I’ve stared this blog as a weight loss guide and ended up writing how my life story affected my food habits and what inspired changes. Click here for the first part.
I was able to lose over 40 lbs. or 12 dress sizes and maintain the weight loss over two decades. I hike, climb and ski. I don’t drink or smoke now either. I feel awesomely great most days. I still see a fat pimply girl in the mirror’s reflection from time to time. I am not completely satisfied with myself and hopefully I never will be and this is a good thing. There is always something to work on. I thrive to get into better shape, to be healthier and to learn more every day. Being immersed in health and fitness for over 20 years and after I’ve tried over a dozen different diets I came up with my 5 guidelines for weight loss and healthy living.
1) Define Your Why’s
Consider your weight loss as a living forward journey towards a better and healthier you. You need to have strong “why’s”. Why choosing not to eat this extra cookie matters? What will you sacrifice, regardless of how you feel, in order to go from your current state to where you want to go? What is the driving force towards your desire to lose weight? Look inward and dig deep to ask yourself, why do you want to be healthier? Think habits vs. willpower. Your “why’s” will anchor you and help you to build more productive habits. Just like you build muscle, your new constructive habits will take root in your day to day life.
For me it was clear cut. I found myself in the emergency room, constantly sick and out of breath. I wanted to look good in short skirts, but primarily, I wanted to be able to enjoy being alive and healthy. To be able to walk, swim and do my work in the world. I had very little support from my family, friends, and my ex-husband. My “why’s” kept me going.
2) Stop the Blame Game
You can blame your genetics, your upbringing, the government, your parents and your friends. But this is a victim’s mentality and is not taking responsibility for your life. Who cares what you can’t change? Focus on what you can. How can you make better choices in the grocery store, prepare a food menu for your daily meals, educate yourself about nutrition and various diets.
My dad was extremely sick with diabetics, kidney, and heart issues. He died horrifically and slowly in the hospital while my sister and I had to watch his decline. I grew up in a culture and family where food was everything. Instead of focusing and thinking that I have a predisposition for diabetes, depression and being a victim of my upbringing, I chose to change my habits! Over the years, my social circle changed as well. It became counterproductive to spend time with my smoking, drinking buddies when I was trying to get sober and healthy. Socializing doesn’t evolve around food any longer. I very carefully choose my small inner circle of friends.
3) Record Everything You Eat
Keeping a food journal and writing down everything you eat will help you stay on track. The most common excuse is a lack of time. But consider this, an average American takes over five days to pick a car, and a bride spends nearly a full month to plan a weeding that will only last five hours. Not to mention, time spent of Facebook, watching tele and gossiping. So make time and keep track of what you eat and associate feelings with your meals. If you only take one thing from this article, keeping track of your food should be it! You don’t really know what you are eating unless you are keeping track of it.
I’ve started with a simple notepad about 20 years ago. Now, I use my fitness pal in combination with an Excel sheet log to keep track of how food makes me feel. I also weight myself and use the messing tape to track my progress. Based on my record, I eliminate foods causing inflammation, lethargy, extra pounds, and allergies. In addition, this got me interested to begin my own research and I started reading science and research in optimal nutrition for well-being and healthy life style.
4) Eat Real Food
Based on my food tracking, I came up with a simple formula:
- Add real foods (plant-based veggies, fruits, legumes and whole grains) and subtract foods that trigger allergies, make you feel like crap, and also subtract non-eatable foods (ingredients you can’t pronounce, corn syrup, processed sugar, anything with a shelf life longer than yours)
- Eat not too much food (stop when about 60% full)
- Eat mostly plants
- Remove processed food and sugar (major factors causing disease)
- Remove “Not food”, which is edible or food like substances; foods that don’t rot usually packed with preservatives.
- Add fats like avocado, nuts, seeds and pure oils. Low fat products usually contain processed sugar and chemicals, which leads to weight gain. Just control your nuts portions (as many as you can fit on your palm)
- Add intermittent fasting
5) Celebrate Your Successes
This is not a cheat day. You’ve worked really hard – there is no need to poison your system with garbage. You never hear alcoholics or cocaine addicts, just having a glass of wine or a hit of cocaine…Fill your plate with plants, veggies and good fats. Find what makes your heart tick. The typical reasons for overeating are boredom, apathy or stress. Many of us are trying to fill the gap in our souls by stuffing our bellies with food. It doesn’t work! Fill your life with something more than food. Remove toxic activities and toxic people as soon as possible. What did you really enjoy when you were a kid?
I find small joys to celebrate being alive and healthy every day. Looking out of the window at the snow-filled mountain tops, patting my dog, eating my healthy breakfast and seeing my husband smile. Taking time off to get a massage, taking my dog for a walk and cuddling with a fun book on my reading chair with a cup of tea.
To conclude, food plays a vital role in maintaining proper health and prevention. Food is used as a cure for diseases. We feel strongly about our individual food preferences and the food culture we were raised in. Our eating behavior goes beyond nutrition and alleviating hunger. We have to consider, our family, friends, cultural heritage and life circumstances shape our individual food preferences. The motivation to eat is not merely driven by a desire for nutrients and satiety, emotional and psychological processes play an important role as well. The emotional states affect what, when and how much we eat. Consuming food, subsequently affects out emotional states. We use food as a self-medication and comfort. To end the vicious cycle of overeating and disease, we need to change our life-style. Look into all the areas of our lives and cleanup our act. I was suicidal, sick and feeling old by the age of 23. Over the years and against all odds, I was able to transform my habits and change my environment. If I can do you, you can do it as well! Just imagine, what your life can be on the other bank of obesity and over-eating?
Thanks for reading!
Please take at least one idea that resonates with you and start incorporating it into your life.
What will it be?
Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Anna Sheinman. They are not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, and they are not intended as medical advice. They are intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from my own research and experience. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.