How Did You Do It?

How did you do it?

Over the last year, that is, by far, the number one question people have asked me.

If not ask that question, then bluntly say something to the sorts of “my goodness, you’ve lost SO much weight!”

Gee, really?! Thanks. I hadn’t noticed.

Worst, by far: “how much weight did you lose”?

By the way, WHY isn’t “how much weight have you lost” considered as bad as asking someone their weight? Pretty similar, don’t you think? Actually, I don’t know which one is worse. What exactly do you plan to do with that information? And if my answer is just simply “a lot” [each time you ask], here’s a hint: I don’t plan on telling you the numerical value. Just saying.

Why do people, females especially, want to be thin/skinny so badly? Why not healthy (or healthier at least)? And no, they aren’t interchangeable.

Anyways, I am not sure how much is attributed to the year I’ve had, and how much is attributable to what I have done personally… but I’ll leave you with some healthier tips that I have established for myself and have implemented regularly.

At the end of the day, it is truly about living a healthier lifestyle — not weight loss. I honestly and firmly stand behind the fact that I haven’t done anything this past year with the mindset to lose weight: the changes I have implemented are to be healthier overall. I have decided to make the best of a situation and be more positive in the things I can control [and learn to let go of things I can't].

Diets don’t work. At least not for me. I’ve never tried, and don’t plan on it. I don’t think I know anyone who could honestly say that they were giving up something for good and it didn’t bother them (or tempt them). If I decided I could no longer have something, I’d probably last five minutes. If that.

Honestly, the only thing I have given up is soda. And not for dieting purposes. Instead, again, it’s for health purposes. At first, it wasn’t even on purpose: it had been several months (two I think) when I realized I hadn’t had any soda (or at least very little of it) and didn’t even miss it/want it. I decided to see how long I could last without it, and it’s been a long while. The last time I had even a sip of soda was early April 2012, but even for months before that it was sparse (I’d say November 2011 is when I stopped drinking soda as much). I don’t miss it, crave it or anything like that. I would honestly much rather have water as my choice of beverage: whether at home, someone else’s house, out for dinner, parties, etc.

What works is moderation. Eat what you want, but do portion control. Serving sizes are key.

That dessert you are eyeing and can’t keep your mind off of? Take a bite. Nothing tastes as good as that first bite anyways.

At the same time, make sure you are eating enough is also key! If you asked my family or me, you’d probably be surprised to find out that I probably eat more [and more regularly] now than before.

Eat breakfast. I can’t stress how much of a difference that makes. I was never a morning eater, because my stomach couldn’t handle and/or didn’t appreciate food so early. Well, just like everything else, you get used to it. I am not telling you to eat a huge meal by any means. But eat something. Anything. For me, a cereal bar goes a long way. Fruits are another great choice.

Ironically, skipping breakfast usually leads to over-eating for the rest of the day (and especially that first meal you do end up having that day).

Eat smaller, but more frequently, meals. And no, that doesn’t mean have a dinner size meal throughout the day. It means space out your meals throughout the day, so you aren’t eating too much at once and then going for hours without anything to eat in between.

Eat an early dinner. It’s good for your digestive system, I’ve read, if you eat at least 3-4 hours before you sleep… or something like that. Basically, the point is to give yourself time to digest. Your stomach will thank you for it.

Choose healthier snacks. And meals for that matter. Healthy meals that are good for you don’t have to be boring or taste bad. Make it fun.

Healthy snacks options: nuts, popcorn, fruits. Instead of chips (for which I can’t even remember the last time I had any) and cookies, I “indulge” in popcorn. And chocolate (but more on that later). I also try to eat some fruit daily. In the form of pomegranates when I can find it in season, along with guavas occasionally. Otherwise, I like strawberries, blackberries, and watermelons as well. Apples and pears are also great and very filling.

