The last few weeks have made for some pretty amazing changes for me - many of which having to do with my Jean Size funny enough. (hey, how you feel about yourself and how you feel overall are pretty intertwined) Maybe it was because I finally wrote my Life List - giving me a constant and public list of things I wanted to achieve "in my lifetime." Maybe it was just the start of another year that finally inspired me. Maybe it was just making the decision to quit letting the sh*t from my past hold me back. Yeah, probably it was that.
The biggest changes have been in my lifestyle when it comes to diet and exercise, and boy people are starting to take notice. I have a picture on my computer that says "It takes 4 weeks for you to see your body changing. It takes 8 weeks for friends and family. It takes 12 weeks for the rest of the World." Well, it's no surprise that here in the 15th week of the New Year I have received THREE requests for a "what in the world are you doing to lose all that weight" blog post. SO - here's the secret:
I do not "diet." I do not drink "shakes" for my meals. I do not take pills. And I certainly have no interest in having major surgery - I was never able to get THAT overweight that a doctor would do it for me anyway.
I am not depriving myself of anything. I am not going to restaurants and eating celery while everyone else eats pasta. I still eat things like Cowboy Casserole and Chicken Marsala. I did go without drinking alcohol for about 6 weeks but I am happy to say that's over. I eat whatever I want - whenever I want - I am just more aware of the amount I am eating.
But HOW do I do it?
A few weeks into the year I was hanging out with my friend Trisha talking about how I really wasn’t seeing the results I had hoped for by eating “Clean” – probably because I ate pretty “clean” all along. We started talking about portions – it was like a lightbulb went off.
Trisha told me to “cook for one less person” at dinner time. Since we are a family of four, I always cooked 4 chicken breasts, 4 hamburgers, 4 pork chops – whatever. Well…. Taylor is FIVE. She hardly needs an entire serving. So usually since we had that extra “half” – Mike and I would end up eating what was left cause it “really wasnt enough to save.” I began cooking for three instead of four - dividing the three portions into four servings - and lost 6 pounds in ten days.
I was hooked.
But that was the easy part. What about all of the rest of the meals? What about snacks?
You have probably heard the term “portion distortion” a million times. Probably even seen pictures that show you what a meal should look like versus what it really does look like. I have tried to keep those images in my mind every time I go to eat anything... and it has worked.
1. Use smaller plates.
No matter whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner, using smaller plates will help you to train your brain to see that you are "cleaning your plate" even when it is only maybe half of what you are used to. Plates have grown almost as much as our portions over the years, and those of us who grew up with a "clean your plate" parent have continued filling - and cleaning - those plates over and over again.
There is no reason why you need to eat from a plate much larger than the size of your hand. This plate - which to most would be a "salad plate" - filled one time is ample food for a grown adult. Will you still be hungry? Possibly as you are adjusting to this new way of eating, you may. But remember - if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten.
Remember that you are NOT "starving yourself" and do not let your brain tell you that this will not work because you are going to be miserable. Give it 20 minutes for your food to settle and see if you are really still hungry.
2. Measure your snacks.
Is this annoying? Lord yes. Is it a pain in the butt? Absolutely. Is it necessary? YEP. Anytime I get any kind of "snack" food, I spend some time portioning it out into my new favorite-invention-ever - Ziplock Snack Size bags. I divvy things up into portions - regardless of how large or small that may be. This way when I want a snack - and I recommend you have at least 2 a day - I can easily grab a bag and know I am getting exactly one serving.
3. When buying food, do not set yourself up for failure.
In our "Super Sized" world we have been taught that bigger is better.... unless of course you are talking about your weight. Big Houses, Big Cars, Big Macs, Big Boobs - it's EVERYWHERE that things should be BIG. Talk about a set up.
When grocery shopping - do not choose what is "big" but choose what is "better." When choosing meats especially - a 16 ounce sirloin should feed your entire family... not just your husband. There is a reason why filet mignon is such a great steak - it is tender, juicy.. and typically just the right size. Even fruits and vegetables should be portioned out - there IS such a thing as "too much of a good thing." Your body simply does not need that extra food. Period.
The only thing that you should work towards being "BIG" in your life is your confidence and your bank account... justsayin.
4. Eat 2/3 vegetables and 1/3 meat.
When you are filling your small-ish plate, always load your veggies first. It doesn't matter if it is all green beans - just make sure there are more of them than there is meat. Obviously if you can steam those vegetables its even better - I still swear by my Westbend Food Steamer as a staple in any house that wants to be healthy.
Vegetables typically have less calories than whatever meats you have paired them with, so let yourself get "full" on the foods that are best for you. Plus they will help with your digestive system and getting rid of all that stored up stuff you need to lose.
5. Drink enough water to float a minivan.
I am kidding... you only need to float a compact.
The thing is, most adults are devastatingly dehydrated. Have you ever FELT thirsty? Do you know that by the time you actually FEEL thirsty you could be 20 to 30% dehydrated!? In fact most people mistake the "thirst" sensation for hunger - which only makes it worse if you do not drink enough while you are eating that food-you-were-not-really-hungry-for.
Water does incredible things for your body - including naturally suppressing hunger and helping to metabolize fat. By drinking "ice cold" water you can really rev up your metabolism because your body will have to work extra hard to warm that water up for proper digestion.
Get in the habit of drinking tons and tons of water. I even used an iPhone app that would sound an alarm every hour to remind me to drink a glass of water. Don't judge - it worked. Now I literally can not go anywhere without my water.
My favorite part about getting healthy with portion control is that it is something that it is quick, easy, controllable, cheap, and most importantly - I can do for a lifetime. Everything else I have ever tried - from shakes to bars to pills to wraps - were not permanent, so I would lose a little while, and then go back to "normal" and pack it right back on.
Now my "normal" is reasonable portions of whatever I want. I am not depressed about "dieting" - this isnt a diet. It's a lifestyle change. This isnt a get-to-my-ideal-weight-and-pig-out-again plan. This is about being aware of what my body needs, aware of what it doesn't need, and caring enough to be disciplined to that above all else.
We simply do not need all that extra food. Just like we do not need all of the extra weight. Get rid of it. Just resolve to change. It really can be THAT easy. Does it suck? Yes, at times. It is worth it? Absolutely. Get out of your HEAD and get to losing the weight.
I have recently begun weight training on top of my portion control - but I can tell you that is actually making me gain weight, so I do not attribute it to my initial weight loss success. I do however know that it is helping all around and though the scale may be creeping up from adding muscle, the jean sizes are still creeping down, and ultimately that is all that really matters to me.