We have passed the January goal making and promises regarding healthy eating and fitness regime. I, for one, haven’t made any food or fitness related New Year’s resolutions as I knew deep down that I would not keep them. I didn’t want to start another diet. My aim was to change my eating habits and with a bit of luck, make sure that as a family we all eat a little bit better.
With that in mind my change was gradual and took a little bit more time than any crash diet, which you ditch after approximately 3 weeks.
It is worth mentioning that those are my Healthy Eating habits and I am not a trained nutritionist. However, I have noticed change in the way I am eating and feeling, hence I decided to share this on my blog. I haven’t re-invented the wheel. Everything is fairly simple and it’s almost like going back to basics. Let’s start….
1 – Eating Regularly
This is key. Since going back to work full time with two kids, I basically skipped breakfast or grabbed a pastry with a hot flask of coffee. It was consumed in the car, en route to the office. Between getting to the office and lunch I would have 3 snacks and I would still be starving just before lunch, which meant I mostly over ate at lunch as well. Feeling sluggish up until 3pm and then being ready for a nap did not help when you have to be alert for few more hours. No wonder the weight was creeping up and I was feeling more and more exhausted.
There are different theories about how many meals per day you should have but for me 5 every 3-4 hours work best. I make sure my breakfast fuels me for the first part of the day, followed by a small snack, lunch which consists of carbs, fats and proteins, then another snack and a light dinner. This sort of pattern makes my metabolism work (hopefully) and I don’t feel like I need to overeat at meal-times. I eat regularly, when I am hungry and not when the time comes.
This brings me to another the next point….
2 – Meal Planning
I told you I won’t be re-inventing the wheel. Meal Planning helps me with not having to go out and buy a dried out sandwich for £4, keeps food waste to the minimum and cost of shopping under control. I don’t have a strict day-by-day food menu but I plan what meals we will eat each week and make a note of that in my Meal Planner along with a shopping list. The evening meals / lunches shuffle between the days but it means I buy what we actually need and resist the temptation of getting a take – out. There is no excuse, if there is food in the fridge/freezer. Also, I do like the view of 2-3 boxes worth of lunches in the fridge for the week ahead.
3 – Batch Cooking
I am known for not being able to cook small portions. Which comes handy when you are able to freeze those meals ready to be used later. In January, I really didn’t feel inspired to come up with fancy meals and I could not think of anything worse than standing over the cooker for more than 30 minutes. Luckily, apart from having some quick meal ideas in my repertoire, I also had portions of coconut dal, lentil spaghetti Bolognese sauce and a couple of curries in the freezer. It meant that I didn’t have to worry about slaving in the kitchen or ordering an unhealthy take-away and we still had good, nutritious meals.
4 – Eliminate Bad Eating Habits
I stopped saying that “as of Monday I won’t eat chocolate” or “healthy eating starts Monday”. Guess what? Usually on that Monday I felt like I could eat a horse…made out of chocolate. I would then find a hidden stash of chocolate or invade kids’ “treat box” and the whole “diet” goes out of the window with me feeling very, very guilty.
Small steps worked for me. I have never been the biggest fan of fizzy drinks, so they were eliminated first. Next, fast food chains. I don’t eat there often, I am not a fan, so again it wasn’t that difficult to stop eating there all together. Interestingly, once I changed what and when I ate I stopped feeling the urge for that sweet treat after dinner/lunch/between meals. I actually feel quite smug when I say no to a birthday cake in the office 🙂
However, when it comes to salty snacks (crisps), chocolate and cake I still have them, BUT I make sure that chocolate is at least 70% dark chocolate and with crisps and popcorn I get small packet so it’s portion controlled. I believe everything is good in moderation and since I don’t crave sweet stuff as much as I used to I much prefer to bake something at home. This way I know what I put in it and enjoy it thoroughly.
5 – Drink Water
This is so obvious, however even I don’t sometimes remember to drink it. Also I am a hot-drink person. We should aim for 1,5 – 2 litres of water every day and there are days when I find it hard to get it in me. I love my coffee and tea, therefore I need to make an extra effort to drink more water. Herbal teas also count (thankfully!), so I top up with some herbal infusions (ginger & lemon, flavoured Green Teas) and in the summer I like to infuse my water bottle with some fruits.
6 – Turn – Up Your Metabolism
I aim to start my day with a cup of warm water with lemon (and honey some days) – this will wake your digestive system up and make it work better throughout the day. Sometimes, when I need a change I swap lemons for apple cider vinegar (it is acquired taste). I also make sure I have my breakfast within an hour of getting up. This was a challenge and I make sure I have overnight oats in the fridge which can be warmed up in the microwave and topped up with any fruit or nuts that I have at hand – that way I have breakfast on the go whilst I get ready for work.
7 – Move
This has been the most challenging part and one that I am still trying to be consistent with. I aim for 2-3 HIIT ( High Intensity Interval Training) Sessions per week, which you can easily find on You Tube and do from the comfort of your own sitting room. It’s a massive advantage, however after a long day I really have to be in the right frame of mind, otherwise excuses get the better of me. Also, I use a smart bracelet to count calories burnt as well as daily steps. I aim for 10,000 steps every day and the tracker keeps me in check.
So this is it. It helped me to gather everything that I have put into practice since the beginning of the year and hopefully it will also be useful to you.
Throughout the process I needed to remind myself what motivated me to make those changes (wanting to go back to pre-pregnancy weight) and then put those changes into practice so they won’t become a temporary fix.
Have you got any tricks or habits that help you stay on track?
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