Thursday, September 18, 2014

How To End The Cycle That's Making You Fat.

One day you wake up feeling especially bloated. You look into the mirror and hardly recognize yourself anymore. As you inspect your new "curves" you think back over the last couple days, weeks, or months and realize your lifestyle has drastically changed. Your running shoes are dusty, strewn in a corner despite how warn in you stretchy yoga pants are, and you can't remember the last time you ate a vegetable. Wait- does the tomato on your hamburger the other day count? It totally counts... Right?
Then you get dressed in "the only pants that fit you right now", and head to the kitchen to get breakfast. Alas no healthy options are available so you settle for drive through coffee and a butter croissant. By the time you get to work or school you are extremely discouraged and can't imagine how you will ever undo what's been done, so you do what's easy, which is continue to eat whatever you want, however much you want, and by the time you get home you're too tired and feeling yucky so exercising is out. But right before bed you think back to the morning and start to feel guilty about not doing better. Then you bust out the excuse: it's too hard.

This cycle seems to be never ending, but there is hope. There is a way out if you want it. And here it is:

1) The next morning, strip down to your birthday suit and jump on the scale. Hope for the worst because this is your beginning number. Later, the bigger this number is the more impressive your results will be. Then, write it down, put it away, and go get dressed.
Image by east Dallas Crossfit
2) it's time to meal plan. Since this requires planning and shopping, feel free to use this as the last day to splurge on on the awful foods you love. Try not to binge, you'll just feel worse. Sit down and map out all the meals you will have in one week. Make special note for any date nights or brunch with the girls. Once you have an idea of how many breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks you will be providing for yourself then it's time to plan out some healthy options. Keep in mind how much time you will have for each meal. Are your mornings really busy or do you get up with enough time to sit down with a cup of coffee and the paper? Do you pack your lunch or dinner? Then make a list of healthy foods you enjoy: scrambled egg whites with spinach, turkey wraps on a whole wheat tortilla, baked chicken or tofu with steamed veggies?

My suggestion is to start off with easy meals to get you going. Go ahead and plug in a healthy option for each meal you will be eating for the next week. If you're a habitual eater like me, this is really easy, because I tend to eat the same one or two things for each meal, which also cuts down on grocery costs.

You can still eat your favorite foods, just make them lower in calories and higher in nutrients with healthy swaps! Trade goldfish for whole wheat crackers. Use cucumber slices instead of chips. Zucchini noodles instead of pasta. Collard greens instead of taco shells.

Here's an example of my upcoming week:
Breakfasts: cottage cheese and green tea for mornings I'm in a rush, perfect fit pancakes for mornings when I have a little bit more time
Am snack: 1 cup grapes and 1 serving of almonds
Lunch: either quinoa salad with crackers and laughing cow cheese, or a veggie, hummus wrap on a whole wheat tortilla with a side salad.
Pm snack: perfect fit protein shake with almond milk.
Dinner: salad with choice of protein.

After you have your meals planned out its time to look over recipes and write down your shopping list. Next to the shopping list write down how you will need to use each food item. For example when shopping for the veggies to go into my veggie wraps, I will note that I need them cut length wise. While keeping in mind that I will need egg whites for my pancakes, I can then choose the liquid whites over whole eggs to keep my labor shorter.

After you have shopped till you dropped its time to prep your meals. This is where that side list of how you will be using each ingredient comes in useful. Start by dividing each food item and grouping together what you will use for each meal. Cut, dice, or peel accordingly. If you need to actually cook a recipe do so. Make sure all your breakfast foods are front and center in your fridge so they are easy no brianers when you are just waking up. Use Tupperware to divide salads for the week, or any other meal you decide to have. Make it so easy that all you have to do is pull it out the fridge, heat if necessary, and then devour. If you are packing your lunches, why not pack them now, put a label on them noting each day, and then put them in the fridge. If you are portioning out snacks, do it now. For my 1 cup grapes, I like to wash the fruit, and then measure them out into Ziplock bags for the week. The whole idea is a grab and go system so that you are never standing at the refrigerator with the door open wondering what you should eat.

This system really helps to keep food costs and waste down. It might be cumbersome the first week or two but then it will get easier, I promise. Another plus to food prepping is that you can measure out correct portions which will keep you from over-eating.

3) The next step is to get moving. Look at your calendar for the week, where do you have some time to exercise? Schedule in at least 4 workouts for the week. Just 30 minutes is enough. You can do anything; go to a class at the gym, go for a run, walk, at-home workout videos, heck even YouTube has some amazing options. My personal favorite is to run for cardio and do Tone It Up videos at home. Those are my go-to workouts, and they are effective. Later you will need to add variety, but this is just a jump-start, so anything you choose will be effective.

After scheduling your meals and workouts you will begin to feel a lot better. Mostly because you will have a plan! After utilizing the plan after about three days you will begin to see results. Slowly but surely you will start to feel like yourself again, I promise! Sometimes life gets a little crazy and we settle into doing what's easy, but easy doesn't have to be bad for you! Taking a few hours every Sunday to meal plan and schedule your workouts will save you so much time and headache during the week.

