DURING ONE OF MY EVENING SHIFTS AT THE HOSPITAL, we were all craving a snack. You know that feeling – it’s 11pm, you’re awake, you’re hungry. All the healthy snacks were already gone when, to everyone’s delight, one of the nurses pulled out a bag of M&Ms! Another nurse asked me: “Shouldn’t you be avoiding E-numbers?”, to which I greedly grabbed a handful, stuffed my mouth and victoriously proclaimed : “Too late!” .
There was only one nurse who stood her ground about not having any junk food – she wasn’t going to ruin her diet. She told me how she has been trying to lose weight for a while now, and that many diets have failed her before. We got into talking about my blog, healthy food and losing those last few pounds. It turns out she wasn’t the only one interested. I was so inspired by the group discussion that I decided to write all my advice up in a post (and we didn’t even finish the whole bag of M&Ms in the end! :))
IF YOU’RE CHOOSING TO DIET, you’re probably not happy with the weight you are at now, or perhaps you can envision being happier, healthier or even more comfortable at a lower weight. If that is the case, the following practical tips will lead you towards an effective, smart and healthy way of reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.
REMEMBER THAT EXERCISE IS AN ESSENTIAL FACTOR in shaping your muscles and your body couture. If you are not happy with the shape of your belly, legs, buttocks or upper arms, it’s a good idea to do exercises which especially target those areas. This will make those areas more firm, regardless of dieting.
2. WEIGHT LOSS & BEING YOUR OWN #1 FAN
FOR WEIGHT LOSS IN GENERAL, there is plenty you can do aside from exercise. Most of it will be difficult to fit in your routine unless you’re fully dedicated to make some changes. Be as supportive of yourself during your weight loss project as you would be of a friend who’s going through the same thing.
3. Drink Water
OUR BODY CAN FEEL TIRED OR HUNGRY if we do not drink enough water. Sugary drinks (even if they have the word ”natural’ on the packaging) are not the same thing. Choose fresh water, coconut water, or DIY water infused with lemon/mint/ginger/strawberries/kiwi to take in about 1.5 – 2L of water per day. The benefits of doing so are better bowel function, preventing dehydration and optimalising kidney function. Your bowels and kidneys are the two main organs helping your body get rid of toxins – so keep sure to keep them happy.
PACK YOUR OWN LUNCH AND SNACKS! By the way, Pinterest and blogs like mine are full of inspiration recipes for this. Alternatively, become a lobbyist for healthier meal choices at the local cafeteria. Talk about a healthy hobby to get passionate about <3.
5. Detox Your Fridge
THE FRIDGE IS THE HOLY GRAIL. Keep it filled with inspiration, not temptation. Throw out and don’t repurchase any sugary foods, sugary drinks, flavored yoghurts, non-organic meat and prepackaged desserts. They all must go. Replace instead with green salads and other fresh vegetables, small portions of organic meat, many fresh fruits, alternative-to-meat lentil burgers, freshly squeezed lemon juice, organic apple mousse, organic unsweetened jams and other plain ingredients that should, as a rule of thumb, not contain more than 3 ingredients per product.
6. Green-up Your Kitchen
PURCHASE OR PLANT YOUR OWN ORGANIC HERBS AND LET THEM FLOURISH at room temperature. Basil, koriander, parsley, mint are beautiful to look at, wonderful to smell and – a great addition to any dish!
7. Clear out your Cabinets
MOST KITCHEN CABINETS CONTAIN (artificial) sauces, pasta, cookies and bread. I believe (and many nutritionists support this notion) that carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and cookies are the number one fat makers. Ditch them from your diet and you’ll find two things:
1. The weight will be flying off at about a kilo per week
2. It will seem really difficult to still have anything left over to eat since it can seem as if almost all foods in the supermarket contain carbs. But, there are lots of foods, just like there were a 100 years ago when simple carbs did not exist, that are a perfect friend to your weight loss diet. Think whole grain brown rice, rice noodles, bulgur, couscous, dried sea weed, organic tomato sauce, jars of organic beans and chick peas, jars of organic corn, coconut milk cans, organic curry paste without artificial ingredients, and organic olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil & sunflower oil. All of these will help you make healthier recipes that are (almost) completely free of simple carbohydrates, and you’ll be able to enjoy filling meals without compromising your diet.
8. Eat All the Veg
NO, I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT POTATOES. I’m talking about all the fresh veggies you can find. You want them, you eat ’em. Bell peppers, zucchini’s, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, celeries – have no fear of vegetables. You never have to feel hungry. If you do – just reach for a vegetable and enjoy all the nutrients you’re taking in!
9. Get Drunk on Life
WE’RE ALIVE, WE’RE HAPPY AND WE’RE AWESOME! Woho! There are so many wonderful things you can do in a day. Don’t let ruining your diet be one of them. Cocktails and beers are caloric drinks that will get in the way of your diet unless you drink them in moderation. Try limiting the beer drinking (limit to a certain amount or to only drink on certain occassions), opt for a limited amount of red wine instead, or drink a ‘Skinny Bitch’: gin with sparkling water… blegh ;).
10.Hide a Healthy Stash
EATING HEALTHY IS EASIER WHEN there are plenty of healthy foods around you. Make sure you have a stash of healthy foods in your kitchen. Choose pecans, almonds, walnuts, dark chocolate, dried cranberries, dried apricots and alike. And remember: NO store bought cookies. All of them are evil for anyone trying to lose weight.
11. Do the Okinawan
OKINAWANS EAT UNTIL THEY ARE 80% FULL, which is when they stop eating and put the food away. It’s tougher than it seems but it’s worth a shot – Okinawans are one of the longest living people on the planet!
12. Distract yourself
IF YOU ARE USING FOOD FOR COMFORT, you might want to consider finding other comforting activities that distract you from eating.
Here are some suggestions:
– invite people over for dinner ( social control works wonders),
– prepare a slow dessert to dose your intake (for example organic goat cheese & red grapes – instead of your biggest bowl filled with chocolate mousse),
– do an activity you love (watch your favorite show, sing along your favorite CD, tidy up your favorite room),
– remove any unhealthy food from sight (replace with healthy foods from the grocery list),
– dose your snacks when watching TV (if you can’t stop snacking, stop watching TV all together and do something else instead, like going for a walk or reading a book in your new reading corner!),
– watch documentaries and read books about healthy nutrition (they tend to have a positive effect on eating habits),
– do something for a loved one (knit a sweater, craft a gift or think of a friend in need of a favor and help them out – do something that does include relaxation but does not include eating).
ALL OF THE ABOVE ACTIVITIES will contribute to your good mood, without involving any over eating!
13. Be Holiday Smart
CHOOSE YOUR HOLIDAY LOCATIONS WISELY by not going to place where endless amount of (unhealthy) food will be served. Instead opt for green-minded vacation destinations that offer a wide range of vegetables, fruits and other healthy foods, as well as relaxing in- and out-door activities.
AND REMEMBER: you are awesome, and…