Comparatively: one serving of Lays Classic Potato Chips, let’s say, has 160 calories (one serving equals 15 chips). 3 cups of Herr’s popcorn, which is what is listed as a serving size, has 150 calories. I’d say even just 2 cups of popcorn is a great portion to eat. I don’t think anyone would be able to eat just 15 pieces of chips. Both have a lot of sodium, but calories wise, popcorn is the winner.

Healthy meal options: lean meats, and light salads are a great choice [rather than rice and red meat]. I have a few recipes as suggestions that I have shared on my blog earlier: tilapia, baked shrimp (or sauteed), grilled chicken pita pockets. Eating healthier by no means should make you feel like you are giving up something. I’ve always preferred lean and boneless chicken, in fact, and probably consume red meat just a hand full of times in a year [if even that].

Another thing: grilled over fried. I’ve always loved grilled food (and lighter food in general), but I also loved my share of fried food. Nowadays, I tend to stay away from fried, greasy, food. Again, not because of any diet, but because of the healthier lifestyle factor. Again, I haven’t given up fried food — I just limit it (to french fries, for the most part, alongside a meal when I go out to eat). Moderation. Am I never going to have fried food again? I wouldn’t last. Am I going to make it a habit? Absolutely not.

Along the same lines, I choose non-stick spray over oil and/or butter. I am not saying that the non-stick sprays are “healthy”, just that they are a better choice. I’ve even read to use chicken broth instead of oil and butter, but haven’t implemented that myself so can’t say much about that.

Previously, my issue always had been no breakfast, snacking all day, and then not eating proper meals. I have learned to use that to my advantage now by making healthier choices and spacing them apart throughout the day. Now, I make a conscious effort to eat the cereal bar for breakfast soon after I wake up. I also eat dinner at 5 PM. I try not to eat anything (heavy) after that. For a long while, I had nothing after dinner at 5 PM. But I’ve made a conscious effort to start drinking [chocolate] milk lately so I usually have that about an hour after dinner. Sometimes, rarely though, I’ll have fruits around 7 or 8.

Stop mindless eating. Eat when you are hungry. As in don’t grab a bag of chips and eat in front of the television. Take a portion size/serving size out in a bowl and eat from that. This way, you know how much you are eating.

Does this mean I eat healthy all the time? Are you kidding me?! I have chocolate pretty much EVERY day. When I said I couldn’t give up anything, I meant it.

MOVE! I am sure exercising regularly goes a long way, but I am writing here about what I did/am doing. And exercise sure isn’t one of them.

I don’t know about you, but I am not a gym person and couldn’t exercise regularly if my life depended on it. What works for me: walking. Especially after eating, I like to take a walk. Walk in the morning, during your lunch break, or at night… or walk inside your own home, if that is what it comes down to, which I what do mostly everyday.

Drink water. Lots of it. The recommended 8 glasses of water per day? Drink that. At the very least! I always (and I mean ALWAYS) have a bottle of water with me. It’s my go-to beverage choice at all times. Nothing quenches your thirst like water anyways.

To each their own, of course. Everyone is different, and thus there bodies are different. What worked for me, may not work so well for you.

As an opposite example, for most people the first thing they would need to control is how much rice and bread and things like that they consume. I am not a fan of rice, and probably have a few bites of it a few times a year (if that!)

“How did you do it?”: I am not sure if there is a magical answer or shortcuts people are looking for when they ask me that… because there is none.

Anyways, this is a long post, but it’s a compilation of what is working for me. At the end of the day, it really is a lifestyle change that makes a difference. I didn’t wake up one day with the mind-sight to lose weight, although it’s been an added benefit, I suppose? It’s not about what you do and don’t do just for now to see a difference. It really is about the long run. Otherwise, you’ll end up yo-yo dieting for the rest of your life. It’s making better choices for yourself and your health, not just simply for the number on the scale.

This healthier lifestyle? I don’t let things get in the way of that for the most part. Which means I plan ahead if I will be away from home or other things may interfere. Setting a schedule, and following through with it regularly, is key.

I’d love to hear your tips and recommendations as well.

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