In my previous post, I talked about the foundation of success: Mental Health.  Now, I want to touch on what I feel is the second most important component to successful weight loss: Nutritional Health.

  1. Tracking calories.  You’ve heard before that it’s as simple as calories in versus calories out, I’m sure.  Well it’s not quite that simple, but it is a great place to start.  Know what you’re eating!  Simply having a general idea of how many calories are in your meal can help you control portion sizes as well as balance your calories throughout the day.  It’s true that it isn’t a good idea to eat a ton of calories in one meal and have two smaller meals.  Some people say it’s all about maintaining your metabolism throughout the day, but the truth is that it is more about maintaining your blood sugar levels throughout the day. Using a calorie tracking website like My Fitness Pal can really help you know what you’re eating per meal, when you should be eating again, and how much you should eating.
  2. Sugar is your enemy.  Yes, I said it.  As I mentioned above, keeping your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day is a key factor in helping to control cravings and that hungry feeling.  I love sugar, so this one was a little extra hard for me.  My health coach helped me set a practical limit on grams of sugar per day.  The first few days were tough, but after my body began to free itself of the addiction, I felt so much better.  The afternoon drowsiness subsided, feeling famished in the late afternoon ceased to happen, and I generally had more energy.  Do some research on sugar addiction, or insulin resistance to help understand how sugar and low-quality carbohydrates are hindering your ability to lose weight.
  3. Fat is not your enemy.  I know that sounds counter-intuitive.  ”But I’m trying to get rid of the fat, why would I want to eat it?” you ask..  Well fat plays an important role in providing our brain with food, preventing Alzheimer’s, and also making us feel full longer.  Also, those low-fat foods are awful!  Read the ingredients!  The fat (read flavor) is replaced with sugar and sugar substitutes. BAD!!  And, of course, it is important to eat the right kinds of fat.  Coconut oil, real butter, 2% cheeses, Neufchatel cream cheese, 2% Greek yogurt, and 2% cottage cheese are all healthy types of fat that you can add to your diet.  You can eat an entire bag of microwavable steamed veggies and not feel very full, but add a pat of real butter and the full feeling is there.  Along those same lines, if you’re feeling quite hungry after eating a salad with no dressing, try adding 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and you will feel much more full.  Balancing the right kind of fat in your diet is something a with which good nutritional counselor can help.
  4. Don’t be perfect.  Aiming for perfection will only set you up for failure.  If you’re reading this, then chances are failure is no longer an option for you.  If you can’t live without chocolate, then don’t.  Rather than eating the whole bar/bag, however, have half a serving or a few bites.  Two or three times per week I sit down in the evening with a sample glass of red wine and one square of Lindt 70% dark chocolate.  It’s just enough to satisfy my craving and doesn’t ruin my calorie or sugar limitations for the day.  Allow yourself some wiggle room, but be smart about it!

When it comes to this section, I cannot emphasize enough how important education is for success.  I knew a few things about eating right, but my nutritional counselor really opened my eyes to a lot of things and gave me the tools I needed to manage my shopping trips and meals on my own.  Even if you can only afford one or two sessions, find someone knowledgeable and get some help.  If you really can’t afford one (and if you want to know if yours is a crock), then I recommend reading this article: Top 11 Biggest Lies of Mainstream Nutrition.

What are some small nutritional changes that have made a large impact on your success?

Look for my next installment where I dig a little deeper into physical health!

 

In my previous post, I provided a basic outline for my recipe.  Today I am going to expand on the first main ingredient and the spices that add to the flavor: Mental Health.

Your mental health is really the foundation for beginning your journey.  You must be in the right state of mind, ready, aware, and prepared.  Know why you want to lose weight.  It’s not enough to do it just because.  Some of the things on my list: I want to keep up with my son, many years down the road I want to be a fun and active grandma, I want to go hiking up a dead volcano in Hawaii, I want to feel good about myself, I want to stay out of the hospital and doctor’s office.  Reasons and goals are very important to keep you motivated on this journey.  Here’s a harsh reality, “I’m fat and feel ugly” just aren’t good enough of reasons.

There are a few other components of mental health that keep you going after you achieve the state of mind necessary to get started.

