“How does one become a butterfly?” she asked pensively.
“You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”
The quote at the meeting this week is so appropriate. Without these meetings, I might not keep things like this in mind, I would definitely not feel like I am holding myself accountable for my health and in turn – my weight.
See, it’s not so much my weight that is the issue. It’s my health. Not that my health is horrible, far from it. But there are people in my life whose health worries me, because they are carrying too much weight. The stress on their body is evident in their physical appearance, right down to their posture, and even though I can’t see that in the mirror in myself – seeing it on someone I love makes me realize that I have the look, too. Now think about the food choices you make or see your loved one make. If you combine “the look” with “the menu”, you feel your answer welling up inside of you, and you know what I’m talking about.
Over indulgence is bad. Poor food choices result in frustration, poor health, fatigue and weight gain.
It is, truly, just that simple. But then again, it’s not.
Socially, our system sucks horribly. We go out to eat and are presented with a meal that honestly? It’s 3 days worth of calories on one plate. And having been working toward a goal for several years on and off and recently again for several weeks, I can tell you from personal experience that I have yet to find a restaurant that provides the right balance of protein and carbs in one menu item. It doesn’t exist. (Ok, unless you’re a rabbit. If you’re a rabbit, it exists. If you are used to eating that full plate of food, it does not.)
There are few people concerned about this. I question our school system, who doesn’t provide any eduction on nutrition to our children – but jumps on parents who never learned about nutrition and have overweight/unhealthy children as a result. Do your kids know anything about nutrition?
Seriously – how many people really know what you need on your plate in order to not only feel satisfied, but have the proper balance of nutrition that fuels your system, makes you feel energized and burns the excess you’ve acquired over time or even eaten just that day?
People, generally speaking, don’t know how to eat. We eat at our leisure, we eat because it tastes good, we eat because it’s the socially “in” thing to do. When you go out, you grab a bite. You hang out with friends, there’s always food involved. Always. You can’t get away from it – unless you’re at a library. Make a good food choice in front of friends? They look at you funny, like you’re crazy for not choosing what “tastes good”. Trust me. I’ve gotten that look, too.
So not only are we not taught proper nutrition from a young age, we’re taught the opposite. Eat what tastes good, and you’re cool. Decline a brownie? Are you kidding? ::snickers behind her back::
Think about your grocery store for a second. Think about how many rows of products there are. Now imagine eliminating all of the poor food choices and boxed foods with preservatives. What’s left? Three rows? Four? That’s my guess for my own grocery store.
When I go to the grocery store now, I only go down about 4 aisles. Produce, meat, dairy and grains. Let me give you my typical grocery list for a week:
fish (fresh, salmon or tilapia)
turkey (lean, breast cutlets, tenderloins and deli sliced thin hickory smoked, turkey franks)
chicken (lean, breast)
Vegetables (all fresh, not frozen unless it’s out of season)
broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, onion, red & green peppers, mushroom, lettuce, tomato
Fruits (again, fresh and in season)
grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, apples, nectarines, bananas, kiwi, lemon/juice
non-fat milk, non-fat or low-fat cottage cheese, reduced fat sliced cheese, eggbeaters, shredded low-fat cheese (mexican or co-jack blend)
high fiber whole grain bread (eat only one slice a day, cut in half for a sandwich)
success boil in a bag brown rice (1/2 c. day max)
ziploc storage bags in gallon and quart size containers
marinades (teriyaki, barbeque)
Normally, we cut up our fresh fruits and vegetables and put them into ziploc bags so it’s all ready to grab and eat. Grapes are washed and put into a container. I also put my meat into bags with the marinades and let them sit for several hours before grilling. We steam our vegetables in the microwave with this incredibly wonderful steamer from Tupperware.
We do season our foods, but we do not drench them with butter or anything.
Notice there’s one very important thing about my grocery list – none of my food items come in a box, except for the brown rice, which is a whole grain. Incredible, isn’t it?
There’s still a lot missing, though. Like the quote says, you have to be “willing to give up being a caterpillar.” You have to want it bad enough to think about the choices you’re making and invest the time and more importantly the forethought about what you’re putting into your body. You have to educate yourself and consider a few more things before you are armed with the right information to change your eating habits.
- What is your current weight?
- What is your goal?
- How many calories do you need to eat in a day to have a constant, healthy loss while you’re re-learning how to provide your body the nutrients it needs so that it doesn’t keep storing the excess in your hips/thighs/belly? Remember: as you lose weight, you need to recalculate your calories. You need fewer calories as you lose weight.
