Are you starting out the new year with some health-related goals, such as weight loss or maintenance? Last year, I knew that goal would be looming ahead for me in 2012, as I entered the new year at 6+ months pregnant.
Well, the final weight gain total with that pregnancy was 50+ lbs (same as with my pregnancy in 2009). As intimidating as that sounds, I have successfully lost that 50+ lbs of baby weight within the first several months postpartum twice now (and kept it off, until the next baby).
Here are some of the best ways I’ve been able to maintain my weight/loss, and enter the new year at my target weight. (And this is the first year that I haven’t put on an extra 10 lbs over the holidays… oh, I do love fudge!)
Fulfill the Craving (responsibly)
I actually did study nutrition in college, and in 100 Pound Loser, Jessica made an important point that was one of my favorite tips from a class lecture: If you have a craving (say, ice cream, for example), don’t try to substitute.
If you try to fill the craving with some “diet ice cream product” you will likely end up overindulging by trying (unsuccessfully) to satisfy your taste. Instead, choose the real thing; a good, whole fats ice cream that will satisfy your taste buds. (Which leads me to the next tip…)
Control Portion Sizes
Once you’ve chosen your favorite ice cream, treat yourself to just a small bowl. A small scoop or two in a pretty little dish, perhaps topped with some unsweetened dried coconut, fresh fruit, chopped nuts, or even a drizzle of a coconut oil-based chocolate shell, can be a truly nourishing treat! It may take awhile to recognize appropriate portion sizes, if you’re used to indulging. (See 100 Pound Loser for tips in this area.)
Also, note that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register the fullness sensation. So, eat slowly, and think before refilling your bowl: “Am I really still hungry, or does it just taste good?”
Choose Good Fats
Everyone needs a bit of fat in their diet. Choose real, nourishing fats when appropriate, such as Coconut Oil. I love adding coconut to my diet, as it can help jump start your metabolism, and give you energy. A glass of coconut water (or add some to a smoothie), a stir fry with a coconut milk curry sauce, or a small cup of cocoa using coconut milk can be a tasty way to enjoy a healthy meal. (Eat Fat, Lose Fat has some more great diet tips and meal plans using coconut.)
I’ve been joyfully eating gluten-free since 2008, and it has revolutionized my health. If you feel like you have “tried everything,” and just can’t lose the weight, this can be a helpful place to start. I’ve heard that gluten can often inhibit weight loss in some people. Not only that, if it is affecting your digestion, you may be dealing with some tummy issues such as bloating, menstrual side effects, and/or constipation that creates a “belly bulge.”
Plus, there is the simple benefit of having to pass by the often-available treats at social gatherings or restaurants while traveling. At a party or potluck, I know to look for an antipasto or veggie tray, a cup of soup, or some fresh fruit. (I have to skip the usual cookie platter or decadent dessert.) While traveling, I pack my own food, or step into a market for something to eat; I no longer have the option of driving through a fast food venue for a quick (but unhealthy) burger.
Choose Healthy Sweeteners
Take a look at your pantry. Do you have a bag of basic white sugar in there? It will sap the B vitamins in your body that you need for energy in order to digest that “treat.” This will leaving you feeling even more blah and less energized to exercise (after the sugar high) than when you started. Substitute a healthier option, such as a low-glycemic coconut sugar, raw unprocessed sugar (Sucanat or Rapadura), raw honey, dried dates, or organic maple syrup.
Yes, these alternate sugar options are more costly. This is a great incentive to use less in your recipe, and to use them less often! You will find that your taste will adjust after awhile, and won’t expect everything to taste as sweet. Mixing in flavorful additions such as vanilla or cinnamon, can create a “sweetness” flavor without the sugar, too! (Nourishing Traditions has some good recipes using natural ingredients.)
In her new ebook, 100 Pound Loser, Jessica Heights has some terrific basic steps for encouraging weight loss from a Christian perspective. I love her uplifting tips, reminding us of the beauty that God has put in us, and our worth is not dependent upon our size/appearance.
She even discusses how this issue can affect intimacy in our marriages, as well as what we are showing our children. We can glorify God with the stewardship of our health and bodies. Jessica shows that weight loss (and exercise) is possible even when juggling fibromyalgia and four small children (hooray!). It’s a quick read, and a great place to start your weight loss journey!
Next week, I’ll continue this conversation with Part 2, with specific tips for postpartum/nursing mamas who are considering losing weight.