  1. You have to be selfish.  What?  Yes, be selfish.  It’s true.  Put your health first.  Put yourself first.  I hear in almost every Jillian Michaels podcast that I listen to during my workouts.  The dishes, the cleaning, the laundry – they can wait.  Do your workout first.  Put your health as a priority, and these other things will fall into place.  Personally, after my workout, I’m usually so pumped that I have plenty of left over energy to take care of the house chores, and I feel better about myself.  
  2. Be in the present.  Don’t dwell on yesterday.  Don’t dwell on what you’re going to do.  Be here today and do it now.   I’m going to eat better.  I’m eating better.  I’m going to do it this time.  I’m doing it this time.  I will be successful.  I’m successful right now.  If you always talk about your journey as a thing that is in the future, you may never have success.  It will always be just out of reach.  Instead, give yourself credit for what you did right now.  I made good choices today and I need to recognize that is success.
  3. Set goals.  Realistic goals are important for motivation.  If, for example, you’re aiming to lose 1.5 pounds a week, then mark a day on your calendar 5 weeks out to weigh at least 7 pounds less.  That gives you a little wiggle room for muscular changes and “cheat days”.  Maybe your long-term goal is a 40 or 60 pound loss, but short-term mini goals will give you something to look forward to in the near future, and also boost your confidence when you reach your goal.  My mini-goals have helped me maintain focus and a positive outlook on my journey.
  4. Don’t expect perfection.  You are, after all, only human.  If you eliminate everything from your daily diet that you enjoy eating, you will fail.  You must allow yourself a little room for error while maintaining focus on the end goal.  So, perhaps I’m in the mood for a little wine and chocolate.  It’s something I enjoy.  Red wine has some health benefits as does dark chocolate.  My change in perspective is that I literally use a very small wine sampling glass, and have just one square of Lindt 70% dark chocolate.  The “serving size” for the chocolate is three squares, but I’m satisfied at one.  This is a treat I am allowed every few days, not every day.

What aspects of mental health have you found are keys to success in your journey?  What are some of the reasons you want to be healthy?

Next time, I will dive into healthy eating.

This has been a long, long journey for me and it isn’t over yet.  In reality, my goal is still a long way off.  That being said, after all these years of struggling, the fog is beginning to lift.  What I mean is that what really works is becoming more and more clear to me.  There are so many components to successfully leading a healthy lifestyle that it can seem overwhelming to figure it out on your own.  I suspect that while some of the ingredients may vary from one person to the next, the key ingredients should work for everyone.

My recipe:

  1. Mental Health
  2. Nutritional Health
  3. Physical Health
  4. It Takes a Village

Those, for me, are the main ingredients.  If one of those is out of balance, it throws my entire journey off course.  I must have a clear mind.  I must be conscious of what I put in my mouth.  I must keep my body active.  I must admit that I cannot do this alone.  Not really.

Over the next several weeks, I will elaborate on each of those four ingredients and the special “spices” that make up each ingredient.  In the meantime, I want you to consider what’s holding you back.  Where is your health off-balance?

A few words: I went to the gym today and have maintained the weight lost while sick. These 40+ pieces of clothing no longer fit. I shrunk.

One thing I’ve learned about weight loss is that … it’s hard. Help is easier. I realize that it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged about my weight loss adventure so let me sum things up for you a bit… roller-coaster.

Since my last posting (months ago) I tried, fell off the wagon, tried again, fell off the wagon, cried out for help, and help arrived.  The greatest thing to happen to my weight loss journey in a long time: I hired a nutritional counselor.  She guides me, helps me with recipes, balanced meals, and proper snacks.  But the thing I needed most from her was accountability.  Obviously, I’m not good being accountable to myself.  And my family, while they aren’t unsupportive, they aren’t overly supportive either.  Bless them… they enable me to eat bad things.

I was determined for real change around mid-June and we had our first meeting about a week after that.  Some of the changes in my eating habits are small and some have been drastic.  All have been tolerable.  Since June 11th I have lost 16 pounds and 9 inches off my body.  Some of this loss happened thanks to a long bout of nasty bronchitis, but most of it I did through hard work and perseverance.

This has not been easy.  No lies here.  Sometimes I miss pasta, I miss brownies, I miss calorie-laden lattes from the coffee shop, I miss mashed potatoes, I miss cookies.  But I pause a moment and remember that I don’t miss 16 pounds, I don’t miss 9 inches, I don’t miss being tired, I don’t miss having less energy… and in the end I don’t actually miss those foods.

There’s more to getting healthy than changing the way you eat.  You also have to change the way you think.  My clothes didn’t get too big, I got too small.  This isn’t a diet, this is a new life.  I don’t want to be skinny, I want to be healthy.  I’m not going to do it… I am succeeding. 

Have you struggled with weight loss?  Have you found success? What was the turning point for you?

Next to raising a child, losing weight is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  One thing I’ve come to realize is that it’s never going to happen if I’m not really ready for it.

Over the last week, it clicked.  Of course, this isn’t the first time.  I actually went through the trouble of rearranging my entire work schedule to make it easier for me to get to the gym.  A friend encouraged me to join MyFitnessPal and I finally did (Angelasue79 if you need a friend on there).  It has been 5 days of tracking.  Not every day has included a workout, but this week was still an improvement.

Starting again isn’t easy.  Admitting that I gained back almost 20 pounds isn’t easy. Calorie counting isn’t very easy, either.  There have been moments of shame… I won’t lie.  How … how did I do all that work before and let it all go down the drain?  Sure, the herniated disc didn’t help, but I quit eating right, too.  Apparently I’m an all or nothing kind of gal but I’m not proud of that either.

My goals right now are consistency, persistence and finding a happy median.  On days I can’t be perfect, it’s still okay to just be okay.

So here I go. I’m off to a great start.  Maybe I’ll get back into blogging on a more regular basis, too. ;)