3 Tips For Healthy Living – Getting Off the Fence

While in San Francisco last week I ran into a number of colleagues that hadn’t seen me in quite some time. So the fact that I lost almost 60 pounds was quite a shock. But, I also ran into a colleague that had started out on the healthy journey the same way I did, attending several weight watcher’s classes at the office. So, when he saw me, he asked, “How did you do it?”

There was something odd about the question because we both started from the same place, live the same hectic work life balance, and are food addicts. I made progress and he was still a work in progress (please don’t interpret that as mean spirited, more introspective). In many ways, as we talked, it boiled down to the fact that I had moved ahead and he was still on the fence.

To be honest, his question is what I keep asking myself even as I’ve read my own blogs and analyzed my tracking of food and exercise. I think that if I can come up with the secret sauce of why I was able to lose the weight and get healthy and others aren’t, I can keep on going. But, there really is no secret sauce. There are tricks and advice to be sure, but the answer I’ve come to is pretty simple and boils down to three things:

Choice is a Commitment

I’d been down this path before and the results were temporary or limited. The difference today was I knew I was at the age where I had to make a real choice – chubby and limited in life, or healthy and enjoying life. It really was that black and white. You can start a diet. You can take a walk. But, you need to choose to be healthy. Choice is a commitment, not an activity. When you decide to do something you need to back it up.

Know Why You Chose

A smaller pant size, getting into a bikini, and parading in a wedding pageantry is a vanity result. For me, and for others that have made a choice and committed to healthy living have a deeper drive. Some want to live and losing weight and getting fit improves their heart, cholesterol and diabetes. Some want to be active and involved with their kids and the weight is getting in the way of that. I wanted to enjoy all my outdoor loves and reconnect with my husband by doing things together as we are close to entering our empty nest stage. Yes, I love my skinny jeans, bikinis and athletic body. But it is the bigger reason for a healthy life that got me through the first phase of getting healthy and losing weight and is keeping me focused on holding back the weight and staying on point.

Just Live It

Part of commitment is that you commit. Sounds recursive, I know. But, that is the point. There is no wishy-washiness. There is no bargaining. There are no excuses. There is no gaming the system. If you are doing these things you will fail. It is that simple.  You don’t think about picking up your kids from daycare, you just do it. You don’t think about if you need to go to work. You just do it. It is the same with this. Sometimes you just need to not think about things. You just need to live it. Learn how to live healthy and then just do it. No gimmicks to this – its a lifestyle.

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10 Tips to Stay On Track With Diet While Traveling

Work and travel get in the way. But, I’m sitting at the bar in the Chicago United Club and its the perfect time while in a travel mindset for an update.

Can you lose weight as a road warrior?

Verdict: Yes!

Conditions:
I’m down almost 35 pounds with another 20 to go (Starting weight 168. Current weight 134). I’ve gone from a size 12 pant and XL/L shirt to almost a size 4 pant and small shirt. I can wear a bikini this summer. I can also run again! I can also see myself back on the slopes hitting the moguls like before rather than shimmying down the green trails.

There are good weeks and bad weeks. It’s about taking one day at a time. The real test is your mindset. You really need to want to lose weight and transition to a life long healthy lifestyle. It’s not anything you haven’t heard before, the question is really, will you take it to heart and commit to change?

There are no cheat days. There are no days off. There are no days where you can give permission to poor eating and inactivity. This is your new religion. I firmly believe that taking off the weight and keeping it off is not a temporary mindset. Commitment is real – this is a marriage to a new you.

I speak from experience, both from being in shape and out of shape as well as tackling this later in life when hormones and a lower metabolism is my everyday enemy.

Being a road warrior  has taught me to be both realistic in how I scrounge for meals that fit healthy eating and living by the feedback on my wrist that says I am as active as I should be.

  1. Just move: I look for ways to get in movement anyway I can. It can seem crazy and extreme at times. I get in a workout at odd hours. I tour airport concourses. I skip the cabs or car rental if I can walk to where I need to be.
  2. Be Sally: When Harry Met Sally, everything is on the side. It is definitely awkward the first time, but you are the customer and can have your food any way you like it. Let the kitchen know not to coat your salmon in oil. Put calorie rich sauces on the side. Substitute the fries, rice, and mashed potatoes for another helping of steamed veggies. When you can’t get it right, get the grilled chicken sandwich, pull off the top bun, and eat your sandwich with a fork and knife.  You saved 120 – 140 calories and a bad dose of simple carbs.
  3. Portions: Get familiar with your portion sizes by measuring stuff at home. This way, those large plates can be put in their box. You know a healthy portion of steak, chicken, even salmon (it has more fat than you think, even if it is good fat, too much of a good thing isn’t good anymore).
  4. Get a Map: Are you getting your walking or running game going? If you don’t have an app, ask the hotel for safe routes and bike trails. Not every place is ideal, but just like knowing the great places to have dinner, your hotel knows the best places to get outside. If you have the time, go ahead and get in that cab/Uber/rental car to tour a city on foot or by run. You get a city tour you might not have had the chance otherwise to do.
  5. Love the bands: If you are heavier at the beginning or just have a lot more to lose, sometimes being self conscious will keep you from the hotel gym. For less than 20 dollars, a set of resistance bands lets you build muscle in your hotel room until you are ready to show off the toned bulges that start to appear after several weeks.
  6. Exercise apps: I can’t say I used them a ton because I am a cardio freak on and off equipment. But, my yoga apps and HIIT apps get me 20 – 30 minutes in my hotel room when I need to squeeze in a workout.
  7. Indulge pragmatically: This is where portion control is key. United in Chicago added a scrumptious chicken alfredo. It’s deadly, I know. But, when you’ve been stuffing your face with veggies all day, you have some extra calories. I don’t condone going over your intake goal. But, with a little planning, some small indulgences help you not feel deprived at the same time you don’t sabotage your work.
  8. Pack Snacks: At the beginning when I wasn’t so sure, I kept snacks and mini meals on me. As I’ve progressed and gotten confident and educated, I don’t do this anymore. When I started it gave me more control. I still keep a piece of fruit or low calorie bar in my purse just in case. But, I don’t dip in anymore as I’ve gotten in a routine.  So it worked to help me in the beginning, but it gives me a safety net when all other food options fail.
  9. Track it: Honesty comes from transparency. I was a tracking freak across 3 apps (Weight Watchers, LostIt, MyFitnessPal). I’ve narrowed it to one (myfitnesspal.com) because it does a good enough job and I share my diary with my husband and oldest son. This keeps me both honest, I get kudos on my progress. It also helps me see progress and let’s me adjust as needed if there are weeks where the scale doesn’t move or goes in the opposite direction, or in some cases when the weight loss is too fast (yes, you need to watch for this too).
  10. At home: With all the good intentions on the road, when I get home it is detox. Even though I’m pretty healthy on the road, when I am home, I go vegetarian or pescatarian. This is when I do have more control and I take advantage of it by enjoying my creative cooking passion and coming up with new healthy dishes and testing them on my family (husband is in, kids I think are hoping I just keep it to myself.) I also make sure that I get in 2 days of intense workouts. Hike a mountain, get in a run, go for a ultra long power walk, or on yucky days, pack in my machine and weight time.

