Sunday, June 30, 2013

Faith & Fitness- Small Changes


I don’t think I could wake up tomorrow and do a complete overhaul of my diet and routine. Remember, small measurable goals, right? Here are the changes I made:

The first thing I did (years ago) was take out high fructose corn syrup from my diet. Your body does not know how to process it, so it stays in your system.
The second thing I did was take out white foods- white flour, white rice, white sugar- I still eat these things if we're eating out because there's not always an ingredient list available but I don't buy them the grocery store and that's made a big difference - you must read labels! I looked for whole-grain flours in my breads- no enriched flour- that is (white) flour that has been processed so much that nutrients had to be added back into it because they were stripped in the processing. (This was back when I still ate grains regularly).

These first 2 changes resulted in dropping 10 lbs almost immediately.  I knew I needed to start eating more whole foods but that seems like an impossible change as a busy mom. These were 2 small changes I could make without derailing my whole routine.

The next change was to start making green smoothies for breakfast every day and sometimes lunch - that took off another good chunk of weight. I use a whey protein powder (I like designer whey) and kale or spinach with a very ripe banana- the riper the banana the more cancer fighting properties it has. I add berries, sometimes a scoop of peanut butter, coconut milk or iced green tea as the base and I add cinnamon which has weight-loss properties and Chia seeds which are very high in fiber & protein and sometimes I also add flaxseed for fiber. I need to start adding probiotic powder, as probiotics are very beneficial to your health. I used to use kefir, but I have been cutting back on dairy.
Eventually (last month) I was ready to take grain and sugar out of my diet almost altogether- I allow myself a treat on Tuesday night and Sunday mornings because that's when the church is serving Panera goodies! Those are indulgences that are worth it- never waste your treats on junk that's not "worth the calories" (I don't count calories but I still like this expression).

I thought this change would be impossible, but it's been rather easy. Again, I started small- stevia in my coffee, fruit when I crave sweets. Lettuce wraps with cold cuts instead of sandwiches.  Later I was able to switch from cold cuts to preparing a bunch of chicken breast in my slow cooker at the beginning of the week- less sodium, no preservatives, and more bang for my buck! Now for lunch, I make a big salad every day. I use Trader Joe's healthy 8 chopped veggie mix, & other pre-chopped veggies, & a bit of crumbled cheese like feta or gorgonzola so there's not a lot of prep.

At the beginning of the week, in addition to the chicken I prepare, I also hard boil 2 dozen eggs for salads & snacks- my family eats these up SO FAST! And I prepare a bunch of turkey bacon & crumble it up. I slice carrots on the diagonal for “chips” to pick up hummus or homemade ranch dip.

 (my garden- the only thing I planted from a seed was the cilantro)

The only thing I really need to do at lunch time is slice an avocado & wash some lettuce. You could do bagged lettuce, but I find a whole head of lettuce lasts longer, and I replant the root in my garden & get my own homegrown lettuce for free! (You can also do this with celery, onions, and any vegetable that leaves you with a root when you're done with it!)
Dinner is usually chicken or fish & lots of veggies or a side salad. I almost always make dinner in the slow cooker- it allows me to do the hard work at a time of day when my children aren't as needy, and it's a healthy way to prepare foods. My go-to meals are balsamic glazed chicken thighs, chili, and lentil soup with tons of greens.
It was important for me to find alternatives to the sweet treats I usually ate because I definitely have a sweet tooth. (Experts say you should wean yourself off sweet flavors- I’ll let you know when I’m ready for that- ha!) I found a recipe for Paleo fudge that used raw honey instead of sugar and I used less honey than it called for. I pour it over almonds or pecans for some added protein, and sprinkle in some shredded coconut- voila! homemade almond joy. The whole family loves it. I also made up my own recipe for ice cream using a frozen banana instead of cream and sugar.
This is what has worked for me so far- I am still not eating completely “clean”, nor am I entirely sure what is & isn’t clean.  I hear legumes are bad, but I’m not sure why (looking into that now).  When I reach a point where the weight is no longer coming off, perhaps that will be my next change.  For now, I like my chili with black beans! The point is, everyone has to find what works for them. One of my favorite fitness resources, Metabolic Effect, puts it this way: "One person’s perfect fat loss plan is another person’s formula for being fat or flabby." You have to find the foods that keep your hunger, energy, & cravings in check AND result in fat loss. They like to say you're a detective, not a dieter.
My good friend & fitness expert puts it this way: if you can’t eat this way for the rest of your life, it's a DIET. Same for exercise- if you can’t sustain it, it won’t work.

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