I don’t want to be one of those people that say “pay off debt to feel free” or “losing weight will make you feel better” without giving you a plan or tips that I have found helpful. Anyone can write those things and point fingers, but if there is no plan, then failure is inevitable. As most of you know I am a huge proponent of making healthy food choices and doing some type of physical activity each day. I have MS and am limited in the pounding my legs and feet can take, but even I find a way each and every day to exercise.
I am going to give you my common sense approach to weight loss and healthy living. Here goes…When I first started educating myself on living a healthy lifestyle I found common ground amongst all the information. You need to drink 8-10 glasses of water each day, you need to determine the number of calories needed each day to properly fuel your body and you need to develop a habit of physical activity each day. Proper hydration is more important than food for survival as humans can go months without food, but only about 10 days without water. It provides nutrients to the body and allows the body to heal itself. Caloric intake has been essential to my weight success as you must understand what types of calories to consume and which to avoid. Also you must understand and monitor your intake each day to keep the body from storing extra calories as fat cells. And lastly, physical activity works the muscles and organs, which strengthens and makes them stronger. Easy peasy so far?
Now, the tough part for some comes when choosing food. If you try to educate yourself some publications make choosing the right foods seem confusing with good fats, bad fats, complex carbohydrasomething or another…then add to this fad diets like Gluten Free, Atkins or Paleo and it can be a very confusing situation. So what I am going to do is take the burden of confusion off of you and say, “relax!” I have found that using common sense works just about every time and that applies to food. (obviously if your doctor has you on no gluten due to celiacs disease, then remain on it)
Start by shopping on the exterior portion of your local grocery store. What you will find, typically, is that all the fruits and veggies, meat, poultry, eggs, milk and bakery items live on the perimeter with most of the processed food products on the interior. Buy 95% of your food items from the exterior perimeter of the store. Fruits, veggies, whole wheat grains, lowfat dairy and eggs. Choose fish and turkey first for all meat as ground turkey is lean and is a great substitute for beef, then chicken and rarely beef. I also found a great guide to buying food is to never buy food with more than 1 ingredient listed!
So what about all the tasty treats and packaged foods on the interior? Excluding the need for spices and cleaning supplies, I want you to avoid the interior of the store as if there were land mines everywhere! This is where people get FAT! Yes I said the F word! We need to face a reality in our lives: we are too fat! We carry around extra fat cells on our bodies and we need to do something about it in order to avoid premature deaths! The sad part is we have normalized people being fat to our own detriment because we do not want to hurt feelings. Well, I want to hurt feelings so bad that someone turns off their TV and walks around the block instead! So, no more cookies, crackers, sodas, packaged foods, processed sugars, frozen dinners, etc! All of these things fall into the “eliminate immediately/only on the rarest of occasions” category. Makes sense?
What about snacks? If you Google healthy snack choices the list is impressive, but I have a few personal favorites: plums, apples, almonds, lowfat cottage cheese, lowfat vanilla yogart, pears, celery sticks, carrots and broccoli. I keep choices simple as I found it is easier and faster to grab a couple apples to eat while I am away from home for a few hours. I try to eat 3 meals per day with small snacks scheduled so that I eat about every 2-3 hours.
If you have not noticed by now, this buying habit is going to require you to combine ingredients together in a pan, pot or slow cooker and do what old-fashioned folk call “cooking.” Contrary to popular belief, tearing open a box and following instructions is not proper cooking and WILL result in fat gain. One of the most important aspects of designing a healthy life is to eliminate processed foods! I highly recommend buying a slow cooker for easy, bulk cooking. Find a healthy slow cooker recipe book to help you learn how to combine ingedients. Honestly, if you shop on the exterior of the store you can combine anything and slow cook it! Peppers, onions, mushrooms, diced turkey, chili powder, spices….Chili!
I am not expecting anyone to become the next fitness/exercise maniac, as I try to be reasonable. So I say start by walking around your block. If you can only walk 5 minutes, then do your 5 minutes religiously! If you can run, then run. Go hiking, walking, running, biking…whatever physical activity you can find is acceptable. Just do something each and every day!
Here’s how to determine your calorie needs:
Here is a good calorie and exercise log:
If you practice these common sense rules and document your caloric intake each and every day, your body will find its balance point over time! Your body wants to be healthy so stop stuffing in junk fuel and let it do the job it was designed to do! The log will teach you how to eat and what to eat based on your calorie goal. The formula is this simple: more veggies, more fruit, more fish, more turkey, wheat pasta and bread occasionally and water. NEVER: soda, sugary snacks, frozen dinners, fast food, fried anything, processed boxed food. Shop on the perimeter not the interior and buy only 1 ingredient items.
Obviously, if you have a medical situation then follow your doctor’s orders, if not, you have zero excuses except a neglectful attitude and that is simply unacceptable! If you are capable then you should expect more of yourself so stop being lazy, show me some ambition, desire and fortitude and get to living a healthier lifestyle! Do something today that your future self will thank you for doing!!