- Do you know how to choose proteins – and do you know how many grams of protein you eat now, and how many you need to eat in a day to provide your body what it needs?
- Do you know how to identify a good carb, and how to balance them with proteins for proper nutrition? Do you know how much you need in a day before your body will store it as fat?
- Do you know that your body needs a certain about of healthy fats (like those found in fish, lean meat and low-fat dairy) to digest your proteins and carbs correctly? Do you know how many grams of fat you should limit yourself to in a day?
You really need to find out this information if you don’t know it already. Giving you MY information isn’t going to help you reach your goals or start choosing things correctly. I’ve provided a couple of links at the end of this entry so that you can learn and find out your own information.
There’s one very important thing that I’ve learned over the last couple of years on this mission of mine:
You can’t motivate someone else, you can only motivate yourself.
There are other factors in my success that I can’t ignore – and neither should you.
- Family. Like it or not, you all eat together. You’re either going to “go on a diet” without them, or you’re going to fix your whole families nutrition. I chose the latter, and thankfully – everyone has been supportive and cooperative. If I had “gone on a diet” without them, I would still have food temptations around me, and I would “go off” and start eating that food again because, well, they are. They’re not. I am teaching my children about nutrition and how to pack a healthy lunch for school. We are all in this together, and that has a huge impact on all of us.
- Education. Learn about what you need. EAT what you need EVERY DAY. Don’t reduce your calories, don’t eat less and think you’re better off. If you add an indulgence, KEEP EATING the right foods so that your body doesn’t hang on to your indulgence. DON’T OVER INDULGE.
- Be Smart. Your body needs one protein, one carb and one fat at every meal. Learn what they are, and choose from foods that don’t come in a box.
- Think First. Before I get too hungry, I eat 10 grapes. Learn about food and how small amounts of certain items can curb your appetite for 2 more hours. 10 grapes, that’s all it takes. While I’m munching on those grapes, I figure out what is worth 30-50 grams of protein and what is worth 50-70 grams of carbs. (Figure out what you need, first.)
- Don’t Let Others Sway You! If you go to a party, ask what the food is going to be. If it’s not lean meat or there aren’t any veggies, bring a veggie/fruit/meat tray with you. I attended a barbeque and had people munching on my plate of turkey and chicken tenderloins.
- Give Your Health Priority. If you’ve read this far, it’s most likely because you’re frustrated, and you don’t know what to do anymore. You have to allow yourself to do this. You have to spend the time educating yourself on proper nutrition and you have to really think about the choices you make and whether or not they are good for you and your goals. You have to choose more wisely. You can’t keep eating the way that you are and expect optimal health. Even if you’re thin – if you’re eating out of boxes, you can expect to see it in your health and energy levels.
- Get up. I’m not saying you have to run around the block or join the gym. If you’re sedentary, then get up. When you chat on the phone, walk around the house instead of sitting down. Park further away when you go to the store. Pick up the pace while you’re in the grocery store. Increase your level of activity with just walking for 20 minutes a day. Even if it’s just pacing the house while you’re on the phone.
- DRINK WATER. Lose the soda, pop, soda-pop, whatever you call it. Those are wasted carbs and even a whole can of pop doesn’t curb your hunger. Your body needs water and craves water, pure water, no sugar, no additives. Did you know that some people can’t tell the difference between hunger pain and thirst? Are you one of those people? Drink 3 large gulps of water before you eat, and you’ll eat less.
Why Weight Watchers helps me. When I joined WW, it was because I knew I needed the accountability. If I am only accountable to myself, I am very forgiving when I eat poorly. I can excuse it away all the way down to “my body craved it, so I have to eat it”. I already knew what I needed to know about nutrition and HOW to eat, I just had no inclination to actually do it – because no one else but me even cared. Now I have the support and encouragement from my family AND a group of women with the same mindset. It helps to have my meetings on Monday mornings, since weekends are usually very tempting dining-out days.
If you’re like me, you may need that same kind of support system.
This is the part where I give you links so that you can find out what your caloric intake should be, and how many protein/carb/fats you should eat:
CalorieKing.com – Diet Diary (free download for 7 days, $49 download) This is the one I use, I bought the download and keep track daily, it allows you to “favorite” foods that you eat a lot of, create “meals” and click and drag foods to your daily diary.
SparkPeople – I understand they also have a guide to tell you your target calories, protein, carbs & fat grams, and that’s free. (It’s online only)
Nutritional Resource: Nutrition Source : Harvard School of Public Health
Now go, learn. Find out what you can and if you have questions, come ask me. I will help you figure it out or lead you to a place to find the information.