Since getting full-on serious about dropping unhealthy weight from my body last September, I’ve shed 15kgs. The thing I get asked most often is “What’s your secret?”
Well, this is one secret I’m not gonna keep…. you’re all welcome to it. ha ha.
2 key words…. and neither of them is exercise.. (calm down… exercise is certainly one of the secondary key words.)
OK.. so #1 is DIET !! Now, let’s be clear… when I say ‘diet’, I DO NOT mean I ‘went on a diet’.. and you’ll never hear me telling you to ‘go on a diet’ either. By ‘diet’, I mean what goes in your mouth each and every day, for the rest of your life. Don’t think you can make changes by not making any changes. (yeah, I know.. that’s a meme.)
I had to examine my diet and work at eliminating the foods that didn’t feed me in a 100% positive way. I had been finding for years that I felt pretty sluggish after each time having dairy, mainly milk. I seemed to get away with cheese and butter ok… but pretty much all other dairy has had to go. This was a little sad for me, as I really used to love a tall glass of super cold milk !! But never fear, it’s all good, as now I love a tall glass of super cold almond milk (preferably with coffee in it.. lol) !!
I also upped (as I was already pretty good with fruit & veg etc) my wholefoods intake. The dead-set easiest way to add fantastic nutritional goodness to your diet is with brekky smoothies. for example, adding a small zucchini to your morning smoothie may sound kinda gross, but honestly, you don’t even know it’s there once blitzed up, and you’ve just added amazing life giving nutrients to your body to start your day.
Unhealthy carbs had to go too !! Did you know that many fruit juices are super high in carbs? I once heard Candace Cameron Bure say that she’d rather eat her calories than drink them.. and I so agree. I’d so rather add some ‘treats’ to a healthy meal with a similar amount of carbs to a glass of OJ, that you knock back a glass and be done & dusted.
Examples of whole carbs include vegetables, whole fruit, legumes, potatoes and whole grains. These foods are generally healthy (when had in moderation). On the other hand, refined carbs include sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juices, pastries, white bread, white pasta, white rice and others.
To put into perspective the goodness within healthy carbs, check out these 4 popular choices and their differences…
- Corn (1 cup): 41 grams of carbs, 5 of which are fibre
- Potato (1 medium): 37 grams of carbs, 4 of which are fibre
- Sweet potato/yam (1 medium): 24 grams of carbs, 4 of which are fibre
- Beets (1 cup, cooked): 16 grams of carbs, 4 of which are fibre
Soft drink went from being a once a week treat, to a ‘maybe when out for dinner, but hardly ever’ treat. I thought it would be hard, but it actually hasn’t been. I keep good quality iced tea sachets in the house, and whenever a full on craving hits me, I just grab one of those, and it hits the spot. (PS.. I buy X50.. here is a link to their website to check out their products. ) . Remember though, that these drinks do contain sugar, so be sensible about when you have them. Post workout is a great idea, or just prior to when you know you’ll still knock some calories off. ie.. an evening walk, or tready sesh. :0)
So, #2 key word is SUBSTITUTION !! The two do overlap a fair bit, but let’s look at the easy ways you can budge that unhealthy weight by implementing some really simple substitutions.
Bread… if you must have it, avoid white bread, and grab the multigrain or mixed seed etc. (better still, make your own using a healthy flour choice like coconut or spelt.)
Cereals – If you tend to lean towards the sugary cereals, find something with grains & fruit in it. Muesli is a fantastic option.. or overnight oats, chia pudding etc etc. (let’s be real… I’m a brekkie smoothie girl all the way, but hey, if you like cereal… knock yourself out, but do it with a healthier option.)
Milk (we’ve already covered this… but here’s some additional info ) – swap to a dairy free option. While cows milk is still packed with nutritious goodness, almond or coconut milk are a far better option. Almond milk generally contains fewer calories than cow’s milk, but it depends on the type of milk you buy. Unsweetened almond milk provides just 30 calories per cup, vs. 90 calories in a cup of skim cow’s milk. One-percent low-fat milk contains 110 calories, two-percent milk provides 130 calories, and whole cow’s milk contains 150 calories per cup. Sweetened vanilla-flavoured almond milk generally contains 90 calories in each cup. (Praise the Lord for Espresso Almond Milk !!)
Yoghurt – Change over to a greek yoghurt, and sweeten it with berries etc. Adding healthy nuts etc adds a fantastic texture sensation.
Pasta – As with the bread, reach for the wholemeal option… or go really crazy like me and whip yourself up some zoodles to have with your fav bolognese mince sauce. It’s crazy easy to do with a spiralizer from ebay. There’s some big price differences, but I honestly paid approx $12 for mine and it works a treat. If you’re thinking it’s too much of a pain to do something different for you than the rest of the fam… it’s really not. As you don’t actually need to cook the zucchini, it only really needs a minute dunking in boiling water. (Don’t take the pasta from your kiddos diet, as they kinda need those carbs for their ever growing, ever active bodies. )
You can also change over to Pulse Pasta. Pulses are part of the legume family, the term “pulse” referring to the dried seed. Dried peas, dried beans, lentils and chickpeas are the most common varieties of pulses. Pulses are very high in protein and fiber, antioxidants, and low in fat!
