The Mayo Clinic Diet

In the last two weeks, I’ve had several people ask me either how I’ve managed to lose nearly 30 pounds or how I’ve managed to make it through the holidays without gaining weight.  To understand my choices and my success, you have to understand the journey.
A little over five years ago, I received a call from my doctor, or rather, I received a message from the nurse at the doctor’s office that I need to call her back.  When I called, she delivered the bad news.  My cholesterol was VERY high for a woman my age.  The doctor would be sending me some information on my new diet.  At the time, I was in decent shape and weighed in the mid-180s, so I basically just needed to lay off the red meat and eggs and eat more beans and fish.  I was a little overweight but not by much.  I’m 5’10”, so even when I was in the best shape of my life, I weight 170.
Two years later, I had lowered my cholesterol and even dropped a few pounds. I was around 180 when 18 months of loss, grief, and depression kicked off with the sudden loss of my horse Penny.  That was followed by my grandmother’s death, my father’s death, the unexpected loss of one of our family dogs, and the quick and unexpected loss of my oldest brother.  During those 18 months, I powered through and stayed strong for everyone else.  When it was all over…  I lost it.  Completely.  Not only did I push away family and friends, I packed on more than 30 pounds.  I went from actively riding and training my horses to the occasionally barely-break-a-sweat, 20-minute ride.
In May of last year, I’d had enough.  When I had the chance to product test the Withings wifi scale, I jumped at it.  It was time to get back into shape and actively back in the saddle.  I wanted to feel good again.  My husband had bought us a pair of Garmin Vivofits over the holiday, so I would have an activity tracker and a scale, I just had to choose a diet.  For me, it was a no brainer.  When I had to switch to a low-cholesterol diet, I chose the May Clinic Diet.  I didn’t want some fad diet, pills, or quick fix.  I wanted a diet that was about changing habits for the better.  I was able to maintain the May Clinic Diet for two years with minimal effort.
Why the Mayo Clinic Diet? It isn’t a fad.  It isn’t a pill.  It’s a way to change your habits, to change your life.  It’s designed to be the last diet you’ll ever need.
There are two phases: Loose It and Live It.  In the Loose It phase, you jump start your diet, loosing 6-10 pounds.  In the Live It phase, you transition to maintaining your new found habits, losing 1-2 pounds per week until you reach your goal weight.  You have to add 5 habits, break 5 habits, and adopt 5 bonus habits.
Add 5 habits:

  1. Eat a healthy breakfast.
  2. Eat vegetables and fruits. 4 or more servings daily of vegetables and 3 or more of fruits, fresh or frozen only.
  3. Eat whole grains (whole grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal).
  4. Eat healthy fats (olive and vegetable oils and nuts).
  5. Move! Walk or exercise for 30 minutes or more a day.

Break these 5 habits:

  1. No TV while eating and only as much TV time as time you spend exercising.
  2. No sugar.  Only what is naturally found in fruit.
  3. No snacks except fruits and vegetables.
  4. Moderate meat and low-fat dairy.
  5. No eating at restaurants unless the meal fits the program.

Adopt these 5 bonus habits:

  1. Keep food records.
  2. Keep activity records.
  3. Move more! Exercise for 60 or more minutes every day.
  4. Eat real foods.  Only fresh or healthy frozen.  No canned or processed food.
  5. Write down your daily goals.

It took time to really live the Mayo Clinic Diet, but if you take the book’s advice and change your shopping habits, it makes it much easier.  You find after a while that you stop craving sweets and unhealthy snacks and start looking for new healthy recipes.  You find yourself sleeping better and feeling better, which becomes a strong motivation to stick to it.   The weight loss becomes a wonderful side effect to being a better, healthier you.
If you decide to give the Mayo Clinic Diet a try for yourself, I recommend getting 3 things: an activity tracker, the Mayo Clinic Diet book, and The Mayo Clinic Diet Journal.  I also recommend making sure you have a friend to diet with you.  Having accountability and support make it much easier!
Please excuse the quality of my before and after shots.  I don’t do selfies, so they stink.  😉  But you can see I’m making progress.  My real after picture is yet to come.  My original goal was 175, but I’ve decided to shoot for 170.  I have 14 more pounds to go and intend to be there by summer.  I’m looking forward to a long, healthy life of riding horses.  What’s your motivation to get/keep healthy and fit?

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