After a few weeks you will continue to lose extra pounds and begin to feel better about yourself. Once you feel normal again it's important to find a balance. Continue it plan your meals but it will be OK to splurge once or twice a week! Life will happen, and I demand you are present for yours! Just find the right balance for you to maintain your happy!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I Quit!

Three things I would like to quit: TV, Processed Sugar, and Chips.  Those just happen to be my 3 favorite things in the world.  They are my comfort, and have provided me with many endorphins throughout the years... decades even.  But here me out...

1) TV.  I am in love with Netflix.  I love characters and stories.  I am not so much a "reality TV" person, although I have been guilty of wasting a whole day watching Housewives, but the fiction is what gets me.  I love to be engrossed in an amazing plot.  I fall in love with characters.  Sometimes I go so far as to actually feel connected to them, as though they are my actual Friends.  Yes, I'm aware that makes me borderline delusional.  I accept that.

Here's the problem: I can, and have, spent entire days watching TV.  Sure Ill be on my phone at the same time, or Ill hit the floor for some sit ups, but hardly ever do I walk out of the room while the TV is on.  I get so obsessed with certain shows; I once watched an entire season of Dexter in one day.  Yup.  Had pizza delivered to the couch and everything.  So guess whats not getting done while I waste away doing push ups between dialogue? Homework.  Reading assignments.  Writing.  Working on my novel.  Spending time with my son.  Actually cooking a meal (ah, memories).  Catching up with friends and family.  Working on my BLOG!

Honestly, I could be living such a fulfilled life if I cut back on TV.  My productivity level would sky-rocket, and my social life would increase... slightly (hey, there is no cure for introversion).

2) Processed Sugar.  Chemistry lesson: sugar that is found in natural foods, such as fruits (fructose) and carbohydrates (glucose and variants) are imperative to our health.  Do I need a ton to be healthy? No, you never want to over-do it with any nutrient (except water soluble vitamins, you cant hurt yourself too bad with those).  What our bodies can absolutely do without is processed sugar.  Any time sugar is ADDED to anything.  Candy, donuts, sweet breads, soda (yes even diet), sweetened iced teas, etc.  Do away with it! Why? because it spikes your blood-glucose levels, and after a series of chemical reactions, the bottom line is that it makes you fat.  We don't need added sugar in our lives.

The problem with cutting out sugar is that I am an emotional eater.  Just because I am a Dietetic Major doesn't mean that I eat perfectly.  I am, however more aware of what I should not be doing, and eating my feelings is not good.  Quiting sugar is really hard!  Because your body likes blood-glucose spikes, when it drops, your brain is like "gimmie gimmie" and even if you know you shouldn't shove that donut in your mouth, you do it anyway, because the control center of your body demanded it so!  This is called an ADDICTION.  Have you seen those studies done on Oreos? Where they show the brain on Oreos, and then a brain on cocaine, and its all lit up in the same areas?  Yeah like that!

The good news is after about two weeks of withdrawals your body adjusts, and you can kick your addiction relatively fast.  Without rehab.  I might need rehab.  Do they have sugar rehab? Is rehab the Biggest Loser Ranch?

3) Chips.  Hello, my name is Cristen, and I am addicted to spicy nacho Doritos.  These Delicious little corn chips are not Satan necessarily; they are just energy-dense and lack nutrients.  Its basically just salt and carbohydrates without any of the good stuff.  Straight to your energy stores, and of course you can never have just a few, you eat the whole bag, and what does your body do with excess energy intake? Oh yeah, it stores it.  Yay! ...not yay.

I can eat super healthy all day long, and be starving every three hours.  When I eat a grab bag of Doritos, somehow it fills me up for a lot longer.  Why?? TBD.  It sure does appeal to my efficient side.  Plus its so easy to just buy something rather then prepare a homemade lunch!  There is so much sodium on those little guys, not only do they make you feel fat, but you get to be bloated too.  Its this gross, but satisfying, yucky feeling.  Does anyone know what I'm talking about?

If I stop eating chips I would drop 10 pounds in about a month.  I guarantee it.  SO why cant I stop!??  Oh right, I'm starving all the time (thanks excessive exercise), and I'm an emotional with a side of stress eater.  A peer of mine mentioned in class that it is mind over matter, however easy or difficult that may be.  I agree with her; the bottom line is that you can continue to give in to your vices, or you can practice personal strength and concur them.

The challenge is to give myself a month, roughly, allowing for some mistakes along the way (what do you mean I'm not perfect?).  I had been off sugar for three days, until I stressed out on some donuts earlier, so Ill start again tomorrow.  The TV has been off ALL day!  I got so much homework done! I'm so proud of myself! And tomorrow I will do everything I can to avoid buying a bag of chips.  Just one day at a time!

What are your vices??