Typed 2 years ago as well, here are all the things that worked for me, after years of trying things that didn't....
Nutrition-oriented Weight Loss Precepts
1.) Ingredients goal: Organic, unrefined, whole grain, unprocessed and sugarless is what I strive for- it is hard to hit that mark with every ingredient. What if you hit 2 out of the 5 categories? That’s better than what you used to do. Proceed from there. I buy almost everything organic now; I try to make up for the cost in some other ways:
b.)by using basic ingredients (not already mixed stuff). For ex: I buy eggs, flour, butter, meat, pasta, fruit, and veggies. With some good fats and some good spices you can whip basic ingredients into many, many things.
c.)I don’t eat so much now! Sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s true. When I eat now, I’m feeding my body. The quality is better so the quantity can decrease.
2.)Eating every 2 ½ to 3 hours keeps your metabolism going strong and steady. You never want to let yourself get hungry or it will go into starvation mode and think it needs to store your fat instead of burn it. This is one of the truths that you will read consistently in every good weight loss plan out there. People say to eat 6 times a day, but a lot of times 5 is plenty for me. As long as I didn’t let myself get hungry, I don’t try to cram in more food just to say I ate 6 times- that’s missing the point (and adding calories that aren’t needed).
3.)Portion size: try to keep your portion sizes of meat and carbs smaller than your fist (stole that from BFL book). I actually try to make them a little smaller than that. I want my meals to be in the range of 200-300 calories. If you do that and eat 5- 6 times a day, you will still lose weight…even if one of your meals blows that out. (Blown out does NOT mean because it’s full of garbage, but because it’s full of calories- good calories). It will all kind of balance out. Portion sizing isn’t so hard once you stop letting yourself get hungry(see #2 above). If you wait until you’re hungry, all bets are off and you will pig out. Portion size is a huge key to weight loss!
4.)Cravings- I am thoroughly convinced that the other reason we “get hungry” is because of a false hunger induced by the chemicals in our food. This hunger is really masking the severe cravings caused by a sugar/refined carb addiction. Kick those and your hunger gauge (the hypothalamus gland) LITERALLY resets (I think I read this in the book UltraMetabolism).. I used to be ruled by cravings and I don’t really crave anything anymore.
5.)Carbs: Carbs are essential- it’s the quality of the carbs, and their portion size that will trip you up… and carbs are the #1 thing that trip people up. Eat the best quality you can. I still like mashed potatoes and biscuits and I still eat them. What is life without biscuits??? I just don’t eat 6 biscuits with dinner like I once did. I will eat 1 or 2 small ones with my chicken and vegetables. All carbs turn into sugar in your body. You want the best quality ones so they do it slowly. (I make my biscuits with unbleached flour, butter, stevia, sea salt, baking powder and organic milk).
6.)Veg your way to a dessert. Most desserts are carbs. If you are going to eat a dessert for 1 of your 6 meals (see note below on desserts), a great way to “save up calories” to offset that dessert that may have more calories (even though you made it with the best ingredients you could) is to have a salad sometime that day or a dish that is largely vegetables. Vegetables are so low calorie that your overall calories for that day (that you consumed) will still be in weight loss target range. Note- I do not recommend or any longer “need” dessert every day- another benefit of getting off ‘sugar crack.” You will start to really get psyched up and feel empowered when chocolate cake no longer has control over you. This year is the first time in my life that I can say that.
7.)Fitness note-muscles you rip from lifting weights need protein to rebuild themselves. Muscles that are rebuilding themselves speed up metabolism= burning fat! I throw raw sliced almonds or peanut butter on A LOT of things just to add that little bit of protein. A good rule is that if you are eating a carb, eat a protein with it- trust me, you need it. Keep in mind that yogurt, cheese, eggs, and nuts are proteins- so this isn’t as hard as it sounds.
8.)Dessert note #1: If you are going to have a dessert- do NOT have it directly after your meal, because that is really 2 meals; and you, therefore, just pigged out!. Oink. Wait the 2 ½ hours and then have it as its own meal (one of your 5 or 6). I also keep a good quality chocolate bar (I get the organic chocolate truffle bar at Trader Joes) and eat only one block if I get a desire for a sweet taste in my mouth. This sounds like a craving thing; but now that I have so drastically reduced sugar, I can tell you it’s not. Sometimes I only eat ½ a block. It’s the taste that I like to have remaining in my mouth after dinner sometimes. One block is only 45 calories!
9.)Dessert note #2: Still try to get some protein in with that thing! (I spread some of my full fat French vanilla yogurt on my apple pie or throw some almonds on my piece of cake… stuff like that- if you can). Note- the one time I made cake so far, I didn’t make icing. Top it with yogurt, strawberries, almonds, coconut…etc. Or, if you eat icing (which has more sugar and calories than the cake itself), recognize it and make up for it- or just call that day a break even day. You will probably maintain where you are or add a ½ lb; but it won’t be the end of the world. The kids put some of the organic chocolate syrup from TJs (the kind you make chocolate milk with) on theirs instead of icing.
