Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Tips from Your Friendly Dieter

I've lost one of my boys.

Not literally, of course. But it occurred to me yesterday as I stood on my scale, waiting for the moment of truth, that I have lost the equivalency of a preschooler. Alex, to be exact, since he now weighs 35 pounds.

It's a great feeling, and I can honestly say that it has been easy tolerable. Seriously. I never feel hungry, and I don't feel deprived.

As I've posted my losses each week in my sidebar, a couple of you have asked me what my secrets are. Well, I don't really have any. I follow what the good people at Weight Watchers tell me to do, and it works. I have, however, learned some things in the three months since I've initiated this lifestyle change.

So here, in no particular order, are some tips for those of you looking to drop a couple (or like me, more than a couple) of pounds.

Eat With Purpose

I cannot stress this enough. The biggest change I had to make was to change my outlook on HOW I eat. Before I started dieting, I ate a lot of food. And the food I ate was not particularly good for me. It was easy for me to thoughtlessly eat snacks, especially at night when I felt I deserved treats for being a good mom (and yes, I actually told myself that to justify the calories).
Nowadays, I still think about food, but I plan my day out and really consider what it is I'm eating. I know it sounds crazy, but once I stopped eating those junky/greasy/sugary foods, I stopped craving them. Seriously. Try it out for a week. When you feel a hunger pang or snack attack coming on, reach for a piece of fruit or a serving of low-fat cheese instead of chips or a cookie. Not only will you feel satisfied for longer, you won't miss the junk food. I promise. Oh, and not having the junk food in the house is half the battle. I've found that it's sooo much easier when I don't have a package of Oreos staring me in the face every time I open my pantry.

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm still a big fan of the junky/greasy/sugary concoctions. And I still eat them. But I don't eat them often, and I eat a proper portion. Which leads me to my next tip....

Invest in a Food Scale

Before I started this program, I never owned one. Heck, I never bothered to even glance at what a serving size was, much less measure the food out. But once I started doing just that, I was floored. I was amazed at what an actual serving size of ice cream is, and how many calories are packed into that one serving. The bowl of cereal I poured each morning was about twice the recommended serving size. This was true of MOST of the foods I ate. Scary, huh?

Now, I weigh just about everything that goes into my mouth (and the kids' too). And, surprisingly, most portions that appear small are actually quite filling.

Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!

I cannot stress this enough. In order to make weight loss healthy and permanent, exercise must be included in the diet plan.

Exercise is exercise, whether it's running, walking, gardening, or playing with the kids outside. I myself have found that a membership at the YMCA was absolutely necessary because 1) I'm paying for it so I feel obligated to go multiple times per week and 2) I'm forced to leave the confines of my house so I HAVE to exercise.

Do whatever gets the heart pumping, but trust me on this one -- doing just one or the other will not result in optimal weight loss. Oh, and that rumor that exercise will make you hungry and result in more weight gain? I exercise four times a week and have never found that to be true. If anything, exercise has curbed a lot of my cravings.

Choose Good Food

There's a LOT of diet foods on the market right now, but I gotta tell you, I'm not a big fan. In my experience, most foods marketed as "diet" are not very tasty, have a lot of processed stuff in them, and upon closer inspection, are not that much different calorie-wise from the regular stuff. I think it's much better to buy a lot of fresh produce and vegetables and use that scale to indulge in the proper portions of packaged foods.

However, I have found some foods that are especially tasty and won't kill your diet.

Al Fresco Chicken Sausages -- These are an absolute MUST for the summer BBQ. We've served them multiple times, and I swear they taste better than brats (less grease/more flavor)! Plus, they're organic and have no preservatives AND are comparable in price to other packaged brats. They're on the menu for our fourth of July feast, and I know they'll be a hit once again. And with only 6 grams of fat per serving (a regular brat has 22-24 grams) they really are awesome.

Kemps 100 calorie Ice Cream Sandwiches -- Perfect for an ice cream craving, and they're just the right size for kids (and your waistline). Plus, they're the real stuff, just a smaller portion, so they don't taste like ice cream-like flavoring between two pieces of cardboard.

Baked Cheetos -- What can I say? Sometimes you've just gotta have that unnaturally cheesy crunchy goodness only a Cheeto can provide. But here's a little secret: the baked ones actually taste better! And (shhh!) you can have more of them without feeling guilty. Plus, your kids won't taste a difference.

Popcorn -- Get out the air popper because popcorn is about the perfect diet food! Of course, if you're truly dieting you'll nix the butter, but a little won't hurt you, either. You can eat about 4 CUPS of this stuff with very few calories, plus it's filling.

That's it. Diet tips from a girl just trying to get healthy. I hope it helped, and I'd love to know others' tips and ideas that will help me on my journey.