So, I've been talking alot, and that's great, but ultimately, to make a large change in my life, I need a plan. It's important to know how I want to approach this, but at the same time being realistic that life sometimes doesn't let you do things exactly how you intend. Flexibility when that happens is key.
So, my plan consists of four main categories:
The last couple days I've spent alot of time talking about me. Ultimately, I am the one that makes all the decisions and determines when I succeed.
Today, I'm going to talk about my diet.
First of all, I want to touch briefly on the word "diet". The word diet has gotten a bad rap. It's often thought of a temporary way of eating, and people are using words like "lifestyle" instead. That's all fine and good, but your diet is still part of your lifestyle.
The first definition of diet I have found in a quick google search is: "food or drink regularly provided or consumed." This is the definition I will be referring to when I talk about my diet in this blog. See, I could eat nothing but chocolate bars and sardines and that would be the diet I am on. For me, diet simply means the food I am choosing to consume.
So, back on topic. My diet. I currently have 3 main goals with my diet (in no particular order): 1. Weight loss 2. Health 3. Enjoyment
So, in order to lose weight, it's a question of calories in being less then the calories out. Okay, that's how it's supposed to work, but I am of the opinion it isn't quite that simple. Anyone that has ever tried to lose weight knows there are times when they *should* have lost weight based on what they ate, but didn't. Regardless, overall, on average, this is the formula that results in weight loss.
So, to this end, I am going to be following the weight watchers point system. I've done weight watchers before and it's worked for me. Ultimately, it's simplified calorie counting, and that's why it works. The other strength is the encouragement to track your food. This is KEY for me and is something I will touch further on in a future post. Writing down what you eat makes you so much more aware of what you are putting in your mouth. Even if you aren't showing it to anyone else, it keeps you from lying to yourself.
When it comes to better health, eating well is far more then calorie counting. Most people would loose weight on a diet of 3 donuts and a few salads a day. That doesn't mean they'd be healthy.
For me, eating for better health includes a minimum of processed foods, a balance of nutrients, a balance of food groups, and a limited amount of foods that lack nutritional value.
I don't buy many prepared meals. Rather I prepare them myself. This gives me far more control over what goes into it and saves me money at the same time. I do cook for an army though. So, ultimately, I create my own convenience food. For instance, among other things, I currently have spaghetti sauce, stew and cooked chicken in my freezer. So, on nights when I just don't have time, or I don't feel like it, I still have something that is quick and easy to make.
I also make my own bread, cookies, muffins and yogurt. I love making food though and I am the queen of kitchen gadgets. I don't think it's necessary to make everything yourself in order to eat well, but it does give you more control. If you don't enjoy it like I do, buy it premade.
The balance of nutrients is key to staying satisfied. Fat, carbohydrates and protein all have a place within this. Both fat and carbohydrates are sometimes under rated and have been often considered the enemy. A balance of everything is important. Fat helps you to feel full longer and performs many vital functions in your body. Carbohydrates give you much needed energy. There's more to it then that, but I am neither a nutritionist or a scientist, so this is my simplistic take on it.
On a side note, I actually think this is one place that weight watchers fail their members. I am of the opinion that they place too big a stigma on higher fat items by penalizing the point count. There are good fats and bad fats though, and it's unfortunate this isn't recognized.
Balance of food groups is something that most of us learned back in elementary school. The Canada food guide has undergone some minor changes, but ultimately, it's still a very good guide for healthy eating.
Finally, a minimum of foods that lack nutritional value. I am all for a treat and fully intend to have one occasionally. But, there is no reason most of those treats can't still help me with my other goals. There's few treats that can beat a bowl of fresh strawberries, for instance. Now, I'll still have the occasional piece of chocolate, or a butter tart, but those treats will be maybe once a week rather then daily.
Ever heard the phrase: "some people live to eat, others eat to live". Well, I'm one of those living to eat people, and there's nothing wrong with that. I absolutely admire people that can consider food as merely sustenance, but I'm not one of them.
If you're like me and you are a "live to eat" person, you have to enjoy what you are eating or you won't stick to it. You have to find something that will give you as much enjoyment as you got from your chocolate explosion cake. And, I guarantee you, if you're eating whole, unprocessed foods most of the time, that cake will taste 10 times better on the occasions that you do have it.
I fully intend to enjoy eating while I drop the pounds. It won't even be that hard for me. Because I love produce. Love it. I said earlier that nothing beats a bowl of fresh strawberries, but a juicy mango will give it a run for it's money. Or asparagus. Mmmm... Maybe I'm a freak, but I can't wait for asparagus season to return. One of my favourites lately is honeydew melons.
Now, I live in Canada, so the best fresh produce is seasonal. Don't underestimate frozen and canned produce though. You have to be choosy. Make sure your fruit is packed in juice or water. (I do juice since I avoid artificial sweeteners and most fruit packed in water has them). But, overall, you can get some good produce out of cans and the freezer.
I also enjoy baking and like to play with recipes to make them healthier. Now, caution is needed here. Baking is a dangerous area for those of us with a weakness for binge eating. This is another place where the freezer is a great tool. Most baking freezes beautifully and putting it in the freezer takes it out of an easy grab and munch zone.
And sometimes, I am going to indulge in something along the lines of chocolate amaretto cheesecake. Because it too has a place in my diet. Just a very small, controlled, occasional place.
Interestingly enough though, looking back on this section, the description that makes my mouth water the most is that of the juicy mango...