Last week, I talked about why I wanted to change my daily habits. This week, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve started to do; I hope to develop these things into permanent habits. First off, I’ll tell you that I lost 2 pounds since last week – so all the things I’ve been doing have worked positively for my body.
After a lot of research, I combined these five methods into a routine for myself. These are the most effective for my goal to get back to a healthy weight and lifestyle. I will also address common misconceptions that I’ve had in the past: sometimes, these misconceptions led me to a loss of motivation. I noticed that being informed helped me sustain a healthy lifestyle.
KEEPING A FOOD DIARY
Keeping a food diary is so helpful. Why? Because you can plan out your meals, and you’ll think twice before deviating from this plan if it’s written down (it gives me a sense of permanence). This is by far the most useful tip anyone has ever given me. MyFitnessPal is an online app run by Under Armour, and it’s what I use as a food diary. It is a fast and easy way to track what you’ve eaten throughout the day and also track the exercise that you’ve done for the day. You can input recipes from your favourite blogs to get a more accurate nutrition count, as well, you can add in your own recipes. Best of all, it’s FREE. I’ll show you what a typical set up looks like:
Recently, I read a post on someone’s blog disparaging MyFitnessPal. This blogger was angry that she tracked everything and MyFitnessPal said she would weight x lbs in 5 weeks, and she didn’t. Ok. Here’s the problem with that complaint: MyFitnessPal is a tool to track your food, not a crystal ball. It functions as a motivational tool so you can see areas in which you need to improve. I’ll give you an example: after every day, I’ll look at the bottom row: calories, protein, carbs, sodium, sugar etc. On many days, I noticed that although my calorie intake was fine, my sodium intake was much higher than it needed to be. In the next few weeks, I focused on reducing my sodium intake.
Many people only focus on the intake of calories. If calories are in the green, then everything is on track. The main issue is a day where someone sees that they have 300 calories remaining on MyFitnessPal for the day, and they make the mistake of eating right up to the point of expected calorie intake with the wrong foods. Great, I have 300 calories left, I can eat that Nestle Drumstick now because it’s 299 calories! This is not the intended use of MyFitnessPal.
I try to go for a jog or do an aerobics workout every single day. It’s easy when you’re focused and you make it a part of your routine. But we all know there’ll be days where you can’t go for a run because of time, mental state, energy, health, etc. On those days, it’s extremely important to still do something. My motto on these days is: a little bit of exercise is better than no exercise at all. Take the stairs at work, walk for 15 minutes at lunch, jump rope for 10 minutes at home. Anything is better than nothing at all. I tweeted the other day: “Is today going to be a positive day?” I meant will it be positive for your body: do you feel like you’re on track with your health based on what you’ve eaten and done today. I walk when I don’t have the motivation to run, this week, I have 4 exams and every time I need a break, I take a nice long walk outside with music. I saw someone post a great quote by Robin Sharma on Pinterest:
CHEAT DAYS DO NOT HELP YOU
Cheat days, in my opinion, do not help your goals.
One: rewarding yourself with food makes it feel like everyday, not eating the food you want is an inconvenience and a burden. It makes someone more likely to slip in a moment of weakness. Here’s how I do it: Wow! I worked out everyday this week, and I ate healthy food. I’ll actually go to the movies with my friends instead of staying in tonight.
Two: Eating whatever you want for a whole day negates a lot of your hard work. Don’t binge eat, find alternatives throughout those days to satisfy cravings, daily. This is why I don’t believe in a lot of the “extreme” healthy eating plans out there. I hate quinoa, I know it’s healthy, but I’m not going to eat something I hate. I don’t want to eat boring food everyday, so I find a healthy alternative to most of the food I love. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.
Three: Eating out doesn’t necessarily have to be unhealthy. You work hard, go out and eat! Don’t cook. But you can choose to make a restaurant prepared meal healthy. The other day, I ordered a Chicken Caesar salad without the dressing and bacon, and requested grilled chicken breast instead of crispy chicken.
NOT WEIGHING MYSELF EVERYDAY**
This is a particularly important trick to remember for myself I don’t weigh myself everyday. I weigh myself every week, and here’s why: seeing the number on the scale is sometimes really discouraging if you’ve been doing everything right and nothing changes, or worse, the number goes up. I have a few things to say on this: one, seeing your weight go up doesn’t necessarily mean you’re “getting fatter,” if you’re exercising regularly, you may be at the point that you’ve lost fat and you are now gaining muscle, and muscle is heavier than fat. Two, if you’re at the stage like me and you know you’ve got some body fat to lose, it’s so important not to let yourself lose your motivation by weighing yourself everyday. Hide the scale somewhere, and weigh yourself in two weeks, even three. It is more likely that you’ll see a substantial result after the routine of a healthy lifestyle settles in, and it’ll make you feel great.
CUTTING OUT SUGAR FROM DRINKS
This may not apply to everyone, but I am someone who loves juice. You name it: mango, lychee, apple, orange; I can and want to drink it all. When I started using MyFitnessPal, I realized that my entire daily sugar intake was coming from fruit juice. It was a pretty difficult truth, but I had to ween myself off of replacing water with juice. I haven’t bought juice in a few months. Of course, I still have a glass of juice here and there when I’m out for lunch or breakfast at my parent’s place, but now, water is pretty much the only thing I drink aside from black coffee.
Current Weight: 151 lbs
Weight lost since May 2016: 9 pounds