Today I simply want to share a few practical tips. These are things I have learned along the way that have really helped me in my weight loss journey. Some you may have heard before but a reminder never hurts. Some of these you may not have heard of or thought about. Either way I hope they are of help to you.
1. Become a label reader. One of the biggest shocks you will find on labels is the amounts of hidden sugar, salt and fat are hidden in every day foods. Another shock may be the actual serving size. Did you know the average serving of potato chips is 17 chips? When was the last time you ate 17 chips? Do you have cereal in the morning? Here is a scenario for you: You read the label and think “Oh the calories are pretty good on this cereal” but you don’t look at the serving size. Most of us just grab a bowl and pour cereal in and often eat 2 or 3 times what they suggest – therefore 2 to 3 times the calories.
2. Don’t drink your calories. We all know about the sugar in pop, yet many people drink gallons of the stuff. Pepsi Cola used to have a slogan “12 full ounces – that’s a lot.” Well now the average bottle of pop is 20 ounces, and if you go to places like 7-11 and use their Big Gulps (28 ounces) or Super Big Gulp (44 ounces or 64 ounces without ice) , you are drinking up to 525 calories and 32 teaspoons of sugar in one drink. I am a big tea drinker. I can’t drink coffee as I am actually allergic to it. Because I work as an entertainer, I work from home doing the business end of things. I realized I was drinking 5 or 6 cups of tea a day, not to mention I would drink tea in the evening. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar to that and…well you do the math. I thought I would really go through withdrawal, but after a couple of days I never notice the difference.
3. This kind of goes with the previous tip but dump soda. What? A die-hard pop drinker says get rid of sodas? You betcha. Besides the sugar I mentioned, there is lots of other nasty stuff in there. A recent study says that the caramel colour added to dark cola drinks could possibly lead to cancer. I found a good way around my Coke Zero addiction was to switch to carbonated water. I still got the fizz that I missed and just added some flavour like a shot of fruit juice to get over the boring plain water. Do I still have the occasional Coke Zero. Yes I do, but now it is a treat, not a food group.
4. Exercise doesn’t mean becoming Arnold Schwarzenegger. I used to think exercise meant going to the gym and trying to bench press a Volkswagen. You have to remember that I was a guy who would have faked PMS to get out of gym class. I then discovered exercise can be any physical activity you can do, and more importantly, one you enjoy so you will keep doing it. When I started at 425 pounds, I couldn’t do much, but I loved music and loved to dance. (Still do) That was how I discovered Richard Simmons and the Sweating to the Oldies videos. I was able to move on to other things as the weight came off. I do go to the community centre gym, but I also walk, use weight and a punching bag at home, as well as working out with various WII games. I use the WII Fit, WII Fit Plus, EA Active, EA Active More Workouts, UFC Trainer and others. Don’t laugh – some of these programs will kick your butt.
5. I have mentioned this before, but use smaller plates. It’s a simple as using a side plate or bread and butter plate instead of a dinner plate. I have talked about this before so I won’t dwell on it too much. This little picture I found online sums it up.
6. Watch out for Mindless Eating. Do you eat when you are bored, or when watching TV? Are you really hungry or is it just a habit? I read a great book called Mindless Eating by Brian Winsank. It really got into the WHY we sometimes mindlessly shovel large amounts food into our mouths without even being aware of it.
7. Speaking of snacking. I am a snacker so I had to think about what I was snacking on. I am not a sweets person. I am more the salty-crunchy type of snacker. I am more drawn to chips, pretzels, nuts etc. I started researching healthy, tasty low-calorie snacks (and no that isn’t a contradiction in terms). I love peanut butter, but I switched to other nut butters, and for the crunch, put nut butter on celery or apple wedges. If I am going to have nuts, I have a small handful of walnuts as they are among the healthier nuts. Remember what I said in a previous blog post – if you say Never again, that’s the thing you will eventually binge on.
8. If you bite it, write it. I am the first to admit I am terrible at journaling but I found a great tool that helps me keep track of my food and even my exercise. There is a website called My Fitness Pal and of course it is also available as an app for your phone. It helps me track my food intake, and my exercise. It can also be tied to other apps you may be using like Map My Walk, some Pedometer Apps and many more. For some people a simple notebook will do it. Sometimes when you go back over your food journal you can see where you may have had a slip, or using online programs, you suddenly see that you may have been greatly underestimating how much you are actually eating.
9. Support and Accountability. Another nice feature of My Fitness Pal is the community or social aspect. You can find friends on there and encourage each other along the way. I have my TOPS group and I know that each Thursday we are going to start our meeting with a weigh in. If we have a good week, I get to share what helped me, or if it isn’t a great week, I can learn from others what helped them. Have a weight loss buddy that you can call or email.
10. Check your medications with your doctor. When I first joined TOPS, I spend the first year going up and down the same 2 pounds for a year, and caused me to quit. Thanks to a barrage of phone calls and emails, I came back. When I saw my endocrinologist I mentioned it to him. He said “Let’s look at your medications.” He brought them up on the computer and said “There’s your problem,.” There was a medication I was on that wouldn’t put weight on, but would make it almost impossible to take off. He changed that one medication and the weight started coming off.
11. Watch the negative self talk. This has been a big issue for me for a long time and still can be if I am not careful. You will have slips, or days when you fall of the healthy eating wagon. Don’t beat yourself up. It happens. Just get back on track as soon as you can. It easy to think “I am never going to get to my goal” but you have to look at how far you have come. Look back in old albums, realize how you have changed some of your bad old habits, and how much better you feel.
12. Lastly keep a sense of humour. It is easy to get a little down on the whole weight thing. Sometimes you need to take a break and watch a funny movie or TV show. It is so true that laughter is the best medicine. It can help change your thinking and how you feel, and can help put you back on track.
Those are just a few things I have learned. As I said when I started this blog, I am not a doctor or nutritionist. These are just my opinions, but they are also things I have found that really help.
Until next time have a healthy and happy day.