I have gotten quite a few questions about how I started adopting a healthier lifestyle… And while I’m no expert (and still very much on my journey!) I decided to put a page together with some information about my transition…
When I first started being “healthier” I started SUPER slow, I wanted to make sure I could stick the with changes I was making… I was inspired by my sister, Jodi, and she was telling me about these healthy living blogs that she had been reading… So I checked them out and I was amazed that these women around my age were so ACTIVE and healthy. I started reading them daily and getting inspired more and more. One day out of the blue I was struck by the caption at Healthy Tipping Point; “When everyday decisions add up to something amazing.”. I thought that was a really cool concept. So I decided to make one healthy decision every day.
It started with ordering a salad with a meal at a restaurant instead of fries. We went out to eat often so this alone made a big impact… And I felt really good about making a healthy decision. Once that became second nature, I started walking the dog more. I would walk him two miles a couple times a week. I started to feel really good about my decisions and was CRAVING to make more healthy decisions! I started to pay attention to portion control and intuitive eating, I ate some Lean Cuisine meals and the weight watchers meals to try and figure out what “correct portions” were.
I slowly started making 2 or 3 healthier decisions a day, and I started to experiment with cooking. This is where I really got to the turning point where things got easier. Cooking opened the door for so many possibilities. I could be in control of what was in my food (duh!)! I looked at the recipe pages on my favorite blogs and picked a few here and there to try, some I put my own spin on if I was missing certain ingredients… But I explored new foods like Quinoa, earth balance and sprouted grain breads.
I started swapping everyday food items for healthier ones… Instead of regular pasta I buy whole wheat, instead of margarine I buy Earth Balance (a vegan buttery spread), instead of white or wheat bread I buy Ezekiel Sprouted Grain breads, I started using different vinegars and olive oil instead of traditional dressings, I swapped regular milk (which I never drank) to almond milk (it stays good longer and doesn’t hurt my belly!).
I learned about having your veggies and greens take up 1/2 (or more) of your plate and that 3 oz of meat is a proper portion. I had never been a huge fan of meat so I cut back on my meat, a lot of the blogs that I read are vegan/vegetarian so the recipes didn’t have meat in them anyway. I started adding beans to my meals and nut butters to my breakfasts for added protein (and healthy fats). And started loading up on the veggies and learning different ways to cook them. I also made my meals bigger and cut back on snacking. I found that if I ate a 500 calorie meal instead of 300 calories I was fuller longer and more satisfied and didn’t WANT to snack. After a few weeks, eating healthier became second nature, and I still allowed myself to splurge occasionally when I had a craving. I had learned in the past that if I just deprived myself I would eventually give in and eat 10x what I needed and then feel guilty and just go back to my old habits because I “blew it”. I also figured out some healthier ways to satisfy certain cravings… If I craved something sweet I would eat a piece of fruit, if that didn’t get rid of my craving I would eat a small handful of dark chocolate chips. If I wanted something salty I would eat some olives (kalamata olives are my favorite because they are SO salty and I only need a couple) or a pickle. But also, if I wanted pizza or a cheeseburger I would eat it.
Eating one cheese burger is not going to ruin your life. It isn’t going to make you re-gain 5 pounds overnight. You will learn to balance these things out, if you eat a cheese burger for lunch- enjoy it, and eat a healthier/lighter dinner. What is also important here is to listen to your body (look up intuitive eating)… When you are full stop eating, when it doesn’t taste as good as those first few bites… Take a break, enjoy what you’ve eaten. If you find that you are still hungry after 10-15 minutes have a little more… If you aren’t put it away.
It wasn’t until the healthier eating was second nature that I started to focus on exercise. I was really trying to focus on one thing at a time and make it stick so that this would be a life long change. But when I was ready I started the Couch to 5k Program. I started running slowly and steadily. I took my time because it wasn’t easy. Starting running has to be the hardest thing I have done so far on this journey. Every muscle in my body HATED running. But I did it, and I started to notice results. I could run longer and farther, and I was getting thinner! Once I started running the weight started coming off slow and steady like clockwork, it’s like it jump started my metabolism! I tried to also do the 30-Day Shred video but found it a bit too intense (I stopped after 10 days). I’m currently focusing on running and making that second nature, but am looking at incorporating strength, abs, and yoga work into my routine when the time is right. The key when transitioning for me was to take it slow and listen to my body. I’m not the type of person who can jump into something and completely overhaul my life and have it stick. Every transition I made (and continue to make) feels like a natural progression of events. When I start seeking out other ways to improve my life is when it’s time to adopt another change!
I hope that has helped shed some light into how I transitioned (and continue to transition) to a healthier lifestyle! Below I have made a list of some of my favorite “go-to” foods that helped me through my transition, and that I usually have in my kitchen at all times.
- Fresh fruit. Usually bananas and blueberries.
- Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Cereal
- Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
- Lara Bars & Clif Bars
- Baked Whole Grain Pita Chips
- 100% Whole Wheat Pasta
- Canned beans: Chick Peas, Lentils, Butter Beans, Black-Eyed Peas, Pinto Beans, Fat Free Refried Beans… I usually buy organic.
- Organic Pasta Sauce
- Dark Chocolate Chips (semi-sweet for baking, 70% cacao)
- Chia Seeds
- Spelt Flour
- Whole grain pancake mix
- Earth Balance (soy free)
- Hummus in all flavors
- Organic Salsa (all different flavors)
- Nut butters: Cashew butter, organic peanut butter, almond butter, Dark Chocolate almond butter, coconut butter
- Organic Jams and Jellies
- Bell Plantation PB2 (powder peanut butter)
- Brown sugar
- Raw Honey
- Veggies: Parsnips, carrots, zucchini & squash, onions, bell peppers in all colors and anything that catches my eye at the store
- Spinach (at all times!)
- Eggs: I buy cage free organic
- Ezekiel Breads and english muffins
- Assorted Vinegars: Apple cider, balsamic, red wine…
- Garlic Gold Olive Oil (and regular)
- MorningStar products. I usually stuff my freezer with almost anything they have.
- Assorted frozen veggies. For when I don’t have anything fresh.
- Amy’s Organic canned soups
- Amy’s Organic frozen pizzas.
- Almond Milk
- Assorted Teas (I’m currently obsessed with Tazo Chai Latte!)
I’m sure there is more, but that is about all I can think of. I hope this helps you on your journey!