Like most people, I go through phases every year where my weight maintanence efforts are easier, and other times that they are harder. Sometimes it's like pulling teeth to keep on track and I feel bitter and annoyed that weight loss maintenance takes so much effort. Other times, I believe that the work involved isn't all that difficult, or at least I'm more willing to do it, sans grumbling. And the results naturally follow.
It seems that the latter half of any year is always a bit tougher for me. We seem to travel a bit more. The weather gets cooler and I can hide under clothes. Then there are the Holidays. Ho-boy the holidays! This year, I quietly noticed a few of my blog-sisters-in-arms expressing frustration with themselves at the same time that I was. And like me, they seem to have 'roped it in' right around the same time that I did...within the last few months. I would guesstimate that my weight changes about 6-12 pounds over the course of the year. Why am I guessing? I do not step on the scale when I'm heavier. When my largest (of several sized) jeans are tight, that's enough negative reinforcement for me, thanks. No need to pour salt on that wound. Wild horses couldn't drag me onto a scale.
So I decided that it might be helpful for me to do a post now, while I'm more 'on track' so that later in the year (when I may be careening out of control?), I can look back and see what worked for me. Hopefully this general list can be of use to others as well.
What's working for me now:
- Listening to my Body: Smoothies for breakfast and occasionally as snacks. (Shocking, I know) I did a video post a few months back extolling the virtues of smoothies for me and I'm sticking to my guns on this one. Let me be clear however: I do not think that breakfast smoothies are the right way for everyone. This is where you need to listen to your own body. Even with all the carby, fatty, crunchy, chewy toppings that I sometimes include, smoothies may not satisfy you for a breakfast 'meal'. As for me: I know that if I eat even the most balanced of breakfasts, I'll be starving all day long. So I listen to my body and give it what it wants: a big, airy, filling breakfast smoothie. Would my soul rather have waffles, eggs, pancakes or chia oats? You bet. But my body wants the smoothie for breakfast and I can feed my soul later.
|Key Lime Smoothie|
- Eating big salads, stir-fries or soups with plenty of protein and fats. I like to chew (even with my smoothies) and I like to feel full. I have never had an energy bar, rubbed my belly and announced that I was full. I need to feed myself a good dose of voluminous-lower-calorie whole foods on a regular basis. I used to hate chopping up my veggies for my meals, but now I'm likethis with my chef's knife and I find it oddly therapeutic to chop!
|This is one huge, filling salad|
- Eat at home, or bring your lunch or even (gasp) your dinner when reasonable. I love good food. I really do. I love restaurants and I love to try new flavors and local fare. But this comes with a caloric cost. Given the fact that we travel quite a bit and much of my socializing is often done in restaurants, I try to practice damage control the rest of the time by eating from the fridge. Plus, think of the money I save!
|Meals with friends can involve picnics as well as restaurants (don't be judging on the SuperBigGulp of diet coke: I never said I was perfect)|
- Exercise: Mix it up and listen to my body. I mix up my workout based on what tickles my fancy that day/week/month/year. Lately, I've been on a bit of a stair/jump-roping/walking kick with a few step/dance classes thrown in. I also do various forms of of strength training -like bodyweight lunges & squats- a couple of times a week, but if I can be honest, I could try to do even more than that. I'd guess that I train about 5 days a week right now.
|No gym? No problem. Get creative and just move.|
- Give myself food treats in reasonable doses: I have chocolate, popcorn AND some sort of a frozen desert pretty much every day. This may seem extravagant, but it works for me. I don't have large quantities. Sometimes it's 2 or 4 tiny tootsie roll midgees. But other times it's a hefty three serving bag of popcorn. It just depends on how I'm feeling and what I'm craving. I do realize that some people are more all-or-nothing so they may not be able to have 3 small candies and call it good. These people would probably need to avoid the treats that are problematic. But as someone who can 'do' moderation, this works for me.
|Even in Mexico I had to have my daily frozen treat.|
- Always have access to a snack that is filling and satisfying. Right now, my snack of choice is my microwave Chocolate Protein Muffin. It satisfies the hunger beast and the chocolate cake craving. Win-win. I actually make batches of these (and some modified versions that I have yet to post on the blog...hint, there is zucchini in the mix), freeze them, and take them with me on trips.
|The Protein Muffin that saves my bacon|
- Weigh myself only once every few weeks or so. You would think that I'd be too 'seasoned' to be affected by a stupid arbitrary number on a scale, but then, you'd be wrong. I get seriously bummed out when the scale is not kind, and there is no need for subjecting myself to this sort of torture on a daily or even weekly basis.
- Reduce alcohol. There's just no way around it: alcohol has calories. And it makes you throw caution to the wind and have an extra serving (or two) of something you might not have had sans booze. This can be another reason that the holiday season is rough: more drinking = more eating.
- Track (Don't LIMIT) Calories. Confused? You're wondering why I would bother to count calories yet not restrict them. I have learned that when I fight with my body, my body wins (every time). If I'm standing at the fridge with a growling tummy, you can bet your bottom dollar I'm not going to go to walk away hungry. Somehow, the act of keeping track of calories helps me to make more sensible choices. I go over my calorie 'goal' on a regular basis. But sometimes, I surprise myself by going under it on those (rare) days where my appetite is smaller. In the past I just noted the calories and exercise in a journal, but I currently use Daily Plate and love it to smithereens. It is so easy to use -after the initial learning curve- and it has the largest international database of foods I have ever seen. FoodCalc is also a very useful resource. Check it out.
Please keep in mind that this is a list that works for me, and may be completely useless to you. On the other hand, if anyone gets even one spark of inspiration or an idea, then my work here is done. Now I have a couple of kitties to cuddle and a protein muffin to make.
|Ellie and Samantha|
Q: If you are 'on track' with your healthy goals, what is helping? If you are not on track, what is hurting?