Happy New Year everyone! 2014 is going to be your year, I can feel it. The first day of the year holds so much promise and hope for the future. It’s a day we often vow to work on ourselves, inside and out.
There’s no doubt we have all indulged during the holidays, it’s almost impossible not to. It’s time to get back on track with your life, your weight and a healthy eating plan to get you ready for Spring Break (it will be here before you know it).
Even though I post a lot of sinful recipes that will tempt your will power, over all I try to eat as healthy as possible. However, I will never turn down a fun dinner or cocktails with friends even though I might be watching my calories. That is not life and you will miss a lot if you don’t leave room for a little indulgnce. Instead, stay on your game as often as you can and enjoy the moments in which you can’t.
Stop referring to eating healthy as dieting because a “diet” is something you eventually go off. You must make the conscience choice to eat healthy as often as possible, it’s a lifetime commitment and there are no do-overs.
As a food blogger and winemaker I am around food and alcohol all the time. It’s hard to keep it in balance calorie wise. But all those bites and all those sips add up very quickly. I always have to be mindful and it’s hard to do.
There are many tools I use in my life and in the kitchen to help keep things on track. They all keep me motivated to do better and live a healthier lifestyle. I actually lost 12 pounds through the holidays instead of gaining ten…it’s empowering. You can do it too, but you must resolve to being committed and investing in yourself, because you’re worth it.
Whether you are trying to maintain weight or lose some extra pounds, there are a few things I do to keep it all intact. It’s not easy. Weight is so much easier to put on than take off. To lose 1 pound a week, you need to consume 500 fewer calories a day than your body burns. It’s best to combine eating and drinking less with being more physically active. Keep in mind that exercise is key to your success.
Healthy Tips for a Better You…
1. Before we get into healthy eating tips, remember…to always love yourself for who you are at this moment. Regardless of how you look, your weight etc….you are perfect, no matter what. You may not like certain things, but always love who you are and be confident. This attitude is contagious and others will be attracted to it. It’s from this place that you’ll be better equipped to take care of yourself. Live in the moment and set goals, change doesn’t happen over night.
2. If you are trying to lose extra weight or maintain what you have, the hardest part is not feeling miserably hungry while you’re doing it. I’m sorry but all those “diet” plans out there…you don’t need them. If you want to lose weight, and not be hungry, “start with eating very close to the earth“. What I mean is, you must eat real food, fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. You can consume so much more food this way, without sabotaging your efforts to lose pounds and without being hungry.
3. Track your calories. There is so much information saying to not eat bread, don’t eat meat, don’t eat sugar etc. The bottom line is…calories in….calories out. Regardless, 3500 calories equals one pound of body weight. This means you’d have to take in 3500 fewer calories than you usually do, over a period of time, to lose one pound. Now, keep in mind, this is in theory; what happens in the real world can be very different based on your body and it’s not always such a tidy and easy number. But I have found when I track calories, the weight falls off. I will show you how I do it later in this post.
4. If you can, eat 4-6 small meals/snacks per day. Yes, you’ve heard this before but it works. Doing this keeps your metabolism speeding along. In addition to providing consistent energy and maintaining your metabolism, you may be more likely to resist those “snack attacks” that happen with extreme hunger. I prefer 5 meals/snacks per day, all about 200-220 calories each. With this plan, it’s like you’re always eating. And if you are consuming the right foods, you won’t be hungry.
5. The dreaded scale, but not one you step on. If you follow this blog you know I am constantly preaching about purchasing a kitchen scale that measures grams and pounds. Not only does this help you with many, many recipes, but it’s a must if you are trying to follow a certain calorie intake. I have had many kitchen scales but this is my OXO scale, which I absolutely love (bowl not included). I use it every single day to measure and weigh food. It is almost impossible to follow a whole foods diet and keep track of calories without it. Invest in yourself….finally.
