Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I bumped into an acquaintance at the supermarket this week I hadn't seen since last year. Her eyes bulged out of her head when she saw me, she barely recognized me. It's at times like these that I realize my weight loss has been truly drastic. The #1 question asked of me is, "How did you do it?" This question seems rather odd to me, as I believe the majority of the public is already well aware of how to lose weight, it's actually putting it into practice that is off-putting to many. Perhaps the question does warrant a lengthier explanation, so to answer the age-old question in a more precise manner, I bring to you my methods. In doing so, please note my plan worked for me and I can't guarantee it'll work for you. Also, I don't make any money off my blog so any products I may mention are simply personal preferences I felt willing to share. I lost weight as a personal goal, not to please others. I encourage all of you to make positive changes in your life and silence your inner critic. I feel great since my weight loss. If it's something you want to do for you, go for it.
In a rare breach of privacy, I bring to you the following - an admission that I was an emotional eater and junk food addict, that I lost massive amounts of weight in a short time span, and the story of how I did it.
It was 2008. I was going through a particularly horrendous time in my life emotionally, and it reflected in my habits. I found comfort in eating copious amounts of food; the less healthy, the better. While I didn't realize it at the time, my lack of nutrition and healthy habits increased the fluctuations of my moods and contributed to making life far worse for me than need be. A personal tragedy made me further aware that time was short, life was precious, and I needed to get myself together and feel better. Deep down, I believe we are all aware of the changes we need to make... it's finding the strength and willpower to do it that proves the most challenging.
From personal experience, I've found several personal motto's that I believe to be truthful and helpful:
#1: You are what you eat.
I never understood this expression when I was younger. I learned the hard way. This is sort of another take on the karmic belief that what you put out into the universe comes back to you. Eating and living in an unhealthy manner will result in an unhealthy you.
#2: Change is possible. The first step is BELIEVING.
Never underestimate the power of belief. Most people I know that have talked about weight loss come up with a great deal of reasons to procrastinate or to believe that it isn't going to happen. 'Well, I've tried before and it didn't work.' 'Maybe one day I will.' 'The universe made me this way.' I know right away said people won't lose the weight and do what needs to be done. The first step to change is realizing one needs to take place and to take personal responsibility. The second is BELIEVING change is possible. The rest will come, but only if you truly believe it can and will. Out of the firmness of that belief comes the willpower.
#3: Don't "diet".
Diets never work. People lose the weight only to rapidly put it on again. I don't call my eating habits a "diet", I call them a "lifestyle". It's a personal commitment, not a temporary fad.
I also have a few additional weight loss tips to share prior to delving deeper into my tale...
#1: The most valuable tip I ever heard about committing to a healthier lifestyle was to "fall in love with it". Go to supermarkets, pick up new things you've never tried, read the health magazines that are available near your health supermarket entrance or exit, you'd be amazed at the information they provide. Read about health, educate yourself about it. Own it. Get yourself excited about it or find new ways to change your perspective. Discover your alternative healthy supermarkets. If you stick to local, note that even WalMart is carrying a larger selection of all-natural and organic produce.
#2: Be patient. You won't see the results immediately. Trust the process and that it's working.
#3: SPEED UP YOUR METABOLISM.
You can do this by eating multiple times a day, at least 5 or 6 times. Meaning three meals and healthy snacks in between every few hours.
#4: Eat until you are satisfied, not until you are full.
If you can be responsible about it, you are allowed to eat something less than healthy once in a blue moon, and not feel horrible about it. If you don't allow yourself a little wiggle room once in a while, you aren't going to stick with it. Be responsible about your health and a little splurge every now and then won't hurt too much. Bring someone with you if you are going to have a desert and take a bite or two to satisfy any cravings, share the rest of the desert so you don't have to eat a whole thing.
#5: Tailor your food and exercise lifestyle to your liking.
