Suggestion Box: Simple Rules

simpleDo you abide by some unwritten rules that have become habits in your weight loss/fitness journey? I do. I realized just the other day, that in less than a year, I do things completely different than I ever did before and my little “rules” are now second nature. Here are some of mine:

1. Never just stand on an escalator: with the exception of the people who don’t know the unwritten rules of escalator use ( stand on the right, walk on the left) and unintentionally block my way, I never just stand on an escalator anymore. I always walk up the steps (unless I have my kiddo with me). There’s no reason to just stand there if you’re able-bodied, the escalator is already putting you at an advantage over stairs, throw in the extra steps!

2. Never leave the house without a snack: I try to pack all my food for the day when I head out to work but if I plan on eating lunch out or it’s the weekend, I at the very least bring a healthy snack along for hunger attacks. A piece of fruit or a cheese stick is my saving grace when I’m not sure how soon I will be able to grab a meal.

3. Make fitness work for Y.O.U.: I used to get up at 5 a.m. to run. At that time, it was easy to do because it was new to me, I was excited to push myself and it was early spring and not hot. Now, I’m further along in my fitness and running is still great but not in this heat. Plus, because it’s not as exciting to me now, I can’t drag myself out of bed at 5 a.m. right now, so I don’t. Instead, I pack a gym bag every day and I work out at work. I don’t have to get up earlier nor do I have to leave the house after dinner for a workout. I pack it into my day, I get my hour in and I go back to work and that’s what works for me. If I hadn’t chosen to join the gym at work, I probably wouldn’t be working out at all right now.

4. Unless it’s alcohol, don’t pay for a drink at a restaurant: Water, water, water. At home, soda is a special occasion drink. We only keep water and crystal light or mio at home. Other beverages you’ll find at Casa Unfluff are coffee, tea, milk, almond milk and the occasional beer and/or wine. That’s it.

5. Don’t work out or eat something you really don’t want to if the thought physically repulses you: your body is trying to tell you something if the run you planned makes your eyes well up with tears. If the 8th salad you packed for lunch this week sounds like the grossest thing ever today, go out for something new, save the salad for tomorrow. Sometimes you just need a reset/rest day, so take it and push yourself tomorrow. Better than burning out entirely and waking up 3 days later after a Krispy Kreme and nacho bender.(that’s just an example, I am not speaking from experience but it sounds delicious.)

6. Take pictures: If you feel awesome today, take a picture. I have loads of selfies the world doesn’t know about but I like that I can look back and see the days that I felt and looked amazing. I especially like comparing those to my awkward, I-don’t-feel-awesome-just-fluffy-and-unhealthy pictures. Exhibit A:

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My “please don’t photograph me face”- 41 lbs ago
3 weeks go, werkin' it.
3 weeks ago, werkin’ it.

7. Be honest with yourself: If you track food or points then do it right and don’t lie to yourself. Not including something in your food log doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. So fess up to myfitensspal (follow me at ProjectUnfluff!)/weight watchers/lose it/food journal and move on with your life.*

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These little guidelines change from time to time but the point is, it’s ok to set up your very own ground rules. Only you know what your limits are as well as where and when you can push yourself beyond those limits. Don’t make yourself eat kale if you hate it in every way shape or form. If you hate running, then don’t run! Find something else that works for you that you enjoy and makes you feel good. There is no joy or benefit in making yourself do things you loathe, you’ll only give yourself reasons to cheat, slack or worse: quit.

This was a cathartic post to write, Unfluffers. Lately, I’ve been trying to take the pressure off of myself. It’s really hard to go 100% in healthy eating, fitness and all other life things everyday. So I’ve started to really focus on the things that matter (like these ground rules) just to take some of the heat off of myself. If I make it through at least half of these each day, I am happy. You can’t imagine how much better I feel already!

❤ M.

*If you want to learn more about tracking, check out Brooke Not On Diet’s Back to Basics post on tracking. 

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Suggestion Box: Meal Planning

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On occasion, I get questions from readers and Facebook fans asking what I eat and how I plan my meals. If I had to say what has allowed me to be successful with my weight loss, my number 1 answer has been planning ahead.

