Tip Thursday: Snacking

I am a firm believer that my story and my journey to the healthiest version of myself isn’t just for me. So I plan to do series like this on my blog to help those who are just starting, stuck on their journey, or those who just like the supplemental knowledge and experience (long drawn out way of saying basically everyone).

These will be the result of the frequent questions I am asked, or suggestions from you. Please know that these bits of knowledge are based off of things I’ve read or experiences I’ve had – I’m not a dietitian or nutritionist (obvi).

A big hang up in a lot of people’s journey – especially when they’re looking for weight loss – is snacking. It is one of the easiest ways to eat, especially mindlessly, and can really throw off your results if you’re not careful.

Lets get one thing straight: snacks are not bad. Every meal plan I’ve followed has had a “snack” component. Eating between larger meals helps you stay on track so that you’re not absolutely ravenous come lunch or dinner time.

Tip #1: Follow a meal plan.
Seriously. To ensure that your snacks fit into your healthy routine, follow a meal plan. This allows you to incorporate your between meal eating into what you’re already doing, rather than having it as an addition (which is where we get derailed). Snacking is in your plan – not separate from it. Sub tip: Your meal plan shouldn’t look the exact same as someone who has different goals or a different body type than you. Meal plans are not one size fits all. Therefore, your snacking won’t look the same, either.

Tip #2: Get rid of the junk.
If its not there, you can’t eat it. Yeah, I hear you and see your eye roll “I’ll just go get it if its not in the house/my desk at work” because I had the same thoughts. But chances are slim of that happening. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve actually said “wow I want cookies” while having no cookies in the house and I actually went and bought some. You may be extra, but you’re not that extra.

Tip #3: Be mindful.
Don’t sit on the couch with a bag of pretzels and snack away. Put time into “making” your snack – meaning: portion it out according to your meal plan, put it on a plate, and put the excess away. I’m not ignorant to the fact that the rest is still there in your house, but I do know that when your brain sees an empty plate, it sees the finish line – done – over. BUT – if you’re just trying to gauge when you’re “done” by how full you feel, chances are that the episode of Friends you’re watching will take precedence in your brain and you’ll overeat.

Tip #4: Find what you like.
If you don’t like kale chips, don’t. eat. kale. chips. There are tons of healthy snack ideas and recipes (I’d love to suggest some for you!) that will fit in your meal plan (have I stressed that enough, yet?). If you know you need a veggie & a healthy fat, find a combo that you enjoy. Whatever it may be – don’t be afraid to repeat. If you like it, stick with it and don’t force yourself to shove food down your throat that you don’t enjoy. That will also derail you – because you’ll end up not enjoying what you’re eating and find something you like instead.

Tip #5: Eat real food.
I know that protein bars and other pre-made snack items are easy for grab-and-go and they make life easier. But a lot of these can be filled with sugars and unnecessary things that our bodies don’t really need. When you can, take the extra time to prepare your snacks in your home. Carve out space in your meal prep day and make your snacks for the week. Have them portioned out and packaged so that you can grab them on your way out of the door. 1) Its just as easy & 2) you’re fully aware of whats in them.

Tip #6: Drink more water.
If you find yourself snacking more than you should throughout the day (even if its healthy snacks – you can overeat on healthy items, too!), drink more water. When we’re learning about our bodies, we have to understand what actual hunger feels like. I know that sounds weird, but we become accustomed to eating at certain times of the day and feel like we should continue to do that when we are trying to live healthier. We need to break that routine of feeling like we need to eat when we’re not actually hungry. Also, water keeps you hydrated and your organs working properly – so there’s a bonus!

Tip #7: Be kind to yourself.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. If you expect to be perfect, that’s not fair and that means there’s no room for improvement. You’re going to have cravings and you might even accidentally satisfy those cravings with junk foods. Don’t beat yourself up. Decide that you’re going to move forward and make better decisions. You didn’t develop these habits overnight and you won’t break them in that time either. Be better than you were yesterday and find accountability partners who are willing to call you out when necessary, but praise you, too.

4 Reasons Why We Fail

It seems as though people are more health conscious nowadays, and maybe that’s not true. Maybe we just have more access into other people’s lives and information about health-based things that create the sensation that its a “thing” now. Nonetheless, we or someone we know eats more salads than cakes.

I don’t know about you, but I tried all the ways I could think of to get skinny. Like everything short of hard core drugs – I was trying it. Nothing was working.

“Fasting” & only eating one meal a day (lol starving). Nope.
2 1/2 hours at the gym. Nope.
Military diet (lol starving, again). Nope.
Appetite suppressants. Yes – then no, no, no, please no.
Salads every meal. Nope (because I’d eat chicken nuggets after – hungry still).
Liquid diet. Nope.
Low carb. Nope.

Nothing. 

Now, on the other side of things – a little over a year of seriously finding what works for me and truly knowing how my body works – I’ve found the reasons why it didn’t work.

The methods I used to do things were pretty terrible, but there was more to it than that.

1. We’ve got a lifetime of habits to break.
When you decide to (and it isn’t easy) find out where your unhealthy habits stem from, you may find they appeared after a traumatic event where you’ve developed coping skills centered around food. Traumatic is a relative term and everyone applies it differently. It comes from the loss of a loved one, a divorce, high school heart break, ended friendship, stress of college classes, or when the sense of abandonment started to creep in. Don’t take that as absolute – these habits can very well be formed from the absence of learning how to fuel your body properly starting at a young age.

Whatever it may be – these habits developed over a period of time, not overnight. However, I (and maybe you too) tried to fix everything in a Sunday’s meal prep. Not gonna happen. I tried to end my addiction to food by simply not eating. Some people can quit their addictions cold turkey – but I obviously need food to survive, so when I got hungry enough the starvation caused me to go into a binging rage and I was back to square one.

It took time, figuring out how my body responded to certain foods – not just how they affected my weight, but my mood as well. I started by making small changes – adding more veggies into my meals. Finding what I liked and eating that. I hated having grilled chicken and broccoli every day – so I quit eating it.

I had to stop torturing myself and forcing myself to process out of the comfort I found in food. I had to break habits one by one – focusing my attention on completely eradicating it and then move on.

2. We over complicate the process.
This ties in with the first one a bit – but I think its worth it’s own section. Like I mentioned before, we have so many resources at our fingertips. We also have so many opinions to sift through to decide which ones we will accept as truth and believe for ourselves.

I often got overwhelmed with the fact that I needed to have organic everything. Organic meat. Organic veggies. Organic fruits. Organic shampoo. Organic shoes. (kidding, but not really) It was like everything in my world had to change at the blink of an eye. Yes – this is where the excuse that “its too expensive” comes into play. We think we have to have this full 180 degree about-face.

We completely change everything we do – we eat. If it has a single solitary sugar, we trash it. If it has half a carb, we burn it at the stake. We do too much.

Should we juice it? Should we only shop at the farmers market? O.M.G. pesticides. Actually, how about we make our own noodles from scratch? That’s it – I’m starting a vegetable garden today. Filtered water? Not good enough – we need it triple filtered, make sure its completely clean. <– UMMM – that’s exhausting.

CHILL. OUT. Gosh, I know I hate being told that – but seriously. You’re sending yourself into a tailspin of nonsense. A year+ later and I am still transitioning to more natural products (in general).

Don’t feel guilty shopping at your local grocery store. Don’t feel guilty about your tap water, frozen broccoli, and boxed whole wheat noodles. Are you making progress from last week? Heck, even yesterday? Good. Continue making progress and eventually you will make that 180 – stop making it so complicated.

3. We compare ourselves.
This probably should’ve been #1, but these weren’t written in any order – so just put it at number one in your heart. If you’re watching someone else’s journey and comparing yourself to them, you’ve already failed.

One size doesn’t fit all. One meal plan doesn’t fit all. Our bodies react differently to different foods and different exercises. Our bodies also hold on to weight differently and some people require more diligence and time to change than others. You have to figure out what works for you and that may take some trial and error – but what you can’t do is take it to heart when something doesn’t work for you.

Comparing yourself will only send you into a self doubt fit & may cause you to back track, which is not the point of this life. If you’re so wrapped up in someone else’s successes – its hard to define what success means for you.

For me, someone who has a food addiction, success (on some days) can mean eating exactly what I meal prepped and not accepting little snacks from other people. It doesn’t feel restrictive, it’s actually very empowering. But it’s all about perspective.

But I used to have the mindset that I needed abs, like, yesterday. I thought that if it wasn’t working in a week like it did for someone else, that it wouldn’t work for me. I remember wondering if I was even able to be healthy ever again, because my body wasn’t made like someone else’s.

Comparison kept me down for a long time – and it may be what is keeping you down as well, because you quit when it didn’t go like you thought it should.

4. We aren’t enjoying the process.
It can be frustrating – figuring out how your body works and how it reacts to foods. No one these days really enjoys hearing that it may take a year to get to the goal that they wanted (or needed) to reach in 2 months. I’m not ignorant to the fact that there are quick fixes, and losing 20 lbs in 2 weeks can happen – but its not sustainable. That’s something I’m pretty passionate (good word for makes me cringe) about so I’ll save my rant.

I heard a quote recently – “Positive people, positive weight loss” and I couldn’t have related to it more. When I started treating my body right because its what’s good for me and not because I wanted to prance around in a bikini (which is definitely a goal – but not ultimate) – I lost the weight.

