Last week, I talked about my success on the Alli weight-loss plan. This week I talk about the additional weight I lost after I stopped taking Alli and why I credit Alli with that weight loss. This is the last of a three-part series on my Alli weight loss.
By Betsy G
By the time I stopped taking the Alli pill, I had lost about 15 pounds. I was down from a few pounds shy of obese to 156, which is a few pounds into the overweight range. I still didn’t like my weight, but at least I was down to “normal” heavy, as opposed to the spectacular weight I had ballooned up to.
These pictures show me in mid-September (left-most—check out those thighs!) and early October (middle and right). Look at the belly in the right-most one, and the size of my chest and arms.
I stopped taking the pill, but I didn’t go off the plan.
Before I started the plan, I had been a crazy eater, with nighttime binging, morning and afternoon starvation, followed by nighttime binging. The sight of me hunched over the leftover tuna casserole at 11 at night was a familiar one in my house. I think the deprivation I experienced during the day built up until I went on a frenzy of crazy eating. Even when I tried to eat healthy, I was out of whack, eating very few calories for breakfast and lunch and doing most of my eating at night.
When I started on the Alli plan, I stuck fairly close to their menus, substituting foods I preferred. The result was that I ate a much bigger breakfast than I was used to, a healthier, more substantial lunch, and a smaller dinner. My calorie distribution was much more even, and I liked the foods I was eating.
A typical breakfast for me was an omelet made with Eggbeaters (actually Better ‘N Eggs, because they were cheaper), low-fat Havarti cheese or a slice of American from the deli, and two Boca breakfast sausages. I bought the egg product in premeasured cups (60 calories each), so making the omelet was easy. The Boca sausages, which I think taste so much like real sausages I confused them with the real thing when my kids served me breakfast on Mother’s Day, are 80 calories for two. The whole breakfast comes to about 250 calories and it’s delicious. I can put salsa on the omelet as well (you can have pretty much unlimited salsa on Alli).
Another breakfast I learned to love was two NutriGrain blueberry waffles (160 calories), with sugar-free maple syrup (the Vermont Maid brand tastes pretty good to me), and a half cup of low-fat cottage cheese (90 calories). I could have a plum or something with that and get up to about 300 calories.
A favorite breakfast was two pieces of Yoga bread, toasted (more on the Yoga bread in a moment), with low-fat cottage cheese on each piece, sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar and broiled. This was a heavy, delicious treat, again for about 250 calories. It was so filling, I sometimes couldn’t finish it.
I discovered a product I liked, which was Vitalicious chocolate VitaMuffins. They are ridiculously expensive ($4.49 for four, in the freezer section), but they are 100 calories apiece with 1.5 grams of fat, and they taste chocolaty and delicious. I could have this with some cottage cheese and a piece of fruit, with two real eggs (80 calories apiece), or with an EggBeater cheese omelet.
I don’t know if any of that sounds good to you, but I loved starting my day with breakfasts like this. They kept me satisfied until lunch, especially because there were no refined sugars (there may well be sugar in the VitaMuffin, but honestly, I didn’t eat them very often).
Let me pause for a moment to talk about Yoga bread. Yoga bread is a product by The Baker, maker of organic breads. It is full of all kinds of good crap, such as cranberries, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, and sunflower seeds. It’s a hearty, delicious bread, and only 70 calories a serving, which is about one slice. I discovered this bread after I followed Alli’s advice to eat whole grains to stay full longer. Since then, Yoga bread has been at the centerpiece of my weight loss, because it is so delicious and filling, and it satisfies all kinds of urges. It is expensive (usually $4.29 a loaf), but worth it.
My market often ran out of it, plus they kept it on the top shelf, and sometimes the one remaining loaf was way in the back on the top shelf. One time, I actually bruised my arm on the shelf straining to get the last loaf of Yoga bread (as the photo shows). Since then, I have told many people about the bread, and I think the store has started carrying more loaves and on a more accessible shelf because they are selling more of it.
Lunches were not terribly exotic, but I didn’t skimp, allowing myself as many as 300-350 calories at lunch. This was very different from my pre-Alli days, when I tried to keep breakfast and lunch together to about 350 calories.
A typical lunch was a turkey, ham, or ham and turkey sandwich on my wonderful Yoga bread, with a thin shmear of low-fat mayo. (I like the Hellman’s.) I could allow myself a slice of American cheese from the deli (probably less than an ounce), and some tomatoes in the sandwich. I didn’t usually have a tuna sandwich, because I do like a mayo in it, and there goes the fat.
