eyes and said, “Noooo.” But it turns out, he was exactly right.

The Premise

In the 8-Hour Diet, you eat for 8 hours of the day and you fast for 16.  The 8 hours that you eat can be any 8 hours of the day, and the books says you can pretty much eat whatever you want during that time.  There are 8 types of food that the author, Zinczenko, suggests eating with every snack or meal, which are broken into two groups: the health boosters (fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc.) and the fat busters (lean protein, low-fat dairy, beans, etc.).  However, multiple times throughout the book, he says that you don’t have to worry about “cheating.”  You don’t even have to do it every day; just 3 days a week is enough.  In general, the idea is if you don’t deprive yourself of any certain type of food, i.e. if nothing is off limits, then you’re more likely to be able to stick with it in the long run.

How I Followed the Diet

For the first week, my 8-hour eating period went from about 11:30-7:30.  Since I already try to incorporate the “health boosters” and “fat busters” into my daily diet anyway, I really didn’t have to alter my eating habits.

During the second week, I extended the eating from 8 hours to 9 or 9 1/2 hours.  I’ll explain why below.

What I Learned from Doing It

The Pros

  • It’s easy to jump right in to.  I didn’t have to go buy special foods or rid my house of the foods that weren’t part of the diet.  As a result, I could start immediately and was able to say, “I’ll just try it tomorrow and see if I can actually go 16 hours without eating.”  There was no initial financial investment and, therefore, there was no feeling that I had to commit to it for any certain amount of time.  Really, there was no pressure with it all.  Just, I’ll give it a try.  If I can do it, great.  If I can’t, oh well; it’s not the one for me.
  • The best thing, though, about doing this diet for a couple weeks is that I learned I can actually go long periods of time without eating.  I was really afraid of feeling horrible–growling stomach, headache, etc.–like I usually do when I don’t eat often enough.  However, I just did what the book recommended and drank lots of water and caffeinated tea.  That kept the growling under control, and I never got a headache.
  • Water.  I drank so much water.  I started each morning with nearly 20 oz instead of having breakfast.  Then, I would have my normal during the day, plus some, so that most days I was getting 40+ oz of water, which was much more than I was having before–actually over twice as much!
  • I went to bed earlier.  If I waited too late to go to bed, then I knew I’d be hungry and want to eat, so I tried to get to bed earlier to avoid that, which, of course, resulted in more sleep.
  • This diet could easily be done with any other diet to see better results.  (This is mentioned in the book, too.)  Just follow the other diet’s rules for the 8 hours that you’re eating.
  • Fasting at least 12 hours at night is supposed to be really good for you.  (Just Google “12 hours fasts” and start reading.) It’s not the first time I’ve heard this concept, so I feel like it’s something I would like to continue doing when possible.

The Cons

  • For the first week, I had a difficult time adjusting.
    • It was hard not to overeat, especially as I got close to the end of my 8-hour window.   I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to eat again for 16 hours, so I wanted to stock up while I could.  I will say that the book mentions that you can’t stuff yourself and expect to see results.  You have to eat until satisfied, not full.  This is something I struggle with anyway, but this diet made me really more aware of this problem.  I felt fuller quicker and longer but often ignored these signals.
    • We would eat dinner around 5 or so and be finished by 6.  I knew I would need a snack before bed, but I wasn’t actually hungry before 7:30, which made me either force a snack, making me overly stuffed, or skip a snack, meaning I was hungry right at bedtime, and had to cheat with a glass of milk so that I could fall asleep.  (Drinking a bunch of water at bedtime to stave off hunger pains was obviously not an option since I didn’t want to be up a million times during the night to pee.)
  • I take iron at night to help with restless legs, and I have to take it with food; otherwise, I get massive stomach pain.  If I take it too early, I often still end up with restless legs, so if I took the pill at 7:30, the end of my window, and didn’t go to bed until 10, then it didn’t work like it should.  This, in the end, is why I extended my window an extra hour or so.  That way, I could take my nighttime pills closer to bedtime.  I also felt less pressured to eat when I wasn’t hungry or to overeat at dinner, so I was definitely doing better with this during the end of the two weeks, which is why I think, in the end, I didn’t gain weight.
  • However, I didn’t actually lose much at all (like less than 1/2 pound in two weeks).  I was hoping it would be a miracle, but for me, it just didn’t work out that way.  After 10 days, I was back down to my starting weight.  That’s right.  I gained while I was on it at first.  But in the end, making it through all the Easter candy and treats and my husband’s birthday during the first week and still netting a small loss?  I suppose that is a miracle after all.


