Cue the dancing Oompa Loompas and whiny, entitled children that entertained me as a kid in the fantasy that was Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Years later (and after working for the WONKA brand), I am still intrigued by all of these ideas, but from the perspective of a grown adult. Why do we believe we should be able to ‘have it all’, as the saying goes, and what does that mean for any one person? For me,among other ideas, it is a daily battle between my need for sweets (I was a candy hoarder as a child, those who knew me will confirm this!) and my desire to lead a more healthy lifestyle, not only to set a good example for my girls, but, let’s be honest, because I want my clothes to fit and maintain my figure.
Growing up, I was enrolled in every sport imaginable (as were my brothers) so my mother could maintain her sanity (oh, and we learned teamwork and refined our athletic abilities). I never worried about what I ate and I can clearly recall times when half a package of Oreos was dinner, or my brother and I would compete to see who could finish off their footlong sub the fastest (don’t you go doubting me). When I entered college and had to rely on only my cravings and the offerings of Buckeye Express (can we talk about the MUCH BETTER OPTIONS Ohio State offers students these days?! Jealous!), let’s just say it did not go well for me, my skin, or my body. While I was lucky that we walked EVERYWHERE and that campus was a sprawling metropolis, I did put on weight my freshman year. I fluctuated up and down by about 10 lbs throughout college until I picked up some pointers from my aunt (and her love of filtered water), my best friends and their love of the gym (ugh…), and of course, living in L.A. where EVERYONE was healthier than me (except on Taco Tuesdays).
So, here’s what I did:
I stopped drinking soda
Kicking that habit was difficult, it was delicious and woke me up each morning, but in its place I put tea that is delicious, has basically zero calories and I still get my caffeine fix. Over the last few years, I have become fixated on matcha tea like the Matcha Matsu option from David’s Tea and cannot live without my morning mug! It’s not cheap, so I try to stock up when they run sales!
The added benefits of green/matcha tea are that they are packed full of antioxidants, and are touted to boost your metabolism, helping your body burn calories more efficiently. Another benefit is that they are said to enhance your mood while lowering stress levels, and I most definitely need all the help I can get!
I started drinking water.
I drink anywhere from 6-8 cups of water a day, sometimes more. I down a water bottle full if I workout, then refill and do another water bottle like this Contigo option during my school day, as well as water or lemonade (I prefer these Crystal Lite packets for dinner). It is amazing how just this addition/substitution can curb your appetite for sweets (most of the time).
I learned portion control.
Before I gave birth to my oldest daughter, I eyeballed servings. I had no clue that the two cups of pasta I was plopping on my plate should have only been a ½ cup. No wonder I would have to roll myself to the couch each night! I struggled with weight loss after giving birth until my mom suggested the free app, SparkPeople, which I added to my phone to track my eating, water, and weight loss. One note, it has the ability to track your workouts as well, but it takes forever to enter in lifting, etc. so I just would enter in how much time I spent working out and if it was cardio, legs, or arms in general.
I know there are a variety of websites that help people track food, this is just the one that miraculously kept me on track. I became a bit obsessed with keeping my calories in check and if I wanted dessert that night, I held myself accountable for working out extra that day, nothing huge, just an extra walk around our development in the evening, or even 20 minutes of light strength training. The weight fell off, I kid you not. I was shocked and amazed.
I do not diet.
I think it’s a bad idea, for me at least. I have heard over the years that you have to instead make a lifestyle change, and so that is what I (we) have done. My husband is the typical male. He will eat whatever is set in front of him (so long as it is gluten free). I, on the other hand, am the picky eater. But, I want my kids to like vegetables, so I eat them, and I have learned ways to make them taste less bland. Additionally, if I want previously mentioned fast food that costs me dearly in calories, I have learned to make it at home, and most times I am able to cut the calorie content in half without sacrificing taste. In proactively researching calorie content before we would go to dinner, I can plan out my day and make sure I am not overeating. If I am craving chocolate, I will typically allow myself a handful of dark chocolate chips (supposed to be better for you, but I just prefer the taste!) or a fudgesicle. The Giant Eagle brand has options that are sugar free and 40 calories. Perfect end of the evening snack! Some of my favorite dinner indulgences to make at home are:
- Chicken and Spinach Flautas (or taquitos, to me!)
- Chik-Fil-A copy cat recipe (I’m not joking when I say we make this almost weekly; It’s THAT good!
- Cookie Dip
Whenever I start trying to come up with excuses for staying in bed or skipping a workout, I think- no one has ever felt worse after working out. So most days, I tumble out of bed at 4:50 and get to it. I workout during the school year for about 30 minutes, 3-4 days a week. I try (not always successfully) to stay focused and get as much as possible out of that time. I prefer morning workouts because I am mentally and physically exhausted when I get home from work, not to mention my focus at that point is getting dinner on the table and spending time with my family. By the time the girls are asleep, it is the LAST thing I want to do. I also believe it sets me up for making better food choices throughout the day, knowing I did something positive for my body. I mix up my exercises regularly. Some days I will dedicate to just lifting or body weight movements, other times I will go for a walk, run sprints in front of my house (my husband and I turn it into a competition. One that I am sure my neighbors are confused by at this time of day), pilates videos, or youtube 10 minute workouts. I have included some of my go-to exercises here, but you can also check out my pinterest page for workouts at coolasbise/workouts, that way I always keeping my body guessing and I don’t get bored. I’m currently reading and attempting to at least loosely follow the book Thinner, Leaner, Stronger as Justin feels it’s the best option for women to build lean muscle. I will keep you updated and let you know if I agree.
I have been using Pick Your Spot Pilates for years, and it is a good workout, but a better way to stretch and strengthen. I typically do it once or twice a week.
Favorite Youtube exercises: Teddy Bass is my hero. I learned about him from reading Cameron Diaz’ Body Book, (which also is helpful in getting toned and losing weight) as he has trained her in the past. He will whip your butt in 10 minutes (or less, if you are me, who starts swearing at him somewhere between the 5 minute mark). He has at least 4-5 10 minute videos and they are all worthwhile! Here are my favorites:
Finally, when I can barely drag myself from my warm, comfy bed, (but eventually guilt trip myself into getting up) I do a pretty simple and quick workout, that wakes me up and makes me feel good about my efforts. Typically I only do one round, but you can do multiple rounds or combine this with a brief walk on the treadmill. I found this workout a few years ago online, and cannot remember the link, but here is the gist of it:
- 50 jumping jacks
- 25 leg lifts (each side)
- 50 crunches
- 25 bicycle crunches
- 30-40 calf raises
- 100 arm circles (I do 50x large circles and 50x small)
- 25 regular squats
- 15 sumo squats
- 15 push ups
- 1 minute plank
The above circuit can be done 2-3x through, depending on time and ability.
Lastly, if you have a bad day, where you skip your workout, or you eat terribly, don’t beat yourself up. Chalk it up to learning, prepare for next time, and start over the following day!
Whew! That was a whirlwind of a post from me! Let me know what helps you stay on track. I would love to hear what works for you!