I have received a ton of messages asking me what kind of foods I eat and what kinds of tricks work for me. I have to tell you, I really don’t believe in “one size fits all” eating or exercise plans, so maybe that’s the best place to start. I can share MY tips and tricks, but it’s really important that you find what works best for you and your lifestyle.
Tips and Tricks
- Restrictive eating plans (note that I NEVER use the word “diet” because what I am trying to achieve is a healthy way of eating for life) are a form of self-sabotage. The minute I tell myself I can’t have something, the 2-year-old in me will fight tooth and nail to get it. So I use compromise with that inner toddler, much as I did with my own daughters when they were young. For instance, I might say to myself “you can choose to have this if you really want it, but then the rest of the day needs to go like this…”. Then, I actually map out how the rest of the day will go. I find I throw very few tantrums when I compromise with myself.
- Drink water like it’s a job. I drink probably 120 oz of ice water a day. Why? Because it’s hot as snot here in Phoenix in the summertime. Also, it gives me something to do with my hands and mouth other than eating. And, because it flushes water weight, makes my skin look good and makes my coat shiny.
- Plants first, then protein, then carbs. When I make a plate of food for myself, I put the fruits/veggies on first and I put them on half of the plate. Then, I use one remaining “corner” for my protein and the other remaining space for my carbs. As I said, you have to find your own balance here, but half the plate in plants is a good guideline. By the way, my serving of carbs is usually pretty small. Carbs aren’t my friend. But that doesn’t mean I never eat them and it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat them. Here is a pretty picture of a well-balanced plate:
And maybe not so much this one...
- I like to eat 5-6 small meals a day. That way, I never really get ravenously hungry and lose my reasoning powers. If I miss meals, my brain goes all wonky and I start to make bad choices. I have found that eating every 3 hours helps me keep my sanity. If you work outside the home, get a pretty cooler bag from Target, plan out your meals that you need to take with you, and pack your bag the night before or the morning of. This helps to eliminate time-crunch food fails.
- Understand the science behind weight-loss. It takes 3500 calories to make up a pound. That means that if you want to lose 1 lb per week, you have to shave off 3500 calories through either reduced calories or exercise. The best tool I’ve found is an app called MyFitnessPal. I log in every single thing I eat and also log in my exercise. Doctors recommend that you don’t go under 1200 calories a day. So, say for instance, I eat 1800 calories in a day but I go to Zumba and burn 600 of those calories, I’m getting my recommended 1200 calories a day. I found I had to experiment with how many calories to eat per day, because sometimes if you don’t eat enough, your body thinks you’re starving so it hangs on to every last pound. Every last one. For me to lose weight, I eat between 1800 - 2000 calories a day and try to burn about 600 calories per workout per day. That gives me 1200 – 1400 calories a day for fuel. Go poke around on Google for ways to calculate how many calories you should eat based on your current weight and how much you want to lose per week (1-2 lbs is sane…anything more is cray cray).
- Weigh yourself however many days a week you need to without it sending you into psychosis. I used to weigh myself daily, but I would turn into a rabid animal if I saw the scale go up by a pound or even a few ounces when I KNEW I had eaten well the day before. The answer (for me) is usually water weight. If I know I haven’t added an extra 3500 calories in, I then look at how much sodium I had the day or two before. I’m one of those people that gains water weight pretty easily, so I have to really watch my sodium intake and drink lots of water to keep flushing my system. I try to get on the scale once a week now, just to keep from losing my mind.
A day in the life of Jill:
Breakfast – Ham and Cheddar Artisan Sandwich (Starbucks) – 350 calories
Snack – 1 piece of double fiber 100% whole wheat bread, 1 tbsp creamy peanut butter, 1 tbsp all-fruit spread – 215 calories
Lunch – Tomato Basil soup and Grilled Chicken Caesar salad w/1 tbsp dressing on the side (Lunch Pairing at Applebee’s) – 480 calories
Snack – 1 slice of sharp cheddar, 2 celery sticks – 80 calories
Dinner – Grilled chicken breast (homemade 4 oz), Ratatouille (homemade 1 cup) – 135 calories
Snack – ½ cup no-sugar-added Blue Bunny Butter Pecan ice cream – 110
Grand Total: 1380 calories (NOTE: I didn’t exercise this day because I took a day off. If I had, I would have eaten more to balance it out. Also, I should have probably had more fruit on this day. And that ham and cheddar breakfast sandwich was NOT on a whole grain bun. Oh well.)
I really think the key here is balance. I don’t believe in perfection and I don’t believe in hard and fast rules. You’ll see what I mean in the Day 3 post. I just do the best I can every day and feel proud of myself for trying. I praise my inner toddler when she makes good choices and if she makes bad choices, I give her love and tell her that tomorrow will be better. And it always is.