“The truth is, it’s really not that hard,” says my friend, Sue. I agree. Sue and I are relaxing on the beach; seeing many happy faces aboard party rafts and jet skis on the Delaware Bay. Sue is not referring to the challenge of climbing onto one of those moving water vehicles. We are talking about maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. The weather is beautiful, the view is peaceful, we are sipping on cold “light” cocktails, and snacking on pretzel thins.
Sue confidently claims that balance is the key. She is right, again. It is not all the ads and fads that promise quick weight loss results; some with pills or liquids, some eliminating certain foods groups, and others allowing only certain foods to be eaten on different days of the week. I know these are temporary fixes because I’ve gone down this path many times.
At that moment, I couldn’t help but think of all the people, like me, who had given up on their weight loss goals because their efforts became too hard.
My temporary fix usually started like this…I vowed to:
- Eat only three meals a day (no snacks)
- Eat very small portions of food; usually leaving the table hungry or not satisfied
- Eliminate most carbohydrates, such as breads, rice, and potatoes from my diet
- Eat all low-fat and sugar-free foods
- Do NOT eat desserts!!! “Sorry, no birthday cake for me, I’m on a diet and I’m a diabetic”
What was my end result? Did I:
- Learn about how to eat healthy for a lifetime? NO!
- Become healthy? NO! I just got thinner and was always hungry.
- Gain my weight back? YES!!!, and then some more!
- Maintain control of my blood sugars and prevent complications? NO!
Sticking to this type of plan is absolutely hard, and not necessarily healthy. No wonder why I had failed; like so many other people.
Losing and maintaining a healthy weight requires a balanced lifestyle. Think of it as increasing the amounts of healthier foods and physical activities into your life everyday and subsequently decreasing/maintaining your weight! It is simple math.
add (+) healthy foods into your day, you will be less (-) hungry for unhealthy (high fat and sugary) foods.
add (+) more physical activity into your day, you build strength (+) and burn calories (-); thus managing weight!
Feeding your life involves fueling your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs; while giving yourself permission to enjoy, in limited amounts, foods that are high in fat, sugar, or provide little to no nutritional value, such as donuts, cake, bacon, soda, full fat salad dressings, butter, and many fast foods. These are empty calorie foods: To learn more about empty calorie foods, visit: www.choosemyplate.gov/what-are-empty-calories.
Staying Active involves increasing physical movement to help control your weight, build lean muscle, reduce fat, promote strong bone, muscle and joint development, and decrease the risk of obesity. When maintaining a healthy weight (not when your trying to lose weight), the more you move, the more you can eat!
What is a balanced plate?
My Labor Day Weekend Balance
Sunday was a family BBQ. My Italian family didn’t just serve up the usual hamburgers and hotdogs. There was homemade pizza, sausage and peppers, eggplant parmesan, fried chicken, hot roast beef, potato salad, pepperoni and cheese, and about 2 dozen+ other foods, including a dining room table full of desserts. I certainly got in all my food groups, but the excess food and ale I consumed certainly tipped the scales far in the wrong direction. Today, I made different choices.
My dinner was filling, delicious and healthy! Light Balsamic marinated grilled chicken breast half, 1/2 of large yam with cinnamon, a garden salad with a bit of cheese and a natural light balsamic dressing, roasted asparagus, cantaloupe, and glass of water. I went back for seconds on the salad. I also took a long walk on Saturday and tonight.
This is what became my permanent fix “aka” new lifestyle based on two years of guidance from a registered dietician and a few months of coaching from a fitness trainer.
The truth is, this is why it is really not that hard! I learned that
- YOU SHOULD eat in-between meals (healthy snacks). I eat 6-7 times a day!
- YOU SHOULD eat carbohydrates; make sure 50% are whole grains
- YOU SHOULD be cautious about eating all low-fat foods (some may be high in sugar to enhance the flavor) Check the Food Label!
- YOU CAN enjoy unhealthier sweets and treats in moderation (No food is off limit unless you have a condition that prohibits your intake of certain foods. You need to make choices that you can live with for the rest of your life! That is why it is called a lifestyle and NOT a diet!
- YOU SHOULD cook at home more often (This isn’t hard if you plan ahead and stock your kitchen with healthy snack and meal options. You will find that healthy cooking can be simple)
- YOU SHOULD increase your physical activity at YOUR OWN pace
My boss told me that she had never seen anyone lose weight eating fried chicken. It was true. During the period when I was trying to lose weight, I visited Kentucky Fried Chicken once a week for a fried chicken breast.
I did not order the meal deal with the potato wedges, coleslaw, and biscuit. Instead, I came home and enjoyed the chicken with a salad.
Because I am a Type 2 diabetic, there are still a few foods that continue to cause my blood sugar to spike. I enjoy those foods, like pancakes, once year by taking a few bites, but not a stack!
It truly is about balance! You get to make a new choice every meal and everyday. If you splurge on a holiday meal, the next day you can make healthier choices. If you eat too many starchy foods earlier in the day, like bread, potatoes and crackers, skip them at dinner. Just keep going. Consistency is key.
Now, for the other truth…Did you forget?
What can be hard is believing in yourself; remember that slow progress is better than a quick temporary fix. Lack of patience can be a de-motivator. In other words, you start making excuses and consider giving up.
Patience was hard for me. Often, I doubted I would reach my weight loss goal (it took me 2 years to lose 115 pounds), be free of diabetic medications, and firm up my sagging arms. Doubt was my enemy, and my greatest challenge. I needed others to provide encouraging words to keep me going. Strength is within all of us, but sometimes we need someone to remind us of our strength and progress.
- You need patience to wait for results. It’s hard not to become discouraged when your weight stays the same for weeks. Hitting plateaus are common
- Your need patience for your thoughtful choices to become the new “habit.” When this finally happens, you have successfully embraced a new lifestyle
Notes & Resources:
- Eating snacks helps with portion control at meals because you are not starving. Eating throughout the day also positively affects your metabolism (rate at which you burn calories) Examples: 1 serving of fruit, nuts, a low-sugar granola bar, a few whole grain crackers with 1 oz. of cheese
- If your eating pasta for dinner, limit the serving size to 1 to 1-1/2 cups; Add a veggie rich salad, and a small serving of protein, such as a meatball. Do not eat bread too (it’s about balance!)
- If you really want that slice of cheesecake, don’t eat the entire slice. Eat 1/3 of it to get your fix, then do the same the next couple of days
- If your eating ice-cream, check the serving size on label. Limit to a 1 portion serving. Opt for light ice-cream or frozen yogurt
- Turn on music while you cleaning or cooking; take a short break and dance like nobody is watching
- Increase the duration of your walks over time to build your stamina
- Buy yourself comfortable walking/fitness clothes and shoes
- Eventually (not necessarily right away), add strength training to your routine. Use dumbbells, resistance bands, and other home equipment to build more lean muscle. You will also start shaping your body. When you see results, it is likely you will get addicted
- For more information, tips and resources about weight loss and weight management, visit my weight page @www.makehealthyfit.com/weight-loss/