An apple is 100 caloriesI decided to go on the 400 calorie meal diet to get back in shape after having Lyme Disease and related complications for three entire years. (Do you know how much weight you put on when it hurts to move so bad that you basically sit on the sofa for a couple years? You don't want to know. I'll just say I used to hike the Smokies for fun and by the time I recovered from Lyme disease, I could have rolled through them instead.) Anyway, I looked at a lot of options for losing weight and decided that medications weren't for me. Neither were fad diets. I'm not eating pork rinds or only drinking juice for weeks. I'm just going to go back to exercising and eat sensibly to get rid of the extra pounds. I had been working on exercising and trying to eat right completely on my own, but I felt like I needed some help. I was doing arm curls in the kitchen while thinking about some blog posts (I like to multi-task.) and had the tv on in the background. Rachel Ray came on with a rerun show about the 400 Calorie Fix. I was intrigued enough to watch the show and ordered the book.

About The 400 Calorie Fix

If you've ever been interested in learning how to flatten your belly, then you've probably heard of the author of the 400 Calorie Fix book before. Liz Vaccariello is the co-author of the best selling Flat Belly Diet! Cookbook. For those of us who have a bigger problem than just a flabby stomach, she's created her new book based on a 400 calorie meal diet. It looks like you can only order the book directly from Prevention right now. They let you preview it, so if you hate it, you can send it back. After shipping, it cost me $39.94. I decided to keep the book because, even though I couldn't use large chunks of it because I don't eat out all the time, hit the vending machine, or cook complicated meals, I feel like I did get my money's worth out of it.

DIY 400 Calorie Diet

If you don't want to invest in the book, though, or you don't have the extra money to do so, you can easily do the 400 calorie diet yourself. You just need a measuring cup, measuring spoons, your eyes and some self control. Got all that? You're good to go.

So, the big secret? There isn't one. It is all common sense. We just need someone to spell it out. Have breakfast. Have lunch. Have dinner. Make sure none of the meals is over 400 calories and make sure they are well balanced. If you have a glass of wine or juice with dinner, include the calories in your meal. (A 100 calorie glass of wine leaves you with 300 calories for the rest of the meal.) After two weeks, throw in a fourth meal.

Now, the reason the book is nice is that it puts meals together for you. When you are at the fast food joint waiting to place an order, you can flip to the index and see that a the Panda Express Broccoli Beef and 2/3 cup of steamed rice makes you a meal. When you're up to four meals a day and you want one of them to be dessert, you can find out easily that eight vanilla wafers filled with a total of one tablespoon of Nutella, a half a banana and a fat free cup of milk is okay to eat. I would have eaten just the cookies, hated myself for "breaking my diet" and still would have been hungry.

You can do it all yourself with your computer, though. I pulled up McDonald's last night and found that their grilled chicken wrap, a piece of fruit and some Kale I had at home would be a suitable meal if I felt like eating "junk" instead of a healthy 400 calorie meal. You can also just go for a 300 calorie frozen diet meal and an apple or two pieces of low calorie wheat bread.

Just keep in mind that a huge banana has more calories than half a medium banana. A bowl of rice has more than a cup. Planning to eat an apple after every meal? An apple has about 100 calories. A cup of 2 % milk has around 120. So even eating huge portions of healthy foods can keep you from losing weight.

Exercise Is Essential for Weight Loss

I don't care what anyone says, unless it is your doctor. (Always talk to your doctor about starting exercise or diet plans. I talked to mine. I didn't take her advice, which was to try a prescription drug instead of working at weight loss because of my joint pain, but I did talk to her!) You have to get exercise. Come on. All that work to lose weight and you have the strength and tone of a wet noodle? You don't want that.

Now, don't be scared. It doesn't have to be fancy. It doesn't have to be high impact or intense. You don't even need a gym. Get a set of hand weights and measure how long your driveway is. You're all ready.

I can fit 133 of my driveway in a mile. I walk it every week day while I'm waiting for the school bus and get at least a quarter mile in. If the driver is late, I get a bit more. See? Walking in the driveway. A brisk walk with my MP3 player because I have to multi-task (I think I already mentioned that, didn't I?) and the MP3 player is loaded with some blogging e-books and has a record function that lets me dictate an article. Painless. Well, as painless as it gets for me.

Every few days, I also do 15 minutes with the weights. If I'm feeling really good, I do another 15 minutes of low impact aerobics. I love aerobics. My knees and ankles, not so much.

Stop Doing a 400 Calorie Diet and Start Eating 400 Calorie Meals

Okay, for two weeks, you've been eating 1200 calories a day. You're feeling better. Well, I hope you are. I am. You've lost a few pounds. So, now you have reached the pivotal point. The place where you decide whether you want to eat healthy for life. This is the point where you stop being "on a diet" and start eating three to four 400 calorie meals a day because it is enough food to fuel your body and you don't need any more.

If you make that mental transition, you won't be a yo yo dieter. You won't be Oprah with her dramatic weight gains and losses. You'll be you. Gradually losing excess weight through sensible eating and exercise until, one day, you look in the mirror and realize you look pretty nice and you've been looking nice for quite some time.

I think I've made the transition. Only time will tell. In the meantime, I'll be eating 400 calorie meals, exercising and teaching myself to recognize 400 calorie size portions so I can eat right when I am at summer picnics, birthday parties and Thanksgiving dinner.