Although it’s not a diet I will probably stick with as written, I do want to continue the 12- to 16-hour fast, and now, I know that even if I stop eating at 9 and, therefore, can’t eat until 9 or later in the morning, as long as plenty of water is available, I can skip breakfast and just wait for lunch.  I’ve made it 16 hours for goodness sake!

I would love to hear if you’ve tried the 8-Hour Diet and how it went for you!


Doing Weight Watchers for Free

So these aren’t the best pictures of me in the world, but they do demonstrate that since the beginning of January I’ve lost some weight, and if you remember, in the last post, I asked you if you thought I was able to reach my goal of losing 10% of my body weight by Easter.  Well, it’s almost Easter, and looking at those two pictures, before on the left, after on the right, what do you think?

At my home weigh-in on March 9, I had officially lost 11% of my starting body weight, so I was able to reach my goal almost a month early.  Now, I’m working on the next goal:  another 10% lost by October.

As I mentioned, I have been doing the “best of diets,” cutting out sweets and desserts except on special occasions and doing Weight Watchers (WW) for free.  It’s really the combination of these things that has made losing weight possible while at the same time not feeling deprived.  I eat out.  I make “cookies” out of nuts and dates, and I make “ice cream” out of bananas and strawberries.  And I still lost weight, so I wanted to share the resources that I’ve been using to help me.  If you’ve done Weight Watchers before, then it’s fairly easy to do it for free with the right tools.

If you haven’t done it, then it might be a little more challenging since you’re not familiar with the basics, but here’s the blog that made me realize that it’s very possible to do:

How to Get Weight Watchers for Free.  Really! by Freckleberry Fit

On this blog, she shares helpful links.  The first one you’ll need is a calculator to figure out how many points you can eat each day:

Weight Watchers PointsPlus Daily Target Calculator

Then, once you know how many points you can have, you’ll need a way to calculate points for foods:

Weight Watchers Points Plus Calculator

If you’re having a food that doesn’t include nutritional information (because it’s fresh/not packaged), then you might use Spark People:

Track Your Food

Then you can use the calculator to find points for it.  Luckily, there are many fruits and vegetables that are 0 points and are, therefore, free foods.  WW provides a nice list:

Zero PointsPlus Value Food List

If you exercise, you earn activity points.  I have found that I can’t actually eat my activity points and still lose weight, but each person needs to experiment with what they can and can’t eat:

Weight Watchers PointsPlus Activity Value Charts

Finally, besides your daily points, you also get 49 points.  Again, you have to experiment with what your body needs and can handle.  I can’t use the full 49, or I won’t lose.  I’ve set my weekly allowance at around 40 so that I can continue to lose larger amounts.  The weekly allowance allows you to splurge when you need to without having to feel guilty.

Consider giving WW a try if you’re trying to lose weight and eat healthier.  As I learned during my time paying for WW and participating in the online communities, WW really isn’t a diet; it’s a lifestyle.  I hope you give it a try.  To make it easier on you if you decide to try to do it for free, I’m sharing the Google Spreadsheet I use to track points and measurements.  It’s a Google Doc, so please create a copy of the spreadsheet first before entering your information; otherwise, everyone will be able to see it!

 WW-log(Click on the image to open the spreadsheet, and then remember to “make a copy.”)

Doing the best of diets

At the end of last year, I talked about the concept from a book called Eat Move Sleep about choosing the healthiest and best part of diets that you’ve done in the past and doing those things instead of following any one diet.  As I thought about it and talked to others about it, I realized I hadn’t really hit the surface with some of those diets.  Here’s an updated list of the “best of diets”:


  • helps avoid having too many carbs, especially refined ones like flour, pasta, and sugar

(Gestational) Diabetic Diet

  • opts for a balance of carbs, protein, and fat to reduce insulin spikes
  • completely eliminates sweets and desserts

Weight Watchers

  • requires tracking of food (in the form of a journal/point totals)
  • helps with portion control
  • allows “cheating” as long as you have to points to use on the food–in other words, no food is off limits so that you don’t feel deprived
  • encourages exercise since you can earn extra (activity) points by working out
  • encourages fruits and vegetables because they are “free” foods that don’t cost any points
  • requires weekly weigh-ins to track progress

As you can see, Weight Watchers (WW) really does have a lot of good things going for it.  I thought about joining up, but since we were trying to get out of debt as soon as possible, I couldn’t rationalize spending $17 a month to lose weight.  Luckily, I’ve done it a couple of times and know the basics of it, and with a little help from the Internet, I’ve been able to do it for free.  (Stay tuned for a future post with the details.)  I’ve also been avoiding sweets completely except if it’s a holiday or a birthday (so less than once a month), and I haven’t had pop or diet pop at all since January 1st–cutting out artificially sweetened drinks or things that are mostly sugar.  I still have things with sugar like ketchup or jelly, but in limited amounts.