I wasn’t stressing myself out (which causes you to hold on to weight anyway) with absolutely ridiculous standards anymore. I began to enjoy it. I read books that encourage and educate me at my weak points. I’ve grown in all areas – not just my health. But if I would’ve rushed through it all – I wouldn’t have learned a third of the things that I have over the past year.

That’s what its about – finding and understanding you and your body. Its so much fun to look back to see what has happened and look forward to see what can be, all because you decided to enjoy the journey that you’re on. Healthy isn’t a sprint, its a marathon. A life long one. So buckle in and enjoy the ride.

 

Small Victories Win the War

Disclaimer: I’m going to go ahead and warn you – a lot of the things you read here will have to do with food, weight loss, and my journey with a healthy lifestyle because a lot of the things I’ve learned in the past several years have stemmed from me learning about myself through this process.

Now that we got that out of the way – I want to. . .rant is a bad word for it. . .discuss with great emotion?. . . about the things that a lot of people don’t highlight during a weight loss journey. Maybe they don’t think it matters – or you don’t think it matters to other people, but oooh girl! these are my favorite things to report to my friends.

Its time that you celebrate even the smallest things you accomplish. First of all, I am a person who always finds a reason to celebrate – so if you need help in that department, holla at ya girl! Second of all, the small things will keep you going on the days where the big picture gets a little blurry.

Its more than fitting into old clothes or seeing the number on the scale go down- which is fab-YOU-lous, by the way.

Its being able to sit with my legs crossed again.

Its sitting in a chair and not having my hips bubble over each side.

Its accidentally opening the front camera on my phone and not being completely horrified by the number of chins.

Its seeing an “off guard” picture (which obviously cant be prepared for by contouring my body and hitting all the right angles) and not wanting to erase every pixel before Google can trace it.

Its randomly touching your flexed (but still a little jiggly) stomach every hour to feel your newly strengthened core.

Its a hopeful and joyous smile in the mirror before your shower each morning that has taken the spot of a frown.

Everyone has their thing – that thing that used to be one way & now that their life has changed is different, but they don’t think anyone really cares – or that anyone would really understand. But trust. I promise I do.

I get excited that I hit my hip bone on the corner of the stair rail – because it used to be hidden under so much of my college days that I wouldn’t have been able to feel it.

…or going to the bathroom and seeing a little booty pop.

I could go on forever, but you get the point.

You win the war with numerous small victories in the battles – so celebrate them. Pat yourself on the back – get a mani/pedi – purchase a book you’ve always wanted to read – do anything but go backward.

 

 

Purpose on the Sidelines

When I came home from school and told my mom I wanted to play softball, I think she almost had a heart attack. But a few short weeks later, after tryouts, I remember the anticipation and excitement of finding out which team I had been selected to be on.

I didn’t really know what was in store – all I knew is that I was going to play softball and I was S T O K E D. I played, and I was pretty decent. I was selected for the All-Stars team for years and years in a row. I played throughout the summer with travel ball teams – I basically lived and breathed softball for 13 years of my life.

I loved the game. I loved the mental and physical parts. I loved the team aspect. I love, and still love softball. It was a huge part in my life, after all. But more than that – it revealed to me my purpose, and I didn’t even know it – until now.

Like I said before, I was pretty decent. I had numerous “clutch” moments in my playing career, I was consistent and in it for the long haul, and I put my all on the field. I don’t remember, however, ever being the “hot shot” or “star player” – but I was okay with that.

Not “okay” in a sense that I didn’t want to get better or strive to do my best with every play, but I never had that desire in me to outshine everyone else. Some people do, but not me.

My first high school season, however, ya girl had a perfect batting average. Yeah, you heard me – P E R F E C T. That’s because after the first tournament, I broke my ankle in practice. Yes practice. Insert eye roll. After hours in the ER and a trip to the orthopedic doctor the next morning, surgery was the verdict. Surgery on Friday morning. We had a tournament on Saturday.

I made it to the bus on Saturday morning- with the help of some pain relievers, but I made it. And I made it to every practice and game after that.

I don’t say this to brag – I say it to show you that when you are walking in purpose, your circumstances don’t stop you from continuing to walk in purpose. I wanted to be there – because, if nothing else, I could sit/lean and encourage my team to victory. I could speak life into their every play. I could lift them up (even if it was in a stern voice when they’re pouting) after a bad hit or missed ball.

During the rest of my high school career, especially on the varsity team, I wasn’t the one who always got a ton of playing time. Again – I never saw this as defeat. Of course, I wanted to be on the field playing as much as possible, but when I wasn’t I was on the fence. Encouraging. Uplifting. Speaking life into my teammates.

I had nothing to complain about – other than the umpires sad excuse for a strike zone. This is what I was made for. I loved playing ball more than anything – I still enjoy being active and competitive, but I found my groove – my purpose – on the sidelines.