Don't force yourself to eat foods you dislike, choose the fruits, veggies, etc. that you can actually stick to eating and enjoying. You don't have to suffer to eat delicious food and stay healthy. Stick to exercises and sports you enjoy, don't force yourself to do things you can't stand or it won't last.
Weight loss tip #6 (and a few extra pointers):
Eat at home. Restrict eating out to at least once a week. It'll save you a lot of money and loads of calories. Contrary to what your mother says, you don't have to eat everything on your plate. And certainly, not all at once. Bring home a doggie bag at restaurants. If you are on the road and think you have to eat junk food to get something quick, don't compromise your health for quick calorie intake. Many fast food chains now offer healthier alternatives and substitutions, i.e. apples instead of fries, etc. I find that purchasing kids meals is a great way to limit portion size and calories when you do splurge, same as kids packs at the movie theater. No, they won't ask for your ID! Eat before you go to the movies, ask for a cup for water while there. Instead of fast junk food, swing inside your gas station while pumping up. They have fruits available as well as ready-made sandwiches, such as your basic turkey-cheese for less than 250 calories. Who said convenience has to be bad?
Weight loss tip #7:
Drink lots of water. At restaurants, instead of asking for a multitude of drinks, stick with plain water. You'll be surprised at how much money is shed off your dining bills. Not to mention, the more water you drink at mealtime, the less food you'll eat as your stomach will have less room. Avoid sodas, even diet soda, which is loaded with aspartame. There are water calculators online that give you a rough idea of how much water you should drink daily for your size. When it comes to drinks, I stick with water and natural/low-cal fruit juices.
Eat organic and all natural where possible. It's not just a fad, the long term health benefits add up when you stay away from additives, preservatives, pesticides, hormones, etc, which cumulatively lead to numerous cancers and trips to the hospital. Yes, there are organic fries, burgers, etc. Note that these are healthier, but they are still what they are. Just because you see an organic chocolate chip cookie doesn't mean it isn't loaded with the usual calories!
READ LABELS. THOROUGHLY. Take into account serving size when adding up calories.
Even fast food restaurants now offer calorie counters on their websites. The next time you are craving that Burger King mega-meal, check the site first, do the calculations, and you might just talk yourself out of it.
WHAT TO EAT
Humans are as diverse as it gets, do what works for you. I am mentioning some of my favorites and general thoughts on mealtime, again, tailor to meet your own liking.
They say this is the most important meal of the day. I'll be the first to admit I was never fond of having breakfast, so I found ways to do it while 'on the go'. Which generally means a healthy granola bar like Kashi, and some sort of yogurt, fruit, or smoothies. If it's cereal you want, there are plenty of healthy and inexpensive brands available at health food stores that are low in sugar. Instead of regular milk, try soy milk, almond milk, or rice milk.
The wonder that is "the smoothie".
Smoothies are fantastic and very easy to make. My recipe consists of:
-a bag of frozen fruit (there are all sorts of combinations possible. Your supermarket most likely has a mixed concoction, such as mixed berries or some sort of tropical blend)
-a scoop of rice or soy-based ice cream, as opposed to dairy) to thicken
-powders/granules (You can toss in all sorts of healthy things in a smoothie you can't taste, such as whey protein powder. I also use lecithin granules (soy) and bee pollen, which comes in granule form) for extra vitamins, protein, etc. There are numerous vitamin powders and combinations available, chose those that meet your particular needs.
-one bottle of all natural fruit juice (apple, pineapple, etc)
All of this should fit into your blender, and should make three servings worth. There are great smoothie bottles you can buy, I recommend filling three of them up and keeping them in your refrigerator for the week so you can grab and go if you have a busy day or not hassle yourself in the morning with preparation. Smoothies are quick to make and very healthy.
Other breakfast items I enjoy are apple slices with nut butters (such as almond butter, etc).
