One of the hardest things about weight loss is making healthy food choices.
For so many people, myself included, the beginning of any diet is full of boring chicken breasts, uninspired salmon filets and flavorless vegetables. That’s why one of the first steps to losing and maintaining weight loss should be to teach yourself how to cook. I’ve learned the hard way what a diet of high-calorie, fat-laden food can do to a person. Looking back, I wish I would have made better decisions about my food choices, because for those with weight to lose, establishing and maintaining proper food habits can be a long, hard road of failure and success, success and failure. It’s one I still struggle with everyday.
Since Nov. 2010, I’ve lost between 20 and 30 lbs. (depending on what kind of shape my diet is in at the time). I did it mostly through altering my food intake. Pulling estimates out of the air, I cut out 95 percent of my soda drinking and 90 percent of my fast food dining. I stopped eating foods with chemicals in them whose names I couldn’t pronounce. And I snuck in some fruits, veggies and nuts along the way.
Sure, I had pizza, burgers, Break of Dawn (a lot) and chocolate galore, but most of the time, I’ve been able to keep the worst offenders out of my body. And cutting things out doesn’t mean giving them up. Make burgers at home and control the portion size. Or use healthy swaps–my latest effort is to replace my chocolate/candy/ice cream/cookie/brownie habit with trail mix. I mix one super healthy trail mix with a not so healthy one (it includes candied pecans and chocolate chips) and I enjoy a reasonable portion each day. Then, once a week, I’ll grab the sweet treat if I need to–which I usually do, lol.
If you want to lose weight, but don’t know where to start, I suggest starting with food. You won’t get the benefit of a great workout if the diet isn’t right.
In starting my workout plan, I’ve decided to change my schedule for blog cooking. I used to cook Fat Dude recipes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and post them throughout the week. But cooking more than 75 meals of Chef Brian’s menus has made me quite able in the kitchen and has given me the ability to clear the path for the next stage in my weight loss journey.
I make simple meals for the week throughout the weekend so I have minimal work in the kitchen throughout the week. (Just recently I made a Hungarian-inspired chicken stew in the slow cooker, Chef Brian’s kickin’ chickin’, meatloaf with mashed potatoes and whole-wheat pasta with homemade marinara sauce; all pictured at top).
After shoveling down so many double cheeseburgers and Chicken McNuggets, I lost the taste for real food. I now know that spices open doors to new cultures; technique and a willingness to try new things broadens the palate and one’s understanding of food. I’ve said it before, and I’ll admit it again: I used to believe the best qualities in food were their cheesiness, greasiness and large portion size. After discovering what flavors and textures come from simple cooking, the qualities I used to look relish are now at the bottom of my list.
It takes time to get there, but if you put your mind to putting down the Snickers and picking up the dark chocolate–or for a better analogy, putting down the KFC and learning how to spatchcock a chicken at home–you’ve already won half the battle.
On the exercise front, It’s been 16 days since I started walking between 40 and 60 minutes each weekday, and it hasn’t been all that hard to do. I’ve been waking up at 5:30 a.m. for a 25-minute mediation walk (though I find myself getting lost in thought more often than I’m able to focus on not thinking at all) and I take a 15-minute walk on my break at work. That’s 40 minutes, done. If it’s Tuesday or Thursday–days I’ve now set for going to the gym–an extra 20 minutes is tacked on for the trip to the gym.
I’m now used to waking up to walk at 5:30 a.m., and I’m getting better with the gym. Two weekends ago, which was my first weekend after establishing a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday/Sunday schedule, I only managed to go the Saturday. This past weekend I skipped both days, but learned the lesson that if I just don’t knock it out first thing on the weekends, it’s probably not getting done. Lesson learned.
I made up for the mentality by making it to the gym late-night on Tuesday and I’m definitely going today when I get home from work. Aside from the elliptical machine, I’ve added in some abdominal and back muscle exercises, too. I’m starting to crave trips to the gym, and I get all bummed out if I miss one.
It’s taken some time to fit in fitness, but I think in the grand scale of things, this is the natural next step for the first time in my life. If I continue to build off this momentum, my goals will be within reach.