Without Loosing Your Mind
When I graduated high school my parents decided they wanted to improve their health and lose some weight. I realized I had gained some weight myself after quitting theater and I thought I would support my parents and try to lose a few pounds. While parents bought a diet system package that came with pre-made food, I went and bought some healthy produce and whole grains for me to eat.
The date arrived when we began dieting and I began eating my healthy food. The results I saw astounded me, but to paint a more complete picture, let me give you an idea of what I would eat before I began dieting.
A typical day for me in 2012:
- Breakfast: 16 oz glass of chocolate milk
- Snack: Apple
- Lunch: Chicken nuggets and a shake
- Snack: Avocado
- After school snack: 12 oz of milk with 6 oreos
- Dinner: Homemade casserole with a side of buttery corn (2+ big helpings of each)
- Dessert: Ice cream or milkshake
I was legitimately baffled how it possible that I had gained weight during my senior year, haha! Like, “what? My choices bring consequences?!” Haha!
So, while I made a few good choices during the day (an apple, avocado, and a homemade meal is pretty much always healthier than eating out) clearly my body was not getting what it needed to thrive! What started out as a diet became a lifestyle change when I began to focus on eating healthy whole foods and eating until I was satisfied (not stuffed, which was a big shift for me). I don’t like calorie counting and I do NOT believe in going hungry, so the changes I made felt so doable!
I was amazed as the weight began falling off of my body (I lost 40lbs!) I had always told myself that I was bigger boned but as I ate healthier I saw that what was falling off my body was fat, not bone. Holy cow! I also saw a huge change in my energy levels! At that point I knew I needed a lifestyle change, not a diet. I wanted to be healthier not just to loose weight, but because I wanted my body to work for me for a long time!
I started by adjusting my habits. I chose more whole foods instead of lifeless food (guacamole and tortilla chips instead of Doritos, a banana with peanut butter and honey instead of a chewy bar), asking myself “are you actually hungry or are you just bored”, drinking more water and less milk (milk was my addiction growing up if you couldn’t tell by what I ate in a day, haha).
If you really want to make an impact on your health you need a lifestyle change not just a diet!
Since then I have tried to do more and more research and make sure what I’m putting into my body is helping it. Let’s be clear that I’m not perfect at this or even close. The first trimester (ahem… or two) of pregnancy for me is eating anything I can keep down which is sometimes cantaloupe and sometimes Little Caesars cheesy garlic bread. I still eat whatever on Holidays and when I’m with family, but Neal and I are trying to move in the right direction and we feel good about the pace we’re moving at for now.
A lifestyle change can be daunting but the key to success is knowing yourself and taking it at a pace that is doable for you. Here are some tips to help you smoothly make the transition to a healthier lifestyle!
- Start with one thing at a time – Paleo, Vegan, Keto. There are a lot of ways to improve your health but you need to start from a place that’s doable. Do research and pick the direction of health you’re wanting to go in and make a few small changes this week. Do you eat out four days a week? Try to cook at home once this week. Are potato chips your Achilles’ heel? Buy a smaller bag this week and explore healthier snacking options. Don’t overwhelm yourself, if you do you’ll be more likely to yoyo back into old habits (and we don’t want that).
- Put a veggie with that – About 90% of Americans aren’t eating enough fruits and veggies in their diet. 90% peeps!!! If you want to truly improve your health you need to get more of nature’s medicine into your body (I’m talking about produce y’all)! To increase your intake of fruits and veggies list the produce you like best and which ones you can snack on. Baby carrots, sliced apples, cucumbers, clementines? Put those in your grocery cart baby! Do you like roasted squash, or fruit smoothies? Get cookin’! Try sneaking veggies into your main dishes and anywhere else you can think of.
- Meatless Monday – studies show that reducing meat reduces risk of disease and increases health. Try cutting out the animal products on a regular basis (maybe every Monday), especially processed meat (i.e. deli meat, sausage, bacon)! The amount and type of meat we are eating now a day is very different than what people were eating 200 years ago. All the stuff they are adding to meat is not making it healthier. When you do eat meat try to purchase the “free-range”, “grass-fed” type, more expensive yes, but much better for you!
- Find a why – why do you want to be healthier? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to have more energy? Do you want to be able to play with your grandkids someday? Do you want to feel more confident in your own skin? Write down your why or make a visual representation of it and place it in a prominent spot that will help remind you to make wise choices. Look at this everyday and imagine yourself when you achieve that goal. What will you feel like, what will you do, what else will you be able to accomplish? Here is an example of something you might make…
- Focus on adding healthy habits – Eating healthier can be depressing when it feels like a list of I can’ts (no cookies, no chips, no bacon, no eating out)! Try instead to focus on what you will or can do. I will snack on fruit before lunch. I will choose Brown rice instead or white. I’ll have a glass of water before I drink soda today. When you do eat something unhealthy don’t freak out just focus on making your next choice a healthy one.
- Compete for health – if you are competitive by nature make that work for you! Recruit friends or family and have a health contest (this website has a great example of how to organize one). Create a point system and at the end of each week report your score. Everyone can throw $10 into a fund and whoever has the most points by the date you set, gets to keep all the money!
- Invest in health – when you have skin in the game you’re more motivated to follow through with a commitment. Having a hard time getting started? Buy a veggie steamer, a cute exercise outfit, or a clean eating cookbook. This tells your mind that this is important to you. When you buy it, make sure to recruit an accountability partner who will check in and make sure you’re using it!
- Convenience isn’t always bad – Make things easy for yourself, buy steamable frozen veggies, pre cut zoodles, or microwave quinoa. Choose convenient healthy recipes like this tomato soup or a delicious salad. Healthy doesn’t have to mean that you slave all day in the kitchen but it can take planning! Here is a list of 31 recipes that take 10 minutes or less to make (and holy guacamole they look so good <3)!
- Work smarter not harder – are you planning on eating salad, fajitas, and soup this week? Do yourself a favor and prep all of your veggies in one sitting. This will save you loads of time and it will also be much easier to choose eating at home the other days since half the battle is already won! Also try doubling the recipe and freezing half for next week or just eating the leftovers for luch the next day. This is far more economic and time effective!
- Make health exciting – I guess I’ll be eating salad with a side of salad and I’ll have water with some lemon in it for dessert. Umm boooooooring!!! You are never going to make a lifestyle change for greater health if your going this bland! Why not make some homemade cafe rio (yaaaaaaaassss)! Craving chocolate? Then treat yo self with a homemade Reese’s! Eating healthy does not have to be boring or nasty I promise! Just search “tasty clean eating” on Pinterest and scroll away my friends!
Well there you have it, some of my health tips! I know it’s tempting at the start of a new year to say, “I am going to completely change all of my bad habits”. Believe me that’s what I want to do every year, but just picking one or two of these things to focus on every month will help you more in the long run because one or two things is achievable, perfection isn’t (although there’s a lil voice in my head that would love to differ haha).
I’m not promising that you’ll loose 40 lbs or all of your aches and pains will vanish but you will improve your health and that is so important!! I can’t tell you how much eating healthier has changed the way I feel. I’ll also promise that if you make lasting changes you’ll be happier and be able to enjoy what you have much more!
You’ll notice I mentioned nothing about exercise in this post. That’s not because I feel exercise is unimportant (on the contrary) it’s just because it’s real tough for me :/ Please send me any tricks or suggestions you have for making exercise more fun and doable (I tend to like workout videos that aren’t super intense #nojillianmichaels)! Help me!!
Aubrea (the Noob)
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