I struggled fiercely with a title for what I want to share with you. In fact, I stepped away from the computer and lay on the bed for a few minutes to stretch out my back and think. I thought so hard that I feel asleep! And I awoke this morning, still with nothing. As I made coffee, I thought about a verse I had recently read in Proverbs:
But wisdom will help you be good and do what is right. (Proverbs 2:20 NCV)
Isn’t that what losing weight is about — doing what is right for our bodies? So I chose the above title, not because I am wise and all knowing, but because God has helped me find wisdom in searching the internet, reading books and magazines, and asking questions to people I trust to know what’s good for me (three cheers for Dr. Meredith).
Today’s tidbits of wisdom are maybe not the first things I tried in respect to diet (as in what I eat, not a fad diet) and exercise, but they are certainly bits of knowledge that brought me some results. That was the number one question I’ve been asked since last Wednesday’s post — How did you get started? (Thank you for the all emails – firstname.lastname@example.org – and Facebook message questions! I promise I will get to them all.)
Here are ten bits of advice or knowledge to get you started or keep you going:
1. Don’t drink your calories. If you are hooked on regular soda, fruit juice, or sweet iced tea, you are probably drinking 2,500 calories a day that do not come from a sustainable food supply for your body. SUGAR is your big culprit here. While switching to diet soda or some other drinks that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners is much better than the full sugar kind, I fully recommend water as your drink of choice. (Sometimes when you think you’re hungry, you’re simply thirsty.) Try a full glass of ice-cold water before each meal to start with or drink water with your meal. If you just can’t stand the taste of water, add fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice or fruit slices to your water.
2. Sweeteners that are natural cause less sugar cravings than artificial sweeteners. Stevia, Truvia, or sweeteners made from monk fruit, like Nectresse, are three that are made from plants. The biggest complaint I had when I started was that it took more of these sweeteners to make my beverages sweet. However, the longer I used them (and I love Stevia in the raw), the less I needed because my body was detoxing from that sugar taste. I was shocked to hear that the Center for Science in the Public Interest has downgraded Splenda’s “safety of use” level from “acceptable” to “use with caution” based on a recent study from Italy. (Please see the related articles links at the end of the post for more information on this.)
3. A diet based on the low glycemic index will help if your body doesn’t deal well with carbohydrates. Carbs are simply not my friends. The American Diabetes Association has a great website (www.diabetes.org) has a wealth of knowledge and recipes. I found that if I eat like a diabetic, I lose weight. My sugar cravings are less. The one thing that I love about eating “sugar free” (for the most part — I’m not saying I never have sugar because I treat myself occasionally) is that it seems to have attacked that awful belly fat that I had in my “apple-shaped” body.
4. All carbs are not created equal. Pasta, rice, noodles, and bread (even the wheat or whole-grain type) are used by your body much differently than carbs that come from fresh fruits and vegetables. The bad carbs (as they’re referred to in diet jargon) still turn to sugar and it often are stored in the fat cells for future use. Good carbs take longer to digest and therefore the body actually uses more energy to digest them, making you feel full longer. I love fruit and truly believe fruit is one of the best natural treats your body can have, but I still try to eat my fruits before 3:00pm. Fruits in the morning (in smoothies or by themselves) can boost your energy naturally and satisfy a sweet tooth.
5. Eat fresh, whole foods often. (Read this: almost all fast food is a no-no — even salads!) Processed food is full of carbs (read: sugar) and ingredients that you cannot pronounce. I have become a label-reader. When I see the ingredients list on a label and see things that I don’t recognize or have to Google to find out what they are, I avoid the product. A chicken breast is a chicken breast. Fresh salad greens are salad greens. An apple is an apple — nothing added.
When I do eat out, I go to the restaurant website and search the nutritional information. When I arrive there, I already know what I’m going to have so I don’t make spur of the moment decisions that derail me.
6. A ten-minute walk can boost your metabolism by 50%. Don’t have time to workout? Find just ten minutes a couple of times a day to walk and you will see a huge increase in your energy and at the scale. This was the best news I came across in my initial weight loss journey. I cannot walk more than about ten minutes at the time because of my back, hip, and knee. The pain is too great. Most days I can do ten minutes, though. if you have an iPhone, there are apps (free and $.99 – $2.99 for purchase) that will count your steps as you go through-out your day. Currently, I use the free version of Runtastic. While we were shopping yesterday at the Tanger Outlets and Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach, SC, I used the app to count my steps. Experts say that walking 10,000 steps a day is as good an exercise as jogging or a workout at the gym. I didn’t quite make it to 10,000 yesterday, but 6,407 steps wasn’t bad.
7. Educate yourself. Read, talk to others, ask questions, and take nothing at face value. Dig, dig, dig for information. Your doctor is a good place to start, but your doctor is busy with a lot of things. Make a list of questions to ask and back up those questions with articles, books, websites and any other source of information your can. Give them to your doctor and ask for his/her opinion. The only silly question is the one you do not ask.
I have to give you one book to read because the information in it changed how I view my carb intake. Choose More, Lose More for Life by Chris Powell, who is the trainer and star of ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss.” The first plateau I reached (at 185), I saw Chris on GMA and ordered the book. I found out that I was “carb starving” myself. I had no idea that there was such a thing as too little carbs! Without some carbs, your metabolism goes into starvation mode and slows down to conserve energy. It’s a great book and I “carb cycle” now to give myself the needed energy to burn my stored fat. The great thing about carb cycling is that this book gives your four options, and I love options. It’s a must-have for your nutritional library.
8. Find some accountability partners. These are people with which you can share your trials and triumphs. I tell my accountability partners what the scale says each week. I call them when I’m frustrated and want to ride to Diary Queen and have one of everything. I love Kelly, but he’s my husband, not my accountability partner. He loves me unconditionally and would tell me I looked great in a burlap sack. Choose your accountability partners based on their ability to be honest with you. You need someone to say, “Put down that Pop Tart and back away slowly.”
9. Weigh once a week. Your weight naturally fluctuates during the week depending on a great many things, such as salt intake, water intake, and for me, where I am in my carb cycle. Truth be told, I weigh on Saturday morninging about 7:00am in my undies — sometimes stark naked if I think that will help! I weight at the same time every week so that over a month’s time, I can see results. If you change the factors (such as weighing one week in the morning and one week in the afternoon), your data will be off. So choose a day, stick with that day, and mark your weight each week on a calendar. (Then tell your accountability partner the results — even if you gain two pounds, two weeks in a row!)
10. Remember this: it took you a while to get in THIS shape and it will take you awhile to get INTO shape! If you’re looking for a quick fix, there is none. Fad diets offer you false hope. Even if you have some success on a food-restricted diet, when you return to your old ways of eating (I always did because I could not stand the deprivation), the weight comes back and probably with more added on top. If you stray from your healthy eating, get back to it soon. One day does not a lifetime failure make! It’s a day-by-day lifestyle. Once you commit to it and start seeing results, you won’t go back. It feels too good when you eat right.
Good luck as you launch your new lifestyle. I am still at it every day on my way to my goal weight of 150. Even after I reach my goal, I will still be at it every day because I love the way I feel. Let me know if I can help.
How Safe is Splenda? (Fox News)
Splenda May Not Be Splendid After All (Yahoo! News)
The Truth About Sugar Substitutes (Family Doctor)