Jun 6, 2012


ok... so after moving to europe right after smashing through my uni exams, to start a new job far, far away from home (on the other side of the world to be exact!), going from one winter to another (very cold european) winter, and feeling stressed, cold, lonely and bored... i just so happened to inevitably gain a heap of weight - boo hoo! well at least they are my lame excuses for a lack of willpower and common sense!

the issues:
  1.  i love food and cooking... so when whipping up a tasty dish it was sometimes hard to not go for a second helping (or follow up dinner with a creative dessert idea to support my calorie ladden hobby of food blogging) 
  2. winter was cold and comfort food = warm and cozy! 
  3. boredom = snacking
  4. when feeling a bit over it all i found a crutch in simple carbs (so good yet so bad all at the same time!)
  5. my relatively jam-packed travel schedule - not so much a problem from the exciting adventure point-of-view! - but a killer when it came to avoiding a calorie laden breakfast and/or finding healthy vegan fare for lunch and/or dinner. bread goods formed a staple, along with a heavy load of fruit and other sugary vegan treats

to tackle my widening waist line i tried calorie counting, limiting portion sizes and avoiding any snacking all without much success... i joined the gym and kitted myself out with some new joggers and new gym attire... but unfortunately my lack of regular routine, and endulging in holiday-mode, got me nowhere

fed up with feeling massive and lacking in willpower, i decided it was time to step up my game and strictly adhere to a wholegrain, plant-based diet (kicking my sugary, simple carb-based vegan binge!) it was time for a plan to get back on track, lose the 'fat vegan' title, and fit into my summer clothes to avoid an entire wardrobe overhaul! 


well... after reading the china study (and applying some self control, determination and common sense) i have a plan... and it's a simple one!

the basics are obvious - energy out (BMR* + physical activity) must exceed energy in (food intake) to result in weight loss

a vegan diet is well positioned for achieving weight loss goals and improving health, simply by cutting out the vegan-junk (or if you're a meat-eater/vegetarian - the non-vegan-junk) and focusing on the good stuff - whole grains, fruit and vegetables!

my weekly diet and exercise plan is as follows:
  • exercise - every day before work (or after if afternoon exercise if more your thing) i prefer to head off early and wake myself up with a good jog on the treadmill at the gym
  • breakfast - whole grains are my choice, a cup of mixed (untoasted) muesli with soy milk and a large glass of water
  • morning 'tea' - fruit: a medium sized apple or a cup of fruit salad if i am organised enough to throw one together the night before!
  • lunch - salad all the way! i mix one up in the lunch room with such things as tomato, cucumber, carrot, celery, chickpeas, brown rice, rocket or iceberg lettuce, and what ever else tickles my fancy that is fresh, healthy and raw!
  • 3:30-itis - a medium sized orange, this one is a standard and gives a good fructose boost for my afternoon at work!
  • dinner - brown rice and steamed vegetables... filling and tasty! ok... so not as exciting as a saucy vegan pasta dish or yummy vegan curry - but "operation weight-loss" is my goal and i am going to stick to it! (how's that for a detemined statement!)
i am currently working my way through week number 2, and am hoping to start seeing all my gym time, will power and healthy eating pay off! check back here for updates on my success and (hopefully non-existant) failures ;)

*BMR = basal metabolic rate - your rate of metabolism at rest 


  1. Your blog is lovely and am so glad I encountered it!

    1. what a nice comment!! thank you, you made my day! :)

  2. I've just discovered your blog and love it. I've subscribed in my feed reader so I can get regular updates. I think your plan for better eating is a good one, but one thing jumped out at me: iceberg lettuce. This is the least nutritious green you could possibly pick--I would recommended skipping it completely in favor of dark greens, or at the least, a spring mix or other salad blend. Iceberg is like the white bread of the salad family.