I can actually see the goal in sight, but in reality, I hit my goal. Yes, I’m within a couple points of a healthy BMI. Yes, my RHR is at the athletic level. Yes, I can do things I dreaded doing or couldn’t before. Yes, I actually found a way to like veggies and salad. Yes, I feel I can do this for the rest of my life. My top ten helped me get there.

Living with a food addiction

I’ve lived healthy, and I’ve lived in indulgence. When traveling it is easy to indulge with the plethora of top notch restaurants and chefs we learn about in travel magazines, on foodie channels, and the internet. I have to wonder how it is that you can get through travel without manifesting a food addiction.

This chubby girl is taking hard looks at herself on this journey.  I have to be introspective and honest about when I eat, why I make my choices, and overall, what triggers bargaining.

Here is what I found…

Eating as I do is an addiction pure and simple. When I was younger and more active, I burned enough calories that it didn’t necessarily get me in trouble.  When work and life took over, my butt was in a chair more often than my feet were moving and the pounds come on easily. In my late forties and now hormones are finishing the job for me. I can take this as some life changes, but it doesn’t address my food choices. I can’t, nor should I, sit down with a freshly made box of Kraft Mac-n-cheese. Eating a single serve Uno pizza, even a Spinocolli, is another bad choice. Treating myself on work-from-home days to my local Chinese buffett trying to hide my unhealthy eating by loading up on veggie dishes and no rice or noodles doesn’t hide the fact that I still have filled half my container with dumplings, chicken fingers, and crab rangoons. Hungry coming home, no problem, McDonalds has a drive through and I can scarf down a BigMac with fries and tell myself I saved on calories and sugar by getting a bottle water to wash it down instead of a soda.

That is the bad eating, but then I go to great restaurant, especially on the road and absolutely have to indulge in the signature dish, a steak, kitchen made pasta, or the artisan breads with olive oil dipping sauce poured over grated parmesan. I make meals for the family and I’m thinking more about how delectable it can be and fancy myself as an iron chef by throwing huge chunks of butter in the pan to brown my meats.

I am addicted to food. I don’t have control. And, food is going to kill me. What addiction could be worse than one that is tied to being able to live.  I quit smoking when I was 23 (I was a social smoker), but smoking isn’t something that if you stop you would die from. Food is a necessity. I suspect that for many people with weight issues, food is an addiction for them too.

Addictions aren’t just habits. They are hardwired behaviors. Yet, diet programs (and I hear this in my WW meetings and community) talk a lot about breaking bad habits. If this is just about breaking bad habits, why is it that only about 5% of people that lose weight keep it off? Yes, there are aspects about metabolism and physiological memory. But, no commercial weight loss and exercise program out there is talking about how to overcome the brain’s wiring for food addiction and living with that.

I can’t bargain my way out of this.  I can’t use cheat points. I can’t have cheat days. I can’t think about what I will do when I hit my goal and can incorporate back in what I deprived myself of. And, this finally dawned on me when two things happened this week.

  1. A hockey mom friend asked if I ever wanted a burger. Didn’t I ever eat pizza? My WW meeting leader showed concern that I might never indulge and was that sustainable? I thought a lot about this and realized that, for me, this is the first time that I am looking at the fact that I may never eat another Five Guy’s burger if it is a trigger to my addiction. I may never have another bagel with cream cheese and lox for the same reason. Certain foods are for me what cigarettes, alcohol or drugs are for others with addictions. Abstinence is the only way to survive.
  2. My diet is verging on vegetarian. The times I do have meat, chicken or seafood it is in small amounts and very lean. There might be 2 ounces at most. My husband calls this the Asian diet. My stomach calls my new recipe concoctions heaven! So much so that the day this week when I had two little smokie links my stomach revolted with discomfort. The piece of pizza I had last week almost made me throw up I was so nauseous. The fat and grease is just too much. My digestion has changed. I am living in detox.

Sorry for the lengthy point. But, when I finally had this realization about myself it all started to fall into place and I could begin to accept the real issue I have with food and healthy living. I can approach this is a more effective way and get me to sustain healthy living.