Can you believe we’ve been at this for a month now? Me neither. Mom is quickly proving herself to be superwoman in my eyes. Scroll down to see her week 4 meal plan and weigh-in results!
If you’re new to the series, I’m putting my mom on a diet (because she asked me to, and I’ve lost 135 pounds myself (naturally). So here’s what you need to know: Part 1, here is the plan I designed for her, and here are her weekly updates: week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4, week 5, week 6, week 7, week 8, week 9, week 10, week 11, week 12, week 13, week 14, week 15, week 16, week 17, week 18, week 19, 1 month eating on her own, 1 year later.
Breakfast: ½ cup dry old-fashioned rolled oats (150) made with 1 cup water, topped with 1 tablespoon brown sugar (60) and 2 tablespoons chopped pecans (100) = 310
Lunch: Steak salad
vegetable base (3 large handfuls mixed greens, ½ cup chopped bell pepper, ½ cup chopped cucumber, ½ cup shredded carrot, 6-8 cherry tomatoes=50 calories) + 3 ounces marinated and grilled beef sirloin tips leftover from dinner the previous night, thinly sliced (210) + 3 tablespoons Ken’s Lite Caesar dressing (120) = 380
Snack: Strawberries and watermelon (100) + 12 almonds (~80) = 180
Dinner: 4 ounces marinated and grilled balsamic chicken (150) + 1 1/2 cups Parmesan roasted broccoli (this recipe plus a sprinkling of 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan in the last 10 minutes of roasting = 100) + 3/4 cup tomato, basil, and feta brown rice (200) = 450
Make the balsamic marinade: Whisk to combine 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 3 cloves garlic, and a pinch each of salt and black pepper. Use to marinate up to 2 pounds of chicken, beef, pork, or tofu. Per 4-ounce serving of meat/poultry/tofu, the marinade will add roughly 30 calories.
Make the tomato, basil, and feta brown rice: For 4 servings, bring 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or water, but chicken broth imparts flavor to the rice) to a boil in a small saucepan. Add 3/4 cups dry brown rice (any variety–short or long grain), cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the grains are tender. Fluff with a fork. Add 2/3 cup chopped tomato (I used cherry tomatoes, which were a pain to chop, but are sweeter and more concentrated in flavor), 2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese, and 1/4 cup finely chopped basil. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Nutrition Information for 1 Serving (1/4th of Entire Recipe): Calories 200, Total Fat 6.7 g, Total Carbohydrate 29.1 g, Dietary Fiber 2 g, Sugars 0.4 g, Protein 7.2 g
*Andie note: I am in lust with this rice.
Breakfast: Same oatmeal as Monday (310)
Lunch: Chicken & Olive Salad
vegetable base (3 large handfuls mixed greens, ½ cup chopped bell pepper, ½ cup chopped cucumber, ½ cup shredded carrot, 6-8 cherry tomatoes=50 calories) + 6 ounces marinated and grilled chicken breast (chicken purchased from the cafeteria at her work; 220 calories including marinade/oil) + ~8 kalamata olives, chopped (~60) + 2 tablespoons Ken’s Lite Caesar Dressing (80) = 410
Snack: 2 cups cherries (140) + 12 almonds (~80) = 220
Dinner: 6 ounces lemon-parsley baked haddock (recipe coming soon! 250) + 1 cup steamed spinach (60) + 1 ear corn on the cob (120) = 430
Breakfast: Same oatmeal as Monday and Tuesday (310)
Lunch: Chef Salad: Salad base (3 large handfuls mixed greens, ½ cup chopped bell pepper, ½ cup chopped cucumber, ½ cup shredded carrot, 6-8 cherry tomatoes=50 calories) + 2 ounces roasted turkey breast deli meat (2 thick slices or 3 thin slices=60 calories) + 1 ounce smoked ham deli meat (1 thick slice=30 cals) + 1 ounce provolone cheese (2 thin slices=100) + 1 hard-boiled egg (70) + 2 tablespoons Ken’s Light Honey Mustard Dressing (80) = 390
Snack: Strawberries and watermelon (100) + 12 almonds (~80) = 180
Dinner: 4 ounce teriyaki glazed turkey burger (250) + 1 1/2 cups carrot fries (150) + 1 cup steamed green beans and almonds (60) = 460
Make the teriyaki glazed turkey burgers: [To serve 4] Preheat a gas grill to high. In a large bowl, combine 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey, 1/3 cup Stonewall Kitchen Sesame Ginger Teriyaki Marinade, 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (I like McCormick’s brand), 2 tablespoons minced scallions, and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Use your hands to mix well, then form the mixture into four patties. Use a pastry brush to spread additional teriyaki marinade on both sides of each patty (using 1/3 cup in total for all patties). Grill the patties, covered, for about 6 minutes, flipping halfway. Each burger (recipe makes 4) is 250 calories.
