Before I was getting married last spring I wanted to lose ten pounds. I never have been overweight but slowly I gained some pounds over the years. I figured that I needed about six months to achieve this in order to make it last more than one day (my wedding day) and I started to think of a plan. First I looked at what I actually ate during the day for a week or so.
I usually eat healthy meals and only drink water, tea and two cups of coffee a day so that wasn’t really where I could benefit. On closer examination I found that my sweet tooth was the first thing to tackle.
At work there always is an open box of cookies I would dip into once or twice a day and I would love to order a muffin or some other pastries with my coffee. Also I noticed that we were having dinner at around 7.30 pm every day, I would eat relative big portions and ‘taste’ a lot while cooking.
Besides that I found out that although I only drink coffee, tea and water I wouldn’t get the recommended 8-ounce glasses (2 liters) a day and also that we were having a glass of wine almost every day with dinner.
Then I realized that my ‘snacking’ during the day would occur always when I was hungry with nothing else around than cookies or dinner ingredients.
So my plan was to cut out the sweets and pastries during the day, drink more tea and water and eat less at dinner time.
In order to make this work I figured I had to find something that would satisfy my cravings during and at the end of the day. At work I noticed that at the end of the morning and in the middle of the afternoon I would feel an itch in my stomach and I would almost automatically get up to get something to eat.
I needed to find a snack that was healthy and would have calories than the cookies. I decided I would take a lot of different fruits to work and vary every day. So I started with an apple and a pear, the next day I brought a fruit salad, another time I brought nectarines, plums and cherries or peaches, apricots and raspberries and now that wintertime is approaching I bring oranges.
At the start it was hard to let the cookies be and focus on fruit but it did satisfy my sweet tooth and after one or two weeks I even started to like the taste and prefer it over the cookies.
The second part was the late afternoon, before dinner snacking while cooking. I found that since I eat some fruits before going home my extreme cravings were less but still the fridge was tempting me.
So I decided to stock up with many different kinds of (unsalted) nuts and some dried fruits. When I come home now I open a box of nuts and eat some during cooking. The funny thing is that they taste great and you don’t have to eat much to feel satisfied.
In order to eat less at dinner I decided to greatly reduce my starch/grain intake during dinner. I love breads and believe in a balanced diet so I wouldn’t cut out grains completely but I did feel full and bloated a lot after dinner and I expected that less potatoes, pasta and rice and more vegetables, fish, poultry and the occasional piece of meat would make me feel better and help me lose some weight.
In order to make this work I experimented with using garlic, fresh herbs from our garden and cooking with different vegetables at a time. I started to use beans, chickpeas and lentils instead of rice, pasta and potatoes and I got my inspiration from Jamie Oliver, and other cookbooks that provide easy to prepare and to adjust recipes.
The fifth and final change was that I decided to drink more water and tea and less alcohol. I would save the glass of red wine for the weekends and would take a little water bottle to work and put it on my desk as a reminder.
I would experiment with different flavours of tea and an occasional cup of coffee at work. When I was craving for a salty snack I would drink some instant chicken or herb bouillon broth on occasion.
I was very strict with myself and promised that my first goal was to stick with this regime for one month and I would not change anything else or do anything else than this.
In the beginning it was hard but I love challenges and it all was for a good cause. I would see myself in my wedding dress looking radiant and the funny thing was people supported me when I would explain to them why I wouldn’t eat the cookies or cake they offered to me.
Before everyone would tell me that I didn’t need to lose weight and I should not spoil the (e.g. their) fun by not joining in. The getting ready for my wedding quest seemed to spark lots of understanding with my fellow females making it much easier to persist.
After one week I lost two pounds and after the first month I lost four pounds and I felt good. Also I felt I had less stomach cramps, felt less bloated and I was motivated to embark on a second month. The second month I lost another four pounds and after the third month I faced the challenge of maintaining the weight loss until the wedding and forever…
Now, six months after the wedding I am maintaining my weight on six pounds less than my starting weight which means I can be a little less strict with myself and still feel great.
If you want to lose some pounds in a healthy way just try these five steps and slowly make a lifestyle change:
1. Look at your eating habits for a week, record what you are eating and review after one week. What is causing you to eat unhealthy, what is most likely causing weight gain and what could be replaced with something healthier?
2. Replace cookies, chips, sweets, pastries, candy(bars) with fruits, vegetables and nuts
3. Replace sugary drinks and soda’s with water, (green, white, black) tea or coffee (in moderate amounts up to three cups a day and one cup a day when pregnant and without sugar, high fat creams, flavorings and syrups) and drink around 8 ounce-glasses (2 liters) a day.
4. Drink alcohol in moderation, once or twice a week, preferably red wine
5. Eat an early and light dinner with mostly vegetables, legumes, lean meats, poultry and fish and little potatoes, grains, processed and read meats.