“Love body.” It is what a dear friend of mine told me we all get when we find that special someone with whom we ultimately settle down. It’s typically more drastic than the “freshman 15,” but like with the mess you see in your home after throwing a glorious party, you can’t help but regard it as beautiful.
While this specific kind of weight gain can be looked at as a symbol of the love you have found for another, it often times gets to a point where it becomes uncomfortable and more dangerously unhealthy.
I’ve gained and lost weight more than I can count on 10 sets of hands. This past year was the first year in a VERY long time that I’ve been able to lose the weight and keep it off. What I’ve learned about my success is that it all comes down to one thing — mindset.
All of our bodies are different, so the dietary change that works for someone else might not necessarily work for you. But having the right mindset — knowing the WHY behind your journey to becoming a healthier you — is the one common denominator in successfully reaching our goals.
I love the idea of being able to run through the airport to make a connecting flight without the fear of wanting to puke from the sudden hustle. I love the way my clothes fit on my body. I love the way my skin clears up and I love the way I can endure the south Florida heat at its pinnacle without wanting to collapse.
All of what I listed are things that make me feel good about myself. They make living my life that much easier and more enjoyable. The mindset of me wanting to attain happiness by setting myself up to live a long and healthy life is what motivates me to do what I do. And today, I want to share with you (from a food perspective) what I have found to help me get to where I want to be.
In all of my dieting attempts, I have found that limiting the amount of carbs I eat on a regular basis is the force that knocks down that very first domino. What always follows is a barrage of smart decision-making, which is the essential piece in any lifestyle change. And so, I share with you today what I’ve discovered to be my:
11 Tips For a Low Carb Lifestyle
Make Sunday your day to plan and prep
Map out your meals for the week and insert variety into what it is you are eating. Focus on the flavors you can add to the food you make. Doing this will relieve the stress of having to figure out what you are going to make for yourself in the moment and prevent you from potentially making a bad decision.
Shop with a mission in mind
Know exactly what meals you are going to eat for the week and buy only the necessary groceries for those dishes. Doing this will keep you from wasting food and from purchasing items that might not fit in your diet.
Know your carb substitutes
Vegetables can replace most flour-based and starchy carbs. For instance, use spaghetti squash or thinly-sliced zucchini in place of pasta. Pulse a head of cauliflower in the food processor and eat in place of rice. Grill or roast portobello mushroom caps and use in place of bread. While vegetables have some carbs, the amount does not compare to what you will find in bread, potatoes and rice.
Bump up your vegetable intake
Fill your plate with veggies before placing your protein on it. There should be little room left after the veggie placement. This is a very quick and easy way to give your body the nutrients it deserves while satisfying your appetite in the process.
Eat only until you aren’t hungry anymore
It doesn’t matter what kind of dietary change you try. Overeating will prevent your body from adapting to more sensible portions and will keep you feeling hungry after you’ve already eaten what is on your plate. By training yourself to eat only until you don’t feel hungry, this will give your stomach organ the chance to shrink. Within days, you will find you only need half of what you used to eat to feel full.
Flavor is key
Regardless of what you are making for yourself, cooking should always be an experience. A FUN experience. Explore your spices and diversify how you season your food from meal-to-meal. This will help sustain your forward momentum and keep you from falling into a flavor rut.
Use your resources
Endless amounts of cookbooks and websites (such as this one) offer great low carb ideas. Explore them!
Make the carbs you eat count
If you’re going to eat carbs, make those instances count. My treat is either wine with a low carb dinner. Or I’ll reward my progress with sushi and keep clear of any other carbs with the meal. My advise here: STAY AWAY FROM JUICE AND SODA. Those carbs are the EMPTIEST and most useless carbs you can consume, especially if you are counting the amount of carbs you are taking in daily. This is your chance to drink more water and clean your body out from within.
When eating out, check the menu first
Low carb should never be stressful. Know what your options are and make sure they are good ones before heading out to dine.
Work activity into your dietary routine
Results are the ultimate motivator. Adding activity (i.e. walking, running, cardio, weight training) will boost your progress toward whatever goal you have set for yourself. You’ll feel that much better during your daily activities as well.
Don’t do it alone
Guaranteed there is someone in your life (near or far) that is interested in lowering his or her carb intake. Buddy up, share ideas and words of encouragement. If you’re into competition, make a game out of it and see who can get to their goal first. Just remember, life is not meant to be lived feeling tortured and repressed. Having company in this journey will make the lifestyle change you decide to tackle that much more fun.
These 11 tips have been the framework for the success that I have experienced along with my husband and many other friends and family. And while much of the focus here is on developing a lower carb lifestyle, every bit of advice given can be applied to virtually any kind of eating change you decide to embrace. The key is your mindset — understanding why you are doing any of this — and the rest will fall into place.