Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year's Resolution

So it's that time again....The new year. It's a time of resolutions and changes. One of my long standing resolutions is living a healthy lifestyle when it comes to food and weight. As some of you know, I lost about 90 pounds a few years ago (it took me 6 years to do it in a gradual, healthy way) and have been able to pretty much keep it off. I thought I would share some of my favorite tips and trick.


1. I never dieted. I hate dieting. I love food to much. It was my job, literally. Most people hate even the very mention of the word "DIET". It usually involves cardboard food and micromanagement of one of the most pleasurable commodities in life. What I did was a lifestyle change. I feel that is an important key. If weight is looked at as only diet and exercise to a goal, when that goal is reached there is a significantly higher possibility of putting the weight back on. Why? Once that goal is reached and the goal high sets in, the idea of diet and exercise slips the mind. Instead, if you look at weight as a lifestyle, "I choose to live my life as healthy and balanced as I can," it makes daily choices much easier. You can weigh what you're eating against the rest of your life and not just what you need to do to get to your 30 day diet finish line. For a practical example, we'll look at it like a car. If you want to keep a car around for 15 years, you will most likely keep the gas tank filled with the appropriate fuel, check the fluids regularly, take it in for routine check ups, and keep it washed and waxed to protect from rust. If it gets in an accident you take it right away to the mechanic to fix it and keep it running smooth. You watch out for potholes and try not to run over glass or trash to protect your tires.You park it in the garage and if you spill something inside you clean it up and keep the inside neat and orderly. If you want to keep your car running in good condition you're most likely not going to let it sit in the sun all day every day, parked under a sappy pine tree, letting it fill up with month old fast food containers, run over rocks and glass, fill it with diesel, let the break fluid run out, and ignore the check engine light.

2. DRINK MORE WATER!!! Water is your body's most essential nutrient, is involved in every bodily function, and makes up 70- 75% of your total body weight. Water helps maintain body temperature, metabolize body fat, aid in digestion, lubricate and cushion organs, transport nutrients, and flush toxins from your body. What if I told you that being dehydrated actually promotes the increase of body fat?  Without water, extra amounts of glucose (a type of sugar) remain in the bloodstream until reaching the liver, the extra glucose is stored as fat. Your body takes water from inside cells in an effort to compensate for a dehydrated state, including fat cells. Less water in your fat cells means less mobilization of fat for energy. Your water intake is dependent on your size, age, weight, and daily activity, but should range from 6-8 glasses, or 42-64 ounces. Dressing up your water can make it more enjoyable. NO that does not include adding Kool-Aid powder or even Cristal Lite. These add calories, sugar, and other chemicals your body doesn't need. But you can add things like a fresh slice of lemon or lime (or add about a tablespoon of real lemon juice to a nalgene bottle of water). Cucumber slices or fresh blueberries also add a nice flavor while also adding vitamins and minerals your body actually needs.

3. Chew your food more. Really? You don't say. Trust me. This was part of my therapy background. According to research (trust me, I researched this topic a lot at the children's hospital), we should be chewing out food 15-20 times PER BITE. Next time you're eating, see how many times you actually chew your food. Do you crunch it 3 or 4 times and swallow? This actually makes more work for your stomach. It slows digestion and increases the time your food is in your stomach. It also affects absorption of nutrients in your gut. Your teeth start breaking down food in the mouth and it must mix with your saliva. Why? Chewing increases the surface area of foods to allows the enzymes in your saliva to break down the carbohydrates, starch, and fat at the molecular level in the food is still in your mouth. Mixing your food with saliva is also the only way you can taste your food. So next time you take a bite of food, chew it more. Savor it. Enjoy the flavor.

