Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Update on the Jen Plan

I did a midweek weigh-in and I'm down to 183.2 today. I needed to see some results just to be sure I'm really on the right track, so that was a relief.

So what is this famous Jen Plan? It has been evolving as I go along, but I have been building the basic outlines for years.  There is, of course, the daily checklist, which covers the basics: Exercise, tracking, supplements, hydration, fiber. Those (except maybe the supplements) are no-brainers.

The real heart of the plan, though, is regular, right-sized meals and snacks. I shoot for 300-400 calories for my breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  This is enough to feel comfortably satisfied but not too full.  It's also enough to keep me going for a while.

My snacks are a little less structured, but I find that having an actual snack, on a plate, works much better for me than constantly grazing. I need a solid line between eating and not-eating.  When I nibble, I inevitably overdo it, especially since things like nuts and crackers are easier to nibble on than fruits and vegetables.  I typically have a substantial snack, 200-300 calories, around 4 p.m. unless we are having an early dinner. This is very traditional -- the British teatime or in French, le goĆ»ter. This is usually something like crackers and cheese and an apple, with a few nuts. I like to have a snack later at night, too, which is usually air-popped popcorn. And less often, I will have a post-workout snack, but this is usually less than 100 calories. All of this works out to between 1800 and 2000 calories.

I have a few standard breakfasts and lunches. Dinner varies more. Often I'll make a recipe from one of my many Weight Watchers cookbooks or the Flat Belly Diet! Cookbook. I also like Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook. And there are tons of great recipes online, like this potato-leek soup. I look for recipes that use a lot of vegetables and have some substance to them.

What do I avoid? I tend to watch out for sneaky sugar. I will have the occasional cookie or piece of chocolate, but I don't want sugar where it doesn't belong, like in peanut butter or yogurt.  I don't drink soda, other than plain seltzer.  I don't buy diet anything.  I don't drink juice. I stay away from fast food. I very rarely drink alcohol.  I don't buy 100-calorie packs. These aren't rules, it's just that these things don't seem worth the calories to me.  What it all comes down to is satisfaction -- liquid calories don't satisfy. Fake foods don't either. Junky stuff and sugary stuff just make me want more.

It's easy, of course, right now when I am on break and can really control my environment. That ends tomorrow -- I have to go in early for a faculty meeting and will be stuck on campus all day, and lunch is being provided by work, which usually means it won't be a great one.  I'm going to pack some things and be selective with what I eat, and do the best that I can. On Saturday I'll be visiting my sister, and will have a similar lack of control. I'm planning to pick up some KIND bars for that trip.

I have had some days when I went over my calories but it seems easier to just move on from them now that this feels like the way I live my life and not some diet.  As Russ and Jeff say, "You can fail a diet but you can't fail a lifestyle." Of course, I'm a little nervous that as soon as I write this all out, I'll start screwing up. But if I do, I just have to get back to what I know will work.

I realize that I haven't posted my Daily Checklist in a couple of days, so I will finish off with that:

Monday, January 7:

  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: Did an Ease into 5K workout, for 25 minutes of running and 15 minutes of walking.
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Was 80 calories under my limit.
  • Take my supplements: I took them with lunch.
  • Drink at least 90 ounces of liquids today: I was a little short.
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: I got closer to 40.

Tuesday, January 8:

  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: Swam for 55 minutes.
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Was 74 calories under budget.
  • Take my supplements: I took them with lunch.
  • Drink at least 90 ounces of liquids today: Got over 100 ounces
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: I only had about 30.

The fiber and hydration goals are the trickiest. I'm not always great about tracking all my water, so I need to work on that so I have a good record of what I'm doing. 



  1. I hear you on the water tracking.

    I have a friend who likes it cold, she puts each day's water in a container in the refrigerator and then pours from there. She said at the end of the day, she has to drink whatever is left before she refills for the next day.

    I drink 100% of my water from my Kleen Kanteens. I need to drink about 3 of them. (calculator says 73.5oz and 3 = 81oz) that is the only way I can (easily) get it all in - from the same/set container (I have two of them, so drink the first two and then refill one).

    My guess is that speaking at the conference will serve you well as a motivation to stay very, very focused.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07