    1. thank you for your kind words melissa! and yes, you are completely right! previously i had a good supply of rocket and salad mix but have had trouble finding anything of good quality for sometime :( hence my unfortunate reliance on the old iceberg (which can be fitting for burritos or burgers... but definitely less than pleasing in a salad!) i would love to add some kale to my dishes but it just doesn't seem to exist in madrid - when i get back to australia i will be loading up on yummy dark greens for sure! thank you for your suggestion - i definitely agree and will follow your advice :)

    2. It's funny--I guess I have a tendency to believe that we from English-speaking countries have tons of junky food but that other people have access to all kinds of lovely fresh and nourishing things. That's a real bias I will have to look at. My best to you! I'm very new to veganism--just around a month--so I am always thrilled to come across a nice blog where I can learn lots. My vegan board on pinterest has over 400 recipes I'm getting inspired by. Do you have an account there that I can follow?

    3. so true! when i started preparing myself to move over to spain i was so excited by the opportunity to be living in the 'market-garden' of europe... but then really dissapointed when i arrived to find a serious lack of variety and quality of fresh fruit and veg :( i did however get lucky and found a small market which has been my main source for the basics - i have to admit though that my lack of spanish language skills has had a big impact so there may well be some really great places that i just havent been so lucky as to unearth?! And yes :) i do have a pinterest account (http://pinterest.com/ieatvegan/) which i think you may have already found?! - i will def check out your vegan board... i too love checking out other blogs and pinterest boards for inspiration!! happy friday

    4. oh, you're right! I did find it but didn't know it was you!

  3. Great post. Thank u so much for sharing your idea about vegan diet plan .

  4. I've haerd that veggies only increase weight, then how can you use vegan diet plan for weight reducing?

    1. Vegetables, along with fruit, wholegrains and legumes, are excellent sources of dietary fibre and - particularly in the case of vegetables - are very low in energy. Basing your diet on high nutrient-density, low-energy density foods (such as those that form the basis of a well planned vegan diet) is a highly effective way to manage body weight and promote good health. Personally, I have never come across any research indicating a link between vegetable intake and an inhibition of weight loss.

  5. Just saw this blog and wanted to know if you were able to lose weight. Also I noticed that your meal plan only has one protein item ( chickpeas during your lunch meal)...is that enough protein? I have been trying to lose weight forever and nothing seems to be working. I would like to give you an example of my excercise and meal plan.

    For example, today I ate:

    Breakfast: brown rice tortilla, 1 tbsp organic almond butter, 1 tbsp chia seeds, glass of unsweetened almond milk ( 305 calories)

    Snack: Banana and black coffee ( 105 calories)

    Excercise at 11:00 AM: 40 minutes burning 600 calories

    Lunch: (one cup of food) cooked meal which included 1/4 cup cooked brown rice and kidney beans, 3/4 spinach, carrots and sweet potato. ( 400 calories)

    Snack: 2 Tangeries ( 150 calories)

    Supper: 3 nori wraps with mango salsa ( mango, onion, red peppers, lime, corriander, red pepper) and 1 cup chickpeas with kale ( raw) and glass of almond milk ( 600 calories)

    Total calorie intake: 1560
    Calories burnt: 600

    What am I doing wrong!!!! I am trying to lose 8 lbs a month and I weigh 248 lbs and I am 32 years old. Your advise is greatly appreciated!!!


    1. Hi there! Yes I did manage to lose weight (check out my newer post on my weight loss update for more info) - and I certainly understand that it is sometimes a frustrating and slow moving process. It looks like you have a good understanding that energy in has to be balanced by energy out.

      To help you figure out how much you should be eating you can use the following as guide:

      Start by figuring out your ideal body weight (IBW), which is your weight when your BMI (body mass index = 25); that is IBW = 25 x Height (in meters) squared

      e.g. 25 x 1.65m2 = 68kg

      (Note: 1kg = 2.2lb)

      Next, you need to determine an adjusted IBW = [(Actual weight (kg) – IBW) x 25%] + IBW

      Using your adjusted IBW you can start calculating your BMR (basal metabolic rate)

      For females:
      BMR = 2741 + (40.0 x W) + (7.7 x H) – (19.6 x A) kJ/day (where W is your adjusted IBW in kg; H is your height in cm; and A is your age)

      For males:
      BMR = 278 + (57.5 x W) + (20.9 x H) – 28.3 x A) kJ/day (where W is your adjusted IBW in kg; H is your height in cm; and A is your age)

      Now you need to multiple your BMR by your physical activity level (PAL) to calculate how much energy you need to consume each day to achieve an energy balance at your IBW - i.e. achieve your ideal weight.

