-FIRST THINGS FIRST!!!! I had to realize that I could keep justifying just ONE MORE DAY of eating like crap and/or not working out. It was easy! I was an expert at it. INSTEAD I started arguing with myself when I came up with those excuses. And I also thought about how I would feel AFTER I ate all the junk food or when I woke up the next morning. Would I be proud or ashamed. Would I be glad I laid around eating pizza and cake or would I regret it? What would make me hate myself a little less when I saw myself in the mirror the next morning???
-Binge eating is a learned response to stimulus (usually anxiety)...nothing less, nothing more. Our minds have subconcious "go to" actions based on what has worked for us in the past. That means, if you have alievated stress in the past by binge eating, when stress arises, your brain says "oh that's easy, stress=binge eating" and it pretty much overrides the rational part of yourself and "makes" you overeat. Your subconcious brain takes over because your concious mind needs to focus on new problems. So binge eating has now become a reflex. However, once you start intercepting this message and redirecting your brain to other alternatives (exercise, meditation, etc.), your subconcious mind's tendency to use binging as it's "go to" action will start to subside and these new "go to" methods will start to pop in your head. Sounds crazy, I know! But when I get stressed out, I often now find myself just CRAVING the feeling of running as fast as I can...and sometimes I still just crave pizza lol. But the signal is so much weaker now that I have control over it and can say no...or occasionally yes if I so choose! :-)
-Drink lots of water, especially early in the day and around your workouts. You hear it all the time but that's because it's so important. Dehydration can cause energy loss and increase in appetite. There's arguments popping up lately that water isn't as important as previously thought. I DON'T CARE WHAT THEY SAY! I know from experience what not drinking enough water does to my energy level and my muscles when I'm working out. That's ALL the proof I need!
-Eat 5-6 protein/complex carb rich meals per day. This has probaby been the #1 key to my success. I have so much more energy and SOOO much more control over my cravings when I do this. As a general rule of thumb, your carb count should not exceed 2-3x the protein count. It could be even less for some people who are more sensitive to carbs. This helps to regulate your blood sugar which gives you more energy, keeps you fuller longer and helps prevent cravings that you feel like you have no control over.
-While we are on the subject of carbs. CARBS ARE VITAL TO YOUR SUCCESS! I'm not saying that extremely low carb diets don't work in the short term but your brain needs carbs to function! Women especially need carbs to regulate a whole mess of things in their bodies. Healthy, complex carbs are the key though!
-This leads me to my next point. Eating a candy bar will NOT get you through your afternoon slump...it will make it WORSE! Donuts are not brain food! They will give you energy for about 10-30 minutes then you will crash and burn. Try a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit and some cheese for an afternoon snack. If those don't work, keep trying but stop eating junk when you're tired. It is sooo counterproductive! Side note: I understand that a handful of nuts does not sound like an appealing alternative to something like a Nutty Bar. So, if you just NEED something sweet in the afternoon, start out by switching to an energy bar. These are NOT health food (as a general rule) but are better than candy bars in most cases. I transitioned over eating Zone Bars (smores are sooo good) and then Cliff White Macadamia bars. They both are, in my opinion, just as tasty as any candy bar out there. Just remember, this is a TEMPORARY TRANSITION food! These are not ideal for your blood sugar or overall health in the long term.
-Always eat before you feel really hungry. If you were to rate your hunger on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being stuffed full, 10 being starving) you want to eat when you reach about a 5 or a 6. This would be when you’re just starting to feel that empty feeling. This also helps combat the cravings that take over your body and MAKE you eat naughty things.
-Don't ever do a workout that you hate more than once! There are too many awesome, fun things out there for you to settle on something boring or, worse, something you despise. My faves are Zumba, trail running (which I never would've guessed), yoga, pilates, kickboxing and dancing around with my son. However, I do suggest going back to forms of exercise you've previous hated and giving them another try when you're in better shape. You may find that you previously hated them because you weren't in good enough shape to do them. Also, you may now love that exercise simply because you CAN do it now and couldn't before. It will make you feel powerful and successful.
-The same rule applies to food. There are too many delicious, sinfully good tasting healthy foods to be choking down nastiness for the sake of health. Some of my personal yummy health foods: blackened chicken or fish, shrimp cocktail, strawberries, gala apples w/ natural peanut butter, morningstar black bean burgers (with lettuce, tomato, salsa, ff sour cream & avocado on top...mmmmm), mushrooms, crab cakes (emphasis on the crab, not the cake), asparagus, and Crockpot Chicken Taco Stew. These might not be YOUR favorites but, that's the point, you have to find a list of things that are. Oh and I've replaced mayo with horseradish sauce, it's soooooooo good!
