Sunday, February 13, 2011

Nitty Gritty: Food

In the sidebar, you can see links that outline the general plan I have used to lose 70 pounds. Some of you may be wondering, though, EXACTLY what has worked for me. I'd love to share that so that you too can find what works for you!

Before I made changes to lose weight, I had convinced myself that I ate pretty healthfully. I didn't know how wrong I was until I really had to buckle down and eat less junk...and more veggies! :)

To lose weight, I ate around 300 calories for breakfast, 300 for lunch, 200 for an afternoon snack and around 500 for dinner. A few days a week I would have an additional 200-300 calories in the evening. I never ate anything past 7pm, except on rare occasions. To maintain, I am adding an extra few hundred calories a day, spread out between all the meals or as an extra snack in the evening.

I feel that it is important to make your calories count! Even when snacking or eating "treats," I try to make sure that my calories are nutritional calories and will be contributing to my over-all good health.

Below is a sampling of foods I might eat:

Breakfast: 1/2 c. plain oatmeal with 1/2 c. frozen mixed berries and 1/4 c. nut seed mixture
OR a scramble with 1 whole egg and 1 egg white, a few tablespoons of ham, 1/4 of a chopped bell pepper, 1/4 of a chopped onion, a handful of chopped spinach leaves, a tablespoon of reduced fat shredded cheese and 1 piece of reduced calorie whole grain toast with butter and reduced sugar jam OR 1 c whole grain cold cereal with 1/2 c skim milk and a banana OR 2 pieces of reduced calorie whole wheat toast with a few tablespoons of peanut butter and an apple

Lunch: 1 c of "healthy" canned soup with 1 piece of reduced calorie whole wheat toast and 1 piece of fruit OR a sandwich on reduced calorie whole wheat bread (with a Laughing Cow cheese wedge spread on the bread instead of mayo) with some lean meat and lots of veggies and some fresh fruit on the side OR a big salad with fresh greens (usually just spinach) and lots of veggies and 1/4 c of nuts, seeds and dried fruit on top with a very small drizzle of a reduced calorie (watch out for added sugars!) dressing with a piece of whole grain toast and some fresh fruit on the side OR a modest portion of left-overs from the night before with some extra veggies and/or fruit on the side

Snack: 1/4 c plain greek yogurt with 1/4 c nuts/seeds and 1/4 c frozen mixed berries....sometimes I do 1/4 c whole grain cereal instead of the nuts/seeds (this is my all time FAVORITE snack and I have it almost every single day) OR veggie sticks with a Laughing Cow cheese wedge OR 1 piece of reduced calorie whole wheat toast with a smear of peanut butter and some fresh fruit or veggies on the side

Dinner: a normal sized portion of dinner (made from scratch with whole, fresh, healthy ingredients) with lots of veggies/salad

Dessert: mostly fruit (cut up apple, sliced berries, a cutie, etc) OR air-popped popcorn with a small amount of melted butter and salt OR 1/2 c reduced fat vanilla ice cream

Some permanent substitutions I have made that have been very helpful are: I only use reduced calorie whole wheat bread (45 calories a slice,) I only buy fat-free sour cream (only 15 calories for 2 tbls for the Wal-mart brand,) I buy the Laughing Cow cheese wedges for sandwiches and dipping veggies in (only 35 calories a wedge,) I only buy reduced calorie cheese, I buy either sugar-free (as in only sweetened with fruit juice) jam or reduced sugar jam, I buy a stevia/sugar sweetener that comes in little packets (5 calories a packet) to sweeten my oatmeal or hot lemon water with, I only use plain yogurt for myself (they add soooooo much sugar to most yogurts!!!)

I am a grazer and this has been one of my downfalls since the things I like to graze on are usually carbs like dry cereal. If I get a huge big strong urge to graze, I do my best to have it only be fruits or veggies. Keeping a cut up apple or a bowl of washed grapes out on the counter helps keep me from reaching into the cereal cabinet!

I drink about 2 liters of water a day.

For me, keeping the kitchen clean is super important for me to be motivated to prepare healthy foods for myself, so I have really worked on doing little bits of cleaning up in the kitchen all day long to keep it clean.

Another tip that REALLY helped me with my food goals was brushing my teeth between meals and immediatly after dinner to keep from snacking!!

Mentally planning out what I am going to eat has helped me to stay on track with my eating goals. Knowing what I am going to eat ahead of time keeps me from feeling desperate and just eating whatever I want.

If you are just starting out, you may want to keep a food journal for the next few days to a week to be able to come to terms with how you are really used to eating. Then, incorporate the changes you need to make in small increments so they become a part of your new, healthy lifestyle! Choose one or two healthy eating goals a week (like switching all your grains to whole grains and only snacking on fresh fruits and veggies, etc) to implement, then when those are incorporated into your life choose a few more.

The most important part of any diet and exercise plan is to make changes you are willing to live with for the rest of your life. The goal is life long health and fitness, not just a short-term diet to lose some weight that will easily be put back on once you return to your non-diet lifestyle!! This past week, I allowed myself to eat sort of like I used to eat before I got healthy and it did not feel good and I gained a pound or two. Returning to the healthy eating that I know works for me and makes me feel good is what I know I will do, for the most part, for the rest of my life because I want to stay healthy and continue to reach new health goals!!

Some more "befores" and "afters"

The above picture was literally taken the weekend I got a serious wake-up call. I lost about 5 pounds that week, just from sheer exercise (hiking, camping, etc.) I was disgusted with my winded I got hiking in the mountains, how hard it was to hike through a nearby trial...just how fat I was!! I was not being who I really wanted to be. After this weekend, I sat down and got SERIOUS about making the changes necessary to become healthy and fit!
Who is that woman?? I don't even recognize her anymore!

Here I am today! I can't believe I wasted 12 years of my life looking like the woman in the top two pictures! It takes just one word to describe the way I feel now: LIGHT! :) Every aspect of my life seems lighter now! Moving around is lighter and easier, getting things done is lighter and easier, my mood is even lighter!
My life is not perfect. I still struggle. I still struggle with eating and making healthy choices. But I know that the changes I have made are permanent because I won't ever go back to feeling like I did 70 pounds ago! I can trust myself to maintain my weight-loss because the easy way (eating whatever I wanted and not exercising) did NOT make me feel good about myself and did NOT give me the life I wanted! I am excited about continuing to improve my health! I am excited about setting and reaching new goals! I know now that I can achieve anything and everything I want to work hard enough to get! You can too!! :)