So lately, I have been getting questions about, well, everything in relation to Project Unfluff. Tips on ways to incorporate better eating into every day, advice on starting Weight Watchers, suggestions on packing snacks and also my list of health and fitness apps I use every day. Soooo, I’ve decided to start-up a series of posts called Suggestion Box. As questions come in (hint hint, ask me stuff yo!), I will be sure to answer you right away but then carry it over to more detailed and organized posts so that they can be a reference to you all.
Real quick though: please keep in mind that I am not an expert! I dont’ have any certifications or training in nutrition or fitness. I’m just a girl trying to lose weight the old-fashioned way: healthy eating + exercise. I will say this though, I don’t believe in quick fixes so meal replacement shakes/bars/overall gimmicks are not my thing and on the flip side, I cannot afford an all-organic, paleo-ish lifestyle. I stick to fresh ingredients whenever possible and whole grains. I track my food and calculate points through weight watchers. I exercise 5 days a week now and all of those things combined have attributed to my success thus far.
Alright, glad I got that out of the way. Now onto my first Suggestion Box!
Tips on Getting Started With a Health-Conscience Lifestyle!
The first step to doing anything about changing your habits is to first acknowledge that you’re ready to change. Willingness to change goes a long way to really pushing through your first few hurdles. It’s not easy to acknowledge that you’ve had bad habits for so long. At first you might feel a mixture of shame, doubt, fear and maybe frustration. If you have a houseful of people who partake in the same lifestyle, these first few steps can be especially hard when they are not on board with you. Hang in there, remember that you gotta start doing these things for you if you really want to change!
1. Start tracking: before you make any dramatic changes, take a few days or even a week to just track what you eat. You can do this by grabbing a blank journal, opening a notebook app on your phone or downloading a tracking tool that can also calculate the calories you consume. I like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt. You will be amazed at how unaware you are about how much you eat, what you eat and how often you eat. And when I say track everything I do mean everything like that do-nut hole you grabbed this morning at work, that fun size bag of m&m’s you popped open after lunch, that large mocha with whip for your afternoon caffeine fix. If you’re tracking calories too, you might see some jaw dropping numbers. It’s ok, don’t be ashamed. The point is that you are becoming more self-aware. In fact after a day or two of tracking, you will more than likely start making better choices now that you’re putting more thought into it.
2. Start doing your research: What makes food nutritious? Why does every health expert want you to chug water and eat fruits and veggies all day long? Why is soda so bad for you? If it’s your first time around the health block, I’m sure you know that there are foods and drinks that are unhealthy but have you ever stopped to find out why? Do you know what a healthy daily intake of fats, sugars, calories, protein and fiber looks like? Do you know the difference between a healthy fat and a bad fat? Do you know how to read nutrition labels and what appropriate portion sizes look like? If not, it’s time you start finding out. Sure grapes are healthier than candy but if you think eating a 2 pound bag of them in one day is a health move, you might want to learn more about the do’s and don’ts of healthy eating. Here are a few websites to get you started:
3. Makeover your pantry and your refrigerator I cannot stress this enough! Whenever anyone asks me how we got started with healthier eating, I say the same thing: clean out your pantry and your fridge first then restock with fresh and whole foods. We really started doing this when we started the Fresh 20. The plan has a list of pantry staples you always keep in stock like brown rice, whole wheat flour, olive and grapeseed oils (both healthy oils), low-sodium chicken broth, whole wheat pastas, and spices. The rest of the ingredients you get for your recipes are then the 20 fresh ingredients you combine with your pantry staples each week. This is a pretty good model to follow because you can do the same thing like check your grains and switch them out for whole wheat alternatives. Chuck the vegetable oil for canola, olive and grapeseed oil. Get rid of the chips, cookies, sodas, packaged foods and replace them with fresh produce, nuts, non-fat greek yogurt, pretzels and low-fat dips.
4. Eat real food! Look, it’s easy to feel deprived in the beginning. In fact, you will more than likely have symptoms of withdrawal, much in the same way drug addicts experience discomfort when they stop using. If you are coming out of years of eating sweets and drinking sodas, you will get headaches and the shakes from consuming less sugar. Same with cutting back on caffeine. If you’re used to a very high fat, high sodium diet, you will feel like nothing you eat satisfies your hunger because you’re pulling your body out of an overly indulgent diet that has adapted to rich meals. I’m not saying you can’t have any of those things at all but I am saying that you will need to cut back and fill up on the healthier alternatives until it becomes second nature. It will take a while, but a banana and string cheese as a snack will do the trick once you adapt.
It’s also time to start cooking differently. Not everything has to be pre-packaged, fried or covered in cheese to taste good. Learning how to use spices and herbs to flavor food will help you enjoy your meals without feeling deprived. Learn how to make your favorite things using skinny recipes. I promise you that once you let yourself go through withdrawal you’ll start to enjoy the taste of fresher, whole foods. Here are a few websites we use on a weekly basis for healthier recipes that have not let us down once:
HungryGirl (featured on Weight Watchers e-tools)
5. Everything in moderation: If you have a daily soda habit then start small or you really will have a terrible time coming out of it. If you have a soda with every meal then start taking one away a day. One can of regular soda has 39 g of sugar and 140 calories. If you had 7 less sodas your first week, you will cut back on 980 calories and 273 g of sugar that week. That’s almost 2 quarter pounders with cheese or 70 OREOS! The same rule applies with adding exercise into the mix. If you’re truly starting from scratch with a healthy lifestyle, a diet makeover and daily exercise will be too much all at once and will overwhelm you. Get exercise where you can at first like taking the stairs at work or taking a lunch time walk. Over time, start challenging yourself to do more but again, all in moderation! Oh and eat a sweet or consume a glass of wine at list once a week! Indulge, please. You will lose your mind if you go cold turkey and besides, you’ll learn what a real treat is again when you’re having it less.
6. Finally, find a support system! I’m going to tell you something painfully honest right now: you might be the only one in your household that may want to change. Your partner, your kids, your parents, your friends etc. might not be on board right away. This can be really challenging because it makes you feel like you’re trying to swim upstream but you’re doing this for you! So if you don’t have support at home, look for other sources of support. Weight Watchers offers weekly meetings so that you can meet other people in the same boat. Sparkpeople.com is an incredible FREE resource that provides tracking tools, meal plans, exercise videos and a huge online weight loss community. Facebook, twitter and blog sites have been a great source of community and support for me and have kept me so very motivated and has held me accountable. Now in my case, I have always had the support from my partner and my family, but I’m an extravert and I get my energy from people so for me, the more people, the merrier! Since I launched this blog and my Facebook Fan Page, I have found a home where I can share my experiences, look for advice and share information that can help others get started too! We are out here and we are ready to cheer your fluffy butt on!
Here are a few of my favorite blogs I follow:
So there you have it! Now WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?
(my mom follows my blog now, sorry about the cursing mom!)