What's your new year resolution for 2013? Maybe it's to quit smoking, find a new hobby, work out at the gym, or, the most popular, to lose weight!
Let's first look at the word resolution. Webster's Dictionary defines resolution as:
1: the act or process of resolving: as
a : the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones
b : the act of answering : solving
c : the act of determining
There is no use for the word "resolution" for someone who is trying to change a habit or lifestyle they no longer enjoy and/or feel unnecessary to keep. I'm a big believer in using positive reinforcing words that attract people to change rather then confiding them to a mental jail cell. Such words like "diet", "can't", "don't", "shouldn't", "mustn't", "resolution" can discourage people from making an effort and deflate their motivation balloon. I love motivation, being motivated and having words in my vocabulary that push me along. Words/phrases like: "have this instead", "let's do it", "keep going", "push on" etc. Something so simple as a word can change someones mindset and thought process. Instead of calling it a DIET call it a lifestyle change, or mindful eating. Turn things into a positive and that can really give you a boost of motivation and drive to change.
So instead of a "New Year Resolution", I am going to label it "New Year Lifestyle Change". Since this blog is geared towards some type of weight-loss or maintenance of weight, I will not be talking about how to quit smoking or what new hobby you should be looking to take up. However, some of what I will tell you may be helpful to other New Year Lifestyle Changes that don't have to do with weight.
The hardest thing to do is start. Where do I begin? What do I do? How do I start? Last year at this time I had those same questions and even more. One thing I cannot stress enough is to start small. We've heard that saying, "Slow and steady wins the race"... no need for an explanation on that.
1. Start Small - No human in their right mind would wake up and do a 26 mile marathon without training for months first. So why put a huge demand to lose 20 or 50 pounds on yourself at the beginning of the new year? I could imagine some of you waking up on 1/1/13, going hard at the gym and eating two heads of lettuce... WHY?! Pick 3 small, achievable goals to start. For example, look at 5 pounds at a time, 20 minutes of exercise and eat more fruit and vegetables with every meal. Nice and simple right? And it is very achievable. Once you have mastered your workout and meal, then you can add more goals like maybe doing 45 minutes at the gym and eating whole grains instead of white. Bottom line is to keep it simple, small and achievable.
2. Eat what you like - Eat foods you enjoy. We have this notion that healthy food has to be tasteless and boring and you can't have fun with it. This is further from the truth. I admit that I hate to eat raw vegetables and that I would much rather eat something that tasted better. But I know that vegetables contain vitamins and minerals needed for our bodies to do its job properly. One way I like to incorporate this into my eating is to make soups, stir-fry, salads and vegetable wraps/sandwiches. I try to find clever ways to mask the taste of raw vegetables by using spices and other flavors that don't contain additives or processed chemicals. For example, try putting mushrooms and mixed veggies in with spaghetti and meatballs. Think of what kind of veggies you can add to your dishes to make them more nutritionally beneficial to your body.
To add to this, if you don't like the taste of tomatoes (me), then don't eat them! Even though they are good for you, you will most likely throw in the towel if you aren't enjoying what you are eating and will revert back to old habits. Maybe find a way to put small cubes of tomatoes in your salad instead of whole chunks or slices. For me, the cubed tomatoes aren't noticeable among the dressing and other flavors in my salad, so I can tolerate having them.
3. Have a long term goal - I know I said you should start small, but you have to know where you are going before you get there. Find your overall goal you would like to meet; mine is to lose another 40lbs. Now you have a direction. So, this is when you start thinking in terms of 5 pounds at a time and slowly work towards the bigger picture. You'll get there in no time if you stay on track and keep going. If you slip here or there, that is fine. As long as you can bounce back and keep going. It takes about 30 days for a new habit to be developed. Try something for 30 days or more and see if you can do it and make it work.
No one expects you to turn a switch in your brain to change a life style over night, so start small and always be mindful of your body and what you're feeling.
