8 years ago I decided I was going to lose weight once and for all. I was tired of being that person who lost weight only to put it all back on and more. I worked out harder than anyone I knew so I figured I had to change my diet. I knew if I wanted to keep the pounds off I had to change my eating habits, permanently.
Earlier that day I’d read somewhere that it takes 21 days to create a habit and I was determined to do just that. But I also knew I had to make it a fun challenge cause otherwise I would fall off like I always do.
I sat down on January 1st with a brand new 2004 calendar and I picked up a black Sharpie pen as my first commitment to permanent change and said “Josette, just focus on making 1 change a week. That’s totally realistic. You can do this! You teach your kids new habits everyday!!”
I knew once I wrote it down I couldn’t erase it or change it without leaving an ugly scratch mark on my brand new and clean calendar so I was cautious about my choices but excited for the challenge.
I did this for an entire year. Every Sunday night I’d write down 1 new challenge. 26 Sundays later I was 40lbs lighter and physically stronger. 52 Sundays later I was mentally stronger and off anti-depressants.
Here is a portion of my list. You can use this as a guideline or substitute with your own changes.
All I ask is that you pay it forward and help others do the same.
1. Switch coffee creamer to 1% milk. (seems minimal but 365 days of it adds up)
2. Real whole wheat bread instead of white. (make sure the 1st ingredient says whole wheat or whole grain, otherwise it’s fake)
3. Brown rice instead of white (this was hard because it’s taboo in my Cuban culture to cook with brown rice but all white carbs get stored in the midsection. I do not want a muffin-top and I’m tired of wearing girdles! I’m only 33)
4. Sweet potatoes instead of white. They’re naturally sweet and keep your sugars down too.
5. Old fashioned oats instead of packaged oatmeal. They have not been processed or refined and don’t have any of the added garbage. I keep these in ziploc baggies with truvia and cinnamon in my purse. Finding hot water in an airport or your office is a lot easier than trying to find something healthy to eat!
6. Plain Greek yogurt instead of yogurt with fruit. These “light yogurts” have added sugars AND aspartame!! Add your own fresh fruit with a packet of truvia. And Greek yogurt is packed with protein too!
7. Seltzer water instead of soda. Whether its regular or diet soda, it’s flat out bad for your waistline and your health.
8. Truvia instead of artificial sweeteners. Truvia is a natural sweetener and will not harm your hormones. When I switched from Splenda I lost an extra 3 lbs and my headaches went away!
9. Choose almonds and walnuts over peanuts. Higher in Omega 3s and 6s. But remember to portion them before diving into the bag! Easy to get carried away. Just cause they’re good for you doesn’t mean “all-you-can-eat”.
10. Eat breakfast within 30 min of waking up. “But I’m not hungry!” is not a good excuse. That’s a sign of a metabolism that’s not working for you. You must eat something and slowly train your metabolism to work around the clock.
11. Eat small meals every 2-3 hours. I know you have a hectic life. Guess what, I do too! Set an alarm on your smart phone or computer to remind you to eat. It won’t be long when your own body will signal this for you. This will keep you from overeating and late-night binging as well.
12. Keep 3-5 phone numbers of restaurants you know prepare healthy meals on your speed dial. Avoid the ‘make it a pizza-night’ pitfall!
13. Pack your lunch/snacks and skip the drive thru. If it’s delivered through a window, it ain’t good for you! I pack my meals before I go to bed. No excuses!
14. Cook in bulk and portion and store in plastic containers. I carve out 2 hours on Sundays to do this. It’s actually less time then if I were to cook everyday.
15. Consume complex carbohydrates with protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner (wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potato) This will keep your energy and mood elevated throughout the day. ex. turkey sandwich, oatmeal and eggs, grilled chicken with brown rice and black beans
16. Consume simple carbohydrates snacks with protein in between meals (fruits and vegetables) ex. apple with natural peanut butter, green pepper slices with hummus, greek yogurt with berries.
17. Move everyday! Dance, swim, walk, run, lift, stretch! Everyone can keep a boombox in the kitchen and dance while you’re fixing dinner! YES! It’s THAT EASY!! Exercise does NOT have to be grueling like you see on t.v.
18. Try a new recipe each week. It doesn’t have to be complicated. I have plenty of healthy & simple recipes on my website.
19. 1-2 treat meals a week. Plan them and circle them on your calendar. No deprivation here. Eat what you’ve been craving without any guilt but keep it to that one meal and then go back to your routine. I love to indulge in wine, pizza and ice cream. Yes, all 3…in 1 sitting.
20. Research your restaurants (before you go out to eat study their menu online and decide what you’ll order. Don’t wing it) Chances are you’ll be hungry bythe time you sit to order and that’s never a wise time to choose.
21. Portion control. Invest in an electronic food scale. This is better than any gym membership! Your kitchen is your real gym. Trust me!
22. Read labels (stick with 5 ingredients or less) Supermarkets don’t want you to know all the hidden garbage that keeps you addicted but you have a right to know. Smartphones have an awesome app called ‘fooducate’ Take it with you next time you shop….AMAZING!!!
23. Drink 2-3 liters of water a day if you’re sedentary. More if you’re active and/or drink caffeinated drinks. Dehydration is the number one cause of headaches, aches, pains, wrinkles, saggy skin, lack of energy and body fat retention.
24. Ground lean turkey instead of beef
25. Weed Recognition (cut off people who don’t support your lifestyle)
26. Stretch instead of snack! (watching t.v. at night. move coffee table over and get on the floor and stretch! Keeps your hands busy and it’s good for you!)
27. Olive oil and vinegar instead of creamy dressings
28. Do Not Reward Yourself with food. You’re not a dog.
29. Get up 20 min earlier (feeling rushed can frazzle your entire day and lead to emotional eating to calm your nerves.
30. Skip Happy hour and find a new class at a local gym or studio with your BFF instead. It’s cheaper, more fun and you’ll feel better in the morning!