Like many others who have battled or continue to battle obesity, I used to have a huge problem with feeling like I was in control. I used to believe that poor eating and inactivity was something that happened to me because I didn’t have much time or I was on the road a lot (which was true about my first full time job), or I didn’t have the money for healthy foods or a gym membership or I didn’t think my partner would want to try healthy foods with me.  Well that was all a load of b.s. and when I began this journey last November, I realized that it was because I had no structure to my eating/cooking and fitness that I was unable to control my weight. I wasn’t making intentional choices about what I consumed therefore, I naturally had no sense of control. But to be on a plan like WW, or Paleo, or calorie counting, etc. you have to plan! Otherwise, it won’t work.

So Casa Unfluff did a massive overhaul of the way we planned meals and did our grocery shopping. At first, I had just joined Weight Watchers and I had access to new recipes, resources and a list of Power Foods. We started picking a few recipes a week to focus on and then filling in with snacks and easy to pack lunch options. This brings me to my first tip:

  • Don’t just plan your grocery list around what you’ll cook at home. Also include the food you will consume outside your home. This includes snacks, lunches and beverages. The idea here is that if you have pre-portioned, ready to go foods that are within your points/calories goals, it is much harder to get derailed by making last minute choices to eat out. Also, healthier snacks that keep you full means less grabbing of the office donuts or running next door for a bagel. Investing in items like travel lunch bags or coolers, water bottles and even plates and utensils you’ll leave at the office should be considered too. Here’s a picture of my drawer at work where I store my food related goodies looks like:

    measuring cups for portion sizes, snacks, tea and coffee, and you can’t see it but there’s even a cheap veggie peeler at the bottom for my bag ‘o carrots in the fridge!
  • When it comes to planning out your meals and snacks, think quality over quantity. aim for high protein, high fiber foods. These will keep you fuller longer! Here are my go-to snacks:
        • Hard-boiled eggs
        • Almonds
        • Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
        • Whole wheat toast with Peanut Butter and Banana slices
        • Oatmeal
        • String Cheese
        • Hummus and veggie sticks

Planning meals doesn’t always come easy, though! It takes a bit of coordination.

  • If you are very busy, have kids, or just need help learning more about cooking healthier recipes, consider trying out a meal planning service. Here are a few I like:

Unfluffers, you know I ADORE The Fresh 20 plan. It is the number one viewed post on this blog! Lately, we’ve been on a F20 hiatus because sometimes the meals take a while to cook and mancakes and I are pooped after work and starving and can’t wait until 7 to eat. But after following a gazillion F20 recipes for close to 5 months straight using wholesome ingredients, little to no fat and added sodium, we have been able to carry that on in our normal, day to day cooking. E-Meals is another great option that also gives you the ability to select meal plans for 1-2 people if you’re single or just live with one other person.

We’ve been using SkinnyTaste for all our meals these days. F20 also taught us to try and coordinate our grocery list so we don’t end up with a ton of extra ingredients we won’t use again that week and that’s what we try to do now with all of our meal planning. ST also has a crockpot recipe section on there which is a lifesaver most days when we are too busy to cook after work. If you want to follow a specific plan based on a certain amount of daily caloric intake, SparkPeople.com lets you choose meal plans too and it’s Free!!! So bottom line:

  • If you don’t know how to plan your meals, invest in a meal plan service that will teach you how.

Finally:

  • Set a grocery budget and stick with it

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, the theme of this post is plan, plan, plan! Plan the amount of money you would like to spend because I’ll tell you now it is reeeeally easy to spend a lot of money on groceries! You don’t have to spend a ton of money to eat healthy, but you do need to set a limit so things don’t get out of control. Here are a few ways to save at the register:

  • Plan meals around what’s in season. In-season produce is less expensive! If you can get to a farmer’s market, you’ll save even more money on locally-grown, fresh produce
  • Save money on meats like chicken by buying whole breasts and learn how to de-bone them.
  • When meat goes on sale, stock up, portion servings out and freeze them!
  • Make your own broths and sauces. You’ll know what’s actually in your sauces and broths with less sugar and sodium than the canned/bottled stuff. If you bought the aforementioned bone-in meat, save the bones and scraps to make chicken broth. You can freeze those parts for up to 9 months or until you have enough to make broth. Also, you’ll get way more volume for your buck! A bag of organic carrots at Trader Joe’s is $0.89, an onion $0.50, celery $1.79. Plus water and saved chicken breast parts? You’ll have a gallon of broth for pennies. Here’s a vegetable broth recipe I love: Homemade Vegetable Broth
  • Make recipes in bulk to cover more than one meal throughout the week. I do this with crockpot recipes. One pot of this Santa Fe Chicken will feed a family of 4 at least twice, if not 3 times. I STILL have some in the freezer.
  • That reminds me: freeze your leftovers! Soups, stews, pastas, lasagnas, casseroles. These are all great dishes to freeze. Do this if you know for a fact that you won’t eat all your leftovers. Take them for lunch as needed and they should thaw out in the fridge enough by the time you need to nuke it.

