Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Top 10 Get Healthy Tips

I want to preface this post by saying that these tips are entirely based on my experiences and just because this works for me, it might not work for you, or you might not even agree with what I'm doing. Most of these tips are nothing new and thousands of books will tell you the same things. However, a lot of people have asked what I've been doing to lose weight so that is why I put this together. And now, my top 10 get healthy tips!

1. Make the decision you want to change your lifestyle
This is the most important tip I have. You can do tips 2-9 but if you haven't fully committed to 1, it will never last. This is why every doctor says that diets are temporary and the only way you can have long term results is through a full lifestyle change. It takes a lot of commitment to eat healthfully. It is a lot easier to go to McDonalds than make a healthy meal, but it is obviously not the best choice. It's all about choices and making good ones is the hardest part.

For me, when we started talking about when we were going to start a family I just felt that I wasn't taking the best care of myself and that things would only get more complicated once we had a child and that I owed it to myself and my future children to be healthy so I can provide a good example. My doctor encouraged me to lose 50 pounds before we started trying to get pregnant as well.

2. Drink lots of water and nothing else
Now I know this is not rocket science and nothing new, but drinking water is one of the best things you can do for your body. It helps you flush out all the bad by-products when fat breaks down in your body. Water also helps you feel full for longer. Many times if you feel hungry, you are really thirsty, so try drinking a glass of water first. The other part of this is not drinking soda or juices with high sugar content. Liquid calories are very sneaky and things you may not think about. Also, it has been proven that drinking diet soda actually stimulates hunger and you tend to eat more after drinking it. Juices that are high in sugar essentially just turn into calories and then fat. I was never a big juice or soda drinker, so this is not that hard for me to stick. I drink only water and then milk at dinner time.

3. Eat breakfast everyday
This is probably the second most important tip on this list. Eating breakfast is pivotal in losing weight. It jump starts your metabolism in the morning so you are burning calories more efficiently throughout the day. You also tend to eat less during the day if you eat breakfast. A lot of people say that eating breakfast makes them hungry before lunch and that is proof that it is speeding up your metabolism. Making good breakfast choices can make you feel fuller as well. Every morning I start with a breakfast sandwich that consists of a whole grain english muffin, egg whites and either turkey sausage or a piece of canadian bacon. I usually have an apple or a banana as well. Around 10:30 I usually have another piece of fruit to keep my metabolism going and then have lunch around 12:30. Eating more often during the day actually helps you lose weight, who knew you could eat more and weigh less!   

4. Get moving!
For me personally, changing my eating habits and watching calories will only help me lose weight for so long. I absolutely have to workout in order to keep dropping pounds. When I first started changing my eating in November I waited about 3 weeks before I started building workouts into my routine. They say it takes 21 days to build a habit so I wanted to change only 1 thing at a time. I workout 4 days a week for about 40-45 minutes. It's really hard for me to have the energy and time to workout during the week because of my work schedule so I only workout Tuesdays and Thursdays and then Saturday and Sunday. It really works for me; as soon as I started working out, the pounds started melting off.

5. Don't deprive yourself
I think one of the dumbest things you can do is try to go on some crash diet totally eliminating carbs or trying to eat salads or baked chicken every night. You will only be able to sustain that kind of diet for a very short period of time. Instead if you choose a balanced diet you can eat what you want for the most part. That's where working out comes into play too. If you want to splurge that day, make sure you burn some extra calories to account for the calories you are going to consume. If I really want something like pizza, I have it. Except instead of eating a medium sized pizza, I will have 2 or 3 small squares of pizza and a salad alongside it. Also, when we go out to eat, I usually cut whatever I ordered in half and push it to the side.

6. Track your progress diligently
They say you should only weigh yourself once a week but I find that weighing myself everyday really keeps me on track and keeps me motivated. I love that after a hard workout I can see that I'm half a pound lighter. On the flip side, seeing after a night out I'm a pound heavier enforces my need to drink a lot of water the next day to flush out the salt from eating out. The scale doesn't scare me anymore, its a big source of motivation for me to see my hard work pay off. I also take my measurements regularly to see my progress and taking pictures of yourself is another way to see the difference and increase your motivation.

7. Pinpoint your weaknesses
This was really important for me. In order to change your habits you have to realize the bad ones you currently have. I really didn't eat that bad to start with. I didn't really eat fried food, I don't like fast food, a lot of the crutches people have I didn't have. My biggest problems were portion sizes, cheese and ice cream. I love to cook and bake but I would make too much food and eat too much of it. I wasn't listening to my body when it was telling me it was full, I would just keep eating because it tasted so good and I acted like I would never eat it again. I have cut my portions probably by 2/3. It has made all the difference. My other weaknesses were cheese and ice cream. I would put cheese on everything and eat way too much of it. The same goes for ice cream. I would have it every night after dinner and I was eating 2 or 3 times the serving size. By pinpointing those specific weaknesses it has helped manage my calorie intake and in turn helped me lose weight.

8. Set realistic goals and an overall goal
 I could stand to lose 100 pounds but setting out to conquer something like that seems monumental. My doctor said he wanted me to lose 50 pounds so that was my first goal. I lost 10 pounds on vacation so when I came back it really got me motivated. It seemed so easy. Before I knew it I was down 20, 30, 40 and then hit my 50 pound goal only 2 months after starting. It felt really good. I immediately set a new goal of 75 pounds. Now being down 60 pounds, 75 seems so close. I am going to keep going until we start trying to get pregnant and up until we get pregnant. I will continue to set small goals and maybe I will hit that 100 pound mark! Even once I am pregnant, I will continue eating healthfully and not take the "eating for two" attitude.

9. Plan meal menus
Planning ahead when it comes to meal planning eliminates the temptation for going out to eat and making bad decisions. By having a strategy of your meals for the week you can make your healthy choices ahead of time. It also helps having a planned meal schedule for the nights I workout during the week. I try to plan a quicker meal that Michael can start while I'm working out or utilize my crockpot to have it ready to eat when I'm done. 

10. Bring your lunch to work
Along the same vein as having a planned menu for the week, bringing your lunch to work eliminates the possibility of making bad decisions if you go out to eat. When you eat at a restaurant, you have no control over the ingredients used, the amount of salt they put into it, etc. I bring my lunch almost everyday. If I go out it is usually only once a week at the most. I either have leftovers from dinner the night before or some type of sandwich with a piece of fruit on the side. Also, another benefit is that you will save money! It's not cheap to eat out everyday so you're helping your body and your wallet! 

So if you're still reading, congratulations, it was a long post! I hope this helps explain some of the factors of my success so far. It actually helped me too; it reminded me of all the positive changes I've made and I will continue to follow my own advice!

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