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