6. Start eating a little later, finish a little earlier. If you have the ability to eat a little later in the morning and have dinner early, it’s a good thing. I rarely eat breakfast before
9 AM and I try to be done with my evening meal by 6 PM. I realize this might not work for everyone, but eating a little later in the morning helps me eat less during the day. Coffee keeps me going in the early hours until it’s time for a healthy, filling, very low-calorie breakfast (which I will share with you on another day).
7. Speaking of coffee and tea…learn to drink it black and without sweetener. I know some of you just fell off your chair, but it’s the greatest gift you can give yourself…let me explain. Good black coffee and good tea are something you can indulge in. A calorie free drink without preservatives or fake sweeteners. You can use it as a pick me up during the day or evening without it wreaking havoc on your diet plan. I learned to drink coffee and hot/iced tea “plain” over 20 years ago. The key is having good coffee available as there is nothing worse than bad, burnt, black coffee. Yuck. I highly suggest making coffee with a French press or using the Keurig system. We have done both and I have to say we are madly in love with our Keurig. The flavored coffees and teas always make me feel like I’m having a treat. Love that.
8. On that note, and this is going to be harsh…stop drinking soda, diet or otherwise. Believe me, I’ve been there, addicted to Diet Coke, it’s not an easy thing to give up. And while I don’t have any scientific data or studies I can point to, I just know this stuff is not good for you. And even though diet soda is a zero calorie deal, I really feel those artificial sweeteners and all that sodium have other consequences. One per day would be okay, but anymore is just too much…at least for me. Try giving it up. It doesn’t quench your thirst anyway.
9. Convenience food/frozen meals…I do not like them. I make most of my food and family’s meals from scratch. I hadn’t found any good, low-calorie meals I enjoyed eating, until I came across these entrees from Healthy Choice. The facts of life are, I am not always home during meal times, in fact, I’m usually running around trying to make it all work. However, I’m often somewhere near a microwave, where I can pop one of these in and have a quick, satisfying meal. I only buy the baked versions or ones in the steamer baskets, not the large meals. These are all between 190-280 calories and fit perfectly into my “eat 5, small, low-calorie meals per day plan”. If you noticed, my choices include mostly pasta dishes. I have a hard time fitting pasta into a low-calorie eating plan and this lets me get a taste of the noodles when I need to supplement a meal. Always a welcome treat.
10. Fast food…ugh. I try to avoid it at all costs. However, sometimes I don’t have a choice. If I am forced to grab a bite through the drive-thru window, I find a McDonald’s and order a Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken and Southwest Dressing. It comes with a lime to squeeze over the chicken, which I love. It’s only 390 calories (with the dressing) and tastes good. Try this next time you find yourself in a pinch.
11. Small bites…getting through the day on a low-calorie diet can be grueling if you’re not eating foods with lots of fiber and protein. One of my favorite 210 calorie snacks are a 100 calorie Yoplait Greek Yogurt (Vanilla) and a 1/4 cup scoop (110 calories) of Bob’s Red Mill Muesli. This is a great filler between breakfast and lunch. Put it in a cute dish as presentation, even with yourself, means everything. I prefer the Chobani (130 calorie) Vanilla Greek Yogurt with fresh fruit. The Yoplait has a slight sweetness that does go better with the Muesli (although, there is a small amount of artificial sweetener in the yogurt).
12. Even smaller bites…snacks in tiny packages. Sure we can scoop the yogurt out of the larger container or cut off a hunk of cheese from the larger wedge, but getting the serving size right is tough. No matter what, we always seem to give ourselves way more than we should. I am all about the small packages of food, the ones you can grab and leave the kitchen with. Some of my absolute favorites, that live in my fridge constantly, are The Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss Wedges (35 calories), Babybel Cheese Rounds ~ Light and Mozzarella (50 calories each), Chobani Greek Yogurt Bites with Coffee & Dark Chocolate Chips (100 calories), Sabra Hummus small packs (150 calories) scooped with grape tomatoes or celery (almost no calories). And I had to mention Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce…I put this on EVERYTHING, but especially steamed veggies. It’s not hot like regular Tabasco and has the perfect flavor to liven up bland food, without the calories. I will admit I am addicted to it.
