The Diet Diaries: Samantha, the 48 year old who beat diabetes, but still drinks too much diet soda

This article is part of a new series called The Diet Diaries.  Based on New York Magazine’s Sex Diaries, these articles provide a insider’s perspective on the struggles and triumphs of real MyFitnessPal users on their journey to health and leanness.  You can read the first entry in the series here.  Here’s how the Samantha (not her real name), the author of today’s entry, describes herself: 

I’m a 48 year old female. On 10/21/2013 I was an insulin dependent Type 2 diabetic and weighed 310 lbs. As of 7/24/15 I weigh 199 lbs and I am medicine free. I am working to lose at least another 25 lbs. MyFitnessPal has been the main tool I have used throughout the journey. Along the way I added a FitBit and heart rate monitor to the arsenal because I wanted to get as accurate as I could for what I burn in addition to what I eat.

Because of the diabetes I started out with a diet that was high protein, moderate carb. I just can’t give up carbs all together. I guess the best description of my approach is IIFYM. I have tweaked the macros and calorie goals along the way based on my learnings and input from my doctor. Currently I target 1500 calories per day, 30% protein, 35% carbs, 35% fat. In reality I aim for at least 100g of protein and no more than 120g of carbs. I eat lots of frozen convenience meals and other foods that are not clean or Paleo. Because I have struggled with feeling deprived if I say I can’t eat a certain food, I really do follow the IIFYM approach. I will have pizza, ice cream or whatever else I’m craving as long as I can work it into my macros.

I do at least 60 minutes of cardio 5 days per week. I ride my recumbent bike every weekday morning, and then I try to get either a 4+ mile walk or an elliptical session in one day on the weekend. I currently do TRX for strength training 2 days per week. I’m due for a body fat check with my trainer, but it is somewhere around 26%. I really need to work on flexibility. After years of being obese and sitting at a desk job all day, I am not very flexible. But I can’t seem to find time to fit it in with everything else.

I am a work in progress. I’ve come a long way, but still have a ways to go to get where I want. I am willing to put in the time and effort to provide the kind of diary you want. Not just what I eat, but why I eat and how I feel about it.

Day 01

8:15 am – I got up at 5:30 am this morning and I’d already had a Diet Coke before breakfast. 227 g (1 cup) non-fat Greek yogurt, 38g (1 scoop) Body Fortress vanilla whey protein powder, 15g. Fiber One Original cereal. I love this high protein combination. It gets my day off to a good start and keeps me from getting hungry before lunch.  290 calories. 54g protein, 24g carbs, 2g fat.

1:30 pm – I hit the salad bar at the cafeteria at work. I try to get a real mixture of flavors and textures. I never have as many different ingredients at home, so I enjoy my lunchtime salad. There is grilled chicken, chopped hard boiled eggs and edamame for protein. I also include romaine lettuce, onions, cucumber, grape tomatoes, corn, red bell pepper and peas for vegetables. I can’t seem to keep away from some blue cheese, but most of the fats are healthy nuts – almonds, sesame seeds and walnuts. And then finally some fruit – dried cranberries, pineapple and mandarin oranges. All topped with 2 TBS of Ken’s Fat Free Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing. Total weight was 19.25 oz. I don’t have precise calories and macros, but I logged it as 470 calories, 21g protein, 20g carbs and 8g fat.

7:40 pm – I got home at 7:15pm and was starving. Quick and easy was the guideline for today’s dinner. I had a left over tuna cake from last night’s dinner and a Smart Ones Crustless Chicken Pot Pie. I didn’t want to eat a lot since I still had a work out to get done. 301 calories, 26g protein, 28g carbs, 9g fat.

10:05 pm – I always try to save some calories for an evening snack. I look at where I am for my macros for the day and see what I need nutritionally. I was already over my 100g protein minimum, and was well under on carbs and fat. So I decided to have 1 oz. of cashews and 1 oz. of pistachios. 320 calories, 11g protein, 16g carbs, 27g fat.

Totals for the day. 1381 calories, 112g protein, 88g carbs, 46g fat.

13 cups of liquids – 7 Diet Coke, 4 Water, 2 Fresca

Day 02

7:55 am – With 60 minutes cardio on my recumbent bike done, I was ready for breakfast. 227 g (1 cup) non-fat Greek yogurt, 38g (1 scoop) Body Fortress vanilla whey protein powder, 60.4g fresh strawberries, 15g. Fiber One Original cereal. I was able to go shopping yesterday, so the fresh strawberries are worth a few extra calories. 309 calories. 54g protein, 29 carbs, 2g fat.

