The Money, Money, Money
I survived my first day on Atkins. That doesn't sound like a big deal since I've been trying to go low-carb for a month already. That was a big success at the start then - BOOM - I gained back every pound I'd lost.
Apparently, the thing with carb control is that there are so many hidden ones in so many foods. There are even carbs in spices. Spices, people! Now, what is the first thing anyone does to their food when they change up their eating habits? For me it is to play with spices. I always think that I can make the food (that I'm not used to eating) look and taste more enticing.
Another thing that put me over on carbs was just my stubborness. I refused to completely give up all my sugar. And I was hanging on to my beloved Almond Joy coffee creamer like it was a golden ticket to the Wonka Factory. (RIP Mr. Wilder.) I kept thinking that I could forgo a couple of carbs here and there in my food so that I could use the ones in my creamer. The problem with that is, I am a glutton. If I like something, I will like it to death.
The third problem with me and low carb is that I just don't have the room to cook like I want. Plus, cooking for a special diet requires at least a little bit of pre-planning. I don't have that luxury. I cook when I can get in the kitchen and stretch my culinary wings.
Another problem (and this is one that a lot of folks might relate to) is that anytime you change eating habits, there is the expense of getting your pantry together.
When I looked at my budget, my time, kitchen availabity and, most of all, my personality, I decided that it would be easier to purchase frozen meals. Here's how that breaks down budgetwise:
- Here in the Anchorage Walmart stores, Atkins frozen meals are $4.28 each. (Nice that they are all the same price. Yay!)
- The diet is based on 3 meals & 2 snacks per day. I decided to start with 2 of the frozen meals (lunch and dinner) per day and shop for them once a week.
- 14 meals = $59.92 and for 4 weeks this month that will total $239.68
- I covered my breakfasts by buying bacon and eggs at Costco (and that should last me for at least 3 weeks if DJ doesn't eat all the bacon! LOL). I got 5 dozen eggs for under $7 and 4 lbs of bacon for under $13. I won't even worry about the $3 I spent on a bag of baby spinach. (I already have 2 bottles of unopened Bolthouse dressing from last month's shopping trip.)
- My main food then is going to end up costing me around $260-270/month. Even at the high end, that means I'm paying around $8-9 per meal.
That sounds pricey for someone on a budget so tight it squeals "Mercy!" but in reality, I'm probably saving money. For one thing, other than incidentals (butter and cheese and olives or something snack-like), I'm able to plan my grocery bill almost to the penny. When I shop willy-nilly for food, I know that I was spending about $40 more. That's because I was over shopping. I'd buy meat if I saw it on sale, figuring I could freeze it. I wasn't meal-planning so I'd end up having to run back to the store for odds and ends.
Trust me, it's hurting my wallet to stick to these meals. It was hurting my wallet to buy groceries in the first place. The thing is, I've looked at the Pros and they are making this worth it.
- I have about 80% of my food taken care of. No muss, fuss or trying to make up my mind what to eat.
- No more weighing and measuring foods and then worrying that my weighing and meausuring if off somehow. (That's where some of those extra carbs and calories crept in on me!)
- I don't binge because the meals are actually filling. My portion control is taken care of and that gives me something to stick to, even if I wanted to go back for "seconds".
- It's nice to only have to deal with fixing breakfast and snacks.
- My health is going to be better as I start losing this weight. If I had been doing the frozen meals the whole past 4 weeks, I'd already be well on my way with this weight loss.
- This plan forces (or teaches) discipline. My discipline with food needed some changes.
- Even if I can only afford to do this for 4 weeks (which is what I'm shooting for to get my weight loss started in a big way), I will at least change my shopping and eating habits in general.
I'm looking at this as an investment in my health and well-being.
Now, here's where I go straight naked.
A big part of starting Atkins (at least according to the book I have checked out from the library) is to do an honest "Before" assessment. Here's mine:
Weight = 200.4
Measurements... ~sigh~ (I'm really putting myself out there by revealing these!)
- Chest 37 1/4
- Bust 43 1/4
- Hips 46 7/8
- Waist 431/2
- Thighs 27
My next weight and measurement check-in is same time next week, same bat channel...
The Atkins (and most low-carb diets) suggests 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. The past four weeks doing low-carb I was doing probably 1 big meal and several small snack type meals. And I drank gallons of coffee.
Here is that big Plus to doing the frozen meals. There is no excuse not to eat enough. I think part of my problem before was that I wasn't eating as much as I needed to. Low-carb food (because of the proteins) is very filling. Not eating enough will slam the door on weight loss though.
I am enjoying having lots of choices for complete meals when I go check the freezer. And I don't even have to do much cooking. Yay!
Like I told you, I picked up 14 frozen meals this first shopping trip. Here's my review of what I ate today and how I rated each item on a 5-star scale.
Breakast - I skipped this because I had to go to the store and shop for the food. (I got DJ fries from McD's and I swear I actually drooled at one point...)
