2020 has started with one particular goal for myself: to be comfortable with my body again. There are more important aspects to this goal, like being healthy and having an appropriate BMI, but honestly, my real inspiration is to be comfortable being in photos. No, I don't mean insta-worthy photos. I mean captures of me with my son - with my family. I don't want to hide from the camera anymore because I think I look too heavy. I want my son to be able to look back at his childhood and see his mama right there by his side.
For the next few months, maybe longer, I'll be chronicling my progress with a program called Ideal Protein. I'd been hearing about IP for a few years from a family member and finally decided to take the first step and start the process.
In summary, Ideal Protein is a supervised weight loss program that focuses on cutting calories and carbs while maintaining lean muscle with monitored protein intake. Specifically, each day includes three meals from IP, four cups of approved vegetables, and one source of protein of your choice (plus specific vitamins, unlimited salads, and A LOT of water.) Tea and coffee are allowed - no alcohol, sodas, fruit drinks, etc. Each week there is a check-in with the provider monitoring your progress. Simple, but zero room for cheating.
For more information, check out their website, linked above. I'm not a doctor, so I don't want to dwell too much on explaining the science of the program. It's working for me, and I've decided to use this blog post as a place to share my journey, as well as any tips or struggles, in the hopes that it can provide information for others on their own IP journey.
- What I eat in a day on Ideal Protein
- My favorite DIY meals on IP
- Eating out on IP
In the beginning...
It all starts with an in-person meeting to go over the process, discuss personal goals, and a weigh-in. I'm being monitored by a chiropractic office, which I love. One part of the program I particularly appreciate is the focus less on body weight and more on body fat percentage. Losing weight on low carb diets is easy, but it doesn't always mean fat. Many times you're losing muscle, and since muscle actually helps burn fat, it's not something you want to lose!
Drop 30 lbs to be in a healthy BMI range. I want to lose more later down the road, but this is the first goal I'm setting for myself.
23-26% body fat range (IP acceptable range starts at 31% and below, but I'm personally going for less)
I'm not going to include my starting stats quite yet - I'm just not that brave. However, I will say that my starting body fat was measured at 33.8%.
Chest, waist, hip, and leg measurements were also taken as another way to monitor progress.
After the initial interview and measurement documentation, I received a bag filled with a week's worth of IP foods, a meal schedule, required vitamins, and lists of approved vegetables and proteins. I also downloaded the app where all of my measurement data is tracked, and my food diary maintained.
My particular provider does not use IP vitamins. Instead, they use other reputable brands for the same purpose. I was delighted to see familiar brands I've used in the past, and ones I know my sister in law (a nutritionist) loves to recommend.
The starting cost is a little steep at $359, but it includes the first week of food and every weekly consultation until I hit my goal. Each week after is around $90 for a week's worth of packets/meal. Funny enough, I'm actually saving money as I tend to eat out often.
Week One - Phase One
In the initial interview, there is a lot of focus on how week one is the hardest. As your body goes into ketosis, you can feel, to put it bluntly, like shit. I've personally always done well with low carb diets, so all in all, the first week wasn't that shocking for me.
Again, this program is so straightforward. With my easy to follow food schedule for the week, the only thing I needed to worry about was dinner each night and my two cups of veggies at lunch. I really enjoyed trying out all the different IP foods too.
Ups: easy to follow the rules, no worries about counting anything (all tracked in the app anyway,) three of my four meals taken care of, and more at home simple cooking.
Downs: a few days of craving food other than veggies, the initial lethargy that comes with going into ketosis, and I MISS WINE. Any extreme exercise is discouraged (not that I'm that hardcore), but I missed my cardio in the mornings.
Down 3 lbs
Down 0.6% body fat
Lost 1 inch on both my waist and hips (possibly a sign I had inflammation before the diet)
Lost a half-inch on my arms and chest
Happy with results, now time to pick out the packets I liked and plan out week two's food schedule.
Week Two - Phase One
This week was a little harder than the first week in that I started to miss my usual indulgences (Burmese food night, red wine with dinner, french fries...) I also craved sweet food, which was strange, so I planned to add some more of the sweeter side IP foods to week three.
Some vegetable dishes I tried out:
I also purchased the IP cookbook for some inspiration.
Ups: lethargy is gone, becoming more comfortable with cooking up easy vegetable dishes, figuring out the eating routine that works best for my body, no post-meal food comas. I started walking in the morning, a big help in jump-starting my day.
Downs: sugar cravings, missing my usual foods.
Down 3 lbs (6 total)
Down 0.5% body fat (1.1% total)
Lost 1 inch on my chest
Lost a half-inch on my waist
Happy with results, which is encouraging!
Week Three + Four - Phase One
My first big test on this program: traveling! During weeks three and four, I was out of town (house hunting!), which required preplanning and commitment to staying on plan. I made sure to pack two weeks' worth of IP foods and found them to be easy to travel with - lightweight and compact. I stayed with family, and they were very supportive of my goal, so dinners went well with lean meats and vegetables.
I also discovered eating out isn't as hard as I thought it would be. Grilled chicken, burgers without buns, steamed veggies, and salads without dressing are all great options. (Coming soon: blog post with all the eating out options I've tried.)
One thing I had to be ahead of was "flying" days. I had some long haul flights from the west to east coast and back, and it was necessary to plan my meals out. I had my DIY meal at home before getting on the plane and made sure to pack my IP snack and chopped veggies. Bell peppers were the most convenient option for me, but celery and broccoli would be great too!
The most significant moment for me these two weeks was my family noticing I've lost weight!!
Ups: lots of energy, close to zero feelings of hunger, traveling and proving to myself I can stick to the program, discovering tricks for eating out, people noticing my weight loss.
Downs: still missing wine, having to plan out airplane snacking as I usually lean toward the unhealthy while traveling.
Down 5.7 lbs (11.7 total)
Down 0.5% body fat (1.6% total)
Lost 1.5 inches on my chest
Lost 1 inch on my hips
Lost a half-inch on my waist
After traveling, I'm considering this a huge success. I also seem to be losing weight from the top down.
Week Five - Phase One
Back home! Definitely nice to be back in familiar settings. This week I tried a few more IP meal options. I particularly liked mixing the chocolate drink mix with coffee in the morning to make a coffee/chocolate/protein shake. I noticed this week I wasn't longing as much for my son's food - the cheese puffs just didn't look as appealing. I did, however, crave some of my old healthy favorites like sweet potatoes, corn/black bean salad, and fruit. When those cravings come, I remind myself this is temporary, and soon I'll be incorporating those foods back into my diet.
Big accomplishment this week was putting on some outfits I previously hadn't been able to ft in! My tummy is so much flatter, and my arms are smaller, so I pulled out a few shirts from the back of my closet. They looked great on! Starting to feel much more comfortable in my body.
Ups: finding a new fav breakfast option, fitting into smaller clothes.
Downs: missing certain foods this week.
Down 5 lbs (17 lbs total)
Down 2% body fat (3.1% total) - OFFICIALLY in the IP healthy range at 30.8%!!
Lost a half-inch on my chest (3.5 inches total)
Lost 1 inch on my hips (3 inches total)
Lost a half-inch on my waist (2.5 inches total)
Week Six - Phase One