I don't drink soda, so cutting that out of my diet was easy. Remember, water, water, water!!! If you don't like the taste of it, add some Crystal Light! A lot of the time when you think you're hungry, your body is actually trying to tell you it's dehydrated! So before you go for a snack, have a glass of water! If you're still hungry after that, then go for the snack! If you're a coffee every morning person, don't try to stop it all at once. Use splenda or stevia instead of sugar, skim milk instead of 2% and if you like creamer, there are so many sugar free, fat free, low calorie options available! After eating healthy for a while, your coffee cravings (and need for energy) will decrease!
Sometimes, I come across a diet meal and think, uh I'd rather go hungry than eat that! In which case, I substitute one of the other day's meals for that one! But remember to plan ahead and write in what you are going to eat instead so that you have a clear plan and can prep easily and seamlessly integrate your new eating habits into your daily routine.
Cravings....mmmmm..... fried chicken, mashed potatoes, tacos, mac 'n' cheese, ramen, chocolate, ice cream, cookies..... the list could go on!!! With most of these, there is a healthy substitute that will satisfy the cravings, a corn flake fresh baked chicken breast makes a good substitute for my favorite, fried chicken. Mashed cauliflower has the same texture as potatoes, add some salt pepper and light butter substitute can cure that mashed potato craving. Non fat frozen yogurt when you absolutely need ice cream and an ounce of dark chocolate instead of chowing down on a hershey bar are also good substitutes.
The trick to self control: give in to the small cravings!
That's right! If you absolutely HAVE to have your favorite "bad" food, go for it! Just remember to eat a smaller portion and eat a healthy complementary food first, to help fill you up and feel that satisfaction. The more you try to keep yourself from what you are truly craving, the weaker your self control becomes! This, for me, has lead to weight bounce back, shopping sprees, and depression (which is something I am at a constant battle with). I heard this study on NPR a while back. You only have so much self control, when you use it all up, everything falls apart! Need to buy this one thing and can't resist? Adjust your budget and go for it! Just like everything, moderation is the key. Keep your splurges (whether food or shopping) to a tiny one a day (like 5 M&Ms :) ) or one small one a week (like that new top you just fell in love with) or one big one a month (for me, a cool new gadget! or a purse at TJ Maxx).
MotivationMotivation is one of the hardest things for me! Trying to stay motivated eat healthy and work out regularly requires a lot of mental energy! Luckily, there are a few things to make it easier.
Make dieting easy! Prepped meals and snacks on hand, and a water bottle always at your side make your diet an easier decision over fast food!
Don't Go it Alone! Encouragement from friends, a diet buddy, online communities. There are so many ways to reach out to people outside of your immediate circle these days! Use them! One of my favorite online communities is TeamBeachBody.com (it is brought to you by the people behind P90X and similar exercise videos). You can track your progress, talk to other people, there is also a workout room to see who is working out at the same time as you, and what they're currently working on! You can also schedule when you are going to work out and check off when you do (which enters you into a daily drawing!). I also suggest your facebook friends or twitter (whichever is your thing). Instead of telling them your specific weight information, just tell them you're trying to get healthy and post regular updates on your status. You'll be surprised who comments their support! There's also the old fashioned method... chances are you have a friend or family member trying to lose weight too! Get together and hold each other accountable! Share ideas and go on walks together!
The Light at the End of the Tunnel! Setting goals and achieving them is one of the best self esteem boosters you can find! Set small goals and reward yourself for achieving them! Every 10 lbs, buy an outfit (or give in to one of your cravings!) Keep in mind the ultimate goal! Feeling and looking better (oh yeah, and being healthier too). Start saving money for your final reward, whether its a wardrobe or a beach vacation (in a new bikini). Or in my case, my wedding day and walking down the isle to the love of my life looking beautiful in my dream gown!
Negative Motivation to Avoid: Don't post pictures of beautiful models everywhere you look! This creates an unrealistic goal that you will surely fail to accomplish. Don't try to starve yourself! Eat healthy meals that fill you up! (high fiber vegetables and healthy carbs like brown rice are very filling) This serves a double purpose, it gives your body healthy food to boost your metabolism and keep your systems running smoothly, it also leaves less room for those bad foods you might otherwise give in to. Don't set unrealistic goals! Healthy weight loss is 2-3 pounds per 2 weeks... it may not sound like a lot, but following that guideline for your goal will lead to longer lasting results.
Most importantly, find a routine that works for you and your schedule. Don't be afraid to modify plans! Make a list of your favorite things and incorporate them into your weight loss plan! This will provide long lasting results and keep you motivated!