You go out, or stay home, with family and relatives you haven't seen in the longest of times, pile on mounds of food onto your plate like we are planning for the next apocalypse and eventually by your 3rd plate of food, you undoubtedly are now burdened with food baby twins, or in my case triplets. THEN!... While you are digesting, trays of assorted desserts, which seem to keep on coming, start to crowd the dinning room table and just when you think you couldn't eat anymore, you find yourself scarfing down cookie after cookie. Sound familiar? I know for me this is, or WAS, my typical holiday feast on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Sure, we can rationalize this behavior and say "It's only once a year, might as well enjoy it!"... but are you really enjoying that belly-to-the-wall, bloated, uncomfortable, fat feeling at the end of your feasting? I sure as hell don't enjoy feeling like my belly button is going to invert itself and "shoot someones eye out" (name that movie!).
I find this to be the hardest time of year for anyone trying to watch or lose weight. I know it's hard for me especially because I love the cookies and endless trays of food that are presented in front of me at my relatives. Not to mention I enjoy variety and when presented with all this food, I just want to try it all! How can we still indulge without feeling horrible by the end of the night? I have a few ways to help keep on the path of mindful eating through the holiday season.
You have to know where you are to understand and figure out where you are going. Sure, you can wing it, but you will have to back track at some point to figure out where you went wrong. To avoid that, you should set some goals for yourself to make it easier and give you a greater sense of direction.
Here are a few goals you can set and some motivative ways to get started and lose weight:
1. If you have a lot of weight to lose, it could be overwhelming to look at the whole picture. Instead, take your weight loss 5 pounds at a time. When I started, I was 295. My first goal was to break the 290 mark, then it was the 285, 280 etc... to lose the weight. This gives you small goals to shoot for so when you finally add it all up, you have a bigger picture and a smaller you!
2. Go shopping and buy an article of "goal clothing". I had mentioned this in a previous blog post, but it is worth mentioning again. Shop for a new shirt or a pair of new pants. They must be new as to help you with your goal. I figure you will want something to look forward to, not go back to old clothing, so put some cash towards your goal and purchase one article of clothing you really want that is one size smaller than you are now. Again, we are not looking at the big picture if you have a lot to lose. Think about a mountain climber. They don't start with Everest or Fuji as their first endeavor, they start with small mountains and hills then work their way up to where they can climb the big boys. So we must do the same or else we will end in disaster.
I was a 2XL and bought a nice XL button up shirt from one of the stores I really liked. Once I was able to fit into that comfortably without buttons on the verge of explosion, I went out and purchased another goal shirt. It may be a waste of money and it seems silly to buy something you will not wear again after you surpass your goals. Let me tell you, it is worth the $30 here and there to give you motivation to becoming a healthier person.
3. Keep a diary or free writing journal for yourself. Free writing is very stress reliving and is a great way for you to vent about life. You don't have to commit to writing every day, but it is good to exercise your brain and write out how you feel and what works for you and doesn't work for you. You'll be surprised what you may find out about yourself once you start doing this.
4. Have your cake, and eat it too. Enjoy your food! Eat cake and cookies and pizza, you will not die. Though, you shouldn't go buy a sheet cake and start forking it to death. Everything in moderation. Nothing screams failure more than depriving ones self of foods they love. People HATE to be told what they can and can not have, and those who are submissive to that tend to be depressed and feel terrible because they feel like they are trapped and can't have what they crave. Give yourself one day during the week that you allow yourself to have a piece of cake, or have an extra slice of pizza, or drink alcohol. This gives you something to look forward to during the week and you will be helping yourself to keep going. I usually make this the same day that I weigh myself, which is Friday.
5. There is no BAD food... eliminate "bad food" from your vocabulary. There are foods that are not healthy for your body, but if you categorize food as "bad" and "good", you will set yourself up for depriving yourself and feeling guilty if you have said "bad food". For example, I have friends that claim pizza is BAD for you. Next time I eat pizza, that little voice in my head will be screaming, "This is bad! Don't eat it! You'll die! You'll gain 300 pounds!"... so far from reality. Pizza is bread, cheese and tomato sauce. Nothing unhealthy about that! It becomes unhealthy when you consume 10 servings. One slice of pizza out of a week will NOT making you gain a damn thing. Again, everything in moderation.
