Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I'm just getting what?

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Often I'm asked for my input on where someone should start their healthy living journey or what tips I can offer someone else going through a similar journey.  While I am not a health professional or a nutritionist or a diet consultant of any kind, I am nearly a graduate of the weight loss school of hard knocks and am more than happy to share some suggestions from my experience for those of you who are interested.  If these suggestions/tips do not work for you, please do not come back here and blame me...I'm just a simple girl offering simple tips :)  I will break these tips/suggestions down into my Top 5 food-related and non-food-related tips/suggestions:

Top 5 non-food related tips/suggestions:
  1. First and foremost, make sure you are doing this for YOU.  If you are doing it for someone else, in my experience, it will not "stick".  Realize that YOU are worth it and you alone are reason enough to do it.  
  2. Decide on a plan that works for you, but make sure it is something that you can live with long-term.  All too often I hear people say "I joined [insert weight loss plan of choice here] and it worked for a while, but as soon as I went off it, the weight came back on!"  That is what I (personally) love about Weight Watchers ("WW").  They teach you that it is a lifestyle change, NOT a diet.  The WW plan is a plan that is completely doable for life and the beauty of WW is that when you do get to goal, you can keep coming to meetings for free*!  This brings me to my third tip...
  3. Make sure you have a strong support system.  For me, I am blessed to have an absolutely amazing support system involving family, friends, co-workers, blog/Facebook followers and the ultimate support WW group.  If you go the route of group meetings like I did (I highly recommend them), please, please, please, please don't just weigh in and leave.  Please stay for the meetings.  You might have to shop around a bit to find a meeting/leader that suits your style (I shopped around on and off for nearly 20 years before I found one that "fit"!).  People think they can do WW (or other plans) alone and that they don't need to stay for the meetings, but let me tell you, as someone who has done the "weigh and dash" method, meetings work!  The support, the discussions, the topics of the meetings are so much more than you can get from just taking home your weekly flyer or reading the message boards (although these are good too).  Take full advantage of your weight loss plan.
  4. This is really a multi-part tip:  when you start your journey, take photos of yourself (or have someone else do it for you), record your measurements and write a letter to your slimmer/healthier self (see mine here).  Take photos/measurements along the way, even if you just keep these for yourself.  On weeks when the scale is not moving, look at your total inches lost and at the photos (to get a real sense of your progress, try taking photos in the same outfit/pose each month).  While the scales may lie from time to time, photos and tape measures don't!
  5. Don't join a weight loss program with a friend.  I know, I know, this sounds strange.  While it's great to have a buddy in this journey, the problem with starting something like this with someone else is that it is sooooo easy to a) let them drag you down or b) drag them down with you.  If you are going to the meetings for you and only for you and are not relying on anyone else to go with you, then you have fewer excuses not to go.  I've joined in the past with a friend and have found myself convincing them to skip the meeting with me or to binge with me.  This time I did it on my own - didn't know a soul at the meeting (though that changed over time!) and therefore had nobody I could blame if I didn't attend.  I'm not saying don't share this journey with your friends/family, just try not to rely on them to get you going or keep you there...hope this makes sense!!
Top 5 food related tips/suggestions:
  1. Don't be afraid to try new foods - even foods you think you hate or hated as a child...believe me, I have tried more foods in the past year that I used to think I hated and have found some of my favorite foods (pineapple!!!!)
  2. Try to have some regular "go to" meals that you really like, that you know the Points/calories for that you can make/grab when you are tired and might be tempted to go through the drive-thru.  For me, I have pretty much the same breakfast every single day (oatmeal, peanut butter, banana and a bit of splenda to sweeten...sometimes I add blueberries too).  I was never a breakfast person (YOU MUST eat breakfast!) before, but I discovered I LOVE oatmeal (not the instant kind...go large flake or steel cut if you can) and I am 100% OK with having the same breakfast every keeps me eating breakfast, it keeps me full and it's super healthy!  For a main meal, I love roasted veggies and try to keep roast-able veggies in the house at all times (peppers, mushrooms, cauliflower, zucchini, potatoes/sweet potatoes, carrots, turnip...yep, this girl'll roast just about anything!) and then protein on the side (you can cook frozen fish fillets in about 15 mins).  Eggs are also a great go to meal or snack...nature's perfect food!  Don't be afraid of the yolks (unless your doc has told you to stay away from them!).
  3. Think outside the box.  Get creative with your meals - try mixing steamed cauliflower with mashed potatoes, adding some Laughing Cow cheese and maybe a bit of chicken stock and mash away...voila, powered up mashed potatoes (my Dad never even noticed when I fed them to him!)  Try beefing (no pun intended) up your spaghetti sauce with as many veggies as you can think of.  Want to make fried rice?  Why not try it with quinoa instead?  Try a new spice (visit the Bulk Barn or similar to buy smaller portions to try).  Like chicken wings, why not try low fat chicken nuggets with hot sauce?
  4. Fill your plate up with veggies.  Season with spices instead of butters and oils.  I am a volume eater, so rather than using a smaller plate (as suggestion by most diet plans), I fill (pile!) half my plate with veggies then about 1/4 is protein and 1/4 is carbs (sweet potato, quinoa or regular potatoes...if not having carbs that night, I just add more veggies!).  Try steamed veggies (or re-try).  I bought an in-the-pot steamer after Anonymous Ann got me hooked on steaming.  May sound boring, but steamed cauliflower/broccoli/carrots (don't overcook...10 mins should do it) are SO fresh and yummy!
  5. Plan your meals ahead of time - not just when you're going out to eat, but on a daily basis.  I usually plug my daily food into my online tracker (you can use eTools if you are a WW member, or has a great free tracker if you are doing calorie counting) and then I adjust during the day if something comes up (a craving...or a dinner out).  It's much easier to change a plan than to remember what you ate at the end of the day...or even worse, to get home from work at 6pm only to realize you a) have no clue what to make or b) you've eaten a bazillion calories/Points during the day and it's nothing but celery for you tonight!  Plan, plan plan.... if you fail to plan, you plan to fail is a quote often heard at WW meetings and it is so true.
So there you have it.  Not quite a Tonight Show worthy top 10 list, but hopefully it'll help someone!


Shondi said...

Great tips, Tanya. Thanks for sharing.

Tanya said...

Thanks Shondi! :)