Okay, so it's not the WORST journey I have ever embarked on...quitting smoking was a tough one. After 27 years of smoking and countless failed attempts to quit, I finally did it...it has been 4 or 5 years and I still use an e-cig. I am so hell-bent on NEVER picking up another cigarette I will use these little e-cigs as long as there is a smidge of urge or until someone convinces me they are worse than smoking a real cigarette.
My grandmother chewed nicotine gum for the last 10 years of her life after a life time of smoking 3 packs a day.
I was also a down-to-bleeding-finger-tips nail bitter through my teens...
My point...quiting smoking, loosing weight or dropping any bad habit is tough...no question. But I approached each with the same mind set I approach a daunting DIY project.
How do you eat an elephant...one bite at a time.
Through my 20s I stayed in the 120s...through my 30s I stayed in the 130s...in my 40s I crept into the 140s and got so frustrated I tossed my scales (like it was their fault!). I hit 50, quit smoking and went through menopause and that was when all hell (and seams) broke loose! I finally realized that at this rate I am going to die a very over weight person.
My daughter Katie is my inspiration (and my hero) After gaining the obligatory 10+ pounds (and more) her first two years in college she finally set out to loose weight last year...65 pounds to date. I am in complete awe of that girl! She looks and feels amazing!
Because of the extra weight I am carrying I look and feel like a complete frump.
Sooooo....last month I decided to take the first bite and loose a few pounds.
So here are a few tips I would like to share that seem to be working for me.
Get your mind right. Seriously...this can't be an "I want," it has to be an "I need"...and you have to really get your mind right. In other words, be committed to making some serious changes and be willing to make the sacrifices...every day.
Set REALISTIC goals. The thought of losing 30 pounds was mentally defeating and seemed so daunting. So don't think big, think small baby steps. For the first six weeks my goal was 10 pounds. I have reached that goal and now my goal is to get to a solid 150 (2 more pounds) by the end of the month. My next goal will be another 10 pounds by the end of June. I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't make it, but I will make an honest assessment of what I am doing wrong! If I meet that goal, I will set a new REALISTIC goal.
Maybe pounds isn't your goal...maybe it is a specific clothing size...regardless, set realistic baby steps!
Buy a good set of scales. I bought the dial kind because I didn't want a digital scale telling me I gained or lost 2/10ths of a pound. Just a personal preference! I weigh every day.
Skip the fad diets. And pills...and shakes...and wraps. I know they are all the rage and you can loose a lot of weight fast, but when you go back to eating carbs or protein or normal homemade meals, you will not only gain all the weight back, you may gain even more. So I decided to NOT "diet." Rather I made a decision to make a "food-choice" change.
Identify foods you can and need to live without...your "danger" foods.
Cutting out ALL sugary drinks is a must. Fortunately I did this years ago...no more sweet tea or cokes. I drink water...but now I make it a priority to drink more every day. I fill my large Yeti cup with ice water in the morning and drink it all day! Coffee is okay and I even allow myself creamer...knowing there ARE calories in creamer!
I love bread but I can live without it...so no breads (or chips or crackers)! Same with white potatoes, pasta, nuts, cheese, ice cream, cookies and brownies. Love them all...and I can do some serious binging on all of them... but I can live without them!
No more sandwiches or hamburgers...no more bowls of Cheez-Its and peanuts...no more big bowls of ice cream/chocolate chip cookies/brownies every single night! No more afternoon binging on crackers and cheese and no more french fries or bake potatoes smothered in butter, sour cream and cheese!
I don't completely deprive myself...I ate some tortilleni alfredo during Sarah's birthday dinner and I had a bite or two of some brownies Sunday night.... but I am VERY cognizant of how much I eat of my "danger" foods!
Count calories. They matter! I love ranch dressing but I thought oil and vinegar dressing would be better...but come to find out olive oil has TWICE the calories as most ranch dressings. WHAT!!!!!???? I know olive oil is probably "healthier" but since my goal is to seriously cut down on calories for the time being, ranch it is.
HOWEVER, I read labels, I know the calories I am taking in and I carefully watch the portion size! I found a chart online that tells me how many calories I can eat a day and while I don't micro-count every single calorie, I have a good, HONEST idea of what I eat every day.
The first week is tough! Just getting out of the "habit" of grazing all day and not snacking on sweets in the evening takes some serious self-discipline! But once you get through the first week or two and you see the results on the scales it gets a little easier. For me, it has made me even more determined!
Increase the calories you burn. After all losing weight is all about calories in, calories out! So do something. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a walk around the block. Get out and do some gardening. Do something. No need to buy a gym membership, a new bike, or an expensive piece of exercise equipment just yet. Just increase your movement. Eventually you might want to add some REAL exercise to your regiment, but at first, just get moving!
What does my daily "diet" look like?
I eat two scrambled eggs every morning.
For lunch I have a veggie salad.
I eat a normal dinner...eliminating potatoes, bread and pasta. So while I may still cook potatoes, I fill my plate with the veggies and skip the "fattening" stuff!
For snacks I stick with dehydrated bananas (crunchy and sweet) and veggies. If I get desperate for something sweet, I keep "diet" candy bars on hand...like Atkins or Weight Watchers...but again, watch the calories in each bar...they can run 200+ and that is a lot of calories if you are trying to keep your daily intake below 1200! I eat ONE...not all 10 in the box like I use to...again, this takes some self-discipline!
My go-to warm veggie salad is super filling and super yummy!
I saute' chopped veggies in bulk and keep them in the refrigerator and warm when I am ready to eat.
1-2 scallion (or onion if you prefer...)
6 small zucchinis (chopped 1/2" cubes)
2 bunches of asparagus (chopped 1" long)
1-2 cups of frozen corn
I saute' these veggies in 1 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. I also splash in a tad of balsamic vinegar and oil dressing...just for some flavor.
Balsamic vinegar and oil dressing
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice (the bottled kind works just fine!)
6 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper
Every week I chop up leaf lettuce and a bag of spinach for salad. Handful of salad, a cup or two of sauteed veggies and low fat ranch. Sooooo yummy and very filling.
All this being said, if you HONESTLY watch your calories and increase your daily activity and the scales just don't budge, I would suggest having your thyroid and hormone levels checked...those things really can affect your weight...but again, be honest...are you REALLY making a conscience effort?!
One time I went to the doctor and told him I just knew something was wrong with my thyroid...I had gained 10+ pounds in a month. He checked...nothing. After the visit I made my daily run to Starbucks....my son had given me a $150 gift card for Christmas so I had been going to Starbucks and getting a venti mocha every day...for over a month. Yeah, lightbulb moment!
That one little "habit" had added 450 empty calories to my daily intake!
Losing weight is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It took getting brutally honest with myself about what exactly I was doing (and not doing) every single day.
Most important, I had to realize that it took decades for me develop some pretty bad "food choice" habits and gain this weight...so losing it wasn't going to happen in a month...or even two.
I hesitate to even share this journey...but here it is. If I eat a loaded baked potato or bag of Reese's peanut butter cups tomorrow I know I will feel like crud. But at least I know I can get up the next day and start eating that elephant again.