Well, that about covers it for me! What tricks work for you when it comes to meal planning?

Suggestion Box: Working Out At Work

One thing that has totally revolutionized my fitness lately is the fact that I can work out at work! I started my current job in October, around the same time I joined Weight Watchers and started my weight loss journey. I had joined a gym near my home and worked out there, in my living room and outside at local parks. All of these workouts were very effective in jump-starting my weight loss but once I completed my first 5K, it started getting harder and harder to stay motivated enough to work out at home after hitting a big milestone in my fitness. Not to mention, I was ready for some variety.

Working out a lot not only does wonders for your health, weight and energy levels, it’s also completely exhausting. Around mid-April, I started to really struggle with getting out of bed in the morning to run or do a dvd in the living room and I had quit my gym to save some money since I wasn’t really going anymore. I really wished for some sort of class or group that would motivate me to work out and also try to squeeze it into the middle of the day instead of getting up extra early or leaving the house in the evening.

Then, my wish came true! Come early May, my job opened up a small fitness studio and bam! I have been smitten ever since. Tuesday-Thursday, I have the option to do Yoga or Tabata during my lunch hour. The classes are nice and small (4-6 people at yoga and 1-5 people at tabata) and I have enough time to workout and get back to work without skipping a beat. This means I get to sleep in in the morning and not venture out at night! Now granted, my running has taken a hit lately but I plan on getting runs in at work too, Mondays and Fridays when there are no fitness classes are offered for the lunch hour.

Many have asked me how I do it. How does one work out, get all sweaty and then get back to the office looking fresh and clean? Well, let me just say that it takes some skill but it’s more so about preparation! Here are a few tips that have worked for me to make the best out of your at-work workout.

  • Stay hydrated! This may not be true for everyone but I find that if I’m drinking enough water before, during and after my workout, it’s much easier to get my sweating under control. I aim to drink at least 48 oz of water before hitting the gym, taking a few sips throughout my workout, and then chugging another 24-48 oz immediately following a workout so that I can cool down faster. This helps eliminate or cut down any sweating once I’m back in my real people clothes.
  • Fact: I don’t always shower after a workout. Eww right? Well, no not really. If I’m only doing yoga or HIIT/strength circuits, the cool down for those workouts are usually long enough that the excessive sweating has ceased by the time I have to change. I do bring the following to stay super fresh afterwards:
    • Fresh undergarments (this is a really good idea for your skin, don’t hang out in wet underpants, please!)
    • Antibacterial or baby wipes for the body
    • Face cleansing wipes
    • Deodorant
    • Hand towel to dry your hair and skin
    • Hair refreshing spray (I recommend tresemme’s cuz it’s cheap and fruity!)
  • If you are going to sweat hard, plan on a shower! If you have had a super sweaty workout like on the days when I run on the treadmill, I stick to a 35ish minute workout to make time to shower. I pack a towel, bar of soap and flip flops for a quick hop in the shower. I take a cold shower to cool down faster too and I don’t wash my hair, there’s no time for that. Reach for your hair refreshing spray instead.
  • Pack a plastic bag to keep your sweaty clothes in and be sure to dump them straight into your washer when you get home. Run the wash when it’s full so you’re ready for your weekend/next week’s workouts!
  • Get a great gym bag! I have a confession: we now own 4 gym bags, only 1 is mancakes’ (and I still use it on occasion!). I do blame Fitbloggin’ for one of those bags though, thanks a lot Reebok! (no really, thanks yo!) But my favorite bag of all is a new one I found at Target made by Puma (Procat bag: $40)! I’m obsessed with this bag because it has sections! It’s divided into three sections: a huge middle section that can be zipped shut and has interior pockets. This is great for storing your shoes, clothes, towel and little things like toiletries, heart rate monitor, jewelry etc. The outer pockets are great for commuting, I throw my phone, wallet, ipad, etc. in there, making it easy to find. I tried to find you a link for it but can’t seem to find this exact bag. Here’s a picture of it to give you an idea!  2013-07-15
  • Pack your lunch and snacks! That gym bag also holds all of my food. I can’t make friends on public transportation with how much space it takes up but no matter. Since my lunch hour is spent at the gym, I have to plan to eat at my desk. I am now in the habit of packing all of my food for the day for work or keeping supplies in our fridge at my office. I try to pack the night before but that usually never works out and I pack in the mornings but I not only pack my lunches, I also make sure to have pre-workout snacks packed with protein like hard boiled eggs, protein bars or hummus and an afternoon snack that boosts energy like a protein + complex carb (example: apple with peanut butter or greek yogurt and a banana).
  • But how do you have time!? Fortunately, the least sweaty of my workouts (yoga) is 50 minutes, leaving me with 10 minutes to get dressed and back at my desk two buildings away. Tabata is usually only 40-45 minutes so that gives me more time and if I plan to run, I don’t go beyond 40 minutes so that I have time for a quick shower and change. Know your body, know your grooming habits and give yourself enough time or plan outfits and hair styles around your workouts so you’re not rushing back half dressed or show up way past the end of your hour. For example: on tabata and running days, I sport a bun or ponytail for the day to cut back on hair time. On yoga days (50 minutes) I try to not wear too many layers or complicated articles of clothing to get back into my clothes (no button downs!). Since the gym is so close, I might leave a layer behind in my office or change into my gym shoes on running/tabata days before leaving the office so that I’m just slipping them on and off at the gym instead of changing from work shoe to gym shoe in the locker room.