By doing these things, the goal I set on January 1st was to lose 10% of my weight by Easter.   Do you think I’ll do it?  Or maybe I’ve already done it?  Wait and see!

21-Day Tummy Recipe: Beef and Red Quinoa-Stuffed Eggplant

I’ve been doing pretty good about trying out some of the diet recipes this week, so here’s another one I tried, except that it was actually “Beef and Rice-Stuffed Eggplant.”  If you haven’t noticed, I often sub (or forget) ingredients.  This time, I used brown rice simply because I thought I had quinoa in the cupboard, but I apparently had used it all up.  Ada is a huge quinoa fan, so I should’ve known we were out.  I also forgot to add grapes because I was just way too excited to get to the part about stuffing the eggplant.  Oh well.

Beef and Rice Quinoa-Stuffed Eggplant (A Phase 2 Recipe)

4 small eggplants (I used 3 to save some money.)
1 3/4 cups water
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup instant brown rice
3/4 pound lean ground beef (I used a pound.)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I reduced this greatly, probably by half, because none of us like a strong cinnamon flavor in savory dishes.)
3/4 teaspoon salt (I didn’t measure.  I just added salt at various stages of the cooking process.)
1 can crushed tomatoes
20 red seedless grapes, halved (Again, I forgot these and just ate grapes on the side.)
1 Tablespoon chia seeds

Directions:  (This is the way I did it, not the way it’s written in the original recipe.)

  1. Halve the eggplants.  Scoop out the middle, leaving a slight edge.  Dice up the scooped out eggplant.
  2. Placed the eggplant halves cut side down on a baking sheet.  Add half cup water, and place in a 400 degree preheated oven.  Bake for 15 minutes.
  3. While the eggplants are cooking, heat the oil, add the beef and season with some salt and cinnamon.
  4. Cook until brown and then add the eggplant and 1/4 cup of water.  Cook for a few minutes before adding the rice, the tomatoes, and 1 cup of water.
  5. Bring to a boil.  Cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  (After this, you would add the grapes if you wanted to.)
  6. Fill each of the eggplant shells with the beef and rice mixture.  Bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle with chia seeds.

I have to say that it was pretty good.  For me, it was edible.  Ada, as always, ate it up.  CJ, who normally doesn’t eat what we’re eating, even ate most of his, and of course, my husband thought it was pretty good, too.  He thought it probably needed the grapes, though, for sweetness, so although I’m not in a rush to try it again, it might be worth trying with the grapes and the quinoa, the way it was intended to be made.

Let me know if you try it, if you tried anything different, and how it went over at your house!



Cut Back on Sweets

I am a dessert-every-day person.  Some days, I’m a dessert-every-meal person.  I love my sweets, and now that I know I’ll be trying out the 21-Day Tummy diet in the near future, it feels like my appetite for sweets has increased.  It may also be partly related to the fact that just recently I’ve gone from not being able to have soy, dairy, or eggs to being able to have all three (except for dairy in large amounts since not having had dairy for over a year seems to have made me fairly lactose intolerant).   Now, I can have that donut.  I can have that twinkie.  I can have that chocolate bar (though I may suffer a bit for it).  The freedom of being able to have most everything again has made me a little careless about what I put into my mouth, and I just simply want to have it because I can…and well, it tastes good.

On the first phases of the diet, though, there is no dessert.  That’s going to be a bit of a tough one.  By phase 3, it’s dessert every other day.  That sounds like a happy medium to me.

Let’s try to cut back on the amount of sweets and desserts we have.  If you’re like me and eat them every day, try cutting back to every other day, which is what I’m going to do.  This is not going to be easy, and the trick will be having just ONE dessert on those days and not binging because the next day is going to be dessertless.  Let’s find some willpower, and in the process, improve our health!