Make the carrot fries: [To serve 4] Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and peel 2 pounds of carrots. Dry well with a towel and cut each carrot on the diagonal into a long, thin strip. In a large bowl, combine the carrots with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, tossing well to coat all carrot pieces. Spread the carrots onto a large rimmed baking sheet and season generously with salt (about 1 teaspoon). Bake for about 30 minutes, until fork tender and beginning to brown. Note: These don’t necessarily turn out all that crispy, but they’re a dead wringer in flavor for sweet potato fries.
Nutrition Info for 1 Serving (1/4th of Entire Recipe): Calories 150, Total Fat 7.1 g, Total Carbohydrate 21.4 g, Dietary Fiber 6.3 g, Sugars 10.3 g, Protein 2.2 g
Breakfast: 1 cup Uncle Sam Original cereal (~250) + 1 cup 1% milk (110) = 360
*Andie note: My good friend Annelies (a beautiful writer, poet, and lover of walks) just so happens to work for Attune Foods, the company behind Uncle Sam Cereal, and, knowing how much Mom loves her cereal and also how badly I want her to feel full after eating it, she sent us a big care package with two different kinds to try: the Original and the Raisin Bran. Mom has since tried Uncle Sam twice and said, “I like that it seems to keep me full, and I think it tastes OK; I just wish it were a little sweeter.” Now, as a reminder, this is coming from a gal whose all-time favorite cereal is Frosted Flakes. I personally like the taste of Uncle Sam just fine on its own, and I appreciate that it’s earthy, super high-fiber, and low in sugar, but I can see how Mom might need some time to adjust. Mom’s content to eat her way through the boxes, and notes that she “loves the crunch of them.”
Lunch: Same chef salad as Wednesday (390)
Snack: 2 cups cherries (140) + 12 almonds (~80) = 220
Dinner: Slow cooked pulled pork (this recipe without the slaw = 280) + 1 small sweet potato (6 ounces cooked = 150) + 1 1/2 cups steamed Italian green beans (60) =490
Breakfast: The Best 300 Calorie Oatmeal (300) + 1 tablespoon brown sugar for topping (60) = 360
*Andie note: So…this is my favorite oatmeal in the world. Like, hands down; put a ring on it; I’ve found the one. But Mom? Hated it. And by that I mean, haaaaaaated it. Watching her eat it was bewildering. If it hadn’t been my mother, my spirit might have been broken, but I realize whipping egg whites into oats simply cannot be everyone’s cup of tea. Also, I need a recipe for thicker skin.
Lunch: Turkey wrap (this recipe without the bacon = 290) + 2 cups mixed fruit salad (100) = 390
Dinner: Chicken Stir Fry (recipe here = 300) + 1 cup white rice (200) = 500
Breakfast: 1 cup Uncle Sam Cereal (~250) + 3/4 cup 1 % milk (~80) = 330
*Andie note: I always want Mom to include 1 full cup of milk in these cereal breakfasts, for protein and staying power, even when she protests that this amount of milk gets her crispies all soggy. I ask her, “please just measure out a cup, pour whatever you need into your cereal, then drink the remainder separately if you’d rather.” I think I’m going to lose this battle.