I hope that helps! If you are like me and have a kid or kids and/or a lot of other stuff going on outside of work, working out at work is a great way to stay on top of your fitness without feeling like you are stretched too thin at the end of the day. Not to mention, using your mid-day break to get physical is way better for your energy than anything else! I’ve noticed a huge reduction in how much caffeine I consume each day now that I work out at work. I don’t need an afternoon coffee anymore. I also feel like I can get back on task and focus on my work more since I’m not feeling so sluggish. Not to mention, checking fitness off of my daily to-do list without having to add it onto the start or end of my day is priceless!

What other tips/tricks have worked for your lunchtime workouts?? Please share!

Suggestion Box: My Favorite Fitness Apps

I’m sure by now you have noticed that I’m pretty into technology as it relates to health and fitness. I adore discovering new apps that help me learn new exercises, track my foods and log my activity. I use a lot of apps folks, a lot! There’s so much to choose from these days and when it comes to pretty much any form of exercise or nutrition plan, there really is an app for that! This post could get really long if I list all of the apps I use so for the purpose of keeping it somewhat brief, I will focus on Fitness apps today and will soon publish a post on Nutrition and Tracking apps.

My Favorite Fitness Apps

1. Runkeeper (Free)

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I lerve RK. Seriously, it is one of the coolest apps because it does several things all at once: maps your activity, tracks your time, pace and calories burned, provides training programs for various kinds of races including 5K and 10K, allows you to set goals, and provides you with progress reports along the way. It is also one of the most popular apps that sync with other fitness apps such as MyFitnessPal, LoseIt, GymPact, etc. I also like that you can hide your GPS map from your social media accounts if you decide to link it with Facebook and/or Twitter. The MapMyRun/Walk and Runtastic apps usually post your route automatically if you choose to sync with FB or Twitter and I like having some control over that. Not to mention it’s just a more visually appealing tracker too. No ads or clutter, just straight up information about your awesome ass-haulin’ skillz. Check it:

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2. GymPact (Free)

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click for link

Make money for working out. I repeat: make money for working out. Gympact is an awesome and very motivating tool for staying on top of your weekly workouts! The concept here is that you set a goal for how many workouts you want to complete every week. You then select your stakes which is how much money you pay out for every workout you miss a week from your goal. Here is a picture of what this looks like:

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This is an actual screenshot of my weekly pact. If I miss one of these 5 workouts from Sunday-Saturday, I owe $5 per workout I miss. If I make my goal, I will earn money! Where does the money come from? Well, from those who didn’t complete their pact that week. In other words, gympacters fund their own pacts. After my first week of trying this and meeting my pact goal, I earned $1.14. You can cash out your reward money when you have made at least $10. The app tracks your workouts in several ways: sync with RunKeeper, use the workout tracker built into the app itself or check in to your gym once you arrive. Either way, you have to allow the app to use location services or GPS on your phone. This is how the app knows you’re actually moving and not just saying you’re working out. AND, you must clock in at least 30 minutes of exercise or it doesn’t count towards your pact. Basically, it’s your workout babysitter. If I’m going to work my butt off every week anyway, I might as well get paid for it! And I’m not trying to lose money so I will definitely find ways to keep my pact and make the 5 workouts. If you want to check this app out, here is my referral code to earn $5 right away!: 3d2c138dbc

