Healthy Lifestyle – The Way To Achieve A Healthy Weight…Without The Failure Of “Diets”

I was listening to a show this week (Sirius XM) on which the doctors were discussing weight loss, weight loss surgeries, and a whole host of diets (for the latter part, they were largely fielding questions.) What I appreciated most was that they really focused on “healthy lifestyle choices” beyond and above anything else.

“Diet” is a four letter word. And a BAD one. Diets don’t work for the majority of people largely because they are composed of meals, or supplements, or restrictions that aren’t going to hold up long-term. So yes…people might lose weight in the shorter term…but then they become discouraged when they go off track and gain it all back. It doesn’t have to be that way! 

Marketing sometimes has a way of presenting the false realities that such programs promise in highly appealing, shiny packages…but the fact of the matter is that our overarching approach is what will make the difference. If we can’t stay consistent over the longer term, it isn’t the “right fit.” 

Before you lose hope…there IS a right fit for YOU…you just need to uncover it.

Also important to mention here is that not all of the “diets” or programs out there bad – if a specific plan works for YOU, there is nothing wrong with that! The point is that it just needs to be a routine you can manage consistently…whether you are on the plan, or you go off it.

Some of the better known out there – for example, Weight Watchers – are going above and beyond and teaching people HOW to eat. Bravo! With Weight Watchers you learn portion control…how to do it, why it is important, and how to apply it even if you drop the guidelines of the program itself. It also teaches accountability. That stuff is really valuable, and it’s where a lot of folks go awry. How can you blame them? Seen portions in America lately? How about the marketing pushing more food for less money? It’s like, “why not, then?!,” right?  BAD NEWS.

I really believe that staying at a healthy weight can be reduced to a few key principles. In my mind, these are as close to “magic bullets” as you can get – now, they do take a little work and dedication, but they also result in the kind of “magic” that people are hoping for…and they deliver positive results consistently, and across the board, beating out any pill we can take.

Magic Bullet 1 – BEING HONEST and ACCOUNTABLE

The first of these is being honest and accountable. If we can’t be honest with ourselves, we are fighting a losing battle. It’s okay to say “I’m not where I want to be.” We don’t need to beat ourselves up, or bring ourselves down. But we do have to step back and recognize that we need a change, that it’s OKAY to need a change, and that change is achievable. It wouldn’t be on your mind if it didn’t matter to you, or you were feeling full of energy and the picture of health… The mirror is the hardest thing to face sometimes but when we do, we take full control of our life…meaning we can have what it is we are after. 

Staying accountable means that we not only recognize and admit to ourselves that we have room to do better, but that we really manage our choices. I think it’s fair to say many of us are our own worst critics and almost don’t want to admit what’s really going on. We need to remember that no one is going to punish us for being honest with ourselves, or for having the cookies we didn’t really need. But ignoring it isn’t going to get us on track either.

Magic Bullet 2 – LEARNING TO SAY NO

There’s a lot of pressure to love food in our society! Many cultures are food-centric – mealtimes are the perfect gathering place for friends and family, right?! Restaurants, bars, home kitchens, on holidays or for events…it’s were (and when) we tend to get together. But we don’t have to follow the masses when we order for ourselves…and we don’t have to go hungry either! If you are out with a group and they order tons of tempting appetizers, for example, you can always order something more healthy for yourself. While maybe not as tantalizing as the less-healthy options, you will have something to munch on that you’ll feel good about later. You don’t owe anyone any explanations or justifications.

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Along with this…when we are out and about on our own, we can also use “NO.” No, as they say, IS a complete sentence – and we need to stand our ground if we want change. It’s smart NOT to shop hungry, for one thing. It’s also important that we NOT buy thing things we know aren’t great for us – once they’re in our own kitchen, it’s easy to go downhill. When we don’t get it, we can’t be tempted by it. Period.

Magic Bullet #3 – IT ISN’T ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS…IT’S ABOUT FAT LOSS

The number on your scale isn’t always what you think it is… Because muscle and fat have different weight values, it’s possible to appear to be “overweight” on a scale and incredibly fit and healthy. Likewise, the number on the scale might read low, but the person (perhaps a slim frame) isn’t so healthy internally. When we think about Body Mass Index (BMI), however, we have a much clearer picture of where we need to be. These numbers, keep in mind, are guidelines…but they are more helpful as far as our overall health is concerned than the number on a scale (unless yours is fancy and calculates BMI!) 