Note that there are healthier versions of breakfast foods available on the market, feel free to make substitutions. For example, if you are a bacon lover, choose turkey bacon instead. It's tasty and has half the fat. Health food stores should offer you a number of organic sausages, buckwheat pancakes, etc. You don't have to sacrifice the foods you love, find substitutions or alternate versions that provide great taste and healthy benefits.
Lunch should be your largest meal of the day. I recommend making your lunch meals in advance and leaving them in tupperware in the fridge so you can grab and go in the morning and not be tempted to eat lunch out.
I will confess to having a love of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which I often choose as a lunch possibility. I chose jelly that is sugar-free, organic, all natural, etc. and peanut butter with extra health benefits, such as Naturally More, which is high in fiber. The best solution I've found to yummy sandwich bread is Arnold Wheat Thins. They are literally miraculous. Only 100 calories and available in flavors from Honey Wheat to Multi-Grain and Whole Wheat, they are inexpensive, come in decent size packs, stay fresh in your fridge, and are just the right size for portion control and are very tasteful. Many brands have jumped on the bandwagon with similar products. They have so many purposes it's astounding - you can toast them and spread nut butters or jams on them for breakfast, you can turn them into lunch sandwiches, or use them as hamburger buns.
Make sure to have your final meal several hours prior to bedtime. No midnight snacks!
Fruits, honey glazed almonds, nuts, seeds, organic apple sauce, fruit cups (beware high sugar content), yogurt (particularly greek yogurt), salads (watch the dressing!), Quakers cheddar cheese mini-cakes, etc.
I eat a small portion of light or reduced-fat cheese every day, such as a mini-Babybel cheese wheel or mini-cheese wedge on light crackers.
While I still eat meat, I eat it less. I have incorporated beans into my lifestyle. While baked beans appear to be an American staple at cookouts, I admittedly never made friends with many members of the legume family until recently. Since I changed my food habits, I found that my body not only changed, but began to ask me for different things. Listen to your body, it knows what it needs. Apparently, my body wanted more beans and less meats, and being as beans are so high in protein. Watch out for the sodium in beans, aim for sodium-free and reduced fat items.
I was never aware there was such a large number of great-tasting substitutes on the market. As a self-proclaimed picky eater, I was wary of this concept. I have since learned this is a mistake, not only does eating healthy taste great, but I can still eat the things I like in healthier versions. Veganaise is one of the miracle substitutions I've discovered. It doesn't taste identical to mayonnaise though it has a similar consistency, however it has a very pleasant taste and works fantastic in sandwiches, deli casserole/salad recipes, etc. It is refrigerated and often found at health supermarkets. Meatless meat was an idea that would have scared me in the past, but I have found it to be intriguing. Who knew meatless meatballs really tasted like meatballs?! Don't be afraid to explore and try new things. You just might surprise yourself.
My approach to this is much like my approach to food - tailor it to your liking if you want to make it a habit. No one is going to force themselves to eat food they don't like or do exercises they can't stand if they don't want to. There's a fallacy that one needs to spend a lot of money to eat healthy and to lose weight. This is untrue. There are plenty of ways to cut corners at the supermarket (fruits and veggies don't cost that much, it costs more to eat out than to eat in, and you can even buy a baked organic whole chicken for less than $10 and turn it into a 3-day meal! Be creative.) and you certainly don't need a gym membership to lose weight. You can go for walks around your neighborhood, up and down stairs, take a hiking trail, bicycle ride, join a sports team, etc. Develop a new skill, practice a hobby, or find other ways to entertain yourself. Even at the gym, you can watch TV, read books, listen to your iPod, etc. Even taking small opportunities to stretch out your legs is great, i.e. taking that distant parking lot space, walking a few blocks to run an errand, even taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise a few days a week even for half an hour and you'll see a difference.
Good luck, readers! Weight loss is possible. You can do it. If you've been thinking about it... Get to it!
Posted by PopSpiracy at Tuesday, April 27, 2010