Small Changes with Big Dividends - January Health and Fitness Update

I have placed marbles in a jar to represent the number of pounds I'm trying to lose.  Each time I lose a pound, I transfer a marble to my jar of pounds I've lost!

I'm not an advocate of diets or changes I can't maintain over time.  I avoid fad and crash diets.  I hate programs that eliminate certain foods and brutal exercise that isn't enjoyable.  Balance is the key.  For a long time in my life, I maintained a healthy weight by doing 3 things regularly.

  1. I exercised daily with no excuses - mostly early in the morning.
  2. When I traveled for work, I packed healthy foods and snacks in the car to keep me from making bad choices.
  3. When I dined out, I ate like I would at home unless it was a special occasion or vacation.  Just traveling for work or just eating out during the week didn't constitute a blow out meal.
Straying from these 3 key rules were small and incremental over time.  Slowly developed bad habits added up on the scale.  Last year while at a customer site, someone sent a screencast of their smartphone to a panel I was demonstrating.   The following message displayed, "A woman that size should not be standing in front of that panel."  I was horrified.  It was an all-time low to end my year.  

I can wallow in self-pity and eat ice cream, or I can do something about it.  This year is not about that one moment.  However, that one moment does sum up how I feel about my weight.  I don't feel great about it.  And only I can change it.  Sure.  I'm more than a number on a scale.  I don't look at people's weight and judge them for who they are, and I just want the same respect for me.  I also want to be healthy.

Take the gym with you!  Exercise bands and a jump rope can give you a workout on the go.  I keep these in my suitcase and use them while traveling for work.

I didn't wait until January to start making resolutions and changes.  I started making changes before the end of the year.  The last week of December, I started a 3-week yoga retreat through Beachbody on Demand.  I'm not a Beachbody Coach, so this is just my honest opinion.  I've been enjoying the mental and physical reset button.  I've had several starts and stops along the way.  I've had strep throat twice and the flu since January 1.  In many ways, January was not much kinder than December.  However, I was kinder to my body.

Meal planning with more fruits and vegetables was a goal for me and my family as we began the year.  Each week, I have a meal plan that we are following.  These aren't dieting meals.  I made nutritious meals that have a protein and two vegetables or a fruit.  Having been a vegetarian for a long time in my 20's and 30's makes going back for fresh meals an easy transition for me.

Whole wheat cranberry muffins I made for dinner one night.  I made them small to control portions.
Finally, I'm measuring my snacks and portions to just keep portions under control.  This may be the least fun thing that I've done.  But, the results are so worth it.  

During the month, I have been paying attention to my body.  How does it feel after I work out?  How do I feel after I eat a meal?  Eating a salad with grilled chicken and a yummy vinaigrette is satiating.  My body doesn't feel sluggish.  I have more energy and crave sugar less.

I've been asking myself what I'm fueling my body for.  Much of our fatty, American diet is like we are fueling up for hibernation.  Eating this way makes us slow and immobile.  But, when we fuel our bodies for fun and actual movement, we eat less and make different choices.  Activities are more enjoyable, and I am looking forward to exercising in a way that I haven't since before having a baby.

Crispy baked chicken taquitos have just the right spice and are satisfying.  I really like the sweetness of cuties on the side paired with this meal!

If you listen to your body, it will guide you to make better choices.  I keep listening to my body and reflecting on one choice before I make the next.  "I felt great after that last salad.  So, I'm going to do that again."  Those choices have paid big dividends this month.  And I feel great!  Really great.  Not the, I'm telling you things are great because that is what I'm supposed to be saying it.  It's the kind of great that makes me excited for what is going to happen next month.

Taking walks on the weekends with our son is one way to get moving and spend time together.

Here are some simple tips and swaps that can get you started on a healthier, better you.
  • Enjoy a side salad or an apple in place of fries or chips at lunch.
  • Look for healthy soup options when eating out.  Warm meals are filling and satisfying.
  • Prepare soups in your crock pot during the week.  You will have leftovers for lunch!
  • Plan your meals and snacks to limit bad choices.
  • Don't talk yourself out of the exercise.  Plan to do it and stick to it.  Many times it is best to do it first before anything can throw off your day.  
  • Select an exercise that you enjoy!  
In January, I lost a total of 6 pounds.  Sure, I have a lot more to go.  But, I'm on the right track.  If you are looking for meal inspiration, I have a Month One of Healthy Meals Spreadsheet with recipe links and notes for each week.  You could use this to plan for some new and exciting healthy meal options.  For more mealtime inspiration, check out my Healthy Eating Pinterest Board.  

It takes more time to get loaded up to go out to eat or pick something up.  If I have healthy food options at home, I will cook them to keep from wasting food.  And, I talk myself and my family into staying home by encouraging everyone to get comfy, put on their PJs and relax while I cook dinner.  

I'll be taking healthy meal options with us to the campground and planning activities to get us moving this year.  I can't wait to share all of this with you.  Feel free to share this post on Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter.  And share your thoughts and ideas about healthy lifestyle choices below.  Have a great week!