5 Simple Habit Changes For the Beginner
Dieting is not new to me. I have been on a diet or "a new lifestyle change" SO MANY TIMES IN MY LIFE. Like most women, I know WHAT I need to do, but over the years I have found that it is HARD to break old habits. Because I am determined to have this surgery, and look and feel my best, I am more determined than ever. Here are 5 simple changes I have made to help me get on the right track fast.
1. Weigh Weekly, not Daily
I always want to see results super fast. I sometimes, when I am on a new program, I will weigh multiple times a day. Yes, I am that nuts. This time, I had to just let it go. If I am eating in caloric deficit, I have to trust the science that I WILL LOSE. It might not be as fast as I thought or hoped for. It might not look linear throughout the week (thanks to water and hormones and salt and a GREAT MANY other factors). But, I will lose. For example, my first week I had to have a come-to-Jesus with myself because I KNEW that I was planning "refuel days" on Saturday and Sunday (more about that later), and I KNEW that my weight was going to be affected by that in the short term. On Monday (starting day) I weighed 184. Friday, like a moron, I weighed before cheating. The scale read 177. WOAH right?!?! Did I really lose 7 lbs in only 5 days?! NO. Because, I refueled on Saturday and Sunday and woke up Monday up 2 lbs at 179. I. Was. Pissed. I almost wanted to go back to my old crash dieting ways to see faster results. But, I am still recovering from a messed up metabolism, and know that is not what my body needs right now. I know that refueling on the weekends will protect my metabolism from crashing, so I will lose more weight and faster over the long haul. I am happy to report that in 14 days I lost 6.6 llbs. It is a lot more fun to see -2 or -3 on a Monday than -.3 each day. Wait. Give your body time to produce the results that you can really celebrate and be proud of. Weigh weekly. Period. When you're maintaining, we can talk about this again then.
2. Drink More Water.... yes, more.
*Insert eye roll here* The most generic advice ever, I know. But, it's really that important. I honestly used to think, yeah, whatever, water is not that big of a deal, but y'all, IT IS. Drinking water increases calorie expenditure, aids in lipolysis (the process of metabolizing fat), it helps muscles, connective tissues, and joints to move properly (helping to prevent injury), it helps the organs work effectively in normal bodily function and especially during workouts, and of course, it suppresses your appetite. Some of these benefits are things you don't see in an overtly obvious way... but y'all, drink a 32 oz tumbler of water before having coffee and breakfast, and tell me it didn't help with the amount of food your body is craving. In fact, I drink an entire tumbler before breakfast, another tumbler throughout my morning before lunch, I chug as much as I can right before lunch, another full tumbler throughout the afternoon, and chug again before dinner. That makes for around a gallon a day. To be completely honest, I try to stop before 7 pm because I have had to wake up in the middle of the night to pee and I hate that! However, it has been hard to limit that, because the more water I have been drinking, the more thirsty I have found myself to be! I definitely feel fuller, and oddly, am feeling more energetic and seeing great things like clearer skin as well.
3. Set a bed time
I am a night owl. I SAVOR the quiet evenings when the craziness of my 3 boys is tucked away for the evening. It is the only time when no one is asking me to do something for them every 5 seconds. I LOVE MY NIGHT TIME, ALONE TIME. This tip, honestly, has been a HUGE sacrifice for me. I usually lay in bed next to my husband flipping through Instagram or Pinterest while he is snoring like a rhino. I love it. I feel like my own dreams and goals and desires come alive in those moments. But, I have sacrificed this time for this journey. I have found that dreaming about my dreams and fantasizing about reaching my goals are not helping me get there. I need to do the things. Going to bed at a reasonable time is one of those things. I am learning to turn it off at 10 and GO TO SLEEP. Some things I have realized when I have had adequate sleep is that when I did not get enough sleep the night before, I am RAVENOUS. My body is searching for energy! Another thing is that, when I don't get enough sleep, I am so much moodier and I "snap" a lot more easily. There is some real science to this: it is because sleep deprivation impacts the frontal lobe which controls your emotions and SELF CONTROL, and it can lead to more binging!! I am a HUGE emotional eater and a life-long binger. I have often noted that I turn to food the way some people turn to drugs and alcohol. This factor is within my control to change through something as simple as going the flippity flip to sleep. Finally, not only do poor sleep habits and sleep deprivation put a damper on your motivation to work out, but if you still are able to muscle through it, you're not giving yourself a lot of opportunity for your muscles to rest and regenerate... which could mean that all of that work was pointless. I am not in the business of working out for nothing. I already don't love it. Ha Ha. In short, make it a priority to get enough sleep. I aim for 7-8 hours a night.
