A Healthy Diet to Last a Lifetime: Sustainable, Not Radical, Changes You Can Make Today

Eat a Healthy Breakfast to Start Your DayAs many of you already know, WALKING DAILY for 1.5 miles was the key to my 162 pound weight loss success. If I would have attempted to lose my excess weight without some form of daily activity, I honestly feel that I may have lost some weight, but not achieved a weight loss that was anywhere close to my goal. That said, many people who know about my daily walking regimen that I began in 2001 have asked me about my food intake during this 16-month weight loss period, assuming that I must have made some changes to my eating habits too. Yes, I did. I made many changes that I knew I could live with for the rest of my life, not just during my weight loss stage.

Now I obviously knew that I needed to lower my daily calorie intake in order to lose weight… and yes, I know – that’s NOT news to anyone. Any person who has ever attempted to lose weight knows how to focus on calories; but after awhile, it can make a person “crazy!” Hey, I’ve been there! I remember back to the time when I wanted to lose weight for my wedding day – I counted every single calorie I consumed. Unfortunately, my calorie intake was extremely low (about 500 per day!) causing me to be very tired and sluggish. Oh sure, I lost weight – 50 pounds – but I gained back 15 of them in one week while on our honeymoon! No one should ever attempt a method such as this to lose weight, please.

I wanted to be real about this new, healthy lifestyle (remember, I did not go on a diet) and make it my new way of life… ENJOY IT and not make this lifestyle something I dreaded! Each day I allowed myself approximately 1,200 calories… and I use the word “approximately” because I didn’t keep a calorie journal or constantly focus on every single calorie. I knew approximately many calories I should consume for each meal: 350 calories, which totaled 1,050 for three healthy meals. This allowed me to consume 150 calories for a couple healthy snacks. Again, these were guidelines (not rigid rules). I allowed myself to approximate my calorie intake because I didn’t want to drive myself crazy!

Learn to Love Breakfast

My breakfast is my favorite meal of the day: two slices of whole wheat bread topped with a small portion of low-fat peanut butter and unsweetened blueberry preserves, along with a cup of coffee with a “splash” of skim milk. My lunch: vegetable soup or salad (going light on the dressing, cheese, croutons), and stir-fry, or any item containing many fresh vegetables – trying to stay around 350 calories. For dinner, ground turkey or chicken breasts are a favorite choice, along with fresh vegetables and a small portion of brown rice. Slow-cookers are great for preparing the meal for you. Basically add your favorite lean meat to a variety of vegetables along with about a cup of water, let it go for the day and come hope to an amazing healthy meal! Eatingwell.com is a great resource for healthy slow-cooker recipes.

Know Your Weaknesses

I love to snack while watching evening television; it’s just something I knew I couldn’t go without. I made definite changes in that department, especially because potato chips with dip were my favorite snack during my morbidly obese years. Obviously this is not a healthy snack, but I needed to find something that would fill my ‘crunch cravings?’ Low-fat microwave popcorn was the answer for me. Also low-fat pretzel sticks dipped in mustard did the trick… but I had to make sure to consume the single portion size instead of the entire bag.

Avoid Liquid Calories

Remember to never drink your calories! My personal beverages of choice were – and currently are -coffee, tea, water and a low-calorie soda about once a week. I have learned through the years that many people do not realize that one large, sugary soda purchased from a fast-food restaurant often consists of more than 300 calories.

Never Skip Meals

I want to stress this point. If I need to keep some fruit and a box of granola bars in my car when I’ll be on the road during meal time, then that is what I do. It’s all part of a healthy lifestyle for me…

Your Turn

Please share any tips that you might have for maintaining healthy eating habits. I’d love to know more about what works for you.

Photo Credit: JillOW

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