A BMI that is too low will bring a host of issues with it, as will one that is too high. You can find a very basic calculator here, more about BMI and the mathematic formula hereand more information overall here and here. Or…you can head in for a check up and get a no-bullshit answer from your doctor.

This goes back to being honest with ourselves and really understanding the health concerns we might be unkindly imposing on ourselves. A lot of people called into the radio talk with questions about losing weight and the doctors we as much with me on this – it’s more about the fat loss, and getting to a healthy weight for our frame…which will then eliminate quite a few heath risks, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, among many…many others.

Magic Bullet #4 – EXERCISE

There’s no pill that can give us the kind of benefits we get from exercise. There just ISN’T. And, as the saying goes, there is no chance we can out exercise a bad diet. Tough reality check but…it doesn’t work that way, and it never will.  

Exercise isn’t an easy one for everybody but… We were all children once upon a time and I’m willing to bet we all played lots of games and ran around. Best part? We probably LOVED it.  

What changed!?

When did it become work??! 

It doesn’t HAVE to be work. That doesn’t mean you aren’t going to be exerting yourself – you need to push a little bit! – but you don’t have to be miserable. Treadmills, for example, are torture for me. Instead, I might jog outside…or go for a hike where I’m walking, but doing so on uneven (but beautiful!) terrain. Volunteer work is another way to keep moving without having to do something I can’t stand (like cardio! 😉 ) I get it in by default in that case – win-win!

Adding in music that you know will get you going is a great option, as is finding a friend to pair up with. Think about activities you DO like doing and be creative – if you want to start by hula-hooping, do it! Getting moving is sometimes the hardest part…but once we do, it doesn’t feel as terrible as we made it out to be! 

Nutrition is probably 80% of the overall picture…but exercise will keep our body healthy too, whether that’s keeping metabolism up, our muscles strong (and with it often our bones), as well as keep the heart and blood pumping the way they need to. 

Magic Bullet #5 – CONSISTENCY, MAINTENANCE…and NOT GETTING DERAILED

Consistency is absolutely vital to success (across the board, frankly.) Maintaining is WORLDS easier than having to play catch up, and it is a lot less stressful to boot. If we can make healthy choices for ourselves and stick to them most of the time, the few blips and foibles aren’t going to have much of an impact. 

Along those lines, we need to be sure that we don’t make a mountain out of the minimal impact a slip may have…because that’s a surefire way to derail. When we start to beat ourselves up for enjoying a special night out, or having a treat once in a while, we might go into “well, I’m not doing well, so to hell with this whole ‘healthier me’ thing…” Don’t fall victim to that downward-spiraling trap – it isn’t necessary. If you choose a less healthy option, just let it go. Enjoy that you could have it…and move on with your better decisions.

Wallowing in misery begets more of the same…and it’s going to be a lot harder later to get back on track. Hold yourself to sticking to the plan most of the time, and you will be okay. One or two bad meals aren’t going to add ten pounds. Keep doing it, though, and you’ll have a lot more work to do down the road to get your health back… The easier road is to stay consistent as much as you can.

Magic Bullet #6 – MAKING GOOD CHOICES

Society needs to get away from fad diets and stringent plans – if you have health issues and something of that nature is required, that’s okay. But for the average population, they’re not a great idea, and generally a recipe for failure…the last thing we want / need.

No one can say exactly what, when, or how cavemen ate their meals – we are speculating based on what science has discovered.  Some cultures seem to have less illness than America does, so we might take cues from them…but there are many other factors at play including environmental and inherent…so even then there’s room for speculation. Then there are the “anecdotal”s where a method worked for a few, but we don’t know why or how, or whether the same positive results will apply to a broader population…

Instead of trying to be stringent or extreme, or abandon one thing for in total embrace of another…how about using common sense? What REALLY matters when it comes to foods…?

Processing vs. Natural – the less processed, the better. Processed often means a departure from natural states, such as we get with additives like dyes and chemicals, sugars, unhealthy fats. These human-derived products (meaning we weren’t designed to process them) are unhealthy for the body.

Sugars – a category in their own right – are a massive problem. Eliminating sugars, or the bulk of them (especially the processed kinds, vs. a whole, fresh fruit, for example) will lead to weight loss pretty quick, as well as a likely change in energy, mood, even sleep. The more we can stick with “whole,” non-sugary foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, eggs, nuts, lean meats, poultry and fish, the better our bodies will behave. Your car responds to the fuel you put into it, right? 

