It's now been a good month since I've been exercising regularly, and two weeks since I've been on a healthy eating plan. I've lost six pounds and feel ever so much better.
I'm not worried about whether or not I can lose the weight. I am concerned about keeping it off.
For the past 15 years, I've been losing and gaining the same 15 to 30 pounds. Enough. Really. I am heartily. sick. of. this.
I'm 57 years old and I don't want to do this anymore.
Are you with me?
The key is a real lifestyle change. And I've known this for years. It's not a lack of knowledge. I could write a book on healthy eating. So why do I always seem to slide back into consuming processed foods and sugar and refined carbs?
I want to be healthy, fit, and into a routine that is relatively effortless so that I can once and for all, stop feeling every day that little nagging, shameful feeling that I'm too heavy and out of shape.
|Mahi-mahi, on a bed of cucumber slices, with fresh mango salsa|
So how can I ensure that this time I'm successful?
Here are a few of my thoughts.
* Certain foods just have to be banned. High fructose corn syrup and even corn syrup is highly addictive. Somewhere I read they act on the brain like cocaine. And I believe it. When I have jelly beans or gumdrops in my house, I will eat them until I literally feel sick.
Instead of beating myself up for lack of willpower, I will simply say to myself that these foods, and anything with HFCS, are drugs, and not allowed in my house. A recovering alcoholic does not stock booze in the house if she wants to stay sober.
(and this stuff is sneaky -- Wheat Thins have corn syrup in them!)
* Have a buddy. I'm thankful my family is with me on this. It's so much easier when somebody else is on board with this kind of lifestyle change. My husband and I purged our pantry a year and a half ago. How did things gradually creep back in? We are working on this again together.
* It really is a mental game. The physical addiction to sugar can be broken in three or four days, but the mind is not so easily convinced. I have to think of certain foods differently. Lean meats are almost like medicine for me; they give me energy and I feel good after eating them. Refined carbs make me feel sluggish.
I'm trying to ask myself this: do I want to feel good for 5 minutes, or feel good for three hours? The cinnamon roll is definitely going to make me feel good for 5 minutes, but how will I feel an hour from now?
* Have lots of yummy-tasting foods ready. Berries are prohibitively expensive in the winter, but if I'm not buying all the other stuff, I can justify raspberries in January. A real treat. We made up some wonderful waffles (protein powder, egg white, banana, and cinnamon) ready to pop in the toaster. A batch of healthy granola bars. Lots of vegetables ready to grill or steam. Loads of yummy citrus fruits. A lovely mango salsa made from scratch.
*Keep it out of the house. Just don't buy it.
* Drink lots of water. This is a really tough one for me, as I've never been a water drinker. But the more I drink, the more tuned in I am to thirst, and the more I drink. Good for everything, including skin, digestion, mental health, you name it.
Does this mean I can never have a homemade scone again? A piece of homemade pie?
This is where it gets tricky.
Over the past two years, I have successfully given up Diet Coke and bread at meals (always loved crusty Italian bread warm from the oven with butter). I've just told myself Diet Coke is poison, and that white flour and water just makes glue in the body.
So I've thought about what other things I could give up permanently, and what things I really would like to have occasionally.
Ice cream, crackers, french fries, potato chips (I love them, but hate the feeling of starting and not being able to stop), and store-bought baked goods can really go on the no-fly list. I wouldn't really miss them. I just eat them because they're there. And I've never cared for fast food, so that helps.
But homemade baked goods are the Achilles heel. Can I just bake once a month for a treat, or will that open the floodgates again? Can I modify my recipes so that they still taste good, but have far less sugar?
And what do I do with all the guests we seem to have? My husband says that that's really how all the unhealthy foods crept back in, as we have lots of overnight guests. (I'm not sure we can entirely blame it on that!) I can't necessarily serve high-protein, sugar-free waffles to friends and family accustomed to white-flour pancakes and bacon!
I've got a ways to go before I am on my long-term maintenance eating plan, but I want to be prepared.
Have you been successful at keeping weight off? At making permanent healthy lifestyle changes? If so, how? I'd love to hear.