Monday, August 12, 2013

What Works For Me: Healthy Changes

As I've mentioned before, I have health issues that I'm treating. One of the best ways to treat these issues is eating healthy and exercise - you know, the two things that were, like, ZERO fun for me. ;)

I'm a firm believer that people only change when they're ready, regardless of how necessary those changes may be. I notice when I'm open to the change, and I try to seize the moment. As such, I've been slowly working my way towards eating better and exercise over the last year... VERY slowly on the exercise front. Now things are starting to come together, and I'm starting to feel really great about my progress!

Don't worry, this is NOT turning into a health-based blog. (There are way better ones out there!) It's been my focus of late, though, so I needed to "blog it out". All these changes don't make me an expert, but I like to share what works for me because it might work for someone else, too! Here are the unofficial "rules" I live by which are helping me succeed at the moment:
  • Start small, and find compromises when you can! This was the best advice I've read, and I wish I'd saved the blog where I found it! Specifically, the advice was to just focus on giving up something you know is bad for you for now, and as you become accustomed, try giving up another bad thing. It was easy to switch my chemical-laden coffee creamer to all-natural half-and-half (as the entry suggested), but I knew diet soda was going to be harder and I'd have to find a happy medium. My endocrinologist says stevia is ok for my dietary needs - so I've switched to Zevia-brand soda, which is the only one I've found made with stevia. I make sure to have no more than 2 a day, usually as a "treat" with my lunch and dinner. It keeps me sane, it's better for me, and I've noticed that it doesn't dehydrate me as much as other artificial sweeteners did!  
  • Make the end goal reasonable. A specific measurable goal that's reasonable is good: right now my goal is to lose 5% of my body weight overall. The number on the scale is just a measurement tool, though, and it doesn't decide my overall success, especially considering my PCOS makes weight loss veeeeeery slow-going, so I don't want to make the scale my main measurement. My overall goal in this is to improve my overall health; if I only lose 2 pounds, but my endocrinologist sees an overall improvement in my numbers, I'm going to feel successful! Losing 5% of my current weight might make a marginal change in my appearance, but it will improve my overall health a LOT.
  • Find the easiest way to do it. Veggies was the hardest thing to add to my diet when it hasn't been a regular part of it. So I found the easiest ways to incorporate them! Aside from the recipes I linked, I buy a big box of mixed greens and spinach for easy salads, and frozen broccoli or cauliflower that I steam in the microwave for a quick dinner side (I'll dress them with a sprinkle of salt and garlic powder). Those are veggies that I like and don't feel annoyed to eat, and that take mere minutes to prepare. I eat a big salad typically with lunch, and then veggies with dinner (If I'm feeling esp. sassy, I'll have a salad AND frozen veg with dinner!) Do the same with your health bugaboo - find the easiest way to incorporate or address it. 
  • Give in to a craving - within reason. You've probably seen this before, but it's really true; if you are legitimately craving something to the point of distraction, give in and get it out of your system. BUT do it in moderation! Here are my rules for myself when it comes to cravings: I have to have thought about it for at least 3 days in a row, I don't substitute it with something that won't quell the craving, and I have to buy the smallest 1 serving amount of it that I can (and that's ALL I buy).  I love nacho cheese Doritos, but I know I can eat a whole bag in one sitting - so I keep them out of the house. If a craving hits, I'll buy the smallest 1 serving bag I can find, and I'll enjoy it. It gets the craving out of my system, I don't feel like I've deprived myself, and there's no more in the house because I only bought the 1 serving.
  • When eating out, pick one indulgence.  The point of eating out, in my opinion, is to indulge. When you're trying to eat better, though, eating out often is NOT going to help. So I'm trying to eat better when I do eat out by sacrificing something or including something I might not normally. If it's a burger place, I will usually get the burger I want and sacrifice the fries for veggies instead. Yes, I'm still eating a not-great food, but I'm only eating one "naughty" element as opposed to an entire "naughty" meal, and I'm also getting my veggies in with it and the tastes that made me want to eat out in the first place.
  • Don't beat yourself up over a bad day. This is the hardest truth, but it's the most important one. We're human and we're going to make mistakes. I am extremely susceptible to the "Well, I screwed up, might as well just give up entirely" attitude. So far, I've managed to get over myself and just start fresh with the next meal. For example, I'd been craving beef broccoli with fried rice from my fave local Chinese place for a week, so I indulged the other day. It was waaaay too much food, and I felt STUFFED and regretted a little. BUT I recognized that it got the craving out of my system, and I had a very reasonable dinner to make up for it. I moved on from my mistake instead of drowning in it.
  • Figure out what works for YOU - you may have to switch it up until you find your best method! These are all tips that work for me: gradual small changes that add up to good health. Some people, though, can just completely turn a 180 from old habits and thrive! If that works for you, then keep on keepin' on! When something's not working, try something else. My eating changes are all manageable for me, and I can feel the change (and see it - my clothes are a little loose and friends are asking if I've lost weight). This first week of incorporating exercise is working well for me because I know what works for me and my attitudes, and I also know to not push myself, lest I hurt myself and have to stop, which will make me lose momentum; I figure as long as I break a sweat and am slightly out of breath by the end, I did my job for now. As it gets easier, I'll push myself harder. Consider your habits and your natural inclinations, and work with them, not against them.
For Foodie Friday, I'll share my eating and exercising changes, along with my favorite healthy meal ideas; this entry's long enough! Come back Wednesday for another helpful idea in making healthy habits stick!

Follow me on Twitter or Instagram to keep me accountable! I figure if I'm going to talk the talk, I better walk the walk, so I'll be posting picture collages of my meals for the day and logging my exercise! I won't spam your feeds, most likely 1-3 posts a day at the most.

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