Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Healthy Living: "What are you eating?"

"What are you eating?" is probably the question I'm most asked when people realize that I've lost over 60 pounds, like it's some magic combination (or lack of) food but honestly, it's not. I just eat regular foods that appeal to me. I try to stay away from processed food and "junk" food, but if there is something I really want, I'll have it.

The food part really has not been difficult for me, as odd or silly as it sounds, I feel like some how some one flipped a switch in my brain that has suddenly made it easy to choose the right things. There are times I crave that Philly cheesesteak I ate WAY too many of months ago but I know it's not good for me and I just make the choice not to have it. I do have "trigger" foods that might cause me to eat too much so I try to stay away from things like that. (Cheesesteaks, mac and cheese, Doritos... those are all "triggers" for me)

I eat between 1700 and 2100 calories a day. When I tell people that, they're shocked, thinking that's a lot. I will say I am rarely hungry and I will say that I work out a lot. (More on that tomorrow.) I usually track everything I eat on a free computer program called fitday.com. There are weeks when I slack on that and those are often the weeks I don't lose as much.

Here's an example of an average day for me:

1/2 cup Fiber One cereal
1/4 cup Grape Nuts
1/2 cup skim milk
Whole grain English muffin
1 T. light butter

4 oz. grilled chicken breast
1 laughing cow cheese
2 Wasa flat breads
3 oz. steamed spinach
a fruit
fat free coffee yogurt

a fruit
string cheese OR
popcorn OR
a fiber one bar

one link turkey sausage
1 cup pasta with added omega 3's, protein and fiber
1/2 cup tomato sauce with added mushrooms and red pepper
side salad
toasted garlic roll or "deli flat"

Dessert (yes... dessert!)
1/2 cup Bryer's all natural light ice cream
1 Vita top chocolate muffin
1 small square of Lindt 70% chocolate

My biggest challenge has been alcohol. After my mom died, The Husband and I would drink a bottle of wine a night... every. night. That's not a lot if you do it once a week perhaps, but every night really added up the calories and helped contribute to the weight gain. Now, I allow myself a drink or two on Thursday night (my weigh-in day) and then a couple on the weekend. After Saturday, I try not to have any cocktails (or cat-tails as The Son calls them) until the next Thursday. I DO track the calories in the alcohol to make sure that I don't go over my limit of 2100 that definitely helps me keep things in check.

These are just the things that work for me, they may not work for everyone. I know that this is the way I will eat for the rest of my life. After I reach my goal weight, I will be able to add in a few extra calories a day but I will always have to be a person who watches what she eats carefully.

A few basic tips I think would work for anyone:
- Drink a lot of water. It's pretty much all I drink beyond my coffee in the morning and the occasional "cat-tail." I've never been a soda drinker so that's not been a challenge for me to give up.

- Eat a lot of fiber. I eat large amounts of fiber. The 1/2 cup of Fiber One cereal every day is 14 grams of fiber just from that. It's great to mix it in with a cereal you enjoy more because it's only 60 calories. I was eating "Raisin Nut Bran" with mine until I realized it contained trans fat, now I've switched to Grape Nuts but I'll probably switch that up soon too. (BTW, it's recommended that adults get about 25 grams of fiber a day)

-Weigh and measure and track everything you eat. "If you bite it you write it, if you drink it you ink it." as my weight loss lady Ms. Phyllis always says. It's especially important to measure your fats like your olive oils, butter and peanut butter. Yes, olive oil is healthy but it's also over 100 calories for a tablespoon, that's a lot.

- Strive for at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. This is one that challenges me, I have been finding new ways to incorporate fruits and veggies into my day but this one is always the most challenging. I find that the frozen "steam fresh" veggies are very easy to prepare and I always have a bag or two of them on hand along with a bag of spinach and a pack of mushrooms. Mushrooms are delicious added to just about anything, that of course is coming from a girl who now lives near the "Mushroom Capital of the World" so maybe I'm biased.

- Don't leave the house without some appropriate snacks. I always have health bars with me, even though they are not the best choice for something to eat, they're certainly better than an "Auntie Anne's" pretzel at the mall. I keep cans of pineapple in my gym bag, extra string cheese in my lunch bag and oranges or bananas floating around with my stuff as well. This way, if I'm hungry, I have something I can pick that's on the healthier side.

I could go on and on and on, even more than I already have but I think this gives you a good idea of what I've been doing to lose. The last thing I want to add is try out new recipes. I love magazines like "Eating Well," and "Cooking Light, " Both of which have fantastic websites (just google them, I'm too lazy to find the links right now) Magazines like "Self, " "Shape," and "Women's Health" also have surprisingly good and easy recipes in them. They've helped me broaden my food horizons and I've found some fantastic new recipes from them.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today, we're heading to karate, the gym and the pool, nothing new for us. If you have any questions regarding the things that have worked for me, please ask in the comments. Have a great Tuesday! Stay Healthy!


Darlene said...

You are doing such a fabulous job with your weight loss! I think though that you have passed what you have lost on to my body!!!! I have gained way too much weight lately and I just can't seem to get on track with eating healthy and exercising. :(

Cathy said...

sounds great. Your daily menu really does sound like a lot of food. I have been buying the bag spinach and eating a lot of that lately. I am trying but I am not quite as good as you are in my healthy eating!! I'm getting there!
Keep it up!

Billie said...

Caren --

You have become my inspiration. You are the one I think about when I think I can't handle a busy schedule and you are the one I think about when I say "I don't feel like exercising today." Sometimes it just takes knowing someone who does do it for you to realize that you can do it too.


Chrissy Cuz said...

You are an inspiration. I need to get on a better eating plan. I think I have to get in a routine. The bad food is still winning me over. LOL!!