Tag Archives: running

6 Rules for a Healthy Lifestyle

It has occurred to me… or really, it slowly crept on me, that by logging my food every day and striving for the perfect calorie goal, I am simply trading one obsession for another. I either compulsively over-eat or I obsessively diet, accepting nothing but black and white. Logging works great for most people. Logging worked well for me initially.. I just wonder if maybe logging my food has caused a mental rift in my mind between “good” and “bad” foods and “good” or “bad” days.

It’s like I believe that my nature is inherently always gravitating to the “bad.” My knee jerk reaction is to make the days I don’t log the ones where I frantically, excitedly, guiltily scramble to fit in every “bad” food I have been missing over the past few weeks of meticulous calculating and logging everything I ingest.

I made the decision to learn to eat better without logging during this past week. I was having a conversation with my roommates at the dinner table about my habits, my likes, my dislikes, and my overeating issues. One of my roommates, who has always been able to think of just about anything objectively, suggested that I attempt to wean off of logging and look at food as just food. The suggestion was appalling at first; “Logging works,” I thought, “There’s no reason to fix what isn’t broken.”

His suggestion planted itself like a seed in my mind and grew until I realized that my goal was never to be so obsessed with losing weight. My goal was to learn healthy habits, to get to my goal weight, and to look the way I wanted. It occurred to me that my logging obsession is just as mentally unhealthy for me as overeating is for my body. An unhealthy mind cannot make a healthy body. My solution was to utilize something I learned from a class for adoptive and foster parents that I had to take for my job. In order to run an orderly household, parents need to make clear, concise, simple rules that govern the household, such as “be kind,” “be respectful,” and “be honest.” I needed to make rules like these for my lifestyle so that I could simplify it rather than over-complicating it with numbers and figures.

1.) Only eat when hungry. This is a habit that logging completely broke me of doing. I got into a groove with logging that led me to believe that I should eat every 2-3 hours on the dot and that I should eat only what fit into my macros. While this is effective for some, I lost some of my ability to recognize hunger signals and deal with hankerings for random food items by replacing them with healthier options. The result is that on days when I didn’t log, I ate whatever I damn well pleased because that’s what I felt like having. This does not lend to a healthy lifestyle throughout. I can’t only be healthy when I log; I need to be making healthier choices all the time. I’m trying to create a lifestyle, not a cage.

2.) Try to keep each meal under 500 calories (estimated). Eating smaller meals as a guideline helps with portion control and allows me to spread my calories out over a long day at work. Since I’ve been logging for so long, I know what most of the foods I have been eating lately contain as far as protein and calories. This also keeps me from trying to meet a calorie goal for each day and gives me some flexibility. I may only feel like eating 1,000 calories one day but feel like eating 2,300 the next day and have all the energy for a workout.

3.) Eliminate as much sugar as possible. I know that sugar is the enemy, you know that sugar is the enemy, but we still eat a lot of sugar in our coffee, in snacks, and in sauces because it’s freaking delicious. It also causes cravings and helps our bodies to retain fat, so it has to go. As I let go of the logging process, I want to try to replace sweet food items that I normally would have eaten, especially at the end of the day, with something just a bit less sweet but still satisfying. I’ve also been trying to steadily drink my coffee just a little bit darker each day so that I can eliminate the daily use of sugar in my coffee as well. Sugar is a trigger for me, and I have avoided eliminating its evil from my life for too long.

4.) Get a fruit or vegetable on every plate. This rule follows my sugar rule because fruits and veggies have fiber that help break down sugar more slowly and help with digestion. Not only that, but a fruit or veggie with each meal can help me feel full longer, give me essential nutrients, and gives me a reason to try new things. Whether I slap spinach on a turkey burger, avocado on my scrambled eggs, or replace pretzels with carrots, getting something colorful on each plate encourages healthier habits and a healthier body.

5.) Drink a lot of water. I carry a 32oz bottle of water with me all day long, drink about two of those, and then have another couple of glasses of water at dinner. Some days I drink more than others, especially if I’ve been sweating a lot in the gym. Water is the magical elixir of life. Just drink it.