It also takes approximately 15-20 minutes for the nerves in your stomach to tell your brain that you are full. If you wolf down your food, you can fill your stomach to more than it really needs before the stomach tells your brain you are full. In contrast, if you eat slowly and chew your food more, your stomach has time to tell your brain it is full when it should.
4. Make healthier food choices. Cut out processed and convenience foods. They're full of unsatisfying, empty calories that only taste good in the mouth, but leave the digestive system seriously lacking. If you can, avoid animal fats and dairy. They are the biggest culprits for beer bellys and muffin tops. Increase your intake of good foods, like fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Leave anything white behind. White bread, white rice,and white sugar all are absorbed in the body as SUGAR. The carbohydrate of the whites mentioned above is a starch which is broken down in the body as glucose...and glucose is...a type of sugar. Opt for whole grain or hearty breads, brown or multi-grain rice, and if possible, alternate sugars with alternate sweeteners such as honey or agave, or eliminate it completely if possible. Other dairy alternatives include products made with soy, rice, or almond. Almond milk is a great alternative for putting on cereals or in recipes. Soy yogurt and cheese is just as tasty without the fat. Bean burgers can be seasoned to taste like meat without the fat and cholesterol.

5. Exercise in unusual ways. Take the stairs (SHOCK) no matter how many. Walk. Do some abs in the shower. Garden. Stretch. Some areas are more conducive to exercise, like metropolitan areas and cities. But this doesn't give an excuse. Need to lift some weights? Grab 8-16 ounce cans of food from the pantry. Work up to gallons of milk. Fill plastic bags with sand or rocks. Make your own weights. YouTube is full of mini exercise clips. Join a gym. Find a walking partner. Get moving. Watch The Biggest Loser for inspiration, motivation, tips and tricks.

6. Figure out why you're over eating and not exercising and make a mental make-over. Do you eat when you're bored? Tired? Stressed? I used to eat when I was bored. When I lived alone, especially at night, I would sit and watch TV and eat whatever munchies I had (or bake a batch of cookies). I decided enough was enough! I joined the gym and every time I started to feel the urge to just sit around or catch myself heading to the kitchen, I would hop in the car and head to the gym. Even if I didn't work out, but just sat in the hot tub or the steam room at least I was out of my house where the temptation sat staring me in the face. Plus the extra motivation of seeing skinny people getting buff helped me stay the course (the beautiful young lads pumping iron wasn't bad motivation, either........) Is stress a culprit? Stress wrecks HAVOC on the body. Some times just taking a 10 minute walk to burn off that nervousness can make an amazing change in mood and help bring focus back to the situation. Plus it's like 10 minutes. You can do anything for 10 minutes and it's really not going to impact your schedule. I mean, you probably spent more than 10 minutes procrastination on facebook to escape facing the situation anyway, you could have burned 100 calories in that time!! If you can't figure out why you over eat or don't want to exercise, working with a personal trainer or counselor can really help.

7. Find your motivation and make it visual. Do you want to wear a bikini? Find a picture of the one you want and tape it to the inside of the cupboard where the snacks are. Want to train for a 5K? Find pictures of people running and tape them inside all the cupboards of your kitchen. Want to lower your cholesterol or your weight? Write the number you're at and the number you want to be at and stick it on the fridge. Want to look great for that vacation at the end of the year? Put pictures of that place on your screen saver on your computer or in frames in the dining room where you eat as visual reminders of our goal. Do you want to just be healthy and live a long, full life uncomplicated by health problems and frequent illnesses?? Write out motivational sayings and Bible verses for your car, in your closet, and in the kitchen. Don't ignore them!!

8. Don't beat yourself up if you slip. Allow for little pleasures but don't use it as an excuse to over indulge. If you're doing really well on your new life style change and the holidays roll around and Aunty JoJo made you your favorite triple chocolate caramel calorie bomb and you ate it ALL and have now gained like a million and a half pounds, don't give up! Just get right back on to your life style. If you're following it regularly that extra bulge should disappear in a few weeks.


  1. Julie, I never knew you lost a lot of weight--I just assumed you were one of those high metabolism people :) Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. :) When I lived in Indiana I was still at the tail end of my weight loss...After I left Indiana I lost about 20 more pounds. I had to work hard for every pound...changing how I ate and working out. Lots of determination!!!!

  3. I knew you before your weight loss and after. I think you were always beautiful, both inside and outside. But now you are beautiful and healthier. :-)♥♥♥