I'm pushing 50 (this year) and beginning to realize how precious and fleeting life can be. With 4 of my 5 kids still living at home, I want to do everything in my power to be here for my family for as long as the good Lord allows me to be.
My first realization that I'm not getting any younger came to me in 2011, when I was diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea due to or aggravated by my weight. After a long heart-to-heart talk with the family, I confirmed my decision to have Gastric Sleeve surgery. You may have followed my weight-loss journey since then, or this may be the first time you've heard about it … understand, I did not make that decision lightly. And although I've lost a total of 81 lbs. to date … now more than a year into my journey, I've hit a plateau — a complete standstill — with 40+ lbs left to go.
I've set my goals for 2013 to include healthier eating, better exercise habits, taking time for myself, and allowing others to help me. That and procrastination are two of my biggest stumbling blocks.
I am determined to continue and achieve losing the last 40 lbs., but more importantly, I really want to be healthy and feel good inside and out.
I am by no means an expert, but I hope that my own personal goals and tips that I've learned along the way will help even one of you to "make a better you" in the new year.
1) Better Food Choices - For the most part, I eat fairly healthy. Although I have begun to skip meals again lately .. not a good thing. With my new position at work, I barely have time to breath, let alone eat the small meals I've grown accustomed to having since my weight-loss surgery. One thing I learned from my bariatric doctor is that you must EAT in order to lose weight. Of course, that doesn't mean you feed your face with whatever goodies you desire.
You still have to eat in moderation and make better food choices. Including an assortment of lean meats, legumes and beans, whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, and drinking lots of water can be one of the keys to your success. That doesn't mean you have to give up all that is fattening, gooey, and sweet in your life — you just have to adjust when and how much of it you eat.
Substituting just one of these food types per meal for a healthier choice (ie: water instead of soda for lunch, fresh fruit instead of a sweet dessert at dinner, crunchy raw veggies and low-fat dip instead of potato chips and onion dip for snack) can help you to obtain your goal much more quickly.
2) Meal Planning and Food Prep – This is a huge one for me! Since I work outside the home 5 days a week, I need to pack a nice lunch and have one or two high-energy, low-fat snacks to carry me through the day. Easier said than done. Most days, I don't plan ahead, and usually end up leaving for work without having breakfast (a big no-no). And because I forget to pack, I end up not eating lunch or even worse – ordering out. Not only does that cut into my tight budget, but most of the time, I am not ordering the foods that I should be eating.
My goal this year is to prepare my meals and snacks ahead of time, so I can simply grab and go… while still sticking to my diet. I've found that if I don't wash, chop, and bag my fresh vegetables after shopping, they either rot away and/or I tend to not eat them as much, because I "don't have time" to prepare them. I'm also going to try cooking in batches each week, so I can be ahead of the game.
The chef hubby isn't as "enthusiastic" about cooking each night like he used to be, and he also prepares much heavier "restaurant-style" meals, so I've taken over doing most of the cooking lately. Homemade low-fat soups, baked oatmeal, high-protein salads, and fruit and vegetable smoothies are some of the yummy foods I have listed on my menu plan.
3) More Physical Activity – Another "chore" for me. When I was young, I was a gymnast, on the dance/drill team, and ran track. I was always active. And the funny thing is — I actually feel so much better when I do exercise. So, why is it so hard for some of us to do as we get older? Again.. procrastination rears it's ugly head.
"Why do today what I can put off until tomorrow." That has been my motto for many years, but I am looking to change it this year to "Failure teaches success."
If you screw up, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. If I forget or don't have time to walk one day — that's okay. I'll push a little harder the next day. Be sure to choose activities that interest you too. If you don't like yoga, you're not going to do it .. simple as that. If you love the outdoors, take a walk outside instead of on your treadmill. You may find that you walk longer and further. If you love to dance, then do just that! Crank up the music, grab your hunny or the kids, and shake that bootie!
However, you decide to get your exercise in, remember … it ALL counts!
4) Stress Less and Sleep More – It's a fact that stress and sleep deprivation can lead to overeating. I don't stress these days as much as I did years ago, but even a little stress can through you off kilter. Deep breathing, counting to ten, and even exercise can help relieve some of your stress. Hiding out in the bathroom works pretty well too. Instead of taking out your disappointments and frustrations with food (which you'll hate yourself for later), indulge in a long, hot bath or shower, take a nap, or visit a friend. Get your mind off what ever is causing the stress, so you can focus.
Getting enough sleep is another tough one for me. I am a true night-owl and have learned to live on 3-4 hours of sleep a night. I have to remember that I am NOT Super-Woman — as much as I and others may think so. Working a day job, blogging and designing at night, and taking care of home, family, and responsibilities in between means that I have to squeeze in as much as I can in a day. But, that can lead to a tired, irritable, and not-so-happy mommy. So, my goal this year is to get at least 6-7 hours of good sleep a night.
5) Make (and Keep) Doctor Appointments – I am so bad at this one.. I can't even tell you. It's not that I'm scared of doctors. I just have "more important" things to do. Yeah, really?! If you don't take care of yourself, you won't be here to do those "more important" things for long. I found out the hard way a couple years ago when I kept putting off going to the gynecologist.
My "monthly friend" was visiting longer and longer until I finally had to be hospitalized — not once, but twice — because I had become severely anemic from excessive blood loss. After 4 blood transfusions, I ended up having a total hysterectomy. The procedure didn't really affect me — I was 46 at the time and was not planning to have any more kids, so I was okay with it. I think the condition of my health scared me more than anything — the emergency room doctor couldn't believe that I had actually driven myself to the hospital, as I was THIS CLOSE to having a heart attack due to the low oxygen levels caused by the anemia.
I am making it a point this year of scheduling my doctor appointments well in advance — before an emergency arises. Not only that, but regular visits give me a peace of mind that I'm in good shape and will be around for my children and grandchildren for a long time.
Want More Tips?
- Be realistic, stay focused and motivated, and track your progress. Tell everyone you know about your healthy living goals, as this makes you accountable to others, as well as yourself, and helps you stick to your goals.
- Team up with a good friend or family member, who has the same goals as you, and work toward them together. Cook a light meal, go for a walk, hit the gym, be positive and supportive of each other.
- Weigh in, but no more than once per week. The average person's weight tends to fluctuate by a few pounds each day due to water and salt retention, so weighing yourself daily is not an accurate measure. You will only disappoint yourself when the numbers go up. And set small goals. Saying "I want to lose 20 lbs" sounds much more doable than "I want to lose 100 lbs" .. even if you do need to lose that much, you are more likely to stick to your goal when you concentrate on the smaller number.
- Get off the couch and start living! Join the kids outside for a quick game or two, head to the park and climb the monkey bars, or do something you haven't done in years — roller skate, swim, go bowling. The point is to get up and get active!
- Evaluate your "bad" behaviors – procrastination, skipping meals, not drinking enough water, being too "busy" to exercise can all contribute to your downfall. Make a to-do list or keep a food/fitness journal to record your progress, give yourself reminders, and encourage you to push through.
- You've worked hard to achieve your goals! It's time to treat yourself — but not with food. Instead, buy yourself a beautiful bouquet of flowers, indulge in a pampering pedicure, purchase a flattering top to show off your new figure. Whatever it is, do it for YOU — you deserve it.
What healthy living changes are you making in 2013?