Recently I shared with you how I lost 30 lbs in 6 months and it seemed like one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Recently, I’ve changed to mindful eating and I’ve lost 5 lbs in 2 weeks. It wasn’t intentional and it seems like one of the easiest things I’ve done, so I wanted to share with you my unintentional success and give you the unbelievably simple strategy to get you there too.
Start with the right game plan. When I started my Pinterest account (now one of my favorite things), I found this list and was intrigued. These rules seemed pretty straight forward and most of them seemed relatively easy. But I didn’t really think too much into it until I got my annual health-risk assessment results (more on that soon). Then I knew it was time to make some healthy changes and I remembered this list. I’ve been following these rules for two weeks and I’ve lost 5 lbs! Here’s exactly what’s been working for me:
Rule 1: Drink a Large Glass of Water Before Every Meal–No Excuses! Every morning when I wake up, after I run/exercise and before every meal I’m drinking 20-24 oz of water. It’s been very reasonable for me and I’m not as worn down or as thirsty as usual. If this seems like a lot of water for you, try drinking 8 oz of water just before every meal–you’ll be surprised at how easy it is.
Rule 2: Don’t Drink Your Calories. With so much water intake every day, I don’t have time to drink anything else. I don’t drink soda, coffee or sugary drinks–but if you do, I suggest drinking your favorite drink and then drinking 20 oz-32 oz of water before you let yourself have your second one.
Rule 3: Eat Protein at Every Meal–or Stay Hungry and Grouchy. I’d noticed last semester that I was grouchy, tired and very hungry in the afternoons. Every Day. I didn’t want to talk to anyone and I didn’t want to be nice either. Not very productive. Since I’ve switched to my healthy eating strategies, I’m clear-headed, not grumpy and have energy to last the whole day. I’ve made it a priority to eat high-protein foods, like beans–I love beans–and track it through my fitbit food log–-so I know I’m getting enough of the good nutrients that matter.
Rule 4: Slash Your Intake of Refined Flours and Grains. In the last four years, I’ve seriously reduced my intake of breads and refined flours because I have an aversion to yeast-based products. Makes me feel gross. And most recently, I’ve discovered quinoa and bulgur and re-discovered lentils and brown rice. Talk about some of the most filling foods I’ve ever eaten. I make one of these easy healthy living recipes EVERY DAY OF THE WORK WEEK. Try this basic recipe: 1/2 whole grains (like quinoa, bulgur or brown rice), 1/2 cup beans (black beans, kidney beans or red beans) , 1/2 cup vegetables (like corn, broccoli, peas). I also sometimes put a little cheese (1/3 cup or less) and hot sauce or avocado on it depending on the mix–delicious, healthy and super-filling!
Rule 5: Eat 30 to 5o Grams of Fiber a Day. Since I’ve changed my main protein source to beans and my grains to whole grains, I’m easily hitting the 30 gram mark for fiber daily (and I know because I’m tracking it. Another good, free online & app tracker is MyNetDiary). I haven’t had any stomach problems for the last two weeks either, I’ve felt great.
Rule 6: Eat Apples and Berries Every Single Day. Every. Single. Day. With the change in my food plan, I haven’t really been hungry for snacks, but I bring an apple with me every day to work as my go-to snack if I start to feel hungry. This has been my most interesting healthy-eating change. What is the snack I want? Candy. But I know I’ll feel crappy in an hour. What is the snack I now eat? The Apple. And in an hour, I feel full and alert. Totally worth it. My favorite apple is Granny Smith, experiment with different types of apples to find what works for you. Or as Bob Harper says, eat Berries–those are a great go-to snack also.
Rule 7: No Carbs After Lunch. Eh, not so much here. What has been working though, is during the week I eat my intentionally super-healthy breakfast and lunch (meals I traditionally eat on my own) and then eating a reasonable dinner with my family. We’ve always eaten pretty healthy, so this plan has been really easy to accomplish. And on the weekends, I eat healthy foods with my family. With the other changes I’ve been made, I haven’t felt the need to try this one–yet.
Rule 8: Learn to Read Food Labels So You Know What You Are Eating. I read food labels for everything we buy. Everything. And over the years as a result, we’ve begun to purchase more fresh foods, less processed foods and more real ingredients. Reading food labels has also caused me to make many of our foods myself. It’s my usual weekend magnificent meal planning project–baking bread, soaking beans or trying new recipes.
Rule 9: Stop Guessing About Portion Size and Get It Right–For Good. I now prep all of my food in the corner of my kitchen by my measuring cups. I measure EVERYTHING I’m planning to eat. It’s an easy step in the morning when I’m prepping breakfast and lunch and only takes an extra minute for dinner. If I want to eat more than the serving size, fine. But first I eat the serving, I wait 20 minutes and then I get another 1/2 serving. It’s worked wonders to simplify my healthy eating strategy!
