1. Watching calories. Notice I said watching calories, not counting them. Counting seems really impossible to do unless you eat out all the time and can find calorie counts online or you eat from a box and can find the numbers on the back. It's too hard to keep track of all the calories in all the ingredients in a recipe, then figure how much of each would be in a serving.
Something I noticed yesterday: a side salad from Wendy's has 35 calories. Add a regular (not low-fat or fat free) dressing to that and the numbers go up dramatically. My favorite is honey mustard dressing, which adds 250 calories! I often get an order of chicken nuggets to cut up and mix in with my salad. Well, that adds another 230 calories! By the time I've finished my "healthy" lunch and am feeling good about making better choices, I've just consumed 515 calories that I don't need. (Calorie counts found at The Daily Plate. HT: one of Cindy's readers who posted a comment.)
2. Walking a 20-minute mile at the gym each week. By the time I'm finished with my entire workout, I've actually walked a mile and a half, but the first thing I do when I get there is walk a 20-minute (or under!) mile. (Yesterday I did a mile in 18.5 minutes, and I was feeling it all the way. Thankfully I had recharged my iPod, so I had some great upbeat tunes to keep me at my pace.) After my big walk, I do a little upper body circuit training (more to come on that) and walk an additional .5-.6 miles between and after sets.
3. Circuit training at the gym each week. I read somewhere recently that to lose weight effectively, you need to focus on your whole body, not just the problem areas. I also read that strength training not only helps with weight loss but with reshaping the body. When I was working with weight equipment during my last long stretch of going to the gym regularly, I could really tell a difference.
Unfortunately, I've only been focusing on my upper body in my circuit training. I have a bad knee and too many squats or leg extensions put me in a bind. Still I don't need to exclude my lower body. I figure my walking pace does some good, but I need a little more. Yesterday at the library I checked out a couple of books on exercising: Ten-Minute Tone-Ups for Dummies and Strength Training for Women. I'm hoping to get some guidance on developing an effective lower body workout from them.
I know I've mentioned that I like to play racquetball, and that puts a lot of strain on the knees. In fact, that's how I injured mine in the first place. When I know I'm going to be doing something that stresses that joint, I wear my knee brace, but it's just not something I want to have to wear all the time.
4. Doing crunches a few mornings a week. I need to do better in this area. First I need to be more committed to doing them, to get into a routine and stick with it rather than just doing them when I feel like it or when I have a little extra time in the mornings. I also need to do more than just crunches. There are plenty of other exercises I can do at home and not have to rely on going to the gym.
5. Drinking more water. I never drink coffee or alcohol, and I rarely drink juice or soft drinks, so I don't have to worry about all the calories that come along with them. My morning drink of choice is 1% milk (100 calories per 8 ounces), or maybe a cup of hot chocolate if I'm feeling chilled to the bone. The rest of the time, I drink water. Still I don't drink enough of it. I usually don't have my first glass of it until lunch, which isn't good. I need to drink at least 2 glasses before lunch, 1 with it, 2 in the afternoon, 1 with supper, and 2 sometime before I go to bed. That makes the 8 recommended. Now I just need to do it. I figure I'd be better at it if I had a visual reminder, a chart to mark off or something. Maybe tally marks on my wall calendar...
6. Consuming only water between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. I've done this for a long time, though I occasionally slip up - usually when we're out of town. But I've come to realize that when I do slip up, I can just as easily start over with it. It's not an all-or-nothing deal.
7. Snacking smarter. It's almost like the boys watch the clock. Rather their bodies are like clocks. They'll ask, "Is it snack time yet?" and I'll see that it's 10:30-ish - snack time. I get them something, and I have a little something for myself. Afternoon snacks used to be at 4:00, when Jacob got up from his nap, but since he's no longer doing that (a blessing and a curse!), they snack sometime between 3:00 and 3:30. I get them something, and I have a little something for myself again. I've noticed that when they're out of town, I don't snack nearly as much. I get busy doing other things, not watching the clock to make sure they get their snack on time and don't throw off the next meal.
I know I need to have a little something to ward of the hunger so I'm not absolutely starving by the time I do eat my next meal. I just need to pay attention to what I do have. I need to choose low-fat yogurt or string cheese or a handful of nuts instead of chips or cookies or Little Debbies.
8. Cooking healthier. I've been doing this for quite a while. I try to stay away from a lot of pre-packaged foods, though we do indulge in chili-cheese corn dogs every once in a while... I usually make my own pizzas, crust included, instead of eating frozen ones. When we have chicken pot pie, it's homemade. Well, not the crust... But I do my best to stay away from all those additives and preservatives that our bodies don't need. I also try to cut the fat out of a lot of things by using low-fat or fat-free ingredients when I can. I cut the fat from meats by trimming them before I cook them, and I cut excess fat from my ground beef, when I use it, by running it under very hot water after it's cooked.
9. Eating smaller portions. This is my biggie! I love food in general, and if it's something I really like, I want more of it. I need to learn to be satisfied with one portion. One thing that would make smaller portions easier, if I'd just do it, would be to pay more attention to my menu plan for the week. If I'm cooking something that I really enjoy eating on a particular day, I should eat less at other meals so I can afford to have a little more later.
I shouldn't have too much trouble eating smaller portions at lunch. Most days we eat lunch at home, and it's usually a sandwich. I get tired of eating them every day, and it's getting to the point where I don't eat a whole one anymore because of that. I should just start making myself half a sandwich and filling in the rest with carrot sticks or apple slices.
10. Moving more. This isn't quite the same thing as exercising. When I talk about moving more, I mean getting off my bottom and doing things. I've cleaned out my closet. I've straightened the boys' room and closet. Their play room is next on my list, and that'll be quite an undertaking. I still have a few boxes stashed here and there that I need to go through as well. I've started making the boys' beds each morning, and that's quite an undertaking. Making Caleb's top bunk is a workout in itself! Whenever I change his sheets, I end up working up quite a sweat!
11. Allowing myself to have small treats. I'm not depriving myself of the sweets I love. If I did, I know I'd get so crazy for some that I'd binge. If I have two Hershey's Mint Truffle Kisses or a small handful of M&Ms a day, that's okay. I just need to be sure I don't go overboard.
Okay, that's all I can come up with so far. I have gotten a few recommendations, though:
12. Wearing a pedometer. How would that work with just staying in the house all day? I don't think I'd get enough walking done to account for much. Besides, my steps in the house wouldn't be the same as steps when I actually walk. I'll have to check into that.
13. Having dressing on the side instead of on top of my salad. I used to do this some, but I think I quit because it was just easier to have it on top. Still, it would be a good thing to get back to doing. When I eat salad at Wendy's, I could just squeeze some dressing into a ketchup cup and dip into that. That way I could still have my honey mustard dressing. Or I could order a low-fat or fat-free dressing and pour on top.