6.) Forgive yourself and move on. If I had a particularly rough day with food choices, no one is going to know it but me, regardless of how fat, sluggish, and gross I feel. No one can tell that you just ate a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in 5 seconds flat just by looking at you. Put it behind you, make your next meal a healthy one, drink lots of water, and just get over it. Move on.

Maybe it’s just my recent interest in yoga talking, my nervous anticipation about being ridiculously busy with graduate school beginning this summer, or maybe I’m just having a moment of clarity, but this is what I have always wanted. I have always wanted to forget that food is the enemy and realize that food is power. Food is fuel, but food is not an emotional dam for my anxiety or disappointment. For the next couple of months, I expect to be more aware of my body and its signals. I don’t expect to lose a lot of weight. If I do, that’s great, but I think that the most important makeover that needs to happen for me is in my mind.

I am hoping that by forming a more friendly relationship with food and with my body that the rest will fall into line later. Here’s to hoping.

10 Things You Probably Never Realize About the Formerly Fat Female in Your Life

I don’t mean to stroke my own ego, or maybe I do, but women who have made the choice to lose weight and be healthy are pretty special. We’re different than a lot of other women because we’ve fought a battle with ourselves that makes us stronger, healthier, and more confident; however, it’s important to remember that just because we met our goals we aren’t invincible or even half as confident as we put on. The truth about women who’ve lost a lot of weight is that we are fragile, sensitive, and hard on ourselves. It’s still a mental struggle for us every day to keep weight off or continue to lose it. Here’s what you might not realize is going on in your victoriously fit friend or other half’s brain:

1.) We wear colossal fat goggles. No matter how skinny or fit we feel, we still see a part of our old selves in the mirror. We can’t shake the idea that we should wear black all the time because it’s slimming or that we should wear baggy clothing to camouflage our now smaller or non-existent belly rolls. We’re always a memory away from reliving how we felt as bigger women.

2.) We have an inherent fear of “bad” foods or large amounts of foods. Holiday potlucks give us horrific lucid nightmares. Superbowl parties make us hyperventilate. Sometimes we’re convinced that one big party will make us fat forever.  We fear that eating one cupcake at a birthday party will set us off into a binge that will last for weeks, causing an insatiable lust for all things covered in chocolate or caramel sauce.

3.) We are perfectionists, and we’re our own worst critics. We check in the mirror to make sure that thinner, more svelte figure is still there. We can’t believe it. And even if we do, we’re checking for other imperfections. We look at our behinds to check for dimples, our outer thighs to check for saddle bags, and our waistbands to check for the slightest hint of a muffin top. I’ve even gone home to change in the middle of the workday before because I felt like my pants made me look a little too big.

4.) We need a lot of encouragement even if we put on a facade. We need meaningful validation that our hard work was worth it and that we truly are better than we were before. We don’t just want to hear, “Honey, you’re beautiful.” We want to hear, “I really love what _____ has done for you in  ______ area.” That is a lot easier to believe than a generic blanket statement about our overall appearance. Even then, we have a hard time accepting compliments and may brush it off as a joke.

5.) We can be overbearing and overzealous about our lifestyle. Sometimes we’re so passionate about the changes we’ve made and how much better we feel that we can’t help but blab about it. Sometimes that can be condescending or overwhelming for our friends and family because sometimes they just want to complain about how they’re feeling sluggish rather than have you fix it. We don’t mean to do it either. We’re sorry!

6.) We get really mad when people are lazy. We also hate when they complain about it. This happens to me all the time when someone asks me, “How did you do it?! What’s your secret?” Everyone knows that a secret doesn’t exist, but they’re hoping you’ll tell them that all you did was remove one ingredient from your diet or that you took a pill in order to see results. We know that it’s not that easy, so we get upset with people want to try and make it seem that easy. We know that there is no reward for laziness.

7.) We are not your personal nutrition and exercise encyclopedias. Yes, the occasional question about the healthiest way to cook or the recommended amount of exercise is okay. That makes us feel useful, and we love that you thought of us when you needed someone to ask! However, we don’t love when you think we’re going to customize a nutrition and exercise plan for you and you alone as a favor. That takes a lot of work, and we spent a long time enduring trial and error to find a sweet spot!