Rule 10: No More Added Sweeteners, Including Artificial Ones. Because I’ve changed my food routine to amp up my breakfast and lunch into super-healthy options and my main snack is an apple. I’ve already limited my sugar intake dramatically. But for this one I’m really looking at what my family is eating. Because I read nutrition labels, we’ve started buying canned fruit in 100% juice (don’t be fooled by “No Sugar Added” that contains artificial sweeteners). I don’t like sugar, but I detest artificial anything–especially sweeteners. One ingenious swap I’ve found is a new healthy cookie recipe using bananas as the main ingredient–yum!
Rule 11: Get Rid of Those White Potatoes. I love a good baked potato, but these are a splurge item, not something we make regularly. I let our potato supply run out and I’ll be switching to healthier potato options for our occasional meals with potatoes.
Rule 12: Make One Day a Week Meatless. I don’t red meat anyway (I don’t like the texture), so this is something our family has been doing on a regular basis. All of my breakfasts and lunches are already meatless and we usually have 1-2 dinners per week that don’t contain our regular rotation of chicken or bacon (come on, who doesn’t like bacon!?)
Rule 13: Get Rid of Fast Food and Fried Foods. We’ve significantly reduced our traditional fast and fried foods through our monthly budgeting process. Why pay more when you can make a healthier, similar item at home for less? Exactly. I think it’s helped us to re-think fast food too. With our snacks, we always have healthy items visible and rotate our kids snacks between fruit, healthy-options and junk food–it’s all about progress.
Rule 14: Eat a Real Breakfast. I am starving every morning. And even when I was eating healthy (with my quick-oats oatmeal), I was hungry again in two hours. After reading a great article on oatmeal types, I tried steel cut oatmeal and accidentally ate a double serving. Guess what! Not hungry for 5 hours! Inconceivable! Ever since that day two weeks ago, I’ve been doubling my oatmeal breakfast (either steel cut oats or large rolled oats) and I’ve been loving it. And with my double oatmeal breakfast, I’ve been using the same 1 TBSP of brown sugar, so I’m keeping my daily breakfast sugar intake the same.
Rule 15: Make Your Own Food and Eat at Least 10 Meals a Week at Home. Because I spend time prepping and planning on the weekends, meals at home are easy. On average, we eat out 1-2 times per week. If you eat less than 10 meals at home per week, try gradually adding in more meals at home every week until you’ve got a number you’re comfortable with. Believe me, it’s more trouble to get fast food, take-out or restaurant food than it is to cook your own food at home regularly. Make eating at home a priority, you’ll be much happier, healthier and you’ll save tons of money!
Rule 16: Banish High-Salt Foods. Since we’ve been making our own food, it’s been much easier to limit the amount of salt in our food. Remember to look at nutrition labels too for this one, though, many low-salt foods have added sugars and fats to compensate for taste. It’s better to buy the real deal!
Rule 17: Eat Your Vegetables–Just Do It! I’ve amped up our family’s vegetable intake significantly. I add at least a serving to my regular super-lunches and our kids LOVE vegetables, so that is part of every meal for them. When you buy healthy options, it’s easier to eat healthy options. I’d recommend frozen veggies, keep for a while and are so easy to prepare.
Rule 18: Go to Bed Hungry. I haven’t really been hungry when I go to bed, but I have changed from going to bed each night stuffed and uncomfortable. Now I go to bed satisfied or slightly hungry–probably why I’m starving each morning and need double oatmeal!
Rule 19: Sleep Right. Do you think sleep right means pass out immediately and sleep for 9 hours a night? Because yes, I’m already doing this regularly. On the nights I read before bed, I’m lucky to get two chapters in. This girl needs her sleep!
Rule 20: Plan One Splurge Meal a Week. The key is this isn’t a “cheat” meal. I’m not on a diet, I’m re-adjusting my eating routine. And yes, I still eat cupcakes. But now it’s once a week and it’s one cupcake (ok, one time it was 4 cupcakes) instead of double desserts every day. I don’t miss them, but I do know that it’s easier for me not to eat them at all than to moderate my dessert intake.
It’s been an interesting experiment for the last two weeks and it’s been so easy that I plan to make this a lifestyle change. I feel great, I’ve lost weight and I’m normal-full all of the time. Easy Breezy! I recommend that you try some or all of these items, I’ve been really impressed with the results and I know that you can make this happen too.
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I need you to be like my drill sergeant and help me make better choices.
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