      Resting: 1.1
      Confined to Bed: 1.2
      Light activity: 1.3
      Moderate activity: 1.4 – 1.5
      Heavy activity: 1.75

      e.g. BMR x PAL = estimated energy expenditure (EER) (in kj [1kj = 0.24 calories; so to get an answer in calories, multiply the EER by 0.23])

      Looking at your calorie calculations, your energy intake appears quite low (depending on your height and PAL) - perhaps there is something more than your food consumption that is presenting an obstacle to greater weight loss. This could be emotion, effects of medications, genetics, or an undiagnosed medical issue. One thing i did notice is that you havent included any fluid intake in-between meals - are you drinking extra water or other beverages (if they contain added sugar this may be something that is missing from your calorie calculations?)

      As a guide, a person should aim to lose approximately 0.5-0.8kg per week. Which would be 2-3.2kg a month (4.4-7lb/month) - so your goal seems pretty much on track.

      Basic suggestions would include increasing your physical activity level (especially incidental activity, such as getting up form your desk if you have a sedentary job every 20 minutes and doing a quick walk to the kitchen (not to snack of course) or bathroom and back to your desk OR taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator). These things can keep your metabolism going at times when you cant be undertaking more structured exercise - such as during your work day.

      All-in-all it sounds like you are trying hard and keeping track of your intake and expenditure, so it may be a matter of perseverance or perhaps a visit to the doctor to see if there is something medical underlying the lack of greater weight loss.

      Oh! and regarding protein intake (current dietary guidelines suggest 0.75-0.8g of protein per kg of body weight. I havent done the math on the meal plan above but i recently did a quick calculation of my current diet and i am exceeding this amount - so all that fuss about vegans not getting enough protein is rather misguided! ;)

      Hopefully some of the maths above is of assistance! Keep up the good work and best of luck! :)

    2. i just have a quick suggestion.. i think everything sounds great and positive especially if its working as everyone is different :-) I think if A above did their exercise before breakfast they would see better results than 40 minutes of exercise after they have eaten.
      Fat is burned after 45 minutes of exercise and best done on an empty stomach.
      I do agree with the above in saying you may have an underlying medical issue, but you may want to change that exercise time too. also increase your water intake to help flush out your system.

    3. Hey !!! This is A and I wanted to thank you so much for replying back to me.

      I forgot to mention that before I became a vegetarian (January 2013) I visited a naturopath who basically told me (after doing tests…please don’t ask me about these tests because I have no idea how she came to the following conclusion) that in order for my body to efficiently lose weight I would need to eat more animal based proteins and less vegetable based proteins. This meant that if I ate an animal based protein meal then I could only mix this food with vegetables (no other carb), however if I ate a vegetable based protein meal then I could mix it with whole grains, dairy, and vegetables.

      My breakfast was always a slice of Kamut with almond butter and fruit and my lunch and dinners were as follows: 4 vegetarian based protein meals a week, and 10 animal based meals a week.
      I implemented the aforementioned rule for three weeks and lost 6lbs. By the way my sister who weighed 163 lbs lost 9 lbs in the same three weeks and she was advised to eat more vegetarian based proteins and fewer animal based meals.

      While I was happy with my weight loss I wasn’t feeling comfortable with eating so much meat. I then watched forks over knives and this further made me realize that I wanted to become a vegetarian.

      And this is where I am at today….

      As a follow-up to your response to my April 12th, 2013 message:

      You lost me with the BMI calculations (lol)... I have been using my fitness pal which states that at my current weight 248lbs, age 32, and height 5`6 I would need to consume 1560 calories per day in order to lose 1.5 lbs. a week.

      Underling medical conditions: I have both mild asthma and eczema and have been on inhalers and topical cortizone since the age of 3. If I stop taking my in-haler I get an attack within 3 days.

      In 2009, I started taking Advair and have really had a hard time losing weight since. However, despite this fact I must admit that Advair has allowed me to live a better quality of life with no attacks.

