As I mentioned in THIS POST, I’m making some changes in my life to be healthier and lose some weight. I owned up to gaining 30 lbs since I started blogging. I didn’t gain weight because of the blog. I gained weight because I didn’t make my health a high priority. That changed last August when I kicked processed foods to the curb and became a vegetarian. Some of you have asked for more details of what I did and what I am doing, so I thought I share. Remember that I’m just sharing my decisions and my experience. I know food can be a touchy subject (see the thread about baby carrots!), so you have to ultimately make the decision of what’s best for you and your body.
I watched three documentaries that changed the way I viewed food. Food Matters, Forks Over Knives and Hungry for Change. (They are all available on Netflix as well.) Don’t watch these if you like your fast food and diet sodas and sugar. You’ll be bummed. I was bummed, but then I was motivated.
Step one for me was cleaning out the pantry and fridge.
I got rid of anything that contained MSG (which is fed to mice to make them fat, for goodness sake!), hydrogenated oils, corn syrup/high fructose corn syrup, and anything else I couldn’t pronounce or didn’t know what it was. It was amazing how much of the food I ate everyday contained one or all of these ingredients. Just look at the paragraph of ingredients in dried breadcrumbs! Is all of that really necessary? Anyway, I pitched what was open and gave away what was still sealed and hadn’t expired. (I must say I felt a little bad about that. “Here’s food I refuse to eat anymore, but you go ahead and eat it.”) I know this step is hard. It was hard for me to look at an almost empty pantry. It was hard to waste food I had paid for. It was hard to be so black and white. You might decide to take the “phase out” approach (this is what I did with my kids) and the foods you decide to cut out might be different, but this is how I did it.
Step two was about replacing.
I started by replacing foods that I liked that were not healthy for me with foods that I liked that were healthy (or at least better) for me. For example, I was a Diet Dr. Pepper addict. I was cracking one open at about 10:00 am everyday and sipped on them until I went to bed. I could go a few days without drinking any water. Really. I decided to go cold turkey and stopped drinking them. I felt pretty crappy for about 2 weeks. I had headaches, was cranky and craved them intensely. I had no idea I was so addicted. Then, I looked for a good replacement and found Clementine Izze. It’s an all-natural, no sugar added soda. Just fizzy fruit juice. I know it’s still empty calories, but it was something that was better for me and it gave me that fizzy fix I needed. I also started drinking a lot more water. Now, I mostly drink water and have an Izze 2-3 times a week when I want something different. The more water I drink, the more my body wants it. It’s great. Now a new, healthy habit has been established.
I kept reminding myself that I’m not dieting, I’m replacing! All-natural dark chocolate instead of candy. Sliced red peppers and cheese slices instead of crackers and cheese. Avocado instead of mayo. I never felt deprived, because I was eating things I really liked anyway. And I found some treats like Kettle Cooked Potato Chips. I don’t eat them much anymore, but they were a nice way to transition. I know they are fried white potatoes, but the ingredients were potatoes, oil and salt. I didn’t lose a lot of weight in steps one and two – only about 4 lbs, but it wasn’t about weight loss. It was about change and health.
The main focus of this stage was getting used to eating real, whole food. Once healthy habits were established, I moved onto step three.
Step three was adding exercise.
If I’m going to exercise, I want to be sweating and exhausted when I’m done. I don’t like to waste time with a fluffy workout, so I looked for an option that would fit my work schedule, would be challenging and would be working towards a goal. I did a bunch of research and decided to start with the video workout series called P90x.
I’m three weeks in and I am really enjoying it. It’s challenging. It’s varied, so I don’t get bored. It’s working me towards an end goal and I already see that I’m getting stronger, faster and more agile. The best thing is that my husband decided to do it with me, so we’re pushing each other on. He hates Plyometrics (jump training) and I hate Yoga, so we encourage each other through those DVDs. This works for me, because I can do it in my home whenever it’s convenient. I loved taking classes at the Y, but I have to show up when the class is scheduled and it didn’t always work with what I had to do that day. It was too easy to skip out. I also wasn’t working towards a specific fitness goal. I just took random classes I liked. As a bonus, one of my readers is doing P90x also, so we’re keeping in touch AND another reader is a Beachbody coach, so she’s become my official coach. I have lots of support.
So, I worked my tail off the first week and ate healthy foods, but I gained a pound. Bummer. Time for step four. This was the step I dreaded the most.
Step four – tracking calories.
I hate this part. I get sick of monitoring everything I put in my mouth. I don’t want to weigh it and write it down. I just want to grab a handful and enjoy. The first day I tracked my calories, I realized why I had gained a pound. I was eating more calories than I was burning. I made some adjustments, steered myself towards better choices (again replacing, not depriving) and I lost two pounds last week. As much as I hate this step, I need to do it and I need to make it as easy on myself as I can, so I stick with it. I’m using two tools…
My Fitness Pal – It’s a FREE App for your iPhone that you can use to track your calories and exercise. I did it for a few days and decided I would maybe track my calories a few days a week, so I didn’t get sick of it. Well, once I entered in my regular foods, recipes, meals and exercises, it was really easy, so I’ve been using it every day. In the past, I tracked everything by hand, in a notebook, so it got exhausting. Since the foods I eat most often are saved (and I’m a creature of habit), it’s just a couple of taps to add in my food. Writing everything down helps me make better choices…especially when it comes to quantities.
The second tool I’m using was my birthday present – The UP Bracelet by Jawbone.
This bracelet does a lot of things. It’s a pedometer, it tracks my sleep (light vs. deep, how long it takes to fall asleep, etc.) and it tracks my resting and active calorie burns. How? I have no idea, which is why I paint furniture and write a home decor blog instead of inventing cool gadgets.
There is an UP app for my iPhone and I plug the bracelet in to track everything from that app.
I don’t use it to track my food, because I like My Fitness Pal better, so I use the two apps together to make sure I’m staying in a calorie deficit each day.
If you’re a goal-oriented, good-grade-getting kind of person, you would like this App. I will make extra trips to the basement, march in place when I’m on the phone and walk around the church parking lot to make sure I get my 10,000 steps for the day. I also make sure I get in bed early enough to reach my 8 hour sleep goal. I’m really loving this gadget.
As I mentioned, I don’t like the food-tracker on their app, so I don’t use it. Sometimes it tracks “steps” when I’m rolling up some jute webbing or moving my arm a lot, but am still sitting down. Other than small stuff like that, I think it’s pretty accurate. I’ve only had it for a couple of weeks, so we’ll see how it goes.
So, that’s what I’m doing. Four steps to a minier-Miss Mustard Seed. I do have some number goals in my head, but my main goal is to get the fittest I have ever been in my life and be at the place where clothes shopping is fun. I have Christmas and birthday money I still haven’t spent because clothes shopping isn’t fun. When I get yelled at for the Kohl’s charge bill, I’ve reached my goal. (Just kidding, hon.)
I’m going to be even more transparent. I was hesitant to share about my health journey, because I’m afraid I’ll get side-tracked and I’ll abandon it. Sharing it is a big step and I had to muster up some courage to take it. Some of the things I’m trying might not work for me in the end. Maybe they will. Time will tell. My blog is an outlet for me and this is a big thing going on in my life right now, so it seemed right to share, even though it has nothing to do with decorating.
But I guess this blog has always been about more than that, anyway, right?
Disclosure: I was not asked or paid to promote any of the products I linked to or wrote about in this post. I did not receive any products for free or in exchange for advertising. Some of the links are Amazon Affiliate links, so I am paid a percentage if you make a purchase through that link.