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A Case Study of a Simple Diet

There is no such thing as a "Diet for All", and here is how one of my friends makes her diet work for her.

Over the last few months I've been trying to learn more about my client's eating habits:  what, when and how much they eat, and a little bit of why they eat what they do.  I've had a few of them keep food diaries for me, and the one trend that I noticed for many of them was how hard it was to eat during the day.  Many skipped breakfast or lunch altogether and one even skipped dinner semi-regularly, or threw down a bowl of cereal before going to bed.  The common theme was that eating right, especially during work hours, was a huge challenge, and many were not getting the proper nutrients they needed to achieve any reasonable weight loss goals and weren't making a ton of progress.  Beyond training, I've been trying to help these clients revamp their diets, even if it meant making just a few small changes, like making sure they ate breakfast within 15 minutes of waking or substituting water for juices and soda.  Little things, but they make a huge difference.

 

And then a few months ago I started noticing how the manager at one of my gyms, Torrie, is able to conquer some of these same issues issues while working a "typical" 9-5 job (well, 12-8 most days, but you get the idea) and I wanted to use her as an example and share some of her tips for managing a day job and also eating right at the same time.  Torrie is in her mid-20's, very trim and lean, works out religiously and spends a good portion of her day on her feet and moving around.  What I noticed about her diet is that she was A) Eating regularly throughout the day and B) Almost always brought food with her to last for 8-10 hours at work.  What I also noticed was how disciplined she was and wanted to know a little bit more about how her diet factored into her every day life and what made her so health conscious.  First, I had her keep a food diary for a few days, which is posted below:

 

Torrie Monster's Diet, Day 1:  


Breakfast: 3-4 eggwhites, 1/2 cup oats, green tea, 3oz fruit
Meal 2 - protein shake, bcaa's (amino acid supplements), sometimes 2 rice cakes with almond butter
Meal 3 - big salad, 4oz protein (tuna)
Meal 4 - 4oz sweet potato, 4oz protein (chicken)
Meal 5 -1 raw pepper, 2 eggwhites
Meal 6 - protein shake if hungry or rice cakes and almond butter

 

Day 2:  


Breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 eggwhites, 1/2 cup oats, green tea, coffee
Meal 2 - protein shake, bcaa's, sometimes 2 rice cakes with almond butter
Meal 3 - big salad, 4oz protein (tuna)
Meal 4 - 4oz sweet potato, 4oz protein (chicken)
Meal 5 -1 raw pepper, 3oz asparagus
Meal 6 - protein bar

 

Day 3:  


Breakfast: 3-4 eggwhites, 1/2 cup oats, green tea, 3oz fruit
Meal 2 - protein shake, bcaa's, sometimes 2 rice cakes with almond butter
Meal 3 - big salad, 4oz protein (tuna)
Meal 4 - 3oz sweet pot, 4oz protein (chicken)
Meal 5 -1 raw pepper
Meal 6 - 1/2 cup quinoa, 3 oz. ground Turkey

 

Day 4:


Breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 eggwhites, 1/2 cup oats, green tea, coffee
Meal 2 - protein shake, bcaa's, sometimes 2 rice cakes with almond butter
Meal 3 - big salad, 4oz tilapia (fish)
Meal 4 - 4oz sweet potato, 4oz protein (chicken)
Meal 5 - 1 raw pepper, 2 hardboiled eggs
Meal 6 - 2 rice cakes with almond butter

 

Note from Torrie:  "I'd say my weekends aren't as strict  - I probably average 5 beers over the weekend, I'll have a cupcake or 1/2 cup of ice cream on Sunday. My cheat food is Sushi, I eat it like every weekend.  I don't mess with fast food."


Some observations from me about Torrie's diet:

 

  • Not very exciting, but super consistent -- Torrie found a diet, albeit a pretty strict one, that works for her.  There is no such thing as a one size fits all diet, and everyone needs to experiment with different foods to see what works for them, but Torrie obviously has found a pattern that works well for her.
  • Frequent meals throughout the day, all containing protein -- Standard operating formula for boosting your metabolism, maintaining muscle and keeping yourself satiated throughout the day.
  • Most carbohydrates are from fibrous fruts and veggies -- Again, a typical formula for a healthy low-carb diet, but she also makes sure she gets those fruits and veggies in her system every day.
  • A little weekend cheat -- A few beers, some Sushi, a little dessert over the weekend never hurt anyone.  Everyone needs some of that no matter how good your diet is.
  • "I don't mess with fast food."  -- Pretty self-explanatory.

 

I also asked Torrie a few questions to get into more of the "why" behind her diet. Here is what she came up with. 

 

Have you always been health conscious or did something happen or occur to change your diet?


 "I had an eating disorder when I was younger and there came a point when I realized that it wasn't the way to go to be healthy.  I started getting into educating myself on working out & learning about nutrition and found I loved it. Anything to self improve!"

 

How do you blend exercise into your daily routine?


"I wake up and do cardio, 30-50 minutes every morning on an empty
stomach.  The weekends are usually backwards:  I'll lift and do cardio
in the evening.  But it's always a mix of intervals, sprints on the
treadmill & on the elliptical."

 

Are most of your friends/family health conscious as well?


"A little bit, definitely not as much as I'd like them to be, but
every chance I get I'm informing them of something new health
wise and trying to drag them to the gym."

 

How do you plan your meals each day/week?


"I usually go grocery shopping on my day off and prep Sunday if I have
time.  I mostly just come up with it on the spot and I always make sure I
have at least an hour for breakfast and meal prep in the morning before
work."

 

Is nutrition something you learned on your own or did you have help?


"I can't say I did it all on my own, I've worked in the gym and been living
this type of lifestyle for a few years now, so I've had the priviledge
of being around trainers who have always answered any questions I've
thrown at them.  But I also do a lot of reading online."

 

A few thoughts on Torrie's thoughts:

 

  • Clearly, Torrie is a bit atypical -- She's single, doesn't have kids and has the time outside of work to prep her food for the week and for her days and also has the time and access to workout when she wants.  Most people don't have that kind of time or access, and I get that.  
  • BUT, planning works -- If you plan your meals for the week, you are more likely to stick to a routine and opt out of grabbing fast food or stray away from your diet.  Good habits create better habits.
  • Torrie found what works for her, and what makes her feel her best -- That's the key for everyone, not necessarily to workout twice a day and eat super strict all the time, but to find out what routine and what diet works for you.

 

Torrie really said it best:  anything to self improve.  And she's totally right. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

19008 Resident February 19, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Inspiring!
Adam Marks February 19, 2013 at 02:59 PM
Thanks! She was a good subject!

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