24 June 2011

Developing Healthy Eating Habits

Two nights ago I wrote an email about my diet and weight loss secrets and after reading a weight-related post from Patrick, I thought I should post that email, but first let me preface.

I eat a lot of frozen and prepared meals. I look at the nutrition info for a couple of dinner choices and choose the one with the least calories and sodium; honestly, I don't pay attention to anything else. If I want the one with more calories, before I eat, I scoop out a portion and throw it away to avoid consuming ALL those calories. Come to think of it, I try to do that a lot. I've been on a three-week bender eating the same damn thing: Annie Chun's Teriyaki Noodle Bowl. I have never cooked all of the noodles; depending on how hungry I am, I will cook 1/2 to 3/4 of the packaged noodles and I never use all the sauce.

I hear a lot of, "You don't need to watch what you eat!" But you see, if I didn't watch what I ate, I wouldn't be the size I am. I've gone through periods where I wasn't paying attention to anything except my 'shrinking underwear' (seriously, when I start putting on pounds, I first think my underwear is shrinking before I realize I'm getting larger; happens every damn time). If I always eat whatever the hell I want, I gain weight like everybody else.

Day 084: This is what I look like when I fall down the stairs

*not scientific or medical guidance of any sort, just what I do

Drink lots of water. A good rule to follow is, take your body weight and divide by two. That is the number, in ounces, of water you should drink every day. I carry a 32 oz bottle of water around and try to drink two of those every day. Some days it's easier than others.

Diets never work for me. I'm not good about changing my habits if I decide to quit eating horribly cold turkey....and I'll eat well and exercise regularly for a while, then fall off the wagon for a couple weeks. Once I can feel that weight/bloating coming back on, that is usually enough to motivate me to at least attempt eating better.

I limit the amount of junk food I keep in the house and increase the amount of fruits and vegetables I have at home. I keep a bowl on the counter with fruit (not ALL the fruit, it'll go bad too fast).... I keep some in the fridge and some on the counter. To get started try to eat a couple pieces of fruit every day. After a week or so of doing that, try to eat more vegetables. It also helps if I just set out like an orange, a pluot and a little pile of grapes or strawberries and tell myself I need to eat it by the end of the day.

Another thing I do, I don't focus on my calorie/food intake for the day, I think about it in terms of, "what have I eaten over the last few days?" Although today I ate a giant salad, I also ate a frozen breakfast sandwich thing, a hard salami sandwich, and pizza.... so tomorrow I need to try a little harder to eat more fruits and veggies. (Yesterday I basically ate strawberries, potatoes and noodles.)

It is better to eat a lot of small meals (or simply snack all day and eat no meals) than to just eat one big meal a day. If you are like me, you don't get an appetite until the last several hours of the day. So, if you've been up for a few hours and haven't eaten, force yourself to eat as much of a carrot as possible. I tend to fall back on carrots for some odd reason, but you can substitute whatever RAW fruit or vegetable you enjoy.

Make a list of all the healthy foods you like and put it somewhere where you can see it. Next to that, keep a list of all the UNhealthy foods you like. Keep at least some of the good stuff on hand and when you feel hungry and craving a cheeseburger and fries (or whatever food), look at both lists and think about how you'll feel AFTER you eat those foods (good and bad... how will you feel after you eat an apple versus a pile of fries?). I've also bought a celebrity magazine where they show pictures of celebs in bikinis and pick them apart... I'll hang a sexy and ugly one on the fridge and also in the bathroom. It's very torturous, but it helps give me will power to get off my ass and try harder.

You really need to FORCE yourself to exercise 30 minutes five days a week. That will be incredibly difficult to do, especially at first. It doesn't have to be 30 minutes all at once. I tend to exercise in five to fifteen minute increments. Most often I am horrible about exercising, but I'm pretty good about getting exercises in as I do dishes, laundry, etc. When I mail stuff, I try to ride my bike down the street to the blue box. It doesn't take long, like maybe 15 minutes (depending on how fast I go) and I get in a few mile bike ride. When I get home, I can feel my legs are a little tight and that motivates me to do it again.

There is only ONE way to lose weight and that is to create a calorie deficit. One pound of weight equals 3500 calories. If you want to lose one pound a week, you need to eat AND exercise to eliminate 3500 calories from what you normally would in that week. Also, you need to concentrate on consuming the best calories possible and that is via RAW fruits and vegetables. There are other good foods for you, but those really are the best. I recommend reading The Raw Truth by Jordan Rubin. It was a freebie at work and it's an informative book.

Keep in mind that these are all major changes and you won't be able to do them over night, but you can set goals of where you want to be and work toward them. And don't beat yourself up too bad for not being perfect about the way you eat. Just recognize you ate a lot of bad food today and spend the next couple of days making better food choices.

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