1:15 pm – Normally I eat around noon, but I was busy. By the time 1 pm rolled around I was pretty hungry and my stomach was growling.  Another run to the salad bar in the cafeteria. Pretty much a repeat of yesterday’s salad except today’s fruit was dried cranberries, strawberries and mandarin oranges. Total weight was 17.6 oz. Once again I logged it as 470 calories, 21g protein, 20g carbs and 8g fat.

6:15 pm – I was very hungry when I got home from work and errands. Another quick light dinner before strength training. Healthy Choice Golden Roasted Turkey Breast. I was a little lower on protein than I’d like for the day, so I added an Ostrim Applewood Turkey Stick.  350 calories, 32g protein, 37 carbs and 7g fat.

9:45 pm – I was hungry again after strength training and I still had almost 400 calories left for the day. I was craving something sweet, so I chose a Premier Protein Peanut Butter Caramel Crispy snack bar. I chose a protein bar because I like to try to get a little more protein in on days I strength train.  200 calories, 15g protein, 25g carbs, and 8g fat.

Totals for the day. 1329  calories, 122g protein, 111g carbs, 25g fat.

11 cups of liquids – 4 Diet Coke, 4 Water, 3 Fresca

Day 03

8:05 am – This morning I felt like Bill Murray in ‘Groundhog Day,’ repeating the same thing over and over…. Bike and then breakfast. 227 g (1 cup) non-fat Greek yogurt, 38g (1 scoop) Body Fortress vanilla whey protein powder, 47.6g fresh strawberries, 15g. Fiber One Original cereal. I reminded myself that being consistent in my diet and exercise is what has brought me so far. 305 calories. 54g protein, 28 carbs, 2g fat.

1:30 pm – ‘Groundhog Day’ continued… a salad repeat except today’s fruit was dried cranberries, blueberries and mandarin oranges. Total weight was 16.8 oz. Once again I logged it as 470 calories, 21g protein, 20g carbs and 8g fat.

4:20 pm – Hungry this afternoon, and I knew dinner would be late. I had a Wonderslim Creamy Orange Protein bar for a snack. I chose this one because I wanted to finish them as soon as I can. I will not be reordering this flavor. 160 calories, 15 g protein, 19g carb and 5g fat.

7:30 pm – My boyfriend lives about 90 miles away so we usually see each other only on the weekends. I plan my diet around weekdays where I am pretty rigorous and weekends where I’m a little more relaxed about my eating. However this week, he decided to come visit Wednesday evening and stay through Friday morning. So this is a real case of diet meeting reality.

I find eating out to be a challenge.  If you go to chain restaurants you have a chance of finding nutritional information.  But I prefer local restaurants so I always have to guess portion size and use analogs in MyFitnessPal’s food database.  Tonight’s dinner at a local Chinese restaurant was about 1.5 cups Kung Pao chicken with .5 cup steamed white rice. 457 calories, 38g protein, 46 carbs and 15g fat.

Totals for the day. 1392  calories, 129g protein, 113g carbs, 30g fat.

11 cups of liquids – 4 Diet Coke, 4 Water, 3 Fresca

Day 04

8:45 am – Breakfast at McDonald’s was an Egg McMuffin. I intended to grab a protein bar before I left home to go with it, but I forgot.  I resisted the temptation of hash browns because I knew we would be eating out again. I was still hungry when I finished and I hoped it would pass.

1:45 pm – My boyfriend and I often order two plates and share the meals. That’s what we did at Panera for lunch. We each ordered from the Pick Two menu and then shared what we had. The menu had calorie information, so we looked it over to find options that would help keep within our calorie goals. I had 1/2 cup of black bean soup, 1/4 strawberry, poppyseed and chicken Salad, 1/4 turkey avocado BLT sandwich, and 1/4 tuna salad sandwich. 415 calories, 30g protein, 51g carbs, 13g fat.

7:00 pm – Dinner was wonderful, but I made a conscious choice to enjoy it and not worry too much about the calories. I shared a fried calamari appetizer with my boyfriend and then ate about half of the penne sardis entrée. I did see other things on the menu that were probably less calorie laden, but I really do love pasta…. 1140 calories, 80g protein, 113g carbs and 32g fat.

I went over my 1500 calories per day goal, but rather than beat myself up, I reminded myself that I still ate less than the 2300 calories that is my estimated maintenance level. I would rather reach my goal a little later than fail to reach it because I give up.

Totals for the day. 1855 calories, 128g protein, 196g carbs, 57g fat.