10.)Good fat is good for you and will not impede your weight loss: butter, coconut oil, and olive oil are the 3 major ones I use all the time. They add a LOT of flavor in place of what you used to get from sugar and chemicals. The reason the Body for Life diet stunk is because you cut out sugar AND fat. Talk about bland (and nutritionally in error)! The NT (Nourishing Traditions) book goes into a lot of explanation of why we need good fat.
11.)Work your recipes: If you really like something, and we all do… take it and work that recipe til you can have it and not be screwing yourself up. Replace ingredients, search for a recipe version online that will work, whatever. I now have a version of strawberry shortcake and apple pie that I eat whenever the heck I want because I cleaned up the ingredient list and I balance it out with protein.
12.)The inner voice concept- I heard this somewhere and thought- what a bunch of New Age Crap!! But, the inner voice is really your body saying: “I’ve had enough. I don’t need anymore. You can stop eating now (til we meet again in 2-3 hrs).” I thought my “inner voice” was broken……but when I started paying attention, sure enough- it was there. I get to a point and know that if I keep eating past that point, I am now gorging. Gorging screws up all your fine tuned steady metabolism progress- you don’t want to do that. People typically are in the habit of gorging because it’s their natural response after getting hungry. Your body thought you were starving and now it’s saying “EAT!” Something in the back of your mind is saying, “you don’t know when you’ll eat again! Stuff it all in now!” But, if you have a plan, you now can turn that message off! AN interesting tidbit I also heard and learned was true: If you are watching TV, or have company and are involved in entertaining conversation, you won’t be paying attention to the voice. You’ll ignore it! It’s happened to me several times. I’ll be blabbing and realize I just ate WAY more than I would otherwise. I use this more than calorie counting or portion sizing, especially at dinner now.
13.)Compromise is different than cheating. I think success is in the compromises- at least it has been for me. I eat a little sugar- I make sure it’s organic evaporated cane juice and that it’s in small amounts. The yogurt I eat has that kind of sugar in it. It’s so good I feel like I’m eating dessert when I have it. If we go out to eat and I end up eating more than I probably should, I wait a while longer until I eat again. Eating a little more than you should is different than eating a whole pizza or half a cake. Sometimes I have pasta, but I don’t eat a whole plate of it like I once did. If you eat somewhere and have food full of goodness-knows-what, just do the best you can and know it’s a bump in the road. With a stable metabolism, your body can burn through something like that without throwing you off. I think the “cheat day” concept is very flawed. One meal can be handled. If you eat garbage for a whole day it’s another story.
14.)Make your calories matter. Calorie estimating is a basic way of losing weight that everyone knows works. But the critical thing that goes with that is making them the absolute best quality food (calories) as you can.
15.)Staple Starters are a must. Find 2 or 3 breakfasts, snacks, and lunches that work for you. Make them simple, something you like, something that hits your calorie range/ nutritional targets, and can always have on hand. An apple with peanut butter is something I like so I always keep that on hand. You want to have a basic foundation of “go-to meals” when you start or you’ll flounder. You can experiment from there. Liking your food is critical!!!!!
16.)The goal is for food to stop having such authority and control over you. To get rid of that control you need to keep from getting hungry and get rid of the addictive substances in your diet. Chemicals and hunger are what will take you over, no matter what your intentions. Whip those two and you will succeed.
17.) So, flavor is really the goal. I have made food one of my hobbies, spices make a huge difference so I’ve had to learn how to actually cook. I can’t cook instinctively much still, but I have worked enough recipes to keep a decent variety rotation going of things I know are healthy and that we like. I try to find a new recipe or try a new technique (I swear until recently I had never sautéed anything in my life). You don’t want to get bored with your food! That staple stuff from step #14 above will get really old if that’s all you eat. Keep it interesting and enjoy seeing your thin and energetic self again.
18.)Your body’s special needs: I have been blessed to find a natural health professional who is trained in muscle testing- a very accurate way of testing your body to pinpoint what it needs as far as supplements. Since I had more than one issue (which is an understatement) than I or a doctor could sort out by a blood test or guessing (and they all led to a ton of fatigue, it wasn’t just an iron issue), this was crucial for me to start feeling better and for my body to let go of the weight. I highly recommend this type of help. Interestingly, on my first appointment she encouraged me NOT to exercise. She said my body needed time to get what it needed from the supplements and heal- the stress of exercise would use all the effort it should be using to rebuild and clean up to facilitate the exertion. Thus the next tip:
19.)Don’t exercise unless you know you are well. There is always time to get tight and firm, but you need to be whole first.
20.) Exercise: I am no expert on this but I have to say I agree with what I read in the book, The Power of 10 (thanks Melody!), which is to do high intensity, short interval stuff. I also believe various forms of stretching are all very beneficial- yoga etc. I am still getting better so this will be something I know more in practice once I am stronger inside. Sex, by the way, is a great way to burn some calories and husbands are always willing to be supportive in that way, I have found.
21.)Water- drink it.
22.)Your spirit and heart: stress, anger, unforgiveness, all of those other nasty things create tension and keep your body from functioning at it's peak. Let go of them and you will be letting go of some weight too.