How This Diet Stopped My “Dieting” (and Helped Me Lose Weight!)

We are what we eat.

I own more workout DVDs (and a “few” VHS tapes) than I care to admit. I’ve grapevined through every exercise craze from Jazzercise to Zumba. And of course, we can’t forget the diet fads. There have been some great programs—like Weight Watchers (the cream of the crop… mmmmm, cream) – and a few cleanses along the way. Some great, some borderline abusive.

I’ve dieted off and on for years. There was a time in my twenties when a boyfriend suggested I could “drop a few.” So I restricted myself to one small meal a day for weeks. That “health kick” ended when I fainted during my shift at Bootlegger (a jean store, I didn’t run booze across the county line). If I could travel back in time, I’d spank that 115-pound ass and tell my young self I was perfect and that he was a total dink.

The trials of youth, hey? Anyway…

In my thirties, as the parent of young children, I walked everywhere—pushing a stroller to the grocery story, the community centre, the park. It was accidental exercise. Plus as a teacher, I was on my feet all day. More accidental exercise.

And now here I am in my forties.

I drive everywhere because the ‘burbs are spread out. Speaking of which, I work from home now, which results in a lot of ass time. As in, sitting on. Also as in, sagging and ever expanding. The days of accidental exercise have vanished into thin air like that Costco-size bag of Chicago Mix I bought to share with the family but ate all by myself.

I don’t love intentional exercise. I can think of 100 things I’d rather do before running or lifting anything heavy. Hence me falling way out of shape.

But this year I finally had enough. I was fed up with feeling tired and weak and doughy. So when I was asked to write a review of a new fitness experience (which meant actually trying it out), I jumped in. I wrote candidly about my first impressions here.

That post was sponsored. I got paid to share my thoughts… which was EASY because even after one class, I was smitten. Hand-on-Bible hooked.

This post, however, is NOT sponsored. I’m writing this because I’m excited. And though my success is based on my intentional exercise at Orange Theory Fitness, it’s really about finding your thing. Whatever that might be.

I have a good friend who has a personal trainer she adores. He’s her thing. He’s transformed her body and her life.

I have another friend who treats TRX like a religion. She prays at the altar of giant elastic bands suspended from the ceiling, and it’s her thing.

I also have a friend who gets fidgety (and dare I say alarmingly bitchy) when she can’t run, because running is her thing.

And, I have a whole crew of friends who are beach-bodying like a boss. They “just press play” (on their DVD players) every day and their thing is making them look and feel amazing.

But like I said, OTF is my thing. I crave it. Which is astounding to me, because I’ve never actually craved exercise before. Who am I?

For me, it’s the simplicity of it. Show up, do what the coach shows you, sweat, leave. It’s a no-brainer. I just have to get myself there. And I do. Three-to-four times a week for five months now.

It’s also about the energy. I step into the studio and it’s buzzing. The coaches make me feel like I can do anything—run faster, row harder, lift heavier. And because they tell me I can, I do. And as a result, I’m stronger than I’ve been in decades.

My body is healthier, but let’s not gloss over the vanity part, because we all want to look good. I’ve gone from size 12 to an 8 and have lost 4 inches all over. I can see the beginnings of wee muscles budding underneath my Ruffles rolls.

But let’s talk about my weight for a second, shall we? That’s the tricky bit. In the first three months, I lost a skimpy five pounds.

How could this be?? I worked my ass off. Sure, my body looked different and my clothes were loose, but that didn’t seem to be reflected on the scale.

So I signed up to do a fun “Diet Challenge” at OTF. I thought I was doing it to support a friend. I was all, “Pfffft, I eat just fine. My portions are good (wrong), I don’t binge on junk (denial) and I eat a well balanced diet (no, no you don’t idiot).”

After listening to an AMAZING nutritionist, Tricia Oliver, brought in by the gym, a light bulb went off for me. Exercise is essential for strength and firming up the flabby bits and revving up my metabolism, but to really see changes in my body and on the scale, it has a lot… A LOT… to do with what I put in my mouth.