Out to lunch: 8 ounce hamburger (no cheese, no bun = ~ 480) + side caesar salad (~200) = 680
*Andie note: Apparently, yes, the only things Mom wants to order at restaurants are plain burgers or fried haddock. I had begun to wonder since this is the third or fourth time she’s been out to eat and had one of the two. When I asked her about what kinds of menus she was encountering, she told me, rather frankly, “Francie, those are the only two things I like. I’m not ordering a grilled chicken salad.” I get it; I’ll respect it. End of discussion.
Dinner: 2 slices of take-out pizza topped with tomatoes, spinach, feta, and kalamata olives (~300 per slice) = 600
Brunch: Scrambled egg and veggie wrap: 1 Joseph’s Flax, Oat Bran, & Whole Wheat Lavash (100) + 2 eggs, scrambled in 1 teaspoon olive oil (140 for eggs + 30 for oil= 170) + 1 cup mixed onion and red bell pepper sauteed in 1 teaspoon olive oil (15 for vegetables + 30 for oil = 45) + 1 Laughing Cow Garlic & Herb Cheese Wedge (35) = 340 + 1 cup strawberries (50) = 390
*Andie note: She cannot be stopped.
Snack: 1 cup strawberries (50)
Dinner: 5 ounces balsamic grilled chicken (see marinade recipe above = 180) + 1 1/2 cups mixed green salad with 1 tablespoon Ken’s Lite Caesar Dressing (15 for veggies + 40 for dressing = 55) + 1/2 cup steamed green peas (60) + 1/2 cup steamed corn (80) + 2/3 cup pasta salad (our family used Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad in Creamy Italian flavor, which is delicious. A 2/3 cup serving = 310) = 685
*Andie note: Too low. Skipping lunch is not a practice I support or promote, but then, neither is asking Mom to eat more simply to fill a calorie quota without regard to her hunger and fullness. After dinner, I asked her, “Want to eat something else?” noting how little she’d had that day. She thought on it and said, “No, really, I’m not hungry.”
Week 4 Weigh-In:
Starting Weight: 210
Week 1 Weight: 201.4 (down 8.6)
Week 2 Weight: 199.4 (down 2.0)
Week 3 Weight: 199 (down 0.4)
Week 4 Weight: 196 (down 3)
Total Pounds Lost: 14
Mom’s thoughts on progress after 1 month:
Again, as always, thank you for all your kindness and support. It is the encouragement from you all that gets me motivated!!!! I am beginning week five and have lost 14 pounds. I am very happy about this and I can feel a difference in how my clothes fit. My shirts aren’t stuck to me as much as they were and I feel really, really good. I am actually getting used to eating better and find myself less likely to pick the bad choices when push come to shove. With that said, that doesn’t mean I can pass up a White’s Bakery cake yet. I still find myself craving sweets occasionally. But overall, I have more energy and I love that. My meals are awesome as you would expect from Andrea, and I have a lot of variety. Now if I could only tame my curly hair in this humidity, I would be all set.
*Andie note: This 1 month progress is AMAZING.
Love this series!! Will you come cook for me while I try to lose weight? ;)
That was exactly my thought :D I wish you were my step mom or something like that, so somebody would cook for me so I can lost weight…really you must be a great daugter! ♥
awesome first month! and again, thank you for sharing this on the blog. :)
i love the “no, i’m really not hungry.” that’s never an answer i’m familiar with. maryellen, you sound like a woman on a mission.
Andie, what amazing progress for your mom. 14 lbs. in one month is amazing. And you are being so diligent at giving her such great meals. So much flavor and variety that I see packed in there. I love seeing these updates! Go Maryellen, Go!
I am impressed with both of you. Weight loss with fantastic meals, who could ask for more?
You both rock (as my granddaughter says).
