When I met my current boyfriend some 4 years ago I was in great shape. Somewhere among the nights of late night dinners and having “just a taste” of just about everything he eats I found myself 25 lbs heavier and feeling disappointed in myself. Fast forward 3 months and I’m down 15 lbs, have a gym membership, and am over halfway there to my goal weight. Here are some of my hard learned lessons (because I ALWAYS learn the hard way). Hopefully they can help any of you struggling with weight loss.
1. Always look at the calories in your appetizer. I find that I’ve often derailed my diet through “just a bite of this and a nibble of that”. Going out it was the bread basket and a shared appetizer consisting of 3 or 4 choices. Staying in it could be any frozen appetizer you could toss in the oven. Just last night my boyfriend brought home frozen jalepeno poppers. There were 14 in the box and each were 100 calories. I settled for one, had I NOT read the box I would have eaten at least 4 (they’re so tiny). Always read first, never read after already eating. Lesson learned.
2. Read the nutritional information of frozen or prepackaged foods before even putting them into your grocery cart. We’ve all been there, long day at work. Nothing in the house for dinner. That frozen lasagna really calls your name. Problem is: that frozen lasagna is 350 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 36 grams of carbs (bad carbs) per serving, and you plan to have at least 2. Instant diet fail. Take an extra 5 minutes reading the information and chose the healthiest pick. You won’t be sorry.
3. Know what you want to order before getting any alcoholic beverages. I’m OCD. I also cant make up my mind. I look at menus before going out because it just takes me so darn long to order. If you don’t have time to check before going out thats fine, but please be sure to scan the menu before placing your drink order or sitting at the bar. The worst thing you can do is drink before ordering if you plan to eat healthy because honestly that cheesy pasta you told yourself you could resist? Yeah alcohol says “screw it” and orders double. Just don’t.
4. Alcohol adds up. Me and Elliott made a stupid, drunken, new year’s resolution. Now, don’t laugh- we decided to be more choose y with out beer drinking- i.e. we wanted to start drinking craft beers not just the mass manufactured popular brews. Fast forward 4 beers into our IPA variety pack and I realize that each one is 230 calories. That added up to over 900 calories in one night. Pleas be wary of this as fruity mixed drinks are often no better and are loaded with sugars. Try red wine (good for the heart) and keep the drinking to a minimum.
5. Binge wisely. I would rather have one bite of something truly satisfying than 20 bites of mediocre food. If your craving chocolate, eat chocolate! Just keep it to one square. Two if you’re feeling sassy.
6.You MUST exercise. I don’t care if you hit the gym, go for a half mile run down the road, do the 30 day squat challenge (worked wonders for me) 10 minute ab DVDs 15 minutes of yoga. Do anything as often as you can because not only will it improve your metabolism but it is great for your mind and improves your body’s overall function.
7. Feed your body. Ever wake up with a hangover and crave some vitamin-filled orange juice? There’s a reason for that! Sometimes I’ll crave cheese, or peanut butter and i’ll know my body is craving fat or calcium. What are you craving lately? Analyze your diet and see if you’ve been skimping on any particular category (fat, healthy carb, iron, vitamins) and snack on foods that are within those categories. Moral of the story: your body will tell you what it needs, its up to you to listen to it. Eat good, feel good.
8. Plan your meals.. at least some of them. In an ideal world you would have time to workout, complete a 10 hour work day, then go home and clean the house and cook a perfect meal from scratch. In reality, it can be much harder than that. But it IS important to plan some critical meals ahead of time. Knowing what you plan to eat and having it easily at hand can save your diet. Find a quiet day, make a healthy grocery list, and plan out a few meals. Know you’ll be working late Wednesday? Make sure you have an easy meal planned for then.
9. Stop making excuses. This one is personal for me, and very self explanatory. You haven’t gained weight because of any one reason but more a combination of things. You haven’t lost weight because you haven’t addressed those reasons why you’ve gained weight. Find your weaknesses and attack them, I promise you’ll see improvement.
10.Don’t let your “budget” stand in the way. I’ve heard numerous people say “eating healthy costs too much”. There are plenty of ways to eat healthier and still stay on budget. Just last week I made a red cabbage and chicken soup with white beans that was incredibly healthy (lean chicken, red cabbage, protein filled beans) and under 10$ to make. Plus, I have about 10 servings of leftovers in the freezer (thank you rule 8). It is possible, if you need inspiration go to skinnytaste.com or cookinglight.com. They have easy, healthy, meals that can be prepared for a low cost.
9. Snacks and drinks count, make the most of them. So youre starving at work and get a bag of cheetos (guilty pleasure) from the vending machine? 300 calories and an hour later you’re still hungry. Add a mountain dew and youre at 450 calories of sugar and fat. Instead try snacking on sustainable energy filled foods like a slice of whole grain toast with peanut butter, carrots and hummus, or almonds, keep them at hand if you feel yourself hungry. As for drinks, if you’ve locked in your 8-10 glasses of water already then feel free to reach for unsweetened tea or a low sugar smoothie.
10. Exercise in a way that you enjoy. Hate running? Don’t bother. Your workouts should be fun and motivating if you intend to stay on track. I prefer dance classes, home yoga, and outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or rollerblading. Find what you like to get moving and keep moving. Might i recommend joining a recreational sports league?
Thats all, hope ive helped.