      Water intake: I do not drink enough water! I drink 3 coffees a day with almond milk and maybe 2 glasses of water a day :0(... I know I need to improve on that
      So here’s the deal... today is May 1st and I still way 248 lbs.

      I would like to log back on in a month to let you know of my progress. My objectives for this month will include the following`:

      - Be a proper vegan (whole foods only)
      - Drink 8 glasses of water a day
      - Drink 2 Green teas per day
      - Drink ONLY 1 cup of coffee
      - Walk to work
      - Do 40 mins of Cardio- miminum 4 times a week

      Thank you both for your feedback and I look forward to letting you know of my progress come June 2013.

      Love A from Montreal :0)

    4. All the best A! Looking forward to your update :)

  6. Hello A from Montreal! As a fellow vegan asthmatic montrealer, I know how hard those meds can be for losing weight. I lost over 30 pounds since december following Dr Fuhrman's Eat To Live philosophy. (nutrient dense, plant based diet)

    its the only thing that has worked for me. I think the asthma meds work against weight lost. My doctor says it doesn't, but I think there might be a lack of study in this area, because every asthmatic I know, has the same problem.

    Good luck!

    1. Very true Gabriel! Corticosteroids found in most inhaled asthma medications promote weight gain so things getter a lot tougher if you are trying to lose weight! Well done on your weight loss achievement

  7. wow what a great site, been slowly going to vegan/gluten free and felt really great for a while, but went back to eating junk mostly white bread and delli meat. any advice for a newbie and how to stay on track

    1. thank you - what a nice comment! :)

      it can sometimes be hard to keep up the momentum, but my best advice would be to plan ahead. you can end up falling back onto old (less healthy) habits when you don't have enough time or are not prepared (e.g. out and about with nothing vegan-friendly around).

      try preparing a weekly meal plan - i realise this can be a little involved at first, but once you have something in place you can put it on repeat!

      some other ideas:
      - cook a large batch of whole grains (e.g. brown rice, quinoa, barley) and store in the fridge so you can use these for lunch/dinner each day (1/2 cup of cooked grains is a serve - so cook 2-3 cups to last 2-3 days)
      - i have bircher muesli for my breakfast (filling and heart-healthy), so grab a container and soak your oats in the fridge overnight ready for the morning for a ready-made, healthy start to the day
      - keep a good stock of canned beans in the pantry ready to be popped open, rinsed and tossed into a hearty salad for lunch or into soups/casseroles/pastas for dinner
      - always grab a piece of fruit (like an apple or banana), or some carrot sticks, on your way out of the house so you have a healthy snack on the go
      - a small container with dried fruit/nuts (~30g) can be a lifesaver when your out and about and need a sugar fix
      - always carry a bottle of water with you, this will stop you snacking when you are probably just thirsty!

      hopefully some of the above suggestions work for you! would love to hear any updates on your transition to veganism

      good luck! :)

  8. Hello! I was just wondering how much weight you were able to lose on this plan and how long it took you to lose it.

    P.S. I really love your blog!

  9. Thanks for good suggestions but your blog is sooo hard to read without capital letters!

  10. Im vegan too but i would die if i ate that way. I tried it before eating super light vegan and im extremely hungry, no joke. my stomach cramps, it rumbles and i dont feed energized what so ever. I am also nursing my 9 month old ( have 3 more older kids) i dont know how i will ever loose weight and nurse my kid until shes done and be satisfied

    1. Hi Natalie, it's true that reducing calorie intake can be challenging - especially if you don't feel satisfied. Increasing your intake of high protein foods, such as bean and legumes can help create a feeling of fullness. Mindful eating is also another effectively approach to weight loss for some people - making sure you are focusing on the meal, eating slowly and chewing thoroughly will avoid over consumption - it will also help you to recognize the feeling of fullness and satiation. One thing to keep in mind is that as you are currently breastfeeding your energy requirements would of course be different. A positive is that the action of breastfeeding itself can actually support weight loss. If you feel you are getting nowhere it maybe worthwhile visiting a accredited/registered Dietitian who will be able to work with you to meet your energy needs whilst moving towards your weight loss goal. All the best! :)

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