Enjoy the process and look forward to each day of this journey. Be happy in your journey and don't give up! There is always tomorrow.
di·et - noun - a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one's weight. (webster)
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word "diet"? Restrictions, bland food, can't eat this, can't eat that, deprivation, starvation, boring? Any of these ring a bell? I hate the word diet, period. I've done everything from starvation dieting to Jenny Craig and had results but didn't follow through or succeed. In fact, I gained what I had lost while on it and ballooned beyond what I was before I started. So if not the word "diet" then what do we call it?
I use mindful eating and lifestyle change to describe what I do. Mindful eating takes brain power and some focus. It's about becoming aware and conscience/mindful about what you put into your body, how you eat, and what is IN what you eat. A plan which I find to follow this way of eating is Weight Watchers. I'll admit that I have used Weight Watchers and lost 35lbs while on it, however, I never stuck with it enough to lose all of the weight. Some of what I do now I have learned from doing W.W. but haven't been on the program for years.
I find it easier to be mindful when you are cooking at home because you can think about what you are making and have total control over how you prepare and cook your meals. It does, however, become more difficult when you eat out to be mindful, but it is possible. You just have to put you mind to it. Easier said than done, right? To start becoming mindful, you first have to start practicing becoming mindful, and the easiest place to do that is in your own home under your total control.
Cooking at home is hard for most people, but you can plan out your meals ahead of time and make it work. It's a good idea to have a core meal plan that you stick to that is consistent. I get asked a lot what I eat, so I am going to break down my core meals which I stick to for most of the week.
I start on Sunday by going grocery shopping for what I am going to eat throughout the week. I buy my fresh veggies and shop the perimeter of the store. The perimeter of a grocery story contains the least processed and most nutritional foods for you, so if you stick to the perimeter you can't go wrong! Then I come home and prepare my food for the week. I chop up my veggies and store them in Tupperware containers in the fridge for easy, quick access. Makes it easier for food on the go.
Almost every meal I eat has a serving of protein, a whole grain/carb, and at least 1 fruit and/or vegetable. I try to eat all of my colors of the rainbow from day to day. I don't count calories religiously, but I do make sure I eat nutritionally. I could count my calories and have 3 Big Mac's in a day and still meet the daily requirement, but 3 Big Mac's don't give me the nutrition that my body craves on a day to day basis. Here is what a normal day for my eating is: (note: I am using the times as a guide, I don't actually time to the minute when I eat)
9:00am - Breakfast = 1 serving of the following:
Honey Nut Cheerios or Raisin Bran (my carb)
Organic 2% milk (my protein)
1/2 cup of blueberries (my fruit/rainbow food)
1/2 cup of strawberries (my other fruit/rainbow food)
11:00am - Snack
1 Greek Yogurt
1 Granola Bar (without the HFCS and hydrogenated oils)
1/2 of a Banana
1:00pm - Lunch
Veggie Wrap which consists of cucumbers, zucchini, yellow, red, green and orange slices of bell peppers, dark greens, 1 wedge of Laughing Cow Cheese, honey mustard, whole grain wrap.
Sometimes I swap this with dinner or I have my PBnJ.
3:00pm - Snack
Mixed fruit: Melon, pineapple, orange, grapes, or anything else you want to eat that is a fruit! I sometimes add almond slivers to this to give it a crunch.
5:00pm - Dinner
1 salmon filet, about 4 oz.
1/2 cup of brown rice
1 cup of mixed veggies
I usually have two pans, one for the fish, and the other for stir fry/side dish.
I cook with 1tbsp of extra virgin olive oil or sometimes safflower oil.
I flavor with 2tbsp of low sodium teriyaki sauce, or sometimes I take a serving of my favorite jar of sauce (low sodium and fat/calories of course) and use that. Stir fry is awesome because you can sneak in all sorts of healthy nutrition. I usually add garlic and ginger to my stir fry. It makes the flavors pop and it tastes amazing. If you aren't into fish, you can use chicken!
7:00pm - Snack
1/4 cup of Mixed nuts: UN SALTED, NO SUGAR ADDED, NO CRAP ADDED!
