Thursday, January 22, 2009

Better Choices

A lot people have an all or nothing attitude about losing weight. They're either "on" a diet, or "off" their diet. Their dinner is either an undressed salad with a side of carrot sticks, or a Big Mac meal with a hot fudge sundae for dessert. Every night is spent either feeling deprived and hungry or bemoaning another day "falling off the wagon" and feeling miserable, bloated, and defeated. It doesn't have to be this way. As a matter of fact, if you want to lose weight, it CAN'T be this way.

Changing your weight is about changing your life, and you can't just jump up one day and turn your entire lifestyle on its head by going from Pizza Hut to Cabbage Soup. You'll resent it. You'll rebel. And even if you lose the weight, unless your changes are sustainable AND enjoyable, you'll go right back to the way you used to eat, and gain back all the weight.

Think about weight loss not in terms of pounds, but in terms of activities. Of small changes you make each day, moment to moment, that cumulatively become something amazing: a healthier life. It's not even about the scale anymore when you look at it that way. It's about breaking bad habits and replacing them with good ones.

Today was a great example of how I am enjoying my life but making small changes that are creating a healthier person. I started out with the usual cup of tea and bowl of oatmeal. I used to eat something similar when I was heavier:

3/4 c quick oats, 2T brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/2 c 2% milk, plus coffee with 3-4T flavored creamer.

But now I eat:

1/3 c quick oats, 1 T ground flax, 1 tsp brown sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, 1/2 c pumpkin, a drizzle of real maple syrup, and a splash of skim milk, plus tea with a few drops of agave nectar.

Calorie savings: 250
Energy, satisfaction, and nutrition gained: boundless

Today at lunchtime, I was out running errands with my daughter and had afternoon appointments. We decided to go sit down and have lunch at Shari's Restaurant. I've gone there before; it's sort of like Denny's. I knew ahead of time I wanted soup and a salad (for veggie content). So when I went in and looked at the salad page, I was debating in my head. I didn't have any nutritional information on me, so I had to wing it. When I came home, I looked up nutrition info online. I think this is very revealing about how *small* choices make a huge difference.

Should I drink soda, or water? I chose water. This saved me 137 calories (one glass of Pepsi).
Should I choose a bowl of baked potato soup, or a cup of chicken noodle? I love baked potato soup, but I went with the chicken noodle. A savings of 264 calories.
I was eyeballing the Flatiron Steak Salad, but instead chose the Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad. This saved me 522 calories (probably more, since I picked out the egg yolk, half the bacon bits and half the cheese and left it on the plate).
How about salad dressing? I went with Balsamic Vinaigrette (which was fantastic) over my usual Blue Cheese dressing for a savings of 222 calories.

To recap:
Old choices: One Pepsi, a bowl of potato soup, and a flatiron steak salad with blue cheese dressing: 1905 calories.
New choices: Water with a lemon wedge, a cup of chicken noodle soup, and a chicken Cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette: 760 calories.

Calories saved: 1145

I was full and satisfied when I left. I didn't feel deprived in the least. It's 3pm and I am still not hungry. How about that? Small changes, big results.

When making those kinds of choices becomes a habit, it works like this:

Instead of seconds at dinner, you just take seconds of vegetables.
Instead of wasting ten minutes circling the parking lot for the closest space, you park far from the store and just WALK there.
Instead of asking your kids/husband/friend to bring the laundry upstairs for you, YOU do it.
Instead of putting whole milk on your cereal, you use skim.
Instead of watching TV all evening, you do some exercise and go to bed early.

After awhile, you become a healthy person, from the inside out.

You don't have to be perfect and you don't have to starve. Live your life making *better* choices, and let the metamorphosis begin.


Karen said...

I completely agree about making small changes. I'm on a business trip this week which means eating out for lunch and dinner. I came prepared with my own snacks (Kashi oatmeal for breakfast, 100 cal pks, no sugar added applesauce, string cheese, etc) and have been making little changes at every day, such as:

-salad dressing on the side and dipping instead of dumping it all on my salad
-not finishing everything off my plate
-no butter on rolls/bread, if I have any at all
-taking the stairs at the hotel (on 4th floor) instead of elevator

It all adds up!

POD said...

Very inspirational post. I cracked up at going from Pizza hut to cabbage soup. Bleeeech.
Maybe cabbage pizza.

Mae Flowers said...

