1) I stopped talking about the issue and just started doing it. I did some research, dug into my basic common sense, wrote out a plan, and committed myself. I stopped complaining about the gym, I haven't discussed my results or goals, and I made this new resolve strictly about me and what I needed to do. Honestly, some of my friends want me to shut up anyway b/c they don't see any difference or realize I've gained any weight to begin with. So I'm doing us all a favor.
2) Increase, diversify, maximize and record my daily activity. I committed myself to start out with 3-4 days per week of varied exercise, which include circuit and strength training, cardio, and new activities (kickboxing, yoga, pilates included....which I absolutely love). I keep a calendar of what I do daily which keeps me motivated and disciplined. At the end of the month I'm able to see where I could've been and what I need to do differently the next month. I don't allow stupid irrelevant things deter me... EX: what my hair looks like will not dictate if and when I work out. I wrap, pincurl or pull up my hair with a satin scarf protecting it and keep it moving. Hopefully, it survives (which it usually does), but if it doesn't that's not my priority. I do crunches, lunges, squats, arm curls, leg lifts, pushups, dips and whatever activity I can while in front of the TV watching toxic reality shows. Every little bit helps and once you get the momentum you find yourself in a full workout just as intense as you would be in a gym setting. I take the stairs instead of the elevator, I walk instead of drive and all those simplistic things that really do count!
3) Calorie counting. It is sooooo helpful!! I know how much of what is going in my mouth and if it's worth it. When you start to realize a coffee cake for a light snack is the equivalent of a full course steak dinner then it's easy to say "I don't need that!" When you start to realize an 800 calorie slice of cheesecake is the same as 2 grueling hours in the gym on the elliptical machine then it makes that decision less difficult. You actually end up running from that cake! If the difference between a Chipotle chicken bowl and a Chipotle chicken burrito with the exact same ingredients is 300 calories then it's easier to choose the bowl. Pay attention to what you eat and it's caloric value ...
4) I added an array of unlimited fruits and veggies to my daily diet.... the fruit helps me with my sweet tooth and tricks me into thinking I'm snacking. It's also very filling...a half of watermelon fills me up like its an entire meal. I make colorful salads just about everyday for lunch...they look pretty and taste delicious, which makes that easy to eat. When I go to the grocery store I spend the majority of my time, if not all, in the produce section. There are no veggies or fruits that are off limit...I just throw them in the cart, everything I see. I load my cart up with them and don't leave any budget or room for bad foods. When I sit down to eat, I try to eat my veggies and fruit first so I'm usually full before I get to the heavier stuff and this helps me from overeating. I pack fruits, veggies, and nuts in my work bag, purse, car and I always try to grab a piece of fruit or something healthy before I go anywhere just so that I have it and don't feel tempted to grab something not so healthy and quick.
5) Cut out/down on processed foods, white carbs, fried foods, fatty meats, fast food, snacks and sugar as much as possible and I increase my intake of seafood and lean meats. There is nothing good about any of those bad things I've eliminated or cut down on. I replaced white bread with wheat bread, white rice with brown rice, and I don't even put any cakes, chips or processed foods in my cart so there is no opportunity to make a mistake. If I feel like I do want a snack I'd never buy a whole bag or whole cake of anything b/c I don't have the discipline to not eat it so I buy a single serving to eliminate my cravings. I rarely eat pork or red meat. It always makes me feel gross after and I have a hard time digesting it so I don't have the issue of overindulging. Seafood has always been one of my favorite foods so it works out perfectly. I generally order or prepare seafood and salads and then I don't really have to worry much more beyond that.
6) Portion control. Whatever portions I ate before changing my lifestyle around, I don't eat now b/c it was clearly too much...duh!! Even when I go out to eat, I've started asking for a box at the outset so that I can put half of my portion in the box and I don't have an option to overeat. I put one roll/piece of bread on my plate so I'm reminded that that's all I'm eating. I read the packages to determine what the appropriate serving sizes are and stick to it. And I try to stop eating when I'm full rather than when the food is gone.
7) Increased my water intake. I have a reusable water bottle at work and at home and that's all I drink. I don't buy any soda or fruit juices for my home. I keep my fridge at home and work stocked with fresh lemons to add to the water to make it that much more tolerable. I order water with lemon as soon as I get to a restaurant, even if I decide to order something else to drink later. I will allow myself a soda every now and again or on my cheat day.
8) Cheat day. I usually designate this day as Saturday. I love food and restaurant nights are my thing, especially down here in DC where they have the best restaurants. The last thing I want to be concerned with on a relaxing Saturday is what I can't eat or should be eating. So I try to loosen up and do away with some of the rules, even though a lot of what I mentioned before is now habit so even though I allow myself a day I typically do pretty well and if I don't it doesn't matter b/c this is my day to have what I please!! I do realize I need to keep this in check b/c some cheat days turn to cheat weekends and I can get very lax over the entire weekend, especially when I have my kids with me and we are just chilling and snacking.
9) No absolute deprivation; Moderation instead. I try to stay pretty disciplined and I'm developing good habits, but there are times I have a craving for certain things and if it's that serious I'll just have some or plan for that to be my thing on cheat Saturday but I try not to totally deprive myself of things I want. That makes it that much harder to stick to the plan and do things happily. And anyone who knows me knows I really don't do rules like that!!!
10) Stay away from the scale. It's been researched and proven that what you weigh is not always an accurate reflection of progress. The best way to measure success is by how your clothes fit and how you look. Also, I used measuring tape to measure my arms, thighs, hips and waist and plan to use that as a guide to where I started and I will use this to check my progress as opposed to the weight alone. I'm not saying you can't weigh yourself when you start your journey or a time or two along the way but weighing yourself every day or even weekly is unrealistic and discouraging. You can gain weight when you start working out from muscle mass and just your body settling differently or responding to new diet choices despite making progress (getting tighter, losing inches, flattening your stomach, and getting back into your old clothes) so weight checks are not always a reliable source.
So far, so good. I feel better than I have in years. I'm doing new things (kickboxing) and trying different foods and getting back in shape. I'm not sure what my overall progress is b/c I committed not to checking until early next year (that's another tip....set reasonable goals. Don't stress yourself out and demand to make huge strides in weeks or even within the first 3 months...that's just discouraging and stressful). But I do know I'm progressing very nicely! Some clothes are fitting again, my tummy is flat, my abs and butt are tight, my energy and enthusiasm is building, my digestion is better and I like the way I look. I wish it was faster but it's still progress nonetheless. What have you guys done lately that you've found useful to establishing a healthy lifestyle?? Please share! :-)