8:00pm - Optional Snack
Celery and baby carrots with 1 serving (2 tablespoons) of dressing
Do not eat after 9PM. You can play with this 100%. You can have salads, and pizza and whatever you want. Just make sure you're being mindful and are realizing what you are eating. Pizza is a dangerous meal because people tend to over eat with pizza. Think of some ways to make Pizza more healthy. Maybe add some veggie toppings and see if you can get whole wheat dough. Most pizza places offer that now.
You may also think this is a ton of food, and you are right. But if you read my last blog post, it's about eating throughout the day and eating more. You WILL be satisfied for the whole day if you follow something like what I have above. I have tons of recipes and cool cooking ideas that I'll share over the course of the next few weeks. If you are motivated to do it, you will! Keep mindful and enjoy what you are eating. Being healthy and mindful doesn't mean your food has to taste like ass, you just need to know what to do to it to make it healthy and taste incredible at the same time.
Life would be much easier if we didn't have to work hard to get what we wanted. Well... life isn't like that at all. If you want something, you have to work hard to get it. For a toned body or to lose 10 pounds, you need to work at it and exercise.
I found it to be quite hard starting out with working out. It's hot, sweaty, sometimes strenuous but can make you feel like a million bucks once you finish. Not a lot of people have time, money or the drive to get up everyday and hit the gym, but once you see progress, then the reward is sure worth it.
I have a few tricks to help you get moving and motivate you to keep going back to the gym:
1. Little at a time - Don't start off doing crazy amounts of weights and hours of cardio when, and if, you start working out. Take it a little at a time. Maybe start with 10 minutes on the elliptical (elliptical is a low impact machine that won't be hard on your joints) for a few days and slowly add 5 minutes to it. Hey, I didn't say this will be a fast process and you lose the weight instantly. Not to mention, losing weight fast hurts your metabolism and your body's ability to maintain a steady weight. You should be losing 1-3 pounds per week at most. Though, once you start, you will see a lot of weight come off first. I like to use the analogy of boats; It takes more fuel to move a cruise ship than it does to move a tug boat. You will be burning a lot more calories if you are heavier and therefore will lose more weight to start. Just don't get discouraged or feel like you have to match the person on the machine next to you to get results. Go at your own pace and listen/be mindful of your body and what it is telling you. If you're on a machine and after 10 minutes you start to feel pain, stop your workout. Pain is NOT gain, pain is your body's way of saying "this isn't right we need to stop!".
2. Track your progress - This may seem tedious but it works wonders for me. I use a FREE tool called MapMyWalk to track my workouts. You can create an account online. They also have apps for mobile devices so if you decide to take a walk outside, you can turn it on and your mobile device uses the GPS to track your distance, calories burned and time. This is a great motivator because it gives you a visual representation of what you are doing and can help you try and top your last workout. I know I try to beat my time at the gym everyday so I can improve on my stats. Not to mention I feel great after a hard workout.
3. Weight yourself once - You all know who you are, you who step on the scale every day hoping that the number will miraculously plummet in 24 hours. Well stop that! You are causing yourself harm by doing that. Scales are a horrible guide to weight loss because a scale can't tell you if you lost fat weight, water weight, muscle weight or if your arm was chopped off. A 5 pound brick and a 5 pound bag of feathers weight the same, but are not made up of the same material, but a scale doesn't know that. It just takes a measurement. So why use the scale if it is so inaccurate? Because, it gives you an idea of the direction you are headed towards. The trick to getting an accurate reading is to weight yourself at the same exact time, ONCE per week in the nude. Resist the urge to do more than once per week. Pick a day that you would like to weigh yourself, my day is Friday, and commit to that time. Write down your weight and track it from week to week.
4. Workout Buddy - Nothing screams motivation then someone else working out next to you. You feed off of each other and sometimes try to top each other which motivates you to push yourself through your workouts. Find a friend, co-worker, family member, fellow gym member and create a buddy system that will motivate you to get moving.
I never said it was going to be easy, but if you are willing enough, these tips will be sure to help you get started and motivated to join a gym or even workout in your own home (which I don't recommend). A gym atmosphere helps to motivate you as well. With everyone there for the same purpose, you wont feel so alone. Happy lifting!