This is something I stuck to (mostly) for six weeks. It’s not forever, so it’s doable. Maybe try it out for yourself and see how you feel? I’ve continued to eat this way during the week, but I cut myself some slack (and a slice of my mom’s lemon loaf!) on the weekends. This is a conscious, simplistic style of eating - not a “fad diet.”

Not like “The Military Diet.”

You may have seen that ridiculous diet fad marching its way around Facebook last year? The Military Diet claimed to be a fast and easy way to drop 7-10 pounds in three days. People with any common sense saw the red flags. I, however, saw a quick fix and thought, “Yes sir! Sign me up, sir!” Don’t bother looking it up. It’s DUMB. But I tried it as an experiment. The funny part is when I was dropping my daughter off at school on the last day of the diet, I saw a mom friend in the parking lot and told her all about it. After I finished explaining about the hotdog and apple requirements, she laughed and said, “Wow. Looks like you’re REALLY into it.” She was referring to the khaki military-style flack jacket I had on. Oh, how I laughed, and lost four pounds, and put it right back on again in 48 hours.

It wasn’t until I ate properly (the plan that is working for me is below) that the weight started coming off. Not fast, but steady. I’m down a sensible 15 pounds and though I have another ten to go, I’m feeling confident that I’m heading in the right direction.

Boiled down, this plan is simply about eating the right things, at the right time, drinking lots of water and EATING ENOUGH!!! Less is not more when trying to lose weight. Small snacks throughout the day keep your blood sugar levels on track and keep you in fat burning mode.

Have a protein and veggies with every meal or snack and try to choose the healthiest options. As they say in the diet industry, “You can’t exercise your way out of poor nutrition.” Ghrelin… “the feed me now!” hormone, is produced when your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs and it can cause you to lose control. Think, Cookie Monster, crumbs flying everywhere.

Final thoughts about this style of healthy eating:

-You don’t have to seek out fancy ingredients or even switch up your meals much. I rotate between the same 2-3 breakfasts every week. This easy veggie omelette is a favourite!

  • Keep it as simple as possible. Found something easy, tasty, and healthy? Eat it over and over again. Complicated recipes? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
  • Allow yourself a cheat day once a week. Indulge in a treat or enjoy a glass of wine on a Friday night. Life is short people. Let’s not take this too seriously.
  • Ask a friend to do this with you so you can cheer each other on.
  • Lay off the bananas (holy cow, people at the nutrition seminar went bananas when they heard that!). I would never want to be accused of “fruit shaming” but bananas are high in sugar, low in fiber. So if you want to loose weight, squash the bananas. At least during the six week diet challenge.
  • Carbs are comforting and delish, obviously, but for this 6 week plan you have to EARN your carbs. Harsh reality. If you exercise (briskly… get that heart pumping and burn some calories) you may enjoy 2-3 servings of your favourite carbs. No sweat? No carbs. How’s that for incentive to hit the gym or take the dog for a power walk.
  • The more often you exercise, the less likely you’ll be to compromise your tight abs for a five minute fling with a hot fudge sundae. (Save that for cheat day!)
  • You don’t have to download an app or weigh your food— Tricia Oliver showed me how to use my hand (which I always have "on hand" with me… ha!) as a convenient measuring tool.

  • 1 serving of protein is roughly the size and thickness of your palm (without your fingers)
  • 1 serving of carbs (yes, fruit is a carb!) is the amount you can cup in your hand (fyi—that’s not very much)
  • 1 serving of veggies is your balled up fist
  • 1 serving of fat is the length and girth (I love that word) of your thumb

Bam! How easy is that?

Just follow the guidelines (ratios listed next) for how many servings of each you need daily, and eat according to that.

If you mess up and make some questionable choices (which I did more than once), don’t beat yourself up. Just start fresh the next day.

Use the tracking sheet to keep track of your meals, and off you go! Good luck, and let me know how you do!

RELATED: Orangetheory Fitness: A Workout for Those Who Make Exercise Excuses

Lisa is a former elementary school teacher turned disability parenting advocate. Lisa and Avery share snippets of family life on Instagram and on their mother-daughter podcast. They share the happy and the hard, because real life doesn’t have a filter. You can visit them at: