A couple of weeks ago, I shared how my journey toward the healthy coastal lifestyle began with exercise. As I began this journey, I determined to keep a food journal in my phone. This helped me see what I was eating, how much I was eating, and how healthily I was eating. After sweating through my first months of exercise, I decided to start getting serious about eating healthily. If I was doing all this work, I definitely wanted to make sure I wasn’t sabotaging my efforts.
Now, for my caveat… I don’t have any dietary restrictions or health conditions that prevent me from eating whatever I want. I do have a genetic predisposition towards high cholesterol, which often sucks, given how much I like eggs, shrimp, and liver pudding, so I do limit myself on these foods. If you have questions or concerns about how to adjust your diet, talk to your doctor first. These tricks are what have worked for me.
Things to be aware of… Sugar is the basic source of energy for us people. Our bodies burn off simple sugars first – sucrose, fructose, glucose. Then they go to carbohydrates, converting carbs into sugars. Once our bodies don’t have any carbohydrates to consume as energy, they start attacking fat, converting fat into sugars for its use. Keep that in mind, as it is very important for how you eat.
The food journal/diary is very important. It’s an old trick, it’s fairly simple with today’s technology, but it’s still important. You can go old school and write down what you eat with pen and paper. There are computer programs and device apps that keep track of your meals, your calorie and nutrient intake, and whatever else you could want. Mine also keeps up with my nutrient score and rewards me with a badge when I hit 80 or above (the closer to 100, the better).
Focus on carbs earlier in the day. This gives your body time to burn it off throughout the day. Shoot for absolutely no carbs after 5 p.m. (way easier said than done!). Each gram of carbs is worth 4 calories, so remember that when you’re ready to dive into that Cinnabon. I hit another plateau in my weight loss, so I started cutting back on carbohydrates, forcing my body into fat-burning mode with the twice-weekly aerobics classes and thrice-weekly walk/jogs.
Working, exercising, straining muscles need protein. Proteins help repair muscles after workouts, though a protein hit an hour before your workout will boost you gloriously through it. I grab milk, peanuts, a protein bar, or a cheese stick. Proteins will also help you feel fuller for longer, so you won’t be as tempted to snack.
We can’t forget the fats, though. It’s gratifying seeing that I truly am cutting carbs, but it’s also disheartening to see the fat grams stacking up. Our bodies need fat, though. It’s essential to the metabolism of vitamins A, D, E, and K. Keep it lean as much as humanly possible, though, avoiding saturated fats and embracing unsaturated.
I honestly deny myself nothing. If I want dessert, I eat dessert – but only if I’ve kept the eating limited throughout the day. When I know I’m going to be eating heavily, such as at special dinners, I just go with some lean protein for lunch. I learned several years ago that when I crave something, I should enjoy it in moderation and get rid of the craving. Otherwise, that craving becomes an obsession. At the same time, I listen to my body’s cravings, because usually it craves foods with nutrients it needs.
Working out paired with dietary changes has made a huge difference in how I’ve felt and in my healthy lifestyle journey. I had to make a wardrobe transition, donating too-big clothes and buying new clothes that are already feeling loose. But it’s all good, because I see the changes in my body, both in the mirror and when I feel the new muscle tone in my back, arms, abs, and thighs. And just Sunday, a friend/aerobics instructor said she could see in my face that I’ve lost weight. When I washed my face last night, I could see my cheekbones have reemerged – those lovely cheekbones that bely my Cherokee heritage. It’s so good seeing them again!
What steps will you make towards embracing the healthy coastal lifestyle? Here we are, early in the year with New Year’s resolutions and Super Bowl junk foodin’ behind us. It’s a great time to get serious! We’ve got this!