Rice – Once again, stay away from the white rice and grab for the brown rice… or better still, swap over to Quinoa. Both foods’ calories come primarily from their carbohydrate content, and a serving of brown rice or quinoa offers 22 or 20 grams of carbohydrates, respectively. However, quinoa offers more dietary fibre and protein than brown rice, so it should make for a more filling addition to your diet than brown rice.
Spreads – Before you grab for that strawberry jam off the supermarket shelf, consider making your own, or if you’re not into that, find a local market that stocks 100% fruit jam. You won’t regret it, and you’ll soon wonder how you ever ate that other stuff. If it’s peanut butter that you love to smear on your toast… grab the 100% version.. whether it be peanut, almond or cashew butter. If you’ve got a thermomix, or a good food processor, grab some raw peanuts from a good health food store or stockist, and blitz up your own. It really is a super easy thing to do. (& you’ll feel super clever for doing it.. ha ha)
Meats – Go for your leaner options, (and watch your portion size). Chicken breast over chicken thigh for example. Salmon is a great choice also. Pork chops used to be on the doctors’ hit list. Today, however, pork is “the other white meat” and is a healthy alternative to red meat. And when it’s eaten in moderation, a pork chop can be quite good for you. Pork chops can be relatively lean, but they’re typically not as low-fat as chicken or fish. If you love yourself a good steak every now and then (as I do), don’t deprive yourself, just stick to a better cut (sorry, yes, it is dearer), but it also usually comes in a much smaller portion size too. eg.. an eye fillet piece (also known as fillet steak, beef fillet and beef tenderloin) is usually only around 200g. (bear in mind that is still about double the recommended intake for a woman at a meal, so factor that in with what the side dishes are… in other words.. skip the fries, go the salad.) .
Still on the meat substitutions, make sure you are buying the best quality sausages you can, if that’s something your family likes (as mine do). There are lots of great healthy meals you can make with sausages, so source some good ones, and go your hardest. Same theory with mince… buy the 5 star (but having said that, the Aldi 3 star is pretty darn good at my local Aldi store.)
Drinks – We’ve covered this a little, but the best piece of advice I can give you for fluid intake is WATER WATER WATER !!! Yes, I know some of you are probably cringing right now, but it really is true that LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE !! Get yourself an app on your phone.. and start drinking more water… you really will be so glad you did !! You’ll feel so much better across the board.. hair, nails, skin… and just in yourself in general.
When water just won’t hit the spot (there are ALWAYS gonna be those times), as I said, make yourself up an iced tea, or if you really can’t go without a soft drink, at least go for a sugar free option.. but let’s be real… just think chemical poo storm.. and you’re right on track. That info alone is usually enough to keep me away from it. There is also great options you can source when out and about, without having to grab a sugary soft drink. Just take not of where you find them, so you know where you can and can’t source a healthier option.
I’m afraid I can’t really speak much for hot drinks as I really don’t have a lot of them, but we all know tea is good for you.. and coffee has it’s benefits too. Just watch the frequency in which you’re having them.. and if you need to sweeten, look at a Stevia option, or something similar.
Eating out – I know we talked about the steak option when eating out, but there’s other great healthier options you can go with when out with friends. There is usually a low carb bread option available for a burger, steak sandwhich or toastie, and if you want those fries with it, go the sweet potato ones (they’re way yummier anyway.)
One tip I can give though is that it is far easier to eat a meal out and eat healthily, than it is to have a snack/coffee date out.
Snacks at home – I’ve never been a real bikkie eater, but if you are… let’s think about breaking that habit. There is little to NO nutritional goodness in a biscuit.. just a whole pile of sugar to make you sluggish, clog your pores and rot your teeth. (sorry.. not sorry). If you have a sweet tooth, you may find this a more difficult transition, but try and swap over to savoury snack options, rather than sweet. You’ll be glad you did. You can still add some sweetness to your snacks by including things like plums, dates etc etc.
(PS.. if you’re organised, you can also take this out with you when you’re having that coffee catch up that you know will not have any healthy choices on offer. )
And finally.. and this isn’t a food one…. Go to bed early and GET MORE SLEEP !!!! It’s beyond beneficial for your body, your mental health.. and your general wellbeing. So, turn Netflix off, and go to bed !!!
I hope this has given you a bit of an idea on some simple substitutions that can make a big difference to not only your waistline, but how you feel in general.
Partner these simple substitutions with some gentle exercise 3 times per week (obviously more than gentle, based on how quickly/the results you want to achieve.) . If there’s a stand-out that I’ve learnt in the last 10months, it’s that the 80-20 rule is TOTALLY true. It’s 80% diet, and only 20% exercise. I’ve been exercising very well for 4 or 5 years now, but it was only when I seriously looked at my diet that I saw real change.
The point was also proven in recent weeks when I couldn’t exercise at anywhere near my normal level after my foot injury, and then surgery 2wks ago… but the scales still showed a loss each Saturday morning. Not huge, but a loss nonetheless.
OK… let’s keep respecting the temple together