So several weeks into this journey, and almost twelve pounds lighter, I thought I would write down a few things that have helped me along the way.
1) I use a salad fork instead of the dinner fork for all meals, and I use a regular spoon instead of the big one for soups and stews. It may be in my head, but I think it takes me longer to eat this way. As I learned at a Weight Watcher's meeting years ago, "It takes twenty minutes for your brain to realize that your stomach is full." Or, as Erin said when she came home from two weeks of leisurely meals in France, "You guys eat so FAST!"
2) Along the same line, whenever possible, I choose to use the salad plate instead of the dinner plate. (Looks like more food that way.)
3) I track ALL food - even the wine, cupcakes, dark chocolate sea salt caramels, and their evil ilk. I use the My Fitness Pal app. It turns out that when I see the data in print, it isn't as bad as it is in my head. For example, when we had brunch in Des Moines the other week, even though it was way over what I would have normally eaten for lunch, I adjusted the rest of the day and came in under my calorie limit. No food is forbidden. Just count it and get on with life.
4) Likewise, I track all exercise. When you see the extra calories that you are allowed, you just may want to exercise more! I heard Al Roker say that he hates to run, but he loves to eat cake, so he runs. The calories burned on my bike ride the other day were pretty incredible.
5) I make sure I'm eating often enough. What works for me is to have three meals and two snacks throughout the day. One of the snacks is small (usually in the morning), such as a piece of Sargento Light string cheese, a banana, nuts, or a hard-boiled egg, and one of the snacks is a bit more, such as Greek yogurt and fruit, a smoothie, or an apple and Triscuits.
6) I need to get in some protein for each meal and at least one of the snacks. I'm finding out that this is really important. If it's carbs alone, I am RAVENOUS in a pretty short time.
7) I use healthy fats, such as olive or canola oil. I HATE non-fat items such as cheese or mayonnaise (I think they taste like plastic), so I use low-fat whenever possible on foods such as these. I drink skim milk (or light vanilla soy or almond milk) and eat non-fat yogurt. There is a big debate on butter versus margarine. I don't eat enough of either to have it make much of a difference to me, but as far as taste, butter wins hands-down. We have been buying the Land-o-Lakes spreadable butter mixed with canola or olive oil.
8) I always have some healthy bars on hand (in my purse and in the pantry) for a quick snack or meal replacement if necessary. I like the Luna bars, and they even come in smaller (less than 100 calories) snack size. A new find, thanks to Emily and her blog, are Kind bars. They're around 200 calories each, are full of good ingredients, and are DELICIOUS. And filling.
9) I try to eat "clean." By that I mean to cut out on processed foods as much as possible and eat them in their natural form. Whole grains, fruit, veggies, lean protein, and such. Obviously, this doesn't happen all the time. See #3. And I'm looking at you, Special K Cracker Chips.
10) When eating out, I check on-line for the restaurant's menu and plan ahead.
11) Portion control is CRUCIAL. Measuring spoons, cups, and my food scale are indispensable.
12) I plan my meals ahead, go to the grocery store with a list, and don't shop hungry!
I know that sounds like lots of things to remember, but it really is second nature. Pretty much any article you read on healthy living or weight loss will have these tips, but I wanted to write them down for me so I can refer to them when I need a reminder.
On the food front, I made myself an Abs Diet Guilt-Free BLT yesterday for lunch. I haven't had one in awhile, and the grape tomatoes looked really good at Costco. It was wonderful. (Note: I have found that low-sodium turkey in the deli case tastes pretty close to home-roasted.)
We had Blackened Tilapia Baja Tacos from Cooking Light for dinner last night. I've talked about them before, but once I find something we like, I just keep making it. I'm a creature of habit, if nothing else!
I made Dwight's the real way, using one tortilla per taco. (We're not big fans of corn tortillas, so I use whole wheat flour ones.)
For myself, I put one tortilla flat on the plate and then just piled the goodies on top, tostada-style. The tortilla soaks up the juices and is good to eat at the end. (And fewer calories!)
I made an Abs Diet Banana Split Smoothie for breakfast this morning. As I was entering it on My Fitness Pal, I thought wow, only 170 calories. My breakfasts are usually around 350. I had a sneaking suspicion so I looked at the cookbook, and yes, the recipe made two servings. Oh well. It brought me up to my usual breakfast calorie count, and I. AM. FULL.
On a personal note, Emily is coming home this weekend and I am looking forward to spending some time with her! I'm pretty sure I'll have to factor Zio's pizza into my daily count.