Eating Habits Edition
If you’re like me, the hardest part of doing anything is the act of getting started. I always struggled with just getting something started. But why? What was I so afraid of? Failure? Disappointment? Uncertainty? The future? Actually succeeding? If you are like I was, you should change! Most recently I’ve been taking matters into my own hands. I feel like I’m leading a more active life than a passive one. Life was meant to be lived the way you decide! Over the course of 18 months, I have lost 23 pounds and maintained this weight loss by making changes to the way I view food and exercise. Although everyone is different, these are the top things that have helped me on my journey to better health:
- Set realistic and attainable short term goals so there is no room for disappointment. Do set a long term goal to keep yourself always working towards that goal. Initially, I shot high and wanted to lose 2 pounds per week but actually wound up losing about 1 pound per week for awhile. Sometimes any loss is better than no loss, and accepting a success for what it is helps keep you focused.
- Manage your caloric intake, aka watch what you’re eating. Downloading an app like MyFitnessPal will help you determine where most of your nutritional blunders take place. Tips: be truthful by making sure you log everything you consume! The only person you’re really lying to is yourself, and you’ll be disappointed when you don’t reach your weekly goals.
- As a continuation to tip #2, buy a kitchen scale to help you correctly measure out portion sizes. Until you’re certain about the measurements of certain serving sizes, use a kitchen scale or measuring cups/spoons to help you. This might have been the most shocking change I personally had to make. We are so accustomed to larger portions that the correct portion size will seem like not enough food. Don’t worry, you will soon get used to smaller portions and restaurant-sized portions will seem too large to eat in one sitting.
- Reconsider how many times you go out to eat, order takeout, or eat fast food. Go ahead and try logging in a meal from one of your favorite chain restaurants into MyFitnessPal. You will be shocked to see that one entree is usually equivalent to your daily allotment of calories.
- Make a conscious effort to cook more healthy, nutrient-dense dishes. A correctly portioned spaghetti and meatballs made at home is certainly better than going out to eat, but a dish that features vegetables and lean proteins with a small side of grains is going to be better for weight loss. (Think: chicken with roasted veggies and a side of brown rice, broiled salmon and veggies with a side of rice, etc.) Get creative with your spices! Most times spices are very low in calories and high in flavor. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be bland!
- Plan out your healthy meals in advance. Use Pinterest for inspiration. (I use it all the time when I’m tired of my same old recipes!) There are handfuls of websites and blogs dedicated to posting healthy recipes. It’s up to you to find ones you like! Once you’ve set a loosely structured menu for the week, it’ll be easier to head out to the grocery store to pick up your ingredients.
- Try your best to buy fresh ingredients. Go to a local farmer’s market and pick out some healthy in-season fruits and vegetables. AS a general guide to most other supermarkets–stick to the perimeter of the store. This is where you will find produce, assorted cuts of lean meats and dairy products. If you skip the middle aisles, you will be less tempted to buy that package of Oreos…and two of its friends.
- Easily swap out high calorie ingredients for healthy ones. Sometimes foods labeled ‘low-calorie’ and ‘low-carb’ aren’t the best for you because they use artificial sweeteners or have a higher sugar or sodium content. When sauteing anything, swap out butter and use olive oil instead. If the texture doesn’t bother you that much, switch from regular pasta to whole wheat pasta. Opt for 100% whole grain breads instead of breads that use overly processed white flour. To save a few calories here and there, consider switching from whole milk to skim, almond, or coconut milk. During dinnertime, opt for a lettuce wrap instead of using a tortilla or roll for meals that would usually be served on carbs. If you usually choose a sandwich for lunch, try to switch to a salad a few times a week. When it comes to dressings for that salad, choosing a lighter vinaigrette will save you a few calories than if you had chosen a full-fat creamy dressing like ranch or blue cheese. If you love your coffee like I do, try to take the healthy road and use stevia as your zero-calorie sweetener and nix your flavored creamer habit by using regular milk or half and half. If you like yogurt, try switching to Greek yogurt. The best kinds are plain and unsweetened, but Greek yogurt is better than regular yogurt because it is a good source of protein.
What’s your favorite health food swap? What has helped you lose weight in the past?
Check back soon to read up on the follow-up to this post where I’ll share with you 8 Tips to Jump Start Your Healthy Life: Exercise Edition!