4 Health Tips: Lessons Learned from Losing 50 Lbs.
The first few months of every year are when health and nutrition goals are most often made...and broken. If you're like me, you have a several year track record of less than successful resolutions. Often this is because we are too ambitious with our goals or too lacking in a game plan for success.
Over the last 5 years I have made several attempts towards a healthier life - with varying success. I've done Paleo with my wife, the Slow-Carb Diet from Tim Ferriss, ran a half-marathon, given up soda (or at least I tried to), tried out Insanity, and my wife and I are currently doing Whole 30. Some things, like the half-marathon, were much more successful than others (i.e. the soda fast).
In that time period, I've fluctuated in weight and muscle mass but have successfully achieved my goal of losing (and keeping off) 50 pounds since I started taking my health serious 5 years ago.
Here are 4 important (but not all-inclusive) steps I've taken over these last several years to accomplish my weight goal:
1. Water. Water. Water.
- One of my biggest vices in eating wasn't actually eating. It was what I was drinking. And I was drinking a TON of soda on a daily basis. When I realized that I was 'spending' most of my daily recommended caloric intake on empty (at least nutritiously speaking) beverages, I decided to try and drop soda cold turkey. That worked for a while but that zero tolerance policy led me to binge drink Mountain Dew anytime I decided to have 'just one cup'. Nowadays, I instead limit myself to some soda only one day a week, and have focused on seeing how much water I can drink every day. I compete against what I drank the day before and have found that increasing my water intake has decreased snacking urges, helped me be more hydrated, and has lowered my craving of soda on a daily basis. There's plenty of research out there on the health benefits of drinking more water (here's some of that research), but on a practical level it has helped me make better beverage choices as a whole.
2. My Nutribullet.
- About a year and a half ago my mother-in-law gifted us a NutriBullet shortly after I watched a documentary on Netflix entitled, "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead." The film is about a guy named Joe who is faced with several health issues and uses juicing to get back to health - and how he has inspired others to do the same. I know there is some criticism of the juicing fad, but the movie got me thinking about the lack of vegetables in my daily diet. I've been able to use our NutriBullet consistently to create veggie and fruit rich smoothies that I use as meal replacements or as a supplement to help me take in more healthy food. And the best part of the NutriBullet is that, unlike a traditional juicer, there are no parts of the vegetable removed from the final product. Here is my favorite recipe. (Tip: use red berries such as strawberries and raspberries to improve the color of your smoothie.)
3. One Cheat Per Week.
- One of the more successful eating habits that I've tried is the Slow-Carb Diet (as made popular by blogger/writer Tim Ferriss) where you basically eat 'clean' (mainly veggies and meat but nothing processed, white bread-y, or sugary) for 6 days a week but have a cheat day every week (such as Saturday or Sunday) in order to kickstart your metabolism and curve your cravings throughout the week. The biggest takeaway for me from trying this was the idea of having built in "Freedom Meals" where I can focus my unhealthy food desires in order to keep me from cheating on meals throughout the week.
4. Don't Get Active. BE Active.
- This one is maybe the biggest lesson I've learned in the last 5 years: A 30-minute workout doesn't really do much - especially if you're not moving the rest of the day and have a bad diet. It's important for health and nutrition to be a lifestyle. And while workouts are good and important in being healthy, your nutrition and your level of activity the rest of the day are the most important elements towards a healthier you. So eat healthier, often. Take a lot of walks. Try out a standing desk (you can construct your own similar to how I created my own at work or you can buy one of these actual standing desks). And try to move more as a habit, rather than condensing your exercise to a short workout a few days a week.
And that's a wrap! Those are the 4 main lessons I've learned in my 5 year journey of losing 50 pounds (and keeping it off).
Did I miss an important point? Share your victory ingredients in the comments below!