Trying 21-Day Tummy Recipes

As I mentioned before, I’m preparing for starting the 21-Day Tummy diet by buying some of the nonperishables and frozens ahead of time and by trying out some of the recipes from the book.  The recipes I decided to try first were the smoothie recipes because during the first 5 days, you replace one meal, usually breakfast, with a smoothie.  The first day, I made a chocolate, peanut butter, and banana smoothie recipe from the book:

In a blender mix

  • 6 ounces of nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 Tablespoons light coconut milk (I used unsweetened So Delicious brand.)
  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa
  • ice and water to get to desired consistency

It turned out to be a decent smoothie that I would probably repeat.

The second one I tried was a strawberry banana smoothie.  I altered the recipe in the book a bit because it called for blueberries and strawberries and rather than having just a strawberry smoothie since I didn’t have blueberries, I replaced it with banana.  It also called for almond butter, but I didn’t have any of it either (because it’s really expensive).  So I just used peanut butter again.  It also called for unsweetened cocoa, but I don’t like fruit and chocolate together.  So I, instead, put a little ginger in.

  • 6 ounces of nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 2 Tablespoons light coconut milk (I used unsweetened So Delicious brand.)
  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of peanut butter
  • a touch of fresh grated ginger
  • ice and water to get to desired consistency

Obviously, the combinations in the this smoothie are a little weird, but all the ingredients are belly buddies that help digestion.  This smoothie (pictured above) was okay, too.  Neither was as sweet as I usually make my smoothies, and the peanut butter taste really comes through, so it will take some adjusting.  However, I think a smoothie every morning is definitely doable.


The other recipe I tried was “Mustard-Rubbed Pork Cutlet.”  It’s not a true recipe from the book.  It just gives these basic directions:  “Spread 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard on top of a 4-ounce boneless center cut pork chop, sprinkle with a dash of salt and paprika, and roast in the oven…”  And that’s exactly what I did x4.  I didn’t know what  temperature to cook it at or for how long, so I did 400 for 35 minutes.  They were very well done, so I probably could’ve cooked them at a bit lower temperature or for a shorter time.

I was skeptical that I would like them because I honestly do not like mustard.  However, they were absolutely delicious and super easy.  I was feeling sick, tired, and had the biggest headache but was still able to quickly get them together and into the oven.  Now, that’s a good recipe.

Let’s keep trying out recipes (and I’ll keep sharing some) and stocking up our kitchens for the 21-Day Tummy diet.  Remember the goal is to start by the first of November.  Honestly, I’ll probably start November 3rd, which is a Monday, so that I can use the weekend before to do some prep work.  I’ll keep you updated!

21-Day Tummy (Diet): Preparations

About 2 months after I had my daughter, Ada, I started having some major issues with digestion.  My doctor thought that perhaps my hormones were playing some role in it since I was nursing Ada and hadn’t yet started my period again, and maybe that was part of it.  However, Ada is almost weaned.  My cycles started at least 6 months ago, and I’m having even worse symptoms than I was at the start.  Some days I’m so uncomfortable and in pain that I can’t sleep well at night, or I’m running to the bathroom all day.

When I read about the 21-Day Tummy diet in Reader’s Digest a few months ago, I thought this might be the diet for me.  I didn’t really care about the possibility of losing weight, though I’d of course like to, but to be rid of all my digestive problems?  Ahh, that would be magical.  To eat without worrying if it would make me feel gassy, bloated, and nauseous?  Delightful!

So I decided I would like to try this diet.  Of course, trying a new diet is not easy.  It takes time to plan meals and money to stock up on new foods.

I checked out the book from the library so that I could get the full view of the plan.  I made a list of all the foods I would need for the first 5 days of the plan–phase 1.  I’ve spent the last week buying some of the non-perishable food items on the list and buying some of the things that I could freeze or that are frozen.  This week, I’m going to try making a few of the recipes to see if I like them, and if I don’t, then I’ll take some time to create my own menu based on using the belly buddies and avoiding the belly bullies.  My goal is to start the diet by November 1st.  That way, I should be done with the whole plan before Thanksgiving.

Let’s try, then, to have our meals planned, our pantries and fridges stocked, our meals prepped for the week, and our minds focused and steadfast on doing this by the November 1st, or if you prefer to start on a Monday, November 3rd.  Comment to let me know that you’re going to try it out, too.  We’ll check in during the first week of November.  I hope you’ll try it out with me!

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