13. Tiny, good quality treats…do not deprive yourself. Ever. If you do, you’ll end up going overboard. Keep a stash of your favorite chocolates or candies (small-sized) in the house or in your purse. You don’t have to eat them every day, but when you’re in need, these little bites are only 50-60 calories each. The better quality the treat, the better it will taste and the less you’ll need. This is a sample of what’s in my drawer now.
14. Alcohol….you don’t have to stop drinking it, but you should be aware of what a 4 oz pour of wine (125 calories) or champagne (85 calories) looks like (the glass is usually not full). Beer is about 150 calories for a 12 oz bottle and mixed drinks are where you can really get into trouble calorie wise. Cocktails can easily wreck all your hard work if you’re not careful. If you go back to what I suggested in #2, you will often have room in your daily calorie allotment for a glass of wine or beer. Take advantage of it.
15. Log Everything You Eat …do you use the website My Fitness Pal? You need to start. It is an amazing tool tracking your weight, calories eaten, nutrition, goals, exercise, how many calories burned…I could go on and on. You can also enter in your own recipes and get calories/nutrition information per serving. It also has a phone app, allowing you to barcode scan anything you’ve eaten into your daily calorie counts. As you log your weight, it decreases the amount of calories you can eat in order to keep losing. You can choose the amount of pounds you want to lose per week and it will keep you on task. I use this program every single day and find it really keeps me honest. But again…use that scale to measure all your whole foods and enter them in for accurate calorie information. You’re going to love this if you’re not using it all ready. And it’s free, don’t pass this up. It can also be used to maintain current weight.
Have Extra Money to Spend/Invest in Yourself?
If you have some extra cash to spend, there are a few tools/things I use to help keep me motivated when it comes to exercise and eating. I barely mentioned exercise above, but it’s a necessity. You have to keep moving, it’s so good for you. Find something you love and stick with it. Don’t participate in a physical activity you know you’ll dislike, just because someone says you should.
I love walking. I live where I can walk a more challenging terrain and get a bit of a workout. It’s easy for me to say I don’t have time to go (and I say it often), but it only takes me one hour to walk four miles. I am committed to that daily, unless something is off. And if I really don’t have that 1 hour, I try to do at least 2 miles in 30 minutes. In the scheme of things, it’s really a short period of time to do something for yourself. My one hour walk burns about 450 calories based on the speed I am going.
I am able to monitor my calories burned (based on my own weight), walking/running speed, pace etc with my Nike+ Sportwatch. It tracks everything with its built in GPS and then you download the information into your Nike account. It keeps track of all your data (runs) and maps the terrain you’ve walked/ran on. It even has a device to monitor the same information while inside, where GPS may not be available. This watch is so cool. It keeps me motivated and tries to get me to move more, go faster, longer. Overall it’s a really fun tool. I only wear it when I’m exercising.
I wear a Nike FuelBand all day. I have a goal set for a certain amount of “Nike Fuel” points and I make sure to meet it and beat it daily. It is nothing more than a motivator, but does have a program online to upload your progress. It’s a great tool to use as a reminder to get off the couch and do something.
I did a 3-Day Suja Juice Cleanse a while back and loved it. It’s perfect for resetting your body and eating 1200 calories per day. Read about my experience here. I couldn’t recommend this enough and I will be doing another one soon.
I hope you are feeling a little more motivated. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section!
Disclosure: These tips are not medical advice and are for healthy people. I realize they may not work for you based on your health history and your needs. This post also contains affiliate links from Amazon.com.
Share with us what works for you…exercise, foods you eat…anything. You never know, you could really help someone else.