Lunch - Atkins Sesame Chicken Stir Fry I give this 5 of 5 stars and have put it on my list to buy again.
This tasted great and had lots of intense flavor. The meat was not "mealy" like that in a lot of frozen meals.
Morning Snack - Coffee with SlimFast Vanilla Cream shake as the "creamer". I give this 3.5 of 5 stars. It will do for now, but I am not thrilled to death. After the delicious lunch I had, I was sated and not craving anything but the coffee. I would have gone back to my ex-husband for a day just to get a cup of coffee with my beloved Almond Joy creamer...
|~ I love you ~|
This is the SlimFast Vanilla Cream shake I used for my creamer. I heard it suggested somewhere to use an Atkins shake, but I couldn't find a vanilla one at Walmart today. I will check on that tomorrow at another store.
I also added about a quarter teaspoon of this:
Let me get a better photo of the ingredients:
SLIMFAST SHAKE - 3.5 of 5 stars. I don't like vanilla drinks anyway and this one doesn't change my mind. I would not buy this to drink on its own, but it worked really well as a substitute creamer. If I can't find the Atkins shake again next time, I will get more of this - but only for my coffee and the low carb count.
Dinner - Atkins Stone Fired 3 Meat Pizza I give this 3 of 5 starts because it was just okay. It might have tasted (and cooked better) had I used the oven instead of the microwave. The instructions were to cook for 2 min 30 sec. The pizza burned on one edge. That worked out because I cut it off and tossed it, which means I only ate 2/3 of the meal. That saved carbs since I was in danger of going over by 1.
The pizza smelled really good - kind of grilled and smokey - and the taste was not bad but, for the amount of carbs, I'd rather have what I had for lunch. I'm not putting this on next week's grocery list. I might get this again at a much later date and I will cook it in the oven for sure!
Messed up and already have gone 1 carb over because I chose pizza for dinner after having a carb heavy meal at lunch. I solved this by not eating the small part of the pizza that burned. Our microwave is apparently too powerful for leaving this one in for 2 minutes 30 seconds. Now I know. So, I think I salvaged my 1 carb by not finishing the pizza. Hope so.
Evening Snack - 1 can of tuna in water with 1 boiled egg and 2 Tbls whole mayo. 5 of 5 stars because it's a quick and easy snack that gives me some of the fat I need. Plus it just tastes good (even without onions mixed in or crackers to spread it on).
What I Learned & Moving Onward
I learned that I need to look at carbs even in the Atkins frozen meals. For one thing, I want to leave myself some carb room for snacks. For another thing, I need to leave room for my fats. Some of the stuff I like that has my fats also has carbs. I had to forgo the Johnsonville Brat that I had left over from a previous shopping trip. That's why I had the tuna.
Using the Atkins and MyFitness Pal apps before meals will be useful. If I had done that, I wouldn't have had the pizza disaster. For today's (the clock just ticked over past midnight) meals, I am going to plug everything in just to test carbs and fats, before I actually make my final choices.
Living without my Almond Joy creamer is going to drive me mad. I think I better pick up some more heavy cream (carb-free, don'tcha know) and use it with this Just Like Sugar and some of the caramel coffee syrup I have somewhere. That crap is sugar-free but with my luck it'll have some freaking carbs somewhere...
Basically I learned that I am going to be able to do this. My biggest concern is not my willpower or determination. My budget is freaking me out a little bit. I'd like to get some breakfast meals, but I will have to play with Excel and my numbers some more before I decide.
I'm pleased with and proud of myself. I know that I can do this and I know that it's going to make a big difference with my health and self-esteem. Someone told me that losing weight (especially after carrying so many extra pounds for these last five or so years) is going to age my face. Excuse my language but "Thanks, bit**h." Maybe my face will age but I'd rather live longer and healthier with an "aged" face than to make a young and nice-looking corpse.
Resources if You Want 'Em
Thanks to all the people on the internet who put up such good resources. I've been lucky to find lots of them.
- Atkins.com (make sure to send for the free starter kit they offer. I'm still waiting for mine, but will do a review when it gets here.)
- MyFitness Pal is great for tracking progress and meals, I've noticed that the site doesn't pay much attention to "net" carbs the way the Atkins site does. so some foods track differently.
- I actually am embarrased to admit that I had to look up the proper way to take my body measurements.
- If I was embarrassed about the measurements, I was mortified to have to look up using a ruler for precision. #dontjudgeme (Somehow after I got sick, I lost grasp on many simple concepts that I learned and used all my life!)
- This is a printable low-carb grocery list from Low Carbe Diem.
- For those without a food scale, this is a serving sizes guide.
- Thrifty NW Mom made me love her for the downloadable Costco Item/Price list she put out. Prices might be outdated/regionally different but this list is still very, very useful. I used it when putting together a shopping list.
Good luck all, and