I was going to post something else today but with back-to-back snowstorms, I felt the need to take a different approach. Today we were hit again with another snow storm. This is the third one this week. In fact, when a snow storm in Pennsylvania is predicted, a mass exodus to the grocery store is pretty much the norm. Although it’s nothing quite like the one we experienced in March when the whole world shut down, but it’s our reality as the first flake makes its way to the ground. When you have no place to be, a snowstorm seems so cozy, with a pot of comfort food stewing on the stovetop or baking in the oven. For some reason, this time around, making a batch of homemade cookies AND brownies seemed like the right thing to do. With a husband having a never-ending sweet tooth, there was nothing in my way stopping me. When all said and done, I came out of the first storm with a sugar hangover and a few extra added pounds. Lucky for me, I’ve been down this road before. I know what I need to do to get myself back on track. We all slip up. So rather than beat myself up or feel helpless and guilty, I knew that it’s time to do the work. I want to share this weight loss piece with you because it helps anyone who wants to start out and doesn’t know where to begin or for someone who went on a sugar bender for a month and needs to course correct.
Weight loss is not just about calorie reduction and increased activity, if you want to be successful at it, you must include behavioral strategies. I still have the freedom to live a healthy lifestyle but I add these principles to keep me focused.
- Self-monitor – It’s constant, keeping a sleep journal to track your sleep routine is always the one step people forget, especially if you don’t sleep well to begin with. Sleep plays a huge part in our health and logging our patterns can help us adjust our habits for better sleep hygiene. (Sharing this info is necessary with your healthcare provider too.) Now a days, there are so many great apps to download on our phones to track our water and food intake as well as our activity levels.
- Avoid tempting situations – I meal prep every Sunday so I’m prepared for the week and not tempted to buy lunch on the go or grab a slice of pizza when there’s a work related pizza party. I also keep a 10-minute timer on all of my social media accounts so they lock me out and I’m not tempted to substitute my workout time with this time waster.
- Spend time around like-minded people. Having a social support group to lift you up works wonders to achieve your goals. Investing in yourself by hiring a coach or a trainer to help navigate you through those time of momentary relapses and unwanted habits. Not to mention we all can continue to learn a thing or two about something or be reminded of that certain thing we would have overlooked if we went at it alone.
- Substitute – instead of cooking with butter or fats to improve on taste, use spices. There are a variety of recipes to experience. Salt and pepper are not the only spices in this world. Experiment with fresh spices and learn a different world cuisine. Middle eastern dishes have blends of spices that make your taste buds zing! Not just food but workouts too. If you hate running, then don’t do it. Hiking or biking get the jobs done.
- SMART goals – Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time Bound. These types of goals have a very specific intention. Write them out and review often. We set goals in other areas, why not for our health,
- Change your mindset – Stop the all or nothing thinking. Look at this moment differently, it’s not a permanent calorie restriction but a temporary calorie reduction. You can eat all the food you want if they are nutrient dense rather than energy dense. Ask yourself, if the program you are about to start, does the diet support your exercise program?
And finally, we can’t continue without knowing exactly how active we actually need to be. Bringing your physical activity level up to 150 to 300 minutes of a moderate intensity per week is something we all should aim for. That means, if you do the weekly bare minimum that is only 30 minutes out of your day, for five days a week! Or 22 minutes per day, 7 days per week. Don’t be afraid to do this in three 10-minute intervals to add up to 30 minutes, if that’s what fits into your schedule. So now that you know I even have moments of weakness, I hope these guidelines are enough to get you started. I’m here when you are ready.
(Please see your doctor if you have known cardiovascular disease or have been sedentary for sometime before starting a workout program.)