Balance – we don’t have to eliminate certain categories completely when we eat a diet of “whole foods” unless we don’t respond well to it. For example, I don’t eat a lot of carbohydrates – my body has decided they no longer work well for it. When I do eat them, I have variety of symptoms that make me feel sick and uncomfortable…so I know they aren’t the right choice for me. It’s about learning what works for our own bodies (maybe some trial and error) and going from there…

Portions – This is a big one. I love big portions because I love eating food…but my body doesn’t really need as much per sitting as my eyes or stomach are suggesting! Sometimes it helps to have a lot of small means more frequently and to start the day with a good breakfast (if you can stomach it – depending on the time, I sometimes need food right away (if it’s between 3 and 6am!) or I need to wait (if it’s after 6am.) Everyone is different but starting the day with fuel is important so you aren’t ravenous and out of control later… 

Here’s a link to my own tips and tricks for staying full 10 Tips To Feel Full – Yes, Really! (Because Hangry Is Horrible!) because not feeling hungry makes a difference!

. . .

When we abide by these common-sense principles, we will see changes in our health, our physique, very likely our moods, as well as our energy levels, and definitely our overall health and well-being – it’s impossible not to.

Getting to a healthy weight and maintaining it is more about a consistent and overall approach, using common sense about the foods our body really needs to function optimally.

We don’t have to miss out on the fun (or good food!) in life, we just have to remember that moderation (e.g.: smart portions) is key…and maintenance is a hell of a lot easier than restarting all the time.

You have what it takes!!!

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Healthy Dining Out

No matter what your goals, or what your needs, it is possible to go out and have a filling meal.  It doesn’t mean it’s a perfect cinch all the time, but it is possible (there are times when I do feel badly about wanting basic, clean options – but none of us should have to feel that way – establishments are there to provide a service and it IS okay to ask for what we want.  That’s the point!)

I like to eat volume, and I like to eat frequently – most restaurants don’t offer the kind of portions I need (sometimes leaving to order two sides of steamed veggies!) But…that’s always a possibility, right?  

Asian cuisines seem to be one of the easier options for those looking for more volume because often they do give larger portions (or at least will ask you if you want a full dish, or a smaller size…especially with takeout.) So Chinese or Japanese is often a good pick for me.

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My “usual” is miso soup, and steamed veggies and protein – lately I’ve gone the seafood route with shrimp and scallops, but steamed or boiled chicken works too.  The only sauce I use is soy, though when I can see the label in a store, I might buy dumpling or teriyaki sauce (Asian sauces can vary dramatically in nutritional stats and ingredients so with my sensitive system, I’d rather have the option to check.)

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Aside from being great for your digestive system, miso soup is healthier, and filling starter – it definitely takes the edge of a hungry raptor (me 😉 ) So much so that I ended up taking some of my dinner home with me – having some left is impressive!

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Clean Eating 30,000 Feet Up

There are far too many reasons why I am thankful for my fiancé – I could enumerate at great length.  

Of the countless reasons, one is the effort that he always makes to be sure I have what I need nutritionally.  I eat very “clean” (there’s always room for improvement, but I’m not average with my dietary choices at all.)  I try to stay as clean as possible no matter where I am – whether in a car for hours driving back to my hometown, out to dinner, or on a plane, I do my best to tote along healthy snacks for when my hunger strikes.  And it WILL.  Sometimes faster than I realize.

A lot of airports and rest stops have healthier options these days, but I am also a volume eater – I’ve not been to a single restaurant who’s portion of vegetables is what I would have a home.  Generally, it is a fraction!  So, if I can stock up and be prepared, I definitely try.

We recently went on a family trip and the flights were about three an a half hours.  Given how much time you have to spend getting to airports, through security, and all that, though, you add a lot more time to the in-flight number.  

While on our trip, he made sure we had time to go the store to pick up some chicken breasts, despite all the other activities planned.  At the hotel the night before we left, he took the time to cut it all up and cook it for me – no oil, no butter, no sauce…just salt and pepper the way I like it.  He made sure I had a tupperware and veggies too, so I could have a full meal instead of just a snack.

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That kind of care and effort is something that I appreciate daily – I’ll never take it for granted, and I will ALWAYS notice.  The fact that someone cares so much about my health, happiness…AND hunger, is truly a gift.  When someone takes that time, always make a point of saying thank you.  Let them know how much you value that effort, because it isn’t as common as I know we all wish it was.  

Eating clean can be stressful – there are days when I wish I didn’t have to think about it!  But at the end of the day, the fuel I put in determines my performance, and how I feel – it MATTERS.  I’m thankful that my loved ones care as much about it as I do – it keeps me on track, AND from getting into hungry-mode.  (He also got breakfast and asked for fruit, so I had two cups of it to enjoy! ❤ )

#thankful

#blessed

#gratitude

For more Clean Eating

Fitness Humor – The Veterinarian Diet

Quite funny indeed…the dreaded cone. I saw another cartoon just like it.  Except it was to avoid cell phone usage…  

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The frightening thing is. . .people go to alarming lengths for fad diets.  You know the ones – boasting promises of losing fat without lifting a finger, and eating all the sugary, fat-laden, carbohydrate heavy foods you love?  I’m not sure I’d be all that surprised were someone to try a cone (perhaps in the privacy of his or her own home but all the same!  I don’t put it past people!)  

Personally, I don’t need any other reason to add wrinkles, even on my neck.  I’ll also find a way to shovel my veggies and protein down that thing so it’s a no go for me!  The cone won’t stop a hungry raptor – I need to make good choices from the start! Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 7.35.54 PM

5 Myths Sabotaging Your Diet‏, by Hungry Girl

Sharing this Hungry Girl post because I feel like these are some common culprits for people, and ones I hear more often than you might think – this way, you get a chance to read the article in case you missed it, or don’t know who Hungry Girl is to begin with!  

In some cases I feel like these mishaps legitimately occur when a person doesn’t know a lot about nutrition, metabolism, or the role of exercise.

 

In others cases, though, it’s almost a failure to use common sense. . .  

Hungry Girl has been posting for several, solid years – what I appreciate about what she / the Company does is that they always endeavor to educate, remind, and offer some healthier solutions and alternatives.  If nothing else, the blog can help clear up some dietary misconceptions, and help readers to rethink their own habits, recipes and routines for a healthier, happier version of themselves.  

 

Staying Healthy When Eating Out

It is definitely possible to eat clean when you eat out – don’t let fancy menus intimidate you, peers pressure you, or options overwhelm!  

I’ve written tons of posts about eating at restaurants and on the road because the reality is…you aren’t always going to be in the safety of your own kitchen!  When you have goals – whether to lose weight, maintain fitness, optimize performance, compete…whatever – you know how important it is to stay clean.  Nutrition IS about 85% of it – let’s not kid ourselves.

Clean, however, doesn’t have to be boring!  Nor, equally important, does it have to leave you starving!  The whole idea is to set yourself up for SUCCESS, right?!

My family visited this weekend, and we had a three meals planned at restaurants – back in the day, that would have terrified me (having eating disorders is nothing short of being held hostage by delusional thoughts – it’s a living nightmare.)  Nowadays, I feel so blessed and thankful, not only that I can eat out and really enjoy it (sans anxiety!), but that my loved ones are supportive of my choices. ❤

One of our meals was in a restaurant that made Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives…so you can imagine, it wasn’t poised as the most healthy.  Still, ordering steamed shrimp, broiled fish (no oil, no butter), and plain, steamed veggies was a CINCH!  It was delicious, filling, and totally in line with my needs.

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Dinner was at a fancier place, where richer dishes are commonplace.  But, again, easy-peasy – basic grilled fish, grilled vegetables, and an appetizer with plain crabmeat.  Clean, delicious, satisfying! 🙂

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Breakfast was at a hotel…with an OUTRAGEOUS buffet! The majority of foods were ones that I don’t really allow on my meal plan, but there we also many healthy, wonderful options.  I ordered my usual poached eggs, snagged some boiled shrimp, and a bowl of fruit.  

I never like to eat too much in once sitting (I CAN, but I’d rather break it up – both because I know I can overdo it easily, but also my body can better assimilate the nutrients when I leave time in between.)

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So what preparations should you look for / ask about when you find yourself at a restaurant?

  • Steamed
  • Grilled
  • Boiled
  • Broiled
  • No sauce, oil or butter (or on the side if you must)

Trust me, they have been asked before so DON’T be embarrassed.  Sticking to what works best for you…and, most importantly, leaves you feeling GOOD about you…is always okay!

For more food-related jazz…!