The Secret to Eating Out And Still Losing Weight
Date night on "The Whole Body Reset"
"Well, there goes date night," my wife said after I told her I was trying out the new The Whole Body Reset weight-loss program specifically for people at midlife.
Before I started the reset, we had a routine. Once a week, we’d toss our two kids to Granny and spirit away to pick up curbside at our favorite fine eateries, dining behind the windshield of our brown Honda Odyssey. It was paradise by the dashboard light, an hour or two of brief but needed respite that kept us sane.
What's in the Book?
The Whole Body Reset includes:
- Scores of recipes and snack suggestions
- A guide to dining out
- A 10-day jump-start plan
- A fitness plan that requires no equipment
Order it at aarp.org/wholebodyreset or at your favorite bookshop or online store.
My wife supported me in trying to live a new, healthy lifestyle, yet her voice was laced with disappointment.
I too was disappointed … and worried. I was a 40-year-old stay-at-home dad who turtled around the house trying to keep up with my two bouncy bundles of joy and frustration. I yearned for the energy of my own youth. I was worried The Whole Body Reset would force me to count calories and starve myself.
Then I read the book authored by Stephen Perrine with Heidi Skolnik, which claims The Whole Body Reset isn’t a “fad diet”; it’s “a way of life, a long-term lifestyle solution, designed to change not just your food but your vitality — physical, mental, and emotional.”
The reset isn’t about eating less, it’s about eating more — especially eating protein at every meal. As you age, your body’s ability to transform protein into muscle lowers, so you gain weight. “The idea is to stop that process,” Perrine told me via phone, “so that never happens to you again. And from there, there will be weight loss involved.”
More protein, more energy
The gist of the reset is that you eat three meals a day, each with 30 grams of protein (25 grams for women) and 5 grams of fiber; eat one or two snacks with 7 grams of protein and 2 of fiber; and make sure meals include fruits, veggies, nuts and milk products (for me, pea milk — you can be lactose-free, gluten-free and even vegan or vegetarian on this plan). Overall, just be more cognizant of what you are putting in your body, and you will lose weight and have more energy and a sharper mind.
It seemed easy enough, so I jumped in, dedicating myself to testing it for two months.
Nowhere in the book does it say you can’t eat out. In fact, an entire chapter shows how easy eating out is, complete with options of what to eat at over 25 chain restaurants. Your meal just needs 30 grams of protein, 5 of fiber. Good to go.
But I had to make it difficult.
I’m a man of routine. Implementing the reset was easy. I planned meals, stocked up on pears and bananas, phased out processed energy bars and chowed down on handfuls of almonds. I flipped my bread to whole grain and learned that brown rice is fun to split with your tongue. Still, I wanted to suffer, feeling that the harder the reset was, the more energy I would radiate, the better my brain would churn, and the quicker my belly would deflate. Eating out felt too good to be true, and therefore bad.
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I asked Perrine how much people should worry about the amount they eat out, and he replied, almost mocking me. “Why would you worry about eating? No one worries about eating. Squirrels don’t go around going, ‘Oh man, I’m having too many nuts.’”
Perrine understands people enjoy restaurants, so he just had to figure out, as he told me, “what were some ways that we could put together meals at these places that made sense, where you hit the numbers that you need to hit.”
In most cases, protein is not the problem — order a Big Mac or a Crispy Colonel Sandwich. It’s the fiber that can be hard to find. Perrine has an easy solution: Slip an apple in your bag, and you are good to go.
Adventures in eating out
A month into the diet, my wife and I journeyed out for date night. We decided to keep it low key: Arby’s — fast food at its finest. Eating out still felt naughty … and exciting. To be safe, I ordered from the restaurant chapter in the book: Roast buffalo chicken, snack-size curly fries and a side salad, for 32 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, 680 calories. I didn’t use dressing because that felt too illegal.
The next week, my wife and I snuck off mid-day and hit up Cracker Barrel, where I ordered (still from the book) way too much food. The Cracker Barrel Country Boy Breakfast includes three eggs, fried apples, hash browns, grits and a sirloin steak: 76 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber and 660 calories. I forced myself to eat everything, not realizing I could have just chowed down the steak and sampled everything else. Still, my time out with my wife was delicious.
By far, my favorite date was our third, when we curbsided at Outback Steakhouse. I even broke out my fancy navy blue velvet blazer, and my wife put on jeans, which was a big deal ’cause she hasn’t worn jeans in about two years. I felt confident in my diet, so I decided to ditch the book. I could order whatever I wanted. The world was mine … as long as my meal had 30 grams of protein, 5 of fiber. (I’ve discovered that nutritional info is provided on most chain restaurants’ websites.)
I ordered 6 ounces of center-cut sirloin! Aussie fries with cheese! Hot sauce! Broccoli-and-cheese soup! My meal had about 50 grams of protein, 8 of fiber and 900 calories. (This isn’t exact because the nutritional info provided on the site seemed out of date — not listing info for the cheese or broccoli-and-cheese soup. Instead, I used the info for the cream of broccoli soup.)
Since I started The Whole Body Reset five weeks ago, I’ve lost five pounds. The eating out didn’t set me back, it just enhanced the experience. I love that my energy is up and my mind feels crisp.
Before I ended my interview with Perrine, I asked him what progress looked like for the average person on the reset. I wanted him to tell me I was failing. He assured me I was doing just fine, saying, “You're not on a diet, right? You're eating in a way that you can eat for the rest of your life.”
And the rest of my life is going to include a lot of date nights.