Wow…14 lbs is awesome! The food is soooo good. I followed week 3 and found that the weight does come off…thank you…thank you. Can’t wait for your books! Please save me one also. Good job to you both…your awesome.
i’m really enjoying this process…. great healthy meal ideas. Keep up the good work!
Thank you so much for sharing this series. I’m a little over a month into my (renewed) weight loss journey, and it’s comforting to see someone else going through the same experience. I love the idea for the carrot fries – I make baked sweet potato fries but don’t enjoy spending 3 old ww points on them, so this is a wonderful alternative. It’s great how you’re customizing this plan to your mom’s tastes. I often re-read your old posts and recipes for support in losing weight, and to hear someone speak such honest words about how hard this goal can be. Forever grateful to you xoxo
I am loving this series about your Mom – what a great idea. Going forward…at some point…will you give your Mom the wheel and she has to prep/cook for herself?
This is just awesome!! Not to mention, having some of these recipes in my back pocket are awesome for my own healthy eating goals and I really enjoy seeing the meal plan day in and day out looks like!!
Can you just come cook for me, please? I’m having so much trouble losing weight myself, oof. I need to buckle down and DO IT. Your mom is such an inspiration, as are you!
Great job! Fantastic progress so far :)
Way to go Maryellen! It is so nice to be able to see what the daily intake of food is. :-)
woohoo! looks like shes having amazing food! Great job to both of you!!
Great posts! So inspiring! I’ve lost 12 pounds since June 6th! Thanks for all the wonderful ideas for meals! Keep them coming!
Love this post series! It’s definitely inspiring me to start eating healthier :)
That’s great!! I wanted to comment for those of us whose stores don’t stock the lavash bread you use for wraps, that the trader joes brand works well. Only a few calories more and better tasting than the over-processed tortillas that are typically used for wraps. Keep up the good work Maryellen!!
I love this series! However, I noticed that drinks are not part of the counted caloric intake. What is your opinion on liquids? Should they count? What drinks are best during the day (obviously, water – but what about coffee, juices, soda, etc)?
Thanks in advance – and great work to you and your mom!
Heather, you should count every calorie, even from liquid. Your body processes all calories equally. Juices tend to have a lot of sugar and can easily hit 140 – 200 calories per serving.
First of all congratulatios to your mom. And I have a cuestion, is she doing some exercise? Or is just the diet?
I am loving this series. I have lost a total of 27 pounds in the last year trought calorie counting and I am finding motivation trought your series. Thank you!
Woohoo!! You go Maryellen!! I’m so happy for you!!
Congratulations Mary Ellen! You should be really proud of your ability to follow through with this! And I totally get the hair thing. Mine’s been in a bun or pony tail for the last month. Thinking Keratin smoothing treatment.
Yummm all of those look so good! That tomato and feta rice sounds like something I’d like to make :)
I love that everything is simple and easy! 90% of the ingredients are already in my kitchen!!
Hi Andie, I am so moved by your dilligence both with your mum but also in documenting this whole process for the rest of us so that it may help us in some way too. You have a huge amount of empathy because you’ve gone through this challenge and want to help others going through it as a result. I’m sure your mother is very proud of you.
Well done Mary Ellen 1 stone in a month is an immense achievement!
Way to GO, Andie’s mom! I am loving the progress and the recipes :)
I can’t believe you ate oatmeal instead of cereal! :)
Fantastic weight loss!! I admire your determination.
Maryellen congratulations on the weight loss to date but, much more importantly, how wonderful it is that you feel so good! Andie, this series is terrific, the meals look gorgeous and are able to be put together by a home cook.
Have you ever considered foreign adoption Andie? I mean someone foreign adopting you? Does Australian sound good? :)
Congratulations Maryellen!!!! Your hard work is so paying off and you really have no idea how many people you are encouraging to be more healthy !!! You are so blessed to have a daughter to help you out like this:)
Fifteen years ago I lost 4o pounds on Weight Watchers by counting points. I believe this is much the same – just counting calories. Sadly my love of baking and return to bad habits have resulted in 30 of those pounds being regained. Now, at age 70, it is even harder to lose. I know I have used my cancer dug tamoxifen as an excuse for the weight gain. I am so inspired by you and your mother – I know his plan will work and I am going to give it a real try – no excuses.