I really like your take on this! It's very inspriational and looks at weight loss in a much more practical way.

moonduster said...

All very true.

Me, Only Better said...

I totally agree with you - healthy choices = healthy person!

You are such an inspiration!


clickmom said...

Amen to you sister. Well said.

deb said...

Thank you...thank you very much. Makes total sense, and I appreciate how well you put it.

Sue said...

I agree totally. I have been trying to get healthy this past year, and that is how I am going about it...making small changes. In the process, I have lost 80 lbs! Tonight I actually ate at a buffet. Instead of fried shrimp, I had baked salmon. Instead of mashed potatoes, I had green beans. Instead of fried chicken, I had a small bowl of split pea soup. Then for dessert, a tiny dab of SF pudding. I felt full, and good about my choices. We can do this!

Heather said...

so very true! I used to be exactly like that. I figured, ok I messed up, I should just keep messing up. it definitely all or nothing. it took some time, but now I definitely realize that its not like that. that mistakes happen, but they dont ruin anything. all those little good things add up and even if you do just one thing a day thats good for you, then to me, thats definitely all that matters.

Lexie said...

I've totally been that all or nothing girl, and you're completely right, it just makes me misreable! The better choices require some extra thinking, but are always more rewarding. When I'm thinking about reaching for dessert, I have to remind myself how gross it will make me feel, and choose to feel healthy and strong instead! Thanks for the reminders!

Jeanne said...

EXCELLENT post and all so very, very true. At our WW meeting last week, we talked about KISS - Keep It Simple and Sustainable. If it's "all or nothing" we'll never be able to stick to it!


Olivia said...

Thank you for this post. I was so close to purchasing alli today but hesitated because of the reviews I read. I totally agree with everything you said. Thank you again. :D

Alex said...

Its so true, its all about making small healthy life style changes.

Beanie said...

Thanks for the eye opening post! I also made a small change with my cereal that saves quite a bit of calories. I get Diamond Unsweetened Almond Breeze in Origional or Vanilla and put it on my cereals. It only has 40 calories for 1 cup vs. the 90 in skim milk. I like the taste of it and put it in recipes as well.

Ron said...

You are so correct I always say its all about makeing those better choices!

spunkysuzi said...

I'm always amazed at how the little changes can add up!!

Pamela said...

You are absolutely right, Lyn!

Anonymous said...

Exactly! Well said.

Sabs said...

Being healthy seems so much easier if only we can just make the shift in our mindsets

Vickie said...

really good posting

Hanlie said...

Exactly! And well done for taking note of the changes you've made, since we so often forget and feel that we're not really getting anywhere. It's important to see how far we've come.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, i'm not exaggerating, a lightbulb just came on in my head.
Thanks x

Lady Downsize! said...

Great post Lyn! Some of those things I do now, but there are many I need to take on. I wholeheartedly agree, making changes slowly is far better than all at once, because that all at once is too much of a shock to the brain and body.

bbubblyb said...

This is about lifestyle and doing what works for us as individuals. Way to go on the better choices. Something I figured out too on this life time journey is that as we get mentally stronger it does get a little easier (at least some of the time).

Meg said...

yes!! what a marvelous post! Thanks for affirming what is really the truth and what is the middle way that really works!

Annimal said...

You're so right about it being a mindset of being "on" or "off" a diet. I've been on an eating plan for a few years now and strongly resist the urge to try the next diet, 'cause if nothing else over the last 49 years, I've learned dieting doesn't work. period.
The last vestige of the dieting mindset is something I worked hard at this holiday season. T-day to Christmas used to be a free-for-all of eating extravagance, but no more. I'm allowing an occasional wonderful treat (a cube of incredible fudge), but then make up for it by an extra 15 mins exercise or skipping the afternoon almonds. Being mindful of eating I believe is half the battle. Too often food disappears down the gullet without so much as tasting it!

Heather Waghelstein said...

Yes, I agree it's all about the daily choices. I can't let myself feel deprive because then I go down the deep dark spiral of obsessive eating.

Alanna @ Kitchen Parade said...

Isn't life so often driven by our own choices, not those of others around us? This is a great comparison, Lyn, of making choices to make change.

Karyn said...

This is probably one of the most encouraging posts I've read. The way you put it, ANYONE can begin to change!

Good job on the post and Great job on the choices!

Juice said...

Great post!!!!