I could have a big bowl of cottage cheese and blueberries with some Yoga bread for a change of pace. Sometimes I’d have a Boca burger on Yoga bread, with cheese, tomato, and mayo, or two Boca burgers and tomato without bread.
I also liked certain frozen, organic products for lunch that come in at 250-300 calories. I like the Amy’s tofu lasagna, vegetable lasagna, and their “meatloaf” dinner that consists of a veggie loaf, white potatoes (okay, not so good), string beans, and gravy. It’s a tasty product, very convincing. I also like the Kashi meals (chicken with rosemary on whole grains with vegetables, for example). I stayed away from Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, and Weight Watchers meals, which are made with white carbs and are too small to be satisfying for me. I have always found myself hungry after these meals.
When I first started the Alli plan, I was entitled to a morning and afternoon snack, but once I lost some weight, I really only needed the afternoon snack. That was usually either low-fat yogurt (a non-fruit-filled one, such as vanilla, key lime, lemon, or coffee) and a piece of fruit, cottage cheese and fruit, or Wheat Thin Toasted Chips (15 of them for 140 calories and 4 grams of fat) with salsa or maybe some low-fat cream cheese or both. Cream cheese doesn’t do much good for you; I try to keep that to a minimum.
Dinner’s an adventure because I have to feed my kids as well. I made a few changes. One major change was that I all but stopped serving red meat. Instead of ground beef, I used Perdue ground chicken—not ground turkey, which I think is disgusting. Ground turkey tends to have little pieces of bone and gristle in it, and it doesn’t taste like any real food. The chicken is a much better texture and you still can tell it’s chicken even when you use it like ground beef. I substituted ground chicken in everything from meatballs to casseroles, and the kids never complained.
Of course, I had switched over to the better carb pastas, though I find the whole wheat pasta tastes like cardboard, so I don’t go there. We were never big potato eaters, but I started to use sweet potatoes to make steak fries, chopping them in chunks, spraying them with cooking spray, salting them, and either baking them or cooking them on the grill wrapped in foil.
In short, no white carbs, almost no red meat, but otherwise dinners were pretty much the same; I just ate smaller portions.
Nothing after dinner. Nothing.
How I kept losing
After I stopped taking the pill, I kept losing weight. That’s because I kept eating the same way. When I went on Alli, I did not feel that I was on a diet plan; I was on a meal plan, and I liked it. It was how a person should eat: balance your calories throughout the day, avoid white carbs, minimize (really, all but abolish) red meat, and eat a well-balanced, somewhat low-fat diet.
I also continued to adhere to my exercise regimen, though I didn’t run outside very often in the winter. Instead I stuck to the StairMaster, Dance Dance Revolution, and added in playing drums in Rock Band. Here’s a picture of how I look while still panting after a good DDR workout.
From November or so, when I stopped taking the pill, until mid-March, when certain catastrophes occurred in my life, the weight gently dropped off. I was at around 152 when several events converged (regular readers of this blog know about the death of my aunt and an anxiety-producing breakup with a boyfriend, among other things). Dear reader, I confess I was all but unable to eat for about two weeks. I dropped three pounds, down to 149. It was the first time in about six years that I’d been under 150. Once I got under 150, the weight continued to drop off effortlessly (I did start to eat again), until I hit my target weight of 142 in June.
One other outside factor may have influenced the weight loss, which is that I started on Wellbutrin for depression. I’m not sure how much of a factor that was, though Wellbutrin is associated with weight loss. But I didn’t have loss of appetite or vomiting, and it did not affect my eating habits, as I hadn’t been “mood eating” since I started the Alli. In other words, I appeared to eat and digest the same as I did before I started on Wellbutrin, but they don’t know why it’s associated with weight loss, so who knows.
I have had no difficulty maintaining a weight between 142 and 145 over the past several months. I can have an occasional treat, and an occasional loss of composure (what I call the “cereal frenzy” does still happen sometimes), but generally I eat as if I am on the Alli meal plan. I love the way I eat, and it’s easy to stick with, because it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.
(You can see me at 145 in this video on size inflation.)
A little epilogue
My oldest son, who complained bitterly when I brought home NutriGrain waffles (he didn’t mind the blueberry ones so much) and refused to even try the whole grain Pop Tarts (they are yummy, though how healthy can they really be?), told me he ordered a wrap on a whole wheat tortilla the other day. He may not eat well all the time, but at least now he is thinking on occasion.