Saturday, July 10, 2010

See You at the Crossroads So You Won't Be Lonely

Yesterday, I discussed my decision for how I want to travel on my journey.  After reading that post this morning, I didn't get the warm fuzzy feeling that I had expected.  I think I made a very good point on how to determine which road to take - but the way I made it sound, "Restriction Way" was not a very pleasant choice.  Today, I'm going to discuss this road a little more.  I really like using the crossroads metaphor - so that's what I'm going to stick with.

First, let's get one thing straight.  Restriction Way refers to the beginning road that one decides to follow when making the life changing decision to become healthier.  This is the hardest part of the journey, because it entails completely altering your life.  As I did, you have probably been traveling down Carefree Lane for a very long time - so Restriction Way is going to test your abilities to make those life changing decisions.  So, for the first few miles on your journey you have to learn about discipline, diet, and exercise.  I am definitely no new-comer to Restriction Way.  I've traveled down that road many, many times - but I always seemed to find a detour sign that led me right back to the comfort of Carefree Lane.  For the first time in my life, I managed to get through Restriction Way and stay off the detour and found my way to Structure Street, the easier and next part of the journey.  So, how did I do that?  The secret to my success was the fact that I hit rock bottom.  I absolutely despised the girl that looked back at me in the mirror, I hated not being able to play with my kids for more than 2 minutes without needing a break, and the thought of having to buy clothes depressed me - because I was so sick of only being able to shop in the extremely small and limited "Plus Size" section of the stores.  After that, I knew I had to change the way I lived my life.  So, here are a few tips I used to help you get through Restriction Way:

Step One:  You have to be motivated.  Be prepared to do things you never thought possible.  Also, remember that if you take a slight skim over to Carefree Lane - get back to Restriction Road IMMEDIATELY.  It's OK to hit a speed bump in the road every once in a while - but not a reason to give up.

Step Two:  Stay away from Fad diets.  The cold, hard truth is that there are no magic pills, shakes, or meal replacements that are going to help you - because you can't live on those things forever.  To effectively lose weight AND MAINTAIN IT, you have to change your eating habits FOREVER!!!  You also can't eliminate things from your diet - a healthy diet involves eating protein, carbs, and yes - even a small amount of fat.  Don't worry, you don't have to live on "rabbit food".  Eating healthy can be a great experience full of variety, flavor, and enjoyment.

Step Three:  Plan your meals, count you calories, and apply your eating habits to the WHOLE family.  I found the greatest tool to help me stay on track for my eating was to create a weekly menu.  Each Saturday morning, I write out a meal plan for the next week.  I keep a personal menu for my meals each day, and a family menu for the meals that will be eaten in the evening.  I then create a shopping list from that meal plan, go grocery shopping, and ONLY buy what's on the list.  The menu helps keep a check on the foods I'm putting in my mouth, and helps me keep track of the calories I'm consuming.  I also make my whole family eat what I eat.  We don't live on salads...we actually eat better now than we EVER did before.  If there are things that my kids or fiance won't eat - I make small substitutions, but for the most part - they eat what I eat.

Step Four:  Eat 5 or 6 small meals a day.  The best way to stay full and avoid the temptations of bad snacking, is to eat 5 to 6 small meals a day.  This consists of breakfast, a snack, lunch, a snack, dinner, and then a snack (sometimes I skip this one if I eat dinner too late).  Snacks are things like fruit, protein bars/ drinks, 100 calorie snack packs (occasionally), etc.  My "main meals" I keep to small portions.  A good way to determine portion sizes is to use the palm of your hand.  Each portion should be no bigger than the palm of your hand. 

Step Five:  Stay Hydrated!  I don't think that there's a single person that hasn't heard how important it is to drink water.  A properly hydrated body burns more calories, burns more fat, flushes out the toxins in your system, and keeps the body healthy.  A good amount of water to drink if you're exercising is about a 100ozs of water a day.  I bought a 24oz bottle and I drink 4 or 5 of them a day.  I found I drink A LOT more water with a straw - I can suck a 24oz bottle of water down in no time.  Don't like water?  Try adding some flavoring such as lemon juice, or the zero calorie/ sugar flavorings to your water.  DO NOT add flavorings that contain caffeine - as they will dehydrate you.

Step Six:  Start Out Slowly with Exercising.  When I first started my journey, there wasn't much my body could do - except one thing...walk!  Being close to 300lbs had it's limits, so I started out by walking around a walking track.  Just a couple of times around the track had my body pouring sweat, and in no time at all the pounds started falling off.  After a few weeks, I was able to do a slow jog, and then I slowly increased to running/ jog intervals.

Step Seven:  Try to Exercise at Least 6 Times a Week:  I know that this sounds a lot, but when you're first starting out - it's important to build your momentum.  Working out six times a week can be as simple as walking for 30 minutes a day, swimming, playing with your kids - just try to fit some kind of activity in each day.  Then give yourself one day to relax and recuperate from all of your hard work.

OK, so there you have seven simple steps to get you started on your journey.  How long you stay on Restriction Way is ultimately going to depend on you.  It took me four months before I felt like I had finally reached Structure Street, and there are still days that I find myself faced with the detour sign for Carefree Lane.   I sometimes back-track onto Restriction Way just to get myself focused again - and then it's back to Structure Street.  So, what's the difference between Restriction Way and Structure Street?  Guess you'll have to tune in tomorrow when I discuss it.  Good luck!!

Till next time.  ;)

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