4. Routine, routine, routine
For me, this was not the time to be trying every cool, new, healthy recipe I saved on Pinterest. This was survival time. I know myself well enough to know that I will quit if this becomes too demanding. I have a 2-3 breakfast options and 2-3 lunch options that I reach for. They are cheap and easy and I KNOW I can stay "on plan" even if I plan poorly for the day. For example, breakfasts are usually just coffee with half of a vanilla Premier Protein shake and a scoop of collagen peptides. If I really want to splurge on breakfast I will have bacon and eggs. Every now and then I will have cottage cheese and sugar free jam. That's it. Maybe one day I will feel like my routine is solid enough to try a new recipe or I will have the time the night before to think about my food diary. Right now, I am just a robot. Making and keeping new habits. I don't snack because I prefer to feel hungry for longer stretches and feel more satisfied/full at meals (and because I am lazy and don't want to add 5 million items into My Fitness Pal). Lunches are the same as breakfasts-- super simple, easy, and repeated. I will usually have either a lunch meat salad (I prefer H.E.B. lunch meat without nitrates), a lunch meat lettuce wrap, or broccoli and chicken (I buy the bag of already cooked Tyson chicken breasts). I am set up to succeed even without "meal prepping" every Sunday. Dinners are one meal I can be a little bit more creative, but really, I just make what I make for my family and sub out the high calorie parts. For example, for spaghetti I just pour some meat sauce on top of broccoli or zoodles; for tacos I just make a taco salad; for burgers I make a lettuce wrap. It is not that hard once you get into the hang of it. I make the plans for my substitutions when I enter my food into My Fitness Pal in the mornings. It is important for me to know JUST how much I am eating BEFORE I eat it. I didn't make working out a priority in the beginning. One step at a time for this old bird. When my body is out of detox mode, I can add that to the routine. You do what works for you, but DO IT EVERYDAY. Consistency is what wins this race.
5. Plan for splurges
I like wine. I like Blue Bell ice cream. I like juicy bun-on, all-the-way burgers from Moonie's. If I am going to keep this weight off, I have to be honest with myself that I am not going to cut these things out forever, and if I want something, I am going to plan it into my life. This is why I LOVE zigzag dieting (or calorie cycling). I restrict during the week-- 1200 calories each day. But, on the weekends, I refuel--1800 calories each day. I LOVE THIS. I am still losing weight, I am keeping my metabolism revving, and I am not depriving myself. This week, my husband and I ordered burgers from Moonie's (which is why it was on my brain already). I loved EVERY SINGLE BITE of my Blue Moon burger! It hit the absolute spot, and I was ready to get back on track the next morning. This does NOT mean that I can just have wine every single day (unless I plan for the calorie consumption... even then, alcohol can inhibit athletic performance and results), or that I can just eat whatever I want when I want. The key to this tip is in the word PLAN. Think about what your body has been craving and plan it in that week. You will feel like it is a reward AND you'll have even more appreciation for the foods and drinks you absolutely love. What I truly love about this is that it is a way for me to embrace the idea of "eating everything in moderation." When people say things like this to food addicts, it literally makes no sense. When there is structure to the word "moderation," it becomes doable. I can have what I want if it fits in my food diary. Another thing my husband and I live by is that if we are craving something that day, we don't cave. We stay on plan. If we crave it the second day, we make a new plan. It works for us.
What habit changes have you instilled that helped make you successful at the beginning of your journey?