Tips for staying sane in a world of diet tips

Diet tips are not hard to find. In fact, if you’re a woman of any age who regularly uses the internet or watches tv or reads magazines, I’d go as far to say that diet tips are probably hard to avoid!

That’s why I’m not going to give you any.

Instead, I offer for you my tips for staying sane while being bombarded with diet tips:

1. Don’t pay for anything. 

Please, I beg of you, don’t pay for diet advice. There are better ways to spend you money. Like on fruits and veggies, cookbooks and fitness equipment. If you’re really serious about making a lifestyle change, put some thought and creativity  into your meals and do some research! There are plenty of free calorie tracking sites out there, my favorite is myfitnesspal. At some point you’ll realize that pills, shakes, frozen meals and the like are not made for a sustainable lifestyle. Also, if the goal is to have a healthy, happy body (which it should be) you don’t want to put that stuff in it anyway!

2. Eat free samples.

Whether at Trader Joes or Costco – I always take a free sample if I want it. Why? It’s a perfectly portioned bite of something I probably don’t eat very regularly. Because I don’t keep much snack food or sweets in my home, free samples are a way for me to indulge without any risk of overeating. Also, It just feels so diet-y to turn down a bite-sized piece of something because I’m trying to lose weight. Sometimes I track the samples, sometimes I don’t. Typically I estimate about 50 calories per sample, depending on what it is of course.

3. Tea. lots and lots of tea.

I love tea. Iced tea, hot tea, herbal tea, black tea, green tea. All of it. It also is my saving grace when going out to dinner. Yes, I might be ordering salad without the cheese and salsa as a dressing, but I have this delicious unsweetened iced tea to make up for it. I don’t drink soda (never have) so no-calorie beverage options are pretty limited. Iced-tea or water. It helps me feel like I’m not missing anything in my meal such as, ya know, french fries. Ok, it won’t make up for french fries, but it does fill a flavor void sometimes. I also keep a wide variety of hot teas at work to turn when guzzling water gets boring. Telling you to not drink your calories is such a cliche “diet rule.” So I won’t do it. But I will tell you to drink  tea to your heart’s content! It’s also a good option when you’re at Starbucks and everyone else is ordering frappuccinos. Stick with unsweetened iced tea and save the calories and sugar crash.

4. The food you like is the food you’re going to eat

This may sound like a no-brainer, but I think a classic mistake when getting starting on any healthy journey is to fill your fridge with foods that you think you’re supposed to be eating. I’m a sucker for all those lists that say “9 foods for glowing skin” and “15 snacks that will fill you up” but at the end of the day, if you don’t like any of the foods on the list, you’re not going to eat them. There aren’t many vegetables I don’t like, but for some reason my taste buds just don’t get excited about peppers or celery. Two foods that are constantly pushed as healthy snack options. But sorry, slathering them in nut butter or hummus is not going to make it any better. I also once made a huge batch of lentil soup after reading some article about how great lentils are knowing full well that I don’t really love soup or lentils. Eat the healthy foods you already like, and not just the ones on lists that promise to help you “drop 5 pounds in one week!”

5. Try new things.

This may sound like it contradicts the last point, but I DO believe in introducing new foods to your palate in small ways. I never ate zucchini before starting my healthy journey, so the first time I cooked it, I grated it up and added it to meatballs. The second time I made zucchini I cut it the vegetable into sticks, covered ’em in whole wheat bread crumbs, and stuck them into the oven to bake and served them with a side of ketchup . Slowly I became more comfortable with the flavor, and now zucchini is one of my favorite foods. My point is, use flavors you already like to introduce new foods into your life.

Try new things also means, break the rules! There is no one way to lose weight, so don’t get it in your head that if you don’t follow a specific plan exactly, you won’t be successful. There is so much advice out there, trying to follow all of it will drive you crazy!

Do what you like and like what you do.

That’s all folks!

– J

Commitment to doing it right

Hi ya’ll!

For the past month and a half, my weight has moved between two pounds. Up those two pounds, down those two pounds. And while it took me a while to admit it to myself, I was committing all the classic mistakes of dieting.

A sidebar to this post is that I really hate to use the word dieting. I don’t really feel that I’m on a diet. Yes, I count calories and choose healthy foods, but there is no alternative to me and there are not “off-diet” days where I don’t do those things, or at least strive to to those things.

moving on.

So what have I been doing wrong? Eating too little, followed by the inevitable eating too much. D’oh!

I was exercising 5-6 days a week and not eating back those calories while sticking to a 1,200 calorie a day limit. As life goes, I would get sick of that after a couple days, have a few high calorie days before recommitting to 1,200 calories. Sigh. Throw in some holidays, sugar overload and alcohol and you have the perfect formula for weight loss failure.

So what have I done to fix it? Re-committed to doing it the right way. I upped my calorie “allowance” (ugh, another term I  can’t stand) on myfitnesspal to 1,400 a day. It’s about the equivalent of a 1-pound weight loss per week for me. Honestly, it’s probably around what I was eating anyway and seeing the higher number makes me feel better mentally. When I had it set to the 1,200 limit, I would feel paranoid that I would go over all the time and not track honestly, which led to no tracking at all.

And for me, tracking is king. Even if the calorie counts aren’t accurate, I try and track. It really makes the difference between success and failure for me, in my head and on the scale.

So there ya go. I know the right way to do things, and with all the holiday stress and eating…and stress eating…I let my good habits fall away. But they’re back now and I’m ready to succeed.