Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Positive Changes for a Healthier Life


I thought it was a good time to post some updates about my health.

Last summer I mentioned that my blood sugar was too high, and I was dieting to lose weight and bring down my A1C.

What happened?

BEFORE: CHUNKY CHEEKS




AFTER: 30+ POUND WEIGHT LOSS



Well, here's what happened. The doctor put the fear of God in me, and I went gangbusters with a low-carb diet.

It's eight months later, and I'm still losing weight (albeit at a slower pace). I also brought down my A1C. Yipppeeeeee!

How'd I do it?

First of all, here is my truth: exercise has NOTHING to do with my weight loss.

I walked when I was chunky. I walk now. I walk every day for about an hour. It's good for my heart. It's good for my mental health. 

However, it doesn't have anything to do with my weight loss. That's the truth.

My weight loss is all about THE FOOD.

Here are my TOP FIVE TIPS FOR LOSING WEIGHT:

1. The Snack Shelf

It's really important to have low-calorie, healthy snacks ready to go. When you get home from work and you're starved and there are cookies on the counter (kids gotta eat, too!), it's way too easy to grab that cookie.

You gotta make it easy to grab a mini carrot!

Every Sunday is "prep day" for me. I hard boil about 6-8 eggs and put them in a bowl in the fridge. I chop up carrots, celery, cucumbers, red/yellow/orange pepper, radishes, and add cherry tomatoes to a bin in the fridge for quick snacks. I have cheese sticks and low-carb yogurts on the shelf, too. I also prep fruit and have a "fruit bowl" in the fridge. On the counter, I have a variety of nuts, like walnuts, almonds, pistachios, etc.

I have a favorite blue cheese dressing I use as a dip. I also recommend hummus, ricotta cheese, and baba ganoush.

Set yourself up for success! When you have low-calorie snacks ready to go, it's a life-saver. You can also use these pre-cut veggies on a salad anytime. Make your life easier with a little weekend prep work.

Homemade hummus and dippers

2. Put Food Away: Out of Sight, Out of Mind.

I realized I was doing a lot of "mindless" eating. If there was a bag of open chips on the counter, I would grab a handful when I walked by. Same with plates of cookies, snack foods, anything there for the taking.

My kids still need to eat, and they love chips, cookies, and other snacks.

I move ALL THE FOODS into the pantry, which is in another room off the kitchen. Everything is wrapped up and put away to prevent mindless noshing.

If you don't have a separate room, use a drawer. Or even wrap things up in tin foil to make it harder to access. 

The only thing I have in the kitchen for constant access is my water cup. I fill it up all day long. That's a good habit!

Add citrus slices to iced water for a bit of flavor.

3. Eat Early and Light.

Are you hungry at 5 pm? Eat dinner. Don't wait. The longer you wait, the more likely you are to overeat.

I realized I was eating TWO dinners each night. The first one was mindless snacking which added up to a lot of extra calories. And then I would eat with my family. TWO DINNERS! 

Now, I eat when I'm hungry, which is around 5 pm. I make a big salad of greens, toss on some protein and cheese and nuts and homemade salad dressing.

I'll still join my husband for dinner later, but I don't eat a second meal. Maybe an orange and some water. Or just tea.

Sometimes you need to make the right choice for yourself, and that might mean eating alone at 5 pm. It's okay!

Homemade Caesar salad. Don't forget the anchovies!

4. Cut Your Food in Half, Cut the Recipe in Half.

When I realized I needed to watch my carb intake every day, I made a point to read the labels on all my food.

That was shocking!

I was probably eating 3 times the recommended serving size, which adds up to way too many calories and carbs.

Instead of eating a whole sandwich (bread = 40 carbs), how about half a sandwich? 20 carbs. That works.

Stuff the 1/2 sandwich with tons of veggies, and add a small fruit salad for dessert.

Cut your serving in half, cut your calories in half. Lose weight. Fill up on salad, veggies, super low-calorie, high-fiber food. YOU CAN DO IT!

I also stopped making full recipes. Full recipes mean you have way too much food--too much for individual servings, and too many leftovers which can lead to overeating.

Make a single serving. Make 1/2 or 1/3 or 1/4 of the recipe.

Do whatever you need to in order to control portion size. That's key for weight loss.

Home-grown cuke, tomato, and edible flower salad.

5. Grow Your Own Food.

There is nothing better than getting up in the morning, heading out to your garden, and picking fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, cukes, and arugula greens for breakfast. Drizzle on some olive oil, and you're ready for the day.

I highly encourage folks to start their own kitchen garden. If you don't have space, use pots. Growing fresh herbs, veggies, and fruits is a fabulous way to invest in good health.

Grow your own raspberries!

These are my top tips for losing weight. This is not an easy process. December was tough...so many cookies and sweets. I weigh myself daily and check my blood sugar daily. These things hold me accountable and keep me on track.

How are all of you doing with health goals? Any good suggestions? Let's chat!

Wishing all of you good vibes with your health in 2020,

Nina/Penny

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