8.) We don’t want to watch reality TV shows about losing weight. We don’t want to listen to TV shows that use extreme measures to achieve unsustainable results. We also don’t want to hear about Dr. Oz and his miraculous Acai berries and green tea antioxidants. Anyone who lost weight the old fashioned way doesn’t have time for that kind of asinine crap. Likewise, if you ask us to give you our opinions on The Biggest Loser, get ready for a monologue that never ends.

9.) We still unintentionally bash naturally skinny people in our heads. We’re always going to be a little peeved that we couldn’t be part of that group of people who won the genetic lottery and inherited a super metabolism. Sorry, but we’re not sorry. It’s awesome for you, and you look great, but we secretly want to throttle you. Just know that it’s not personal.

10.) We struggle to love ourselves at any weight, any age, and in any setting. We are constantly striving for the perfection that doesn’t exist. We know that our battle with weight and unhealthy habits is a lifelong struggle, so we must be vigilant. We are always going to have something to work on, but women who have lost a lot of weight still have a hard time doing the most important thing to be healthy: to love themselves.

Food and Exercise Diary Flubbs: Deceptive Logging

You remember in school how the teacher would tell you that cheating gets you nowhere because it doesn’t help you learn? You cheat on your homework and when it is time for the test, you fail miserably because you failed to actually gain any knowledge while copying answers? I was the kid in school who always got copied.

Using a food and diary log is pretty much the same way. If you omit items from your diary in order to look better to your peers on My Fitness Pal or elsewhere, you’re only hurting yourself. You’re not accurately logging, and that will hurt you because you’re not going to see the results you want. You have to be honest. Likewise, overestimating calorie burns just because the automated form in My Fitness Pal estimates that you burned 1,200 calories cleaning your house for an hour and a half is going to hinder you in your goals.

I know that food is enticing, but we can’t enter false information and expect for these things to physically become a reality. If you enter that you burned 1,200 calories shoveling snow for an hour and you actually only burned about 400, you really only burned 400. That snow wasn’t tiny, extremely dense lead shavings. Sorry, folks, but putting it in your log doesn’t make it magically true.

The logging is your homework, the weigh in is the test, and you’re going to fail if you falsify that information. If what other people think about your diary bothers you, make it private. It’s not mandatory to have a public diary on My Fitness Pal. This is something that BLOWS my mind.

I don’t know where My Fitness Pal gets some of their information for estimating calorie burn, but you can pretty much be sure that you didn’t burn more than 10 calories a minute while exercising. Trust me, if you were burning more than 10 calories a minute, you’d be drenched in perspiration and your heart would be coming out of your chest.

I know it’s hard to put in real effort because you’ve been used to being lazy or maybe you’re uninspired, but you’re only going to be disappointed when the scale doesn’t reflect the “awesome dedication” that you allegedly put in over the week. There is no way around the fact that this is a numbers game. If you want to see results, you have to do the work and be honest with yourself about it.

There are no shortcuts in losing weight. None.

Sharing Weight Loss “Secrets” — 5 Ways to Keep Your Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

I recently asked the newsletter committee at work about adding a section on health and well-being in our monthly newsletter; not only did they agree that it would be a good idea, but they asked me to head it up! This is exciting for me because I love to write, teach, and share my experiences. The newsletter article is being featured in our December/January edition, so I decided to pick something relevant and relateable to my coworkers who probably aren’t as obsessed with being healthy as I am but want to pick up some healthy habits. I’d like to share it here with you!