As we know, restaurants are notorious for giving us tons of food when we eat out, at least in America they are. I don't know about you, but I really love side dishes and having a variety of food to pick from when I go out to eat. We tend to consume a lot more food when we eat out, mostly because it is there and it's fun to nibble. Below are some sides and normal things a typical restaurant serves and some tips on what to do and some healthy ways to approach the norms of a restaurant.
1. The Bread Bowl - Gah, the infamous bread bowl. It's there, calling your name with a little plate of spreadable butter, just within reach. You can nibble and enjoy your conversation... WRONG! Hah, fooled you, bread and butter kills people when they eat out. Not literally, but most people eat the bowl of bread which has enough calories as their meal that they ordered. Nix the bread bowl or ask your server to not bring it so you aren't tempted. I know I'd eat the whole thing if it was there.
2. French Fries - Yummy fried potatoes. No nutritional value at all and is loaded with fat from the oil it was fried in. Who can resist french fries though!? A great way to have your fries, and eat them too, is to share them with your friends at the table. Nothing like sharing the calories with the people you enjoy spending time with. If you share your fries, you force yourself to eat less of them so you aren't so effected by the calories and fat. 5 french fries wont kill you, but a whole plate of them can!... again, not literal.
3. Soup & Salad - Everyone loves a nice hot soup with crisp salad. Buyer beware, they can be loaded with hidden calories and fat. Avoid cream based soups and stick to something with broth. Try to not put those saltine crackers into your soup, extra sodium and carbs make for bigger tummies. Salads, believe it or not, can be more caloric and fatty then your meal if you aren't mindful. Try to get salads with dark greens like spinach or arugula, iceberg lettuce is light green and doesn't carry nearly the same amount of nutrients that dark greens carry. Avoid the bacon and all the heavy toppings that are offered with a salad. The hardest thing, is the dressing! Order it on the side so you can regulate how much you are using. Fork your dressing into your salad instead of dumping the whole cup on top. You'll be surprised how much dressing you DON'T need to actually have it taste good. Less is more in this case. Again, try to avoid the creamy dressings like ranch, blue cheese, thousand island. Mind you, you CAN have these foods, I'm giving you healthy alternatives. You can have blue cheese, it's actually my favorite dressing. Just need to make sure you don't put too much or you'll be consuming more calories and fat then you want to.
4. Beverages - Biggest. Crock. Of. Shittle... beverages are empty calories. Soda and juice can really kill your meal if you eat out. I dropped soda completely from my life. There are alternatives though for those who can't give up the bubbly taste! I like sprite, so I make my own... how?... well that's easy. Order a club soda or seltzer and ask for a lot of lemon and lime. Squeeze your lemon and lime into your seltzer and then add a packet of real sugar. Yes, I said REAL SUGAR. The artificial stuff is processed, fake chemicals that is unnatural to your body and in fact, your body doesn't really know how to process splenda, sweet n low, or equal, so, you might as well have the real thing. And I know soda has sugar, so you might as well have soda right?... WRONG... Soda has aspartame and all these processed chemicals that are harmful to you. Stick to the natural seltzer, lemon/lime and sugar that I mentioned. You will thank me later, I assure you.
5. Salt Me! - You ever eat your meal and say, "Wow, I'm full, but this is too good to not eat the whole thing"? Something I do, and it may seem stupid but it works, when I get to that point in my meal that I know I am satiated and feel no need to keep eating except I want to because it tastes good. I open the salt at the table and dump a majority of it on my food. This forces me to not eat anymore. Waste of salt you say? I think not. When you get to that point in your meal when you know you are done, resist that impulse to keep shoveling and grab the salt and ruin your food. I use to trick myself into actually eating the rest of what was on my plate. Thoughts like "well, it's almost gone so might at well finish it." or "it's only one day"... phrases like this are terrible. They are simply rationalizations and manipulations of your own mind tricking you to getting that full, stomach-to-the-back-wall feeling. Feeling like your belly button is going to invert itself it NOT a healthy feeling. Your stomach is begging you to eat less, and it tells you that. So force yourself to salt your food when you KNOW you're finished.
6. The Doggie Bag - Order your doggie bag when you order your food. Once your meal comes, put half of it into the doggie bag to take home. You eat less at the restaurant, and don't have to feel guilty about what you're eating. Bottom line!
