Saturday, February 11, 2012

Six Secrets to Staying (or getting!) Slim

I know what it's like to feel, well, chunky. I gained a lot of weight with each pregnancy, only to have to work hard to get back into my clothes. It's no surprise to anyone, I'm sure, that it's easier to lose the weight when you haven't held onto it for years and years. But I'm posting how I succeeded in losing the weight, and the key to how I've kept it off.

Like everyone, I gain and lose a few pounds week to week. Our bodies are adept at knowing when we need to pad our bodies (for cold winters, preparing for ovulation, etc.) and when to let it go. But I have pretty much stayed the same size and weight since high school, and that's over twenty years, folks! I've had to change my strategy over the years, though, because what I could eat in my twenties is vastly different from what I put into my body now. My metabolism isn't the same, and that's biological. Sure, I exercise. But when I was twenty-two, I didn't have to exercise regularly and with such intensity.

That said, let me move on to my rules. They're the ones that work for me, and they might work for you, too. Some I've mentioned on my blog before. Some are new.

1) I do not consume soda. Why? Extra calories, for one thing. Calories I don't need. If I want a punch of caffeine, I have coffee or tea with very little added sugar (about a half a teaspoon). Twenty years ago I was dumping three heaping teaspoons into my tea. I gag thinking about that now. But what had happened was that I slowly became addicted to the sugar. I began drinking tea in my teens, and I started out with a teaspoon of sugar. But then I became used to it and no longer could tell if it was sweetened or not. In order to taste it, I needed to add a little more. When I was in my early thirties, I decided to break that habit. I started out by going cold turkey. No sugar at all. After awhile, I added a little bit of sugar (the half teaspoon). I could taste the sweetness! I never looked back. Before I was pregnant with my first child, I drank soda regularly. But I was told to avoid caffeine, so soda was out of the question, except for the occasional caffeine free Coke. Eventually all carbonated drinks gave me heartburn. Water and tea was all I could drink. After a few months, I didn't miss it. Today I believe it's one of the reasons I have been able to keep my weight down.

2) I eat cheese and crackers as a snack once a day. I know, I know. What's a gal with high cholesterol doing consuming cheese? But the truth is, I detest milk, and cheese is the best way to get a little calcium in my diet. Why is it on my list of weight tips? Because the protein in the cheese fills me up. I might eat eight low-fat Ritz crackers and a small block of cheese, and I'm good for hours. Not a lot of calories, but keeps me sated.

3) I make sure I get my exercise. Three times a week (four if I'm highly motivated), at least an hour each time. It's my "me" time. I go to the YMCA and watch TV (I don't watch it at home). I sweat and push myself. I do weights (Very important tip here! Building muscle helps to keep weight off! Spend twenty minutes three times a day on your will not regret it.)

4) I rarely eat out. I cook at home. Even chowing down on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is better than diner or fast food. Why? Salt. Restaurants fill food with salt and it a) makes you thirsty so you drink more (terrible if you're drinking the soda) and b) makes you eat more. Eating salty foods makes you want to eat MORE salty foods. Think about it this way: when you're eating movie popcorn, how hard is it to put that bucket down and stop eating it? Even when you know you are full! Your taste buds love salt. They crave it. The more salt in your food, the more you will want to eat. Plus, when you eat at home, you know what fats are going into your body, and you won't be enticed by french fries and fried chicken. Most of us don't have fryers at home, and if we do, they're a pain to clean so we don't fry our food every night. Which brings me to my next point.

5) I avoid all fried food. Oh sure, occasionally I'll steal a french fry from my son's plate at Chili's, but I order soup and salad or a veggie burger when we go out. Once in a while I will treat myself to something fattening, but it's rare. And we don't hit up fast food places when we go out except for a special treat for the boys. And I order the salad and a small order of fries. Oh, and I do love their fruit and oatmeal. Get it without the maple and brown sugar topping, and you cut out calories without skimping on too much taste.

6) The last thing I do to stay slim is I snack on fruit. Ravenous? Eat a banana or an apple. It will help you eat less when you have your next meal. Filling up on blueberries is better than grabbing a handful of mini Oreos. Oh, and I try not to keep cookies around. If I want cookies, I have to make them from scratch. Makes me think twice about how badly I want them. Keep fruit available, not store-bought sweets. But keep ingredients for making cookies available. If you deprive yourself, you will be miserable and eat to feel happy.

Okay, that's it in a nutshell. Six simple secrets. Try these for a month, see what happens. I'll bet you'll find it's not so hard after all.

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