11 cups of liquids – 6 Diet Coke, 3 Water, 2 Fresca

Day 05

9:50 am – Today was weekly weigh in day. Down .2 lbs. from last week. Not much, but given last night’s carbohydrate festival I was OK with it. As a former Type 2 Diabetic I check my blood sugar every now and again, and I was pleased to find it in the normal, non-diabetic range after yesterday. I keep track of how far I go during my 60 minute rides, and this was my second best ever. So all of those carbs were put to good use. Breakfast was late, but I was happy to be back to my routine. 227 g (1 cup) non-fat Greek yogurt, 38g (1 scoop) Body Fortress vanilla whey protein powder, 54.3g fresh strawberries, 15g. Fiber One Original cereal. 307 calories. 54g protein, 28 carbs, 2g fat.

1:20 pm – I had errands to run during lunch today, so no time to run to the cafeteria. In spite of the late breakfast I was hungry. I have noticed I feel more hunger the day after I eat a lot of carbs. I went through the Wendy’s Drive and got the half size of the Strawberry Fields Salad with the sunflower seeds and dressing. 300 calories, 21g protein, 19g carbs and 16g fat.

5:50 pm – Dinner was going to be pretty late and I was hungry. So I grabbed an Ostrim Maple Brown Sugar Snack Stick. I chose it because it was high protein, and I have found the Ostrim snack sticks keep me satisfied. This was a new flavor, I don’t think I’ll be ordering that one again…. 100 calories, 14g protein, 6 carbs and 3g fat.

11:15 pm – Travelled with my boyfriend to a friend’s graduation.  We got to the hotel late and just ordered pizza. I had a headache and the shakes by the time it arrived.  I ate 2 slices of a large Domino’s thin crust pizza with beef, chicken, sausage,  bacon, cheddar, mushrooms and onions. Thanks to their website I have a reasonable estimate for our custom creation.  630 calories, 30g protein, 40g carbs, 37g fat.

Totals for the day. 1337 calories, 119g protein, 93g carbs, 58g fat.

9 cups of liquids – 4 Diet Coke, 4 Water, 1 Fresca

Day 06

7:15 am – The hotel had a complimentary breakfast and the whole group met there in the morning.  As is typical of these types of buffets carbs were everywhere.  I tried to find as much protein as possible even though I knew that also meant more fat and calories then I prefer. I had a small cheese omelet, a sausage patty, half a waffle and a tablespoon of peanut butter.

2:10 pm – I was hungry but didn’t want to eat too much since an early dinner was planned. I knew I needed to ear something before climbing on the elliptical for an hour. I started with 98.6g of sliced oven roasted turkey breast for protein.  I was still hungry, so I finished with 123.3g of Granny Smith apple slices.

8:30 pm – Dinner wasn’t early after all. After the movie, where I successfully resisted popcorn, we went out to dinner with an old friend. I ate half of a chopped steak with mushrooms, peppers and gravy, about 1/2 cup green beans, 1/2 of a baked potato, a few bites of my boyfriend’s salad, 4 hush puppies and 2 slices of fried green tomatoes. Hush puppies are one of those things I love and can binge on. I was pleased I limited myself to four. The fried green tomatoes were not the best. I felt like I wasted the calories on them. 698 calories, 45g protein, 62g carbs, 22g fat.

10:00 pm – My boyfriend went for the cookies while we were watching TV. I couldn’t resist just one Keebler Soft Batch Chocolate Chip cookie. 75 calories, 1g protein, 11g carbs, 4g fat.

Totals for the day. 1352 calories, 85g protein, 116g carbs, 55g fat.

13 cups of liquids – 6 Diet Coke, 6 Water, 1 Fresca

Day 07

8:15 am – Got up planning to cook breakfast at home. Discovered the stove was fried during a power outage the other day.  We ended up at Waffle House. I had an egg, cheese, sausage on raisin toast sandwich and some hash browns. I felt bloated afterwards. 800 calories, 26g protein, 16 carbs, 29g fat.

6:30 pm – Once again the lack of a stove forced us out. Sunday is the night we usually do dinner for the whole family, so we ended up with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. I ate most of one breast, half a biscuit, about 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes with gravy and about 1/4 cup coleslaw. I felt terrible afterwards. Just too much grease for my system. 663 calories, 33g protein, 53g carbs, 36g fat.

Totals for the day. 1463 calories, 59g protein, 69g carbs, 66g fat.

8 cups of liquids – 6 Diet Coke, 2 Fresca

Totals for the week compared to my goals:

Calories

Protein

Carbohydrates

Fat

10,500

791g

917g

406g

10,109

754g

786g

337g

-391

-37g

-131g

-69g

Based on my FitBit and MyFitnessPal data, my total calories burned over the 7 days was 17,237, and I consumed 10,109 calories. The net deficit was 7,128 calories. In spite of the curve balls the week through at me I managed to stay within my calorie goals and exercise five days. Perhaps not the best week, but a good one.

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