7. Children's Menu - This is debatable in most restaurants. Some restaurants have age restrictions on children's menu items, but that doesn't stop me. Almost every restaurant serves 4-5 servings of food per plate. One plate of food is enough for 5 people most of the time! This is because restaurants want you to feel like you're getting a lot for your money, but it's hurting your health. Restaurants serve food on plates that are massive and therefore you eat more. If you order off the children's menu, you will be ordering a normal serving of food for an adult. I have argued with waiters and management when I order out about the age discrepancy on children's menu items. I simply tell them I am on a special diet and have to order off the kids menu; I have never been denied this... EVER. Think about it, the restaurant is there to serve YOU. They would much rather have you spend 6 bucks on a kids meal then have you walk out the door, so order from the kids menu when you can to help your portion sizes.
I have many more tricks and tips to eating out and will be divulging them to you soon! Eat well, and be happy, until next time.
The one thing in weight loss, and life, you cannot live without, no matter what life style change or behavior/habit you are correcting, is motivation. There are two types, extrinsic motivation (outside) and intrinsic motivation (within). There are a lot of things that motivate people to lose weight which are extrinsic such as looking good and fitting into a smaller size. However, extrinsic motivation only takes a person so far. Intrinsic motivation relies on taking pleasure in a certain activity rather than working towards a reward or goal.
Our minds get bored very quickly and so we need to always keep finding and adding new goals and motivators to help us along. So here are some ways you can motivate yourself to lose weight/get healthy:
1. Goal Clothing - We need achievable goals to strive towards. People tend to want and look at the end result first and don't take the time to enjoy the process of getting their. I want you to go to your favorite clothing store and purchase an article of clothing you would like to fit into someday. Obviously, if you are an extra-large at the moment, do not buy a small as your goal; that is not achievable and you will not succeed. Take the clothing home and hang in it your bedroom where you will see it everyday and use that as a goal to get to. If you're an XXL, then purchase an XL to start. As you fit into the sizes, you can keep buying new goal clothing.
2. Photo Booth - Take pictures of your progress. Our minds are tricky and have an image of ourselves the way we think we look. We see ourselves in the mirror every day and may not notice a 20-pound difference that a friend or family member will see. I can tell you that after losing over 100lbs, I still feel like I've lost nothing some days. Far from the truth, but again, our minds don't help! So take pictures of yourself and compare them as you go along to see the changes.
3. Success Stories - This could either encourage, or discourage you from what you're trying to do. The best thing to have are other people who share and are going through the same thing you are. Check out some weight watchers stories or forums.
My reason and motivation was that I was pushing 300lbs. I never EVER wanted to weigh that much and I made a deal with myself to not get that high. So, I did something about it and found motivation.
Call me crazy, but you should be eating more if you want to lose weight. It is true. I'm not saying that if you eat 5 cheeseburgers you will watch the pounds miraculously fall off. Eating more frequently is what I'm really looking for.
Most people skip breakfast and have a normal lunch and a huge dinner. Or, some people just eat once per day. Even 3 meals per day is not enough. I try to have 6-7 meals throughout the day, spacing them out every 2-3 hours. This helps to keep your body busy all day long and helps your metabolism.
It's like your body is the Titanic. The workers below deck in the hull are like your liver and they constantly need coal to keep the engines moving and the ship going. If you don't put enough coal in, you end up having a slow moving ship and it sits idle like your metabolism. Put too much in and it doesn't work properly. If you put in a little at a time every few hours, you're smooth sailing... so to speak.
Here is my breakdown for a normal day. You can adjust times however you'd like, this is just a little template:
8am - Breakfast
10:30am - Snack
1pm - Lunch
3:30pm - Snack
5pm - Dinner
7:30pm - Snack
Try to incorporate healthy snacks. I usually have some kind of protein, a serving of fruit or vegetable, and a carb. So a snack for me would be a Greek yogurt (protein) and maybe a banana (fruit) and/or granola (carb). You can play around with what would work for you.
In conclusion, you may feel like you're eating way too much, but you will actually become accustomed to this and will feel fine!