November 28, 2011

its not a diet...

...its a lifestyle change.

I'm sure you've heard that before.  But it is so true.  Successful weight loss can not stick if you don't change your current eating habits, FOR GOOD.  Yes, you can slip here or there, indulge a little bit, but if you are unhappy with your body while still continuing to eat the way you've always eaten it will be incredibly difficult to see the results you want.  You can't just 'diet' for 4 or 8 or 12 or whatever weeks and plan to go back to whatever you were doing.

Last week I received a couple of questions, this first from a new reader.  "So I was wondering, how did you lose 33 pounds so quickly?"  The short answer?  Running + counting calories + a serious amount of will power.  You can also check out some of my older posts by clicking the mcfatty monday label to your right!

The real answer is a bit lengthier, and ties into the other question I received, "I know from reading you run a lot.  But I was wondering, you are always cooking up some awesome yummy looking dishes.  Do you make sure you cook healthier?  Any secrets you have learned?  Or do you just cook and eat whatever since you run?"

I made some drastic changes to my diet when I first started my journey towards a healthier lifestyle.  You know how a lot of people have to give up soda?  For me it was orange juice.  I've never liked pop, but I LOVE juice.  Do you know how fast the calories in juice add up?  Fast.  Now I mainly drink water and lemonade light (5 calories a can).  I can't tell you the last time I had a glass of juice.  After that I sort of discovered that I really don't like wasting calories on liquids.  I would MUCH rather eat my calories.  What I'm getting at is I also rarely have an alcoholic beverage anymore.  That is partly for the calories, and partly because my body just functions better without the alcohol.  I'm definitely not saying I'll never have a drink again, but I have to really REALLY want it for me to give in.  Because it just doesn't feel good to get up and run in the morning after I've had a few drinks.

Other changes that have really helped... we switched from white to whole wheat bread (including hot dog and hamburger buns), also to whole wheat pasta.  We don't eat as much red meat, mostly chicken, turkey, fish and pork.  I switched my favorite treat from full fat ice cream to fat free frozen yogurt.  We rarely eat fast food anymore, unless it is something like Subway.  If we are going to eat out, I try and find somewhere that has nutritional information online, so I can consult that and make a meal choice before we ever go (Side note, if there is a California Pizza Kitchen in your area, try the roasted vegetable salad.  Bonus points if you get it with shrimp.  SO GOOD.  A half order, which is filling, is only 394 calories.  And that is if you use all the dressing.)  Ask for salad dressings on the side. 

And the big one?  Our meals are generally dominated by vegetables as opposed to carbs.  I LOVE a great pasta dish.  Love it.  But the calories can add up so fast.  I also love to eat in large volumes.  Portion control is still something I'm not great at, so to make it a bit easier on myself I just eat tons of vegetables.  I can pretty much eat to my hearts content without making a huge dent in my calorie budget.  I almost always double the vegetables and halve the amount of noodles called for in a pasta dish (unless it is already a 'healthy' recipe).

When looking for recipes, if it is a one pot meal kind of dish I look for things that are under 400 calories per serving.  If it is a main dish with sides I try and find recipes where the main dish is under 250.  Lots of recipes on list the nutrition facts, and is also a great resource for lower calorie recipes.  For the most part I focus only on the calories.  Even though other nutritional items are also important to your overall health, weightloss tends to boil down to calories in < calories out.

But overall, what has been the biggest help for me, is out of sight out of mind.  When I first started this lifestyle change I managed to have amazing will power.  Saying no to this and that, walking past the chocolate bowl at my moms house without picking up a piece.  However that will power has started to slip.  I do think it has a little bit to do with running, after putting in five or six miles I know I have a little leeway in my day.  But do you know how quickly you can eliminate a 500 calorie deficit?  Pretty dang fast if you're not careful.  Especially when your favorite indulgence is dark chocolate covered almonds.

On average you burn 100 calories per mile, whether you're walking or running.  So if I only go for a three mile run, I only have approximately 300 extra calories for that day.  Grab a brownie and a glass of orange juice and that is gone.  So no, I know I can't just eat anything I want, whenever I want it.  But all of the running has allowed me a few more indulgences.  It is those indulgences, however, that have stopped me from losing any more weight.  Sometimes you have to pick what you want more.  For the last couple of months I felt like I needed to relax a bit on the strict diet, but I think I am almost ready to pick it back up again.  To see if I can make any more changes.  It is a rough time of year to do it, but at least keeping that in the back of my mind might make me think twice about eating too many holiday cookies.

Link up your health and fitness related posts below!


Meredith said...

I am so bad about thinking that if I exercise that day, I can eat whatever I want. You are so right though that 300-500 calories is gone FAST.

Stacey said...

I bought Taste of Home's Guilt Free Cooking cookbook a few years ago and LOVE it. Gives 365 recipes with lower than 500 calories a serving. It tells all the nutritional facts for each recipe, diabetic exchange info and does what it can to create a "clean" living way of life. I made my sausage corn bread stuffing from it for 170 calories a serving. Not bad!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the tips Im really trying to eat healthier and do exactly what you have done. It is amazing how fast 300-500 calories can disappear.

Jennifer said...

if only the eating part came as easy as the exercise! My willpower needs work!

Kelly said...

Amen Jennifer! I have a hard time not eating fast food because it seems like we're always out of the house and running around town when it's time to eat. I am sure if I cut that out and stopped drinking soda I'd see a big change. It's just so hard! hahaha

Dana said...

I think that is so key to realize that it is a lifestyle change, not just a diet :) I really hope I didn't offend you with my comment. I just always see all the yummy looking dishes you cook and wondered what your secret was :) Now I know, more veggies, less pasta, and more lean meat! I am soo gonna do this! I know these things sound so simple but sometimes I just get overwhelmed with it all :) and can't focus! Thanks for the info, it is really helpful!!