-Set goals for yourself. It's another thing everyone says but, again, it's because it's so important. Personally, weight and clothing size goals never worked for me. Fitness goals have! I challenge myself to do so many pushups or my current goal is to do a pull up. I have the general goal in mind during each workout that I want to increase my overall cardio endurance so I can run longer. I also used to hate working my quads until I started hiking and now I jump at the chance to work them cause I know it will help me scale those rocks and endure those tough inclines up a mountain. Whatever your goal is it has to mean enough to make you push yourself out of your comfort zone.
-Sleep!!! Sleep has probably been the #2 biggest influence over my success. I used to stay up half the night just because I felt like that was my only "me time" after my son came. I would, on numerous occassions, end up eating at some point late at night as well. Now that I'm getting a full night's sleep I have more energy, less cravings and, overall, a more positive attitude so I don't need as much "me time" as I thought I did.
-Kick the diet soda habit. I had a dirty dirty addiction to Lo Carb Monster drinks. Just typing the name makes me salivate and want to crack open a can right now and feel that sweet, bubbly nectar sliding down my throat. I was drinking 3 PER DAY EVERY DAY and was having horrible side effects. I read something that really stuck with me and began my desire to quit: "how many thin people do you see drinking diet drinks?" Not a lot! The stuff is not natural, has been shown to assist your body in retaining fat and the artificial sweetener actually makes you crave sugar and I know it's true cause I've lived it! If you are addicted to aspertame (and YES it IS addictive, especially to women) educate yourself on the reasons why it's addictive and it will empower you to stop.
-Which brings me to my next point. KNOWLEDGE=POWER!!! If you want to quit a habit whether it be junk food, sitting around being lazy, cigarettes...whatever! EDUCATE YOURSELF on the subject. I don't mean do an internet search and spend 5 minutes skimming the topic. I mean READ IT! BREATH IT! SLEEP IT! I have found that WITHOUT FAIL if I continue to educate myself on a topic, I will naturally pull away from that addiction just because I am so acutely aware of what's going to happen when that substance enters my body. Here's an example. The other day I was at the grocery store & STARVING. I saw a box of Nutty Bars in front of me and I SOOOOO wanted one! INSTANTLY the following calculation went through my head:
"If I eat this Nutty Bar, it will taste sooo good and make me feel good....but then a few minutes later, right after I take that last bite, I will regret it....then a few minutes after my blood sugar has spiked I will start to get a sugar headache...then by the time I get home I won't want to unload the groceries, I'll want to take a nap because my blood sugar will be so low. And then I'll have the rest of the box sitting on the counter when I wake up and I'll probably eat another one because I'll have introduced simple sugars back into my body and will be craving them. And my workout will suck tonight because I won't feel energetic either mental or physically. It might take me a week or even a month to get back on the wagon and I wonder how much weight I'll gain and muscle I'll lose....PASS on the Nutty Bars!"
-Take pride in yourself RIGHT NOW! Even if you don't feel attractive, take the time to fix your hair, find outfits that flatter your figure no matter what your current size, hold your shoulders back and be proud of who you are right this second because you take much better care of someone you love than someone you hate. Treat yourself how you would treat your mother or your child. If you don't learn to love yourself, even if you find a way to reach our ideal body weight, you won't maintain it. Loving yourself is not something you decide to do, it's a process. Fake it til you make it if necessary. Pay attention to your internal thoughts. When you say something negative about yourself, replace it with something positive. Eventually it will become a habit, and one day you'll accidentally start loving yourself.
-Realize that EVERYTHING counts. Every day, every meal, every workout really does count. I didn’t lose 88 pounds in 10 months. I lost an average of 8.8 pounds per month and an average of 0.28 pounds per day! Any day I cheated the number was a little less, any day I worked a little harder, ate a little better, it was more.
-Last but CERTAINLY not least, notice how things make you feel RIGHT NOW. It's like the Nutty Bar scenario I mentioned, notice how everything from the food you eat, the fluid you drink, the exercise you do and the sleep you get affects you because these are IMMEDIATE results you can see instantly. Junk food cravings suck! But when you have that first good bowel movement in years or get through the evening without needing to snack or wake up one morning with no lower back pain, these little things will help keep you on track when you can't see results for all your hard work in the mirror. Learn to love the process and you'll learn how to lose weight and keep it off forever.
Bringing Your Body Into Balance
My 100+ pound weight loss is what grabs people's attention. However, my weight loss was merely a side effect of finally taking my health and happiness into my own hands and finding that perfect balance. Body, mind, spirit. It all matters.