Andie, have you ever tried Bolthouse Farms creamy yogurt-based dressings? They are a gamechanger and have better stats than the dressings your mom has been using!
Way to go Andies Mom! Love the series, great suggestions for meal plans. What brand and size plastic containers you are using for the salads, need to purchase some so I can bring lunch to work. Keep the recipes coming.
Im addicted to oatmeal right now, but used to hate it! I add (1/2C) oats 1T peanut butter & (1/4C) of craisins.. abt 350cal. Keeps me full for hours- just thought Id share!
I read your blog but rarely comment. I think this is such a wonderful idea. It gives your readers good ideas for low calorie meals, but holds Miss Maryellen “accountable” for what she eats and shows her great progress. I would definitely need something sweet in the evenings after dinner. Have any fun ideas?
Hi there I never comment on blogs, but I feel compelled to let you know that I am loving this series! I found your site last week while looking for healthy meals in my calorie range. Your recipes are perfect! I’m on week one, day three. I have made all your recipes so far! I love the salads and the sesame ginger pork stir fry is unbelievable! I just ate your salad with turkey and egg for lunch…yummy! I am looking forward to the having the chicken wrap for dinner! Thank you for posting this!
I was looking for a diet/meal plan to follow that would be easy to follow, not too weird, and appropriate for a woman my age (59.). I have a realistic goal but needed recipes and meals that are healthy and doable with a busy schedule. I am so glad to have found your website detailing Mary Ellen’s challenge. I have jumped on board with a few modifications – I am not a picky eater- and have already lost a couple of pounds with no suffering or deprivation involved. It has also motivated me to be a little more active so success is building more success. Thanks for the inspiration and doing all the hard work for me!
Love, love, love this series!! Way to go, Maryellen! But, why does your mom call you Francie? :)
Love this series Andi :) Personally I don’t think 1055 calories is too low at all. Obviously it depends on the food choices and individual satiety but for losing weight I think it’s a good number to shoot for.
Leah, that is too low. You should aim for 1200, minimum, and not go any lower. It can screw up your metabolism and slow/stop your weight loss after a while.
This is *amazing*. The moment I try to control my portions my brain goes whack.. I guess the key here is a) amazing quality of food and b) support from friends and fam? Either way, your mum is the bomb :)
This is amazing, well done Andi’s mom. Keep pushing it :)
I was wondering about the calorie count for the breakfast wrap. You listed the two scrambled eggs as 70 calories but wouldn’t it be 140 for two eggs? Or did you just make it with one egg?
Oooo yes!! Thanks and good catch, Maddy! Just edited the post to add in the 70 calories for the second egg!
Mary Ellen- I hear you on the hair. My curly hair could not be controlled while in 95 degree Texas heat. I’m so proud of you!! Andie is cooking up some beautiful and colorful food. So glad you are enjoying the process and have a great support team around you (and on the interwebs).
Every dish looked absolutely delish. It’s great to know a healthy rate of weight loss can be had – and by eating super-tasty meals. Keep up the great work.
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Could you send me all 5 weeks. I am the Director of an afterschool program for teen girls. We love to cook and some of these looks so good and easy to make
Weight is a hard thing to loose, I know been heavy for 5 yrs. And just to look at food makes me swell.
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If you take proper calories, then you will naot be suffering from any type of problems like fat, bp, diabities and snoring.
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Hi, I just found your website last week and have been catching up on your “putting mom on a diet” series. I am in LOVE with the series – tons of great meal ideas here! The photos really bring it all to life. I am commenting because I made the feta, basil and tomato rice last night – OMG, yum. Thanks for putting all this info out there! I am a new follower.
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