5 Ways to Keep Your Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

Over the past 4 years, I’ve made health and fitness a huge part of my life. I’ve lost 87 pounds, and I’ve formed some realistic healthy habits along the way. Soon, I hope to get my master’s in health promotion. Since this is such a passion of mine, I want to share what I’ve learned with everyone.

weight loss progress

The New Year is upon us, and surely we’re all making our lists of resolutions. Here are some tips to help you keep your resolutions and fulfill your health or fitness goals:

      1. Start Realistically. Most new resolution makers want to hit it hard first thing, but the best way to make lasting healthy habits is to work in one thing at a time. When we change too many unhealthy habits at once, we are more likely to fail. Start by making small changes and scaffolding healthy habits over time to create a solid foundation for lifelong habits.
      2. Be Aware. People who log calorie intake are much more likely to consume less junk because they can easily see how much they have consumed throughout the day. Online communities like MyFitnessPal can double as a food and exercise log, as well as a buddy system.
      3. Water, Water, Water! Water helps the digestive system, makes skin look better, and helps regulate body temperature. Those who are well hydrated tend to have fewer health problems and are less likely to feel hungry throughout the day. Drink up!
      4. Get an Accountability Buddy. Find a friend who has the same goals as you and keep one another accountable. Have your buddy walk with you during lunch, watch out for you when you reach for unhealthy snacks, and be a support system for you when cravings come.
      5. Reward Yourself. Set goals with rewards for encouragement. Warning: Don’t reward yourself with foods, especially unhealthy foods! This is counter-productive. Instead, buy new tennis shoes, buy tickets to a concert, or buy new clothes. You’ll enjoy treating yourself and receiving positive reinforcement for your efforts.

For me, all five of the tips above were and are what kept me in the weight loss game for so long. I hope these tips are helpful for those reading this as well!

An Introduction to Melody

Hello, internet-dwellers.

My name is Melody. For the past three years of my life, my health and fitness have been the primary focus of every single day. In that time, I’ve dropped 75 lbs, ran 7 5K distances, learned a lot about myself, learned a lot about food, and just basically have learned a lot about life in general. Allow me to show you who I am.

Image

Yep, that was me. A whopping 253 lbs of me, the Christmas Break before my last semester as a sophomore in college. I had been overweight my entire life and had always had unhealthy eating habits. As if that weren’t enough, I also had body image issues, emotional issues, and trauma that comes with living life that harbored itself inside of me and caused me to use food as a bandage for my problems. I binged. A LOT. I could eat entire bags of Hershey Kisses without blinking and then go grab a pint of B&J and a Dr. Pepper. I had a hole in me that I wanted to fill with food. I disgusted myself.

At this time, I had an abundance of health problems. During the break, I actually became faint while stumbling to the kitchen for a glass of water and fell. The same week, my pediatrician (I was only 19 years old at the time) informed me that unless I made some serious changes, I was going to be a diabetic. I was eating myself to death at 19. I had high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and I was living a lifestyle that my body could not endure. After this, I began to think about adopting a healthier lifestyle, but I lost about 15 lbs and quit. A bit later, I overheard what I thought was a comment about my size as I went to take my laundry out of the dryer in the ground floor of my dormitory apartments; I decided from that point on that no one, not myself or any other person, would have a reason to comment on my unhealthy appearance or habits.

From there, I changed my life one drink, bite, and step at a time. I downloaded a magnificent app onto my phone, MyFitnessPal, which allowed me to track my eating habits and exercise every day. As I logged, I learned how to make subtle changes in my diet so that I could eat more while keeping my calorie count down. The very first week, I lost 4 lbs. WOW, was I excited?! Without any exercise and only a cut in my calorie intake, I managed to drop it, just like that. I began to see that if I lost 2 lbs each week, I could easily lose a jean size in 8 weeks! I was hooked from that moment on, and I have stuck with it since then.

I am human, and I definitely get off track at times. Yeah, I go out and have dinner at Applebee’s that has my whole day’s worth of calories in just one plate. I eat cookies. I like cake, and I’m not telling it to go anywhere but in my belly. I did this realistically, and that is what matters. If it’s not realistic, then it will not be sustainable.

I am working on losing my last 25 lbs, training for a half marathon, and becoming the girl I see inside myself one day, one workout, and one meal at a time. I have bad days, I wear my fat goggles, and I eat bad things. I skip workouts. I forget to love myself as I am. The focus of this blog is to take those nasty thoughts and turn them into something positive, something from which I can learn. This blog is for no one but me; however, I’ll be completely thrilled if anyone wants to tag along as I work on bettering myself. I hope someone, anyone can gain inspiration and focus from my posts.

Cheers. =]