When I began my Healthy Weight journey in February this year, my goal was very specifically to get moving again… and all the hard work that has gone into that has started to pay off. We had a walking holiday recently and I did not dread it, in fact I enjoyed it and my new found fitness meant that our family were asking me for breaks… which is quite the reverse of me a year ago, when any walk was actually me getting from one look-out bench to the next. There is a dramatic change in how I feel about getting outdoors and doing stuff. I have always loved it, I have always hiked… but this is a new level of fitness, and it really is just ordinary exercising. The elite athlete inside of me has definitely got up and gone, but hikes that took me all day now literally take half the day. I am able to say yes to so many more things than I ever imagined. And I am saying yes.
Being healthy is not only about weight loss
The surprising thing for me was when I started this journey, most folk thought I was there to lose weight… that wasn’t my goal. I kind of hoped it would happen… but didn’t think it would. Honestly I was there to get moving, I was so unfit and I just wanted to enable myself to live more freely. I ate a healthy diet and after having a gang of kids I assumed that the weight I had gained with each pregnancy and never lost in between, was here to stay. For the first six weeks of the Healthy Weight Beginner Programme I lost almost nothing. By the end of the programme I had lost about 1.5kg; not exactly winning the Greatest Loser competition. I did however lose an accumulated 30 cm from all over my body and that immediately had a dramatic effect on how I felt about life.
It was only about half way through the Healthy Weight Intermediate Programme that I started to consistently lose half a kilogram a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less… but averaging out about half a kilogram a week… Can I say out loud that I am thrilled… and that I never really expected that at all. I am not on a special diet, there are no magic tricks and though I have a meeting with my dietitian every week, she has never prescribed anything specific. When I signed up and had my initial meeting with my dietitian I told her what we ate as family, she made a few snack suggestions and we left it at that. So many people think since I am with the Sport Science Programme, I must be on a special and strict diet… that couldn’t be further from the truth. The thing is we all know how to eat healthily… but we don’t. And we don’t even realise it. It was only during a sleep study, as part of the Healthy Weight Programme, that we had to keep a food diary. As I filled in my diary I realised that I had key times of day that weren’t mealtimes, that I found myself eating away. In fact, by the time I got to most meals of the day I wasn’t even hungry. It was only when I started writing it down that I became aware of how much I was eating in between meals.
Se7en Healthy Eating Tricks That Have Worked For Me
1. Get Out Of The Kitchen Already:
This was the first change I made, when I discovered just how much I was tasting while I was preparing food. This was by far my biggest trap. Just by cooking double or triple size meals and freezing two of them means that I will be spending less time in the kitchen. The less time spent, for me, preparing food the better. Another trick not to taste everything while I am cooking is to snack on a fruit while I am cooking. I don’t like how tasting the cooking spoils the flavour of the apple I am eating and I just don’t taste the cooking then.
2. Stop Eating When You Have Had Enough:
If I have eaten something late in the afternoon and I am not hungry at dinner time then I don’t actually have to have an entire plate of dinner, in fact if I am not hungry then I don’t have to eat anything then. I am not going to die if I don’t have dinner, I am not going to suffer later on in the evening… I am simply not hungry enough to eat anything. Otherwise, in the past when we went out for dinner, we would want to make the most of it and get as much as we could for our money… but over the last few weeks my husband and I have learnt that we would rather get home feeling comfortable and just choose to eat something smaller that we really want to eat, and enjoy the fact that someone else is cooking it well and cleaning up.
3. Break Away From A Culture Of Food Rewards:
We live in a culture of rewards… I sit down at my desk, so I’ll give myself a little reward to get my brain into work gear. We go out for coffee with a friend and have a treat, we may not be hungry but we deserve it. I have changed my reward… when I settle down to work in the evening I have a cup of rooibos tea next to me… if I work well then I am rewarded with an early night and I will feel fabulous getting up for gym the next day. It’s that simple, change your rewards… if I do something great I do reward myself, but it might be half an hour reading a book, or a walk on the beach with the kids instead of a treat to eat.
4. Get To Bed Early:
I didn’t start to lose weight at all until I had gotten my sleep habits under control. A Lot of people don’t know that too little sleep is a trigger for weight gain. What I didn’t realise is that going to bed earlier means that I don’t have another snack before bedtime. I just head to bed when I am finished working for the day. I am satisfied. And that is a whole evening of snacking at my computer that I no longer have in my day.
5. Don’t Eat Anything You Don’t Like, Ever:
Don’t waste your daily food input on food you don’t even like. I attend quite a few functions and I have discovered that it is okay to say no-thank you to food you don’t like. All those little morsels that taste like nothing and appear slightly undefined… well, you needn’t eat them. No thank you. Be polite, be consistent and say no. My husband loves crisps and I really don’t like them that much, but for years I have sat on the couch in the evening eating crisps with him… it is a social thing… now I sit on the couch and read to wind down for bed… it is still spending time together. But I don’t have to eat anything that I don’t like.
6. Don’t Lose All The Treats:
When we finish a family hike we always share a soda together, it is our moment of triumph. We hike about once a week… so a weekly glass of soda is not the end of the world. Now I just pour mine in a really small glass… I enjoy the treat, but it doesn’t have to be huge. When my hubs and I go shopping for the groceries together we used to reward each other with a chocolate… mission accomplished and all that. Now we share a chocolate and really it is enough. I still take my kids out for ice-cream, but one scoop instead of two. It’s enough, it’s great in fact.
7. Results Beget Results:
It takes a short while before you start feeling great after a workout, for the longest time I just felt tired. Really tired, after every single workout. But that changed and I know it sounds crazy but after those initial weeks of “This had better be working,” I now finish workouts feeling somewhat victorious. I don’t want to miss that. Now I will do anything to have a great workout… if that means eating a smaller dinner and getting to bed, without a midnight snack then so be it. Once you start losing weight, it’s a great feeling to continue to lose weight… I have to say that some of the food choices I make are because I want to get that great feeling that you get when you do things well.
The thing is, you don’t have to rearrange your whole life, or your diet… you don’t have to go on a special diet and eat only one particular thing, or give up almost everything… you do not have to live on a sliver of food once a day. You just have to be realistic. Realistically I am working out for an hour a day, six days a week… to do that I can realistically eat whatever I want in moderation. You do have to eat less and you do have to exercise more, and you do have to sleep. We all know what to do, the surprising thing is that when we do it, it actually works!!!
Achieve your personal best with SSISA
For more information about the SSISA Healthy Weight Programme, where Se7en started her journey, head over to the webpage: https://www.ssisa.com/project/healthy-weight-programme-sports-science-institute-sa/