At 44, Julie Brown has finally settled on an eating plan that makes it easy to stay healthy and fit. Our featured 5-foot-8 dieter has a husband, two kids, and two step kids – and a Vitabot-powered program that she says makes it easy to choose your own foods and find your own balance from things that you actually like.
Julie says she is happy with her weight (154) but may try to drop another 5 pounds. Meanwhile, she’s loving the changes that came with her new way of eating.
She tells eDiets, “No more leg cramps. I’ve got lots of energy. I don’t worry about what I’m eating, because I know what it is and how it all fits together. I know that I’m healthy, and that I look pretty good.”
eDiets recently sat down with Julie for this insightful interview.
What is it that you love about the Vitabot program?
First and foremost, I love that I CHOOSE what I want to eat. Rather than being told to choose things off a very specific list or worse yet, being given 7 days’ worth of prescribed meal plans, I eat what I want, and I can see the consequences of my choices.
Second, when I plan ahead, I can mesh up my family’s dinner schedule with a week’s Vitabot plans, and eat what everyone else is eating when we sit down together, but still make my daily requirements for nutrition and hit my goals in the other meals and snacks that I eat during the day.
Third, because my nutrition counselor set it up to basically ignore my exercise, I don’t feel guilty if I skip a day, and it doesn’t set me back.
Fourth, I love that the program has actually gotten me to try new foods (because they’ve been suggested as ways to meet my needs in a given day).
Fifth, I love that Vitabot lists out the foods that would meet your remaining requirements for the day (and lets me chose which ones I want). I tried another calorie counting program, and it was very frustrating to not know which vitamins and minerals I wasn’t getting enough of.
Sixth, I’m kind of a geek, so I love the fact that I get a grade every day, and in different categories. My 12-year-old son often looks over my shoulder and asks me, “Did you get all As, Mom?” It’s very motivating. It’s like a puzzle to put together for each new day, and that really appeals to me.
And finally, the fact that you can see what affect it has when you change your eating plan midway through the day. During the summer, we go camping for two weeks at a beach in Maine, and we do all our grocery shopping before we leave, so I looked at our meal plans and put together an entire menu for myself for the two weeks before we left. (And the shopping list feature was very handy for that effort.) But some days, we ran out of something or we found ourselves somewhere other than we’d planned to be, so I ate things that weren’t on my Vitabot plan. But afterwards, I could enter what I ate and play with the program for a while to come up with an alternate plan that also got me all As, but using other foods! That was really exciting, to know that you can get back on track even when your plans change…
What type of dieting did you do before turning to a Vitabot-powered plan?
I had tried various things over the years, including South Beach for a while after my kids were born, but my main goal is really to be healthy and fit rather than to lose weight. I was writing a research paper on coordination of healthcare last summer, and realized that we are all responsible for our own health and well-being, that the medical establishment can help moderate symptoms and sometimes fix things that are broken, but prevention of disease (especially chronic disease) is the patient’s responsibility, not the doctor’s. I had tried eating only vegetables and lean meats for a while, but found that I was still gaining weight.
What are some of the toughest obstacles you face while dieting?
I was a vegetarian for nine years, and I’ve never gone back to eating red meat, so I’m a somewhat picky eater. Most diets prescribe a particular set of foods, from which I would choose a small subset that I’d actually eat.
I always used to get killer headaches when I’d exercise for any length of time, and I felt like they were dehydration-related (despite drinking lots of water). I felt like there was some kind of imbalance with electrolytes.
Do you have any tips or tricks for overcoming these obstacles?
Obviously, with Vitabot, you get to choose your own foods and find your own balance from things that you actually like, which makes it easy to follow your plan. And I add at least one piece of dark chocolate into my meal plan almost every day, so I never feel deprived.
You get very aware of what you are eating and what foods are good for you with Vitabot. I noticed when I starting using Vitabot that my salt intake was often low, and that I have to be really conscious every day of getting enough potassium. Iron is another problem nutrient for me (because of the lack of red meat, I’d guess, but I have figured out how to get enough through foods. The best bonus is that I haven’t had a leg cramp (which used to happen regularly at night) for literally 6 months.
What led you to consider a diet this time around?
It was a nutrition program, not a diet, that appealed to me. My goal was to get healthy – and that included getting my BMI back into the “normal” range. I’d been walking since January and swimming regularly since April, but didn’t get Vitabot until late July. The combination made it so easy to lose the weight.
What's your goal?
My body seems very comfortable at my current weight, so I might be there. However, I’m toying with the idea of trying to lose another 5 pounds, to get to a less in-between size.
How do you find time for diet and exercise?
I take an hour off work to walk during the day with a friend of mine, three days a week. I usually go to the gym after my youngest is in bed (around 9:30 at night) and swim anywhere between 2/3 and one mile in the pool. When I was trying to lose weight, rather than just maintain it, I used Vitabot very proactively, usually on the weekend to plan out the whole next week. Now I generally add my breakfast in when I log on to my computer in the morning and plan my meals for the day before my first meeting at work.
What changes did you notice after turning to a diet powered by the Vitabot program?
No more leg cramps. I’ve got lots of energy. I don’t worry about what I’m eating because I know what it is and how it all fits together. I know that I’m healthy, and that I look pretty good.
Now, if I could just get the rest of my family to try it…
eDiets Chief Editor John McGran has an extensive background in online dieting and tabloid news. He covers the celebrity beat for eDiets.