3. Pocket Yoga ($2.99)

pocket-yoga
click for link

I’m not going to say that I am cheap but I really can’t afford to shell out money for gyms AND boot camps AND yoga classes etc. And yes, I know that if I join the RIGHT gym, I won’t have to pay extra for group classes. But as of right now, I haven’t found one in my price range near my home (no more that $20-30 a month) so in the meantime, yoga at home it is! Pocket yoga is a great app for full-length yoga sessions at home or on the go. At home, I can mirror this app onto my TV using our Apple TV and my iPhone. On the go, I can use my phone or iPad to engage in some yoga-licious moves. There are 3 sequences to choose from plus 2 sun salutation sequences. You can choose your difficulty level, length of time you’d like to workout and even the background image. Each workout includes soothing music and vocal instruction. If you don’t know a move, you can view each individual pose with its explanation and instructions on how to do them. See?

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4. Nike Training Club (Free)

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click for link

I STILL cannot believe this app is free. The fact that this exists and doesn’t cost anything means there’s really no reason to ever join a gym or buy a fitness dvd. This app has everything: workouts for specific goals (Get Lean, Get Toned, Get Strong, Get Focused), choice of fitness level (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced), choice of specific exercise combinations, how-to videos for each individual exercise and a tracker for completed workouts.The best part about this app is the huge amount of variety you get! You get at least 3 30 minute and 3 45 minute work out sequences at each level under each goal set! For example, if you choose Get Lean, you then choose your difficulty level and choose 1 of 6 workouts found under that difficulty level! Talk about an endless amount of workouts. Jillian Michaels, have you seen this??

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5. YouTube (Free)

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click for link

I know what you’re thinking: silly Mariana, YouTube isn’t a fitness app! Well actually…it can be! There are hundreds, no, thousands of workout videos on YouTube for free! My favorite channel is the BeFit channel where you can find full length workouts from Denise Austin, Jillian Michaels, Billy Blanks Jr., Sadie Nardini and more (all the folks produced by Lionsgate). There’s also plenty of other channels loaded with videos like the Daily HIIT, PopSugarFitness, CrossFit, etc. If I’m away from home, and my phone crashes and deletes all of my apps, I can still pull up youtube in the web browser and go, go, go! Following a fitness routine has never been so frugal! Not to mention, there’s even less of a reason to avoid a workout now than ever before 😉 Oh look…one of my absolute faves….**cough NOT**

6. SworkIt (Free for Regular, $0.99 for Pro)

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click for link

Do you only have 15 minutes to squeeze a workout in but don’t quite know what exercises to run through in so little time? SworkIt is a great app for that. You choose from a group of exercises (either Strength Training or Yoga, Cardio & More), the kind of workout you want (Full body, core, lower body, etc.) and then the amount of time you want to workout. Once you do that, you hit start, and it walks you through a circuit of exercises. The app also includes how-to videos for each move.

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So there you have it! Those are my favorite fitness apps! I have to say that without these mobile options, I don’t think I would be as compelled to stay on top of my workouts. The way my brain works is pretty much, if I have it on me, I have the means and very little excuse not to at least try to move my body. Not to mention, apps like RunKeeper and NTC allow me to look back and actually see how much I have actually accomplished. There’s nothing better than seeing how many miles I have run this week and what my latest achievements are. Being able to connect these apps with my social media platforms also helps me stay accountable, invites others to cheer me on and every once in a while, inspires somebody out there to get movin’.

I am always open to trying something new. Please share in the comments if there are any fitness apps you’ve come across that have helped you stay active!

tiny-heart M.

Suggestion Box: Getting Started with a Health-Conscience Lifestyle

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:

HelpGuide.org

LiveStrong.com

ChooseMyPlate.org

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Portion Chart Using Your Hands! Cool Stuff.

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:

Skinnytaste

Aggies Kitchen

TheFresh20

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:

Brooke Not a Diet

Fit and Free with Emily

Curvy Fit Girl

The Fotographing Fat Kid

Fitblogger

So there you have it! Now WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?

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(my mom follows my blog now, sorry about the cursing mom!)

❤ M.