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Friday, February 15, 2013

Blog Lovin' Week: Meet Danielle



Making Healthier Choices

Diet is 75% to 80% responsible for your body's appearance. I say 75-80 because it depends on which source you look at, but I think we can all agree that either way it's a high percentage. This means that working out only accounts for 20% - 25%, but don't put too much emphasis on that "only" part because that 20% can be the difference between being what is called "skinny fat" and what is being fit. Changing your life and diet can be exceedingly difficult for some people, or darn near impossible! 


When trying to make a change of this magnitude in your life (and/or your family's) it is best to take baby steps and become accustomed to each change before moving on too quickly. Trying to make big or quick changes gives a higher chance for failures, set backs, or high stress. I am all about a healthy mind to accompany your healthy body, which is why it is important to understand that there will be times that you will feel like a failure or like there's no way you can go on - it is okay and normal to have some discomfort. You can be strong and move forward and before you know it, what you once were afraid of or dreaded will become a new habit and way of living. Stay positive about it. 

My goal here is to help by giving some baby step tips. I have gone down 4 belt notches on both my belts (I only have two haha) and moved from a size 8 to a size 4 in the past year! I do work out, but I am super lazy and am often looking for an excuse to skip the gym. The way I lost most of my fat (because honestly I don't think I have lost a single pound per say) is that I have completely changed my diet. I eat every 3(ish) hours (no skipping meals allowed) and NEVER miss a full rounded breakfast. I have simply made changes and trades every so often until I have become comfortable with what I eat, the food I enjoy, and the energy that I get from making these colorful choices. 



Here are some small but very easy foods to try changing in your diet. Some of them are such small subtle changes that if you don't even mention them to your kids (or spouse) they won't even notice.
  • My absolute number one tip and recommendation is to start a love affair with greek yogurt! You can use plain greek yogurt in place of sour cream and to me I can not even tell the difference. Ounce per ounce greek yogurt has half the calories, one-fifth the fat, and twice the protein as regular sour cream.[source] I also like to use greek yogurt mixed with a packet of dry Ranch powder as a dip for veggies and snacks; this keeps it healthy, adds protein, and you can still enjoy all the flavor of regular ranch dressing! Also, greek yogurt can be used in baking in place of oil, eggs, and butter. I haven't tried greek yogurt in my baking yet, but I have used unsweetened apple sauce - this made my brownies amazingly creamy, thicker, and more decadent tasting, I imagine greek yogurt would do the same. And lastly, it's a great cure for a sweet tooth.
  • Whole grain and wheat pasta (unless you have a gluten problem, obviously). The same popular brands that make the pastas you are used to also make a wheat variety, and since this movement is also becoming so large I have even tried some good store brands. Pasta dishes usually turn out to have almost no nutritional value, so spice it up, use wheat (or veggie made pastas which I have seen by Barilla and love the spinach/zucchini) noodles, add some sauteed veggies, and shelled edema is also a nice green protein source if you don't want to add meat. {side note here: also try using cottage cheese instead of ricotta in lasagna dishes. My husband hates cottage cheese, but last time I made veggie lasagna rolls ups I waited until he was licking the bottom of his plate to ask if he noticed the change}
  • DO NOT be afraid of the 'fats' in avocados!! For some people it's hard to separate good fat from bad fats, but avocados are packed with GOOD fats.[source] They are great to have just sliced up on the side with your eggs, in a wrap, or on a grilled cheese with some balsamic vinegar. Also, you can mash them up and use it in place of mayo or 'dressing' on a sandwich. Avocados are also a good protein source if you are a non meat eater. 
  • Ditch the Pam, or any other brand spray can you use. Mix 3/4 light olive oil and 1/4 water into a spray bottle and use that to coat your pans or spray onto your cooking foods. This will cut back on the junk and chemicals that go into making an aerosol can and add some good healthy fats to your food. Use in moderation. Light olive oil also makes for a great salad dressing when mixed with lemon juice and balsamic, you can add any other fresh herbs you like but it is flavorful on its own. 
  • STAY HYDRATED! and this means with water, water, water. Diet anything is bad for you, be aware of the negative side effects from diet drinks, such as kidney problems, added weight, and metabolism issues[source]. You can flavor your water with fruits like citruses or strawberries, even cucumber is becoming a more popular infuser. I also like warm uncaffeinated teas throughout the day and sometimes even in the place of coffee. 
  • And the last tip focuses on attitude. When making the hard decision to not partake in a birthday cake or offered treat in a public setting (when you may feel pressure) don't tell people "I can't, I'm on a diet", simply say "I don't eat that, but thank you". This simple change will make you feel more empowered and more in control of your decisions. By saying you "can't" have something you give the illusion that you are holding back and you are more likely to feel higher regret for not eating it which is more likely to cause a binge eating later. I do not say "can't" when offered treats, I just simply decline and say "I don't eat that, but thank you". Or if I have had a good week with no other slip up I will take a fork sized piece of what is being offered. (literally a forked sized piece, not a serving fork size, regular small fork size). You can have the taste of what the treat is and still not over do it on fat/sugar/calories and you will feel satisfied for not having to decline. 

I hope this post has helped motivate you to making better choices for your health and your future. Once you have been eating healthy for a few weeks you'll start to look back and wonder how you ever managed to eat all the junk before. It's a great feeling to get your energy from healthy well balanced meals instead of an afternoon coke or sweet tea at lunch. 

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