So many of us struggle to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle — we make resolutions for the new year to change our eating habits, sign up for gym memberships like Planet Fitness, and buy things like juicers to incorporate more fruits and veggies in our diet. However, we’ve just entered the halfway mark in 2019, and I’m pretty sure most of us have forgotten about our resolutions, we haven’t been to Planet Fitness in months, and our juicer is sitting in the cabinet collecting dust.
Until recently, I was in the exact same position as most of you. Over the years, I’ve either gained or maintained weight because I wasn’t fully committed to changing my entire lifestyle. However, it was a few months ago in March that I was faced with a health scare that forced me to change the way I think about food and exercise. As a result of this change, I’ve lost almost 20 pounds! Honestly though, it should not have taken a health scare for me to get serious about my health, so I want to share some of the small changes that I made that helped me lose weight so that you all won’t have to be scared straight!
- First, cut out soda
According to a LiveStrong article, just one 12oz can of Coca-Cola has 9.75 teaspoons, or 39 grams, of sugar in it. The article also says that The American Heart Association only recommends that women have six teaspoons or less of added sugar daily per day and men have nine teaspoons or less. If we drink a can of Coke for lunch and a can for dinner, we’ve more than doubled our recommended daily sugar intake. That’s why I suggest cutting out sodas first. Try it for just two weeks and see how you do. If you do well, that’s great! See if you can cut out juice, lemonade, Starbucks drinks, and sweet tea next. Instead of these sweet choices, drink sparkling water and regular water. Try different combinations of fresh fruits and herbs inside to make it more refreshing, or try water flavor packets that have low calories and no sugar like Crystal Light.
- Cut out white bread
Not only does white bread add to the fat in your stomach, but according to another LiveStrong article, white bread also has very little nutrients, makes you hungry faster, and it doesn’t help your digestive system. Now, that’s not to say that you can never eat another sandwich or piece of toast with your breakfast ever again. Just substitute it for whole wheat or multigrain options! (Whole wheat bread is healthier than multigrain bread — if you want to learn more, read this article) Instead, try multigrain english muffins, whole wheat hamburger buns, and regular whole wheat bread.
- Cut your portions down
It’s hard to cut your portions of food down initially because your stomach is so used to eating a certain amount that when it doesn’t get its normal amount, it tricks you into thinking you’re still hungry. If you’re having pork chops for dinner tonight and you normally eat two for dinner with a side of vegetables, try only eating one pork chop with a side of vegetables and see how you feel! That doesn’t mean wait a minute or two after you cleared your plate to decide that you’re still hungry. Remember, your stomach will try to trick you into thinking you need more food. An article in the Huffington Post suggests that it can take up to 20 minutes for your stomach to realize that you’re full, so it’s important to give your stomach that extra time to realize that you don’t need more food! Instead, go run an errand, do some house chores, or just relax to fill up that 20-minute gap. Also, water is key! Drink water during and after meals to help fill you up as well — it really helps.
- Make smarter choices at restaurants
Just because you’re eating healthier doesn’t mean you can’t eat some of the same things you usually eat at restaurants. Remember, we’re starting out small! If you go to Chipotle and you always get white rice with extra chicken and loads of sour cream, try brown rice with the regular amount of chicken and sour cream on the side. Again, don’t feel pressured to finish the entire bowl or burrito all in one sitting. Try to eat half and see if you’re satisfied after you drink a nice glass of water! If you go to a sit-down restaurant and you want to make sure you don’t eat too much, ask for a to-go container as soon as your food gets to the table. When the waiter or waitress brings it, separate your food before you start eating. This will allow you not to overeat and have some tasty leftovers to bring to work for lunch the next day! To sum up everything in this section, choose healthier options at restaurants and ask for a to-go container before you start eating!
- Try a protein bar instead of a candy bar!
In my effort to try to give up sweets and unhealthy foods, I’ve discovered One Bars, which I am absolutely in love with! They have different flavors like birthday cake, peanut butter pie, peanut butter cup, and chocolate chip cookie dough (these are all of my favorites!). Not only do they have 20 grams of protein, but each bar has only 1 gram of sugar! Here’s a comparison of the nutrition facts from a Peanut Butter Pie One Bar and a Snickers Bar.
Calories: 250 Calories: 220
Total Fat: 12g Total Fat: 8g
Cholesterol: 5mg Cholesterol: 5mg
Sodium: 120mg Sodium: 135mg
Total Carbohydrate: 33g Total Carbohydrate: 23g
Dietary Fiber: 1g Dietary Fiber: 10g
Sugars: 27g Sugars: 1g
Protein: 4g Protein: 20g
See? Amazing, right? I get mine from GNC for about $2.50 per bar — try one, and tell me if you like them! I hope that these suggestions were helpful and that you are committed to this journey of healthy living right along with me!
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn