So we’ve come to the next task and question for our 90-day weight-loss and health challenge. The dreaded 4-letter word: DIET. But let’s not think of it as dieting, but rather making better food choices that lead to better health and lost weight!
I want to tell you a story. I have been overweight for a while. Before marriage, I was extremely fit! I ran all of the time and lifted weights; I was thin (Cassie told me to write that) and I was healthy…you know the story. Then I got married. My exercise fell off and healthy eating became a total joke. But my previous “fit” lifestyle seemed to help me for quite some time adding to the fact that we were a fairly active newly married couple (I mean we also were active in getting into over $100K of consumer debt that first 3 years of marriage!). I gained weight and lost muscle mass and tone. But it wasn’t horrible.
Then the next 10-years went by – five (almost six) kids have been brought into our lives. I have a desk job. I run side businesses where I sit as it is all computer based. And although my kids are active and little, when the majority of my day is sitting and sedentary, the weight piled on! I had spurts of doing well with exercise and sometimes those “crash diets” that honestly never really did much for me – especially those that were so strict that I fell off the band wagon pretty quickly.
Dieting has never really been my thing besides those few attempted “crash diets.” Exercise and activity are something I have always enjoyed (when I was able to find the time especially). But last year, I had a very grave realization. Exercising, no matter how much, is not enough.
You see, I joined a Couch to 5k club at work and started off well, but due to schedule and other distractions, I stopped. I then tried to start up again (using the same program) and I ran…a lot! Then on top of it, my family started a hiking goal. Our whole family had a goal of wanting to hike around the Grand Tetons in Grand Teton National Park. It was an 11 mile hike. Mind you, we had a 9, 8 ,7 and 4 year old at the time, along with a 2-year old that I packed in a hiking pack on my back. And to prepare we started hiking every weekend starting on Mother’s Day weekend; we hiked the mountain trails in our local area and didn’t stop. And yes – this is on top of all that running.
We started that first weekend with a 1-mile hike. Every weekend from that point, until Labor Day weekend, we did a hike that was either further distance or more intense with the inclines. The last hike of the summer was a higher inensity 9.5 mile hike. Yes, even the 4-year old had trained and completed all of the hikes to this point. We were ready for our 11 mile, lower intensity hike around the lake at the Grand Tetons.
That summer, I was running 3-4 times per week, hiking every weekend – and we calculated we hiked over 100 miles in total as a family between Mother’s Day and Labor Day. I.did.not.lose.a.single.pound. Neither did my wife. She was also running and hiking – not to mention chasing little kids all day.
We were happy with the health factor of feeling more energetic, more toned (Cassie more than myself), happier, etc. but it was also very discouraging that we did not lose any weight. Mind you, that wasn’t necessarily our goal – it was general activity and health at the time, but we just “assumed” that would be a benefit.
Well, what I haven’t mentioned yet is that we kept eating – and eating – and eating! As such we quickly learned that exercise alone will not do it. You have to change the way you are eating.
And that’s what I changed this time, to already now have lost 25-lbs in 40-days and 2 pant sizes already!! I am not even half-way into the challenge! I am amazed! And we haven’t even started our hiking adventures this year and so I can’t wait to keep up the pace and add this to my routine!
So let’s talk about diets -I have realized that they are super important, but not all are created equal and neither will all work for everyone. Just like exercise, there will be many factors that will need to be considered before you dive in. We want you to be successful, we want you to “NAIL IT!”
So I want to share some resources with you (like we did for the exercise) so that you can plan your eating for this challenge to be a success for you, your body type, food allergies (or sensitivities), money, availability, etc.
Food planning is often more difficult and time consuming, but lack of planning and implementing this one piece will probably be more destructive to your goals than any other aspect of a weight-loss and fitness challenge. This is a VERY BROAD category and so much is involved with determining the right eating program.
I am going to break this down into 5 main diet categories.
1. General healthy eating – This is personally the one that I selected for myself on this challenge; I did not get caught up with the diet for body type but rather decided to limit my overall lower fat, calories, sugar and carbs. This is the most popular and well balanced diet program that I have seen and the one I have had the most success with. I am not cutting any category out, just trimming back in a balanced way on each category. I am using the recommendations given by MyFitnessPal (they ask some broad questions and then give you a number to hit for each of these categories – not to mention that you can enter the foods and portions and its all automatically calculated).
In the first task of this challenge, I recommended taking the body test where these sites will help you determine how many calories per day you should be aiming for to hit your goal in the amount of time specified. This has worked! I can’t argue with it, I can only say – 40 days later – I am 25 lbs. lighter and 2 pant sizes smaller. I haven’t deprived myself of anything, but I will say, that the foods I have been seeming to select healthier food options so I can both feel better overall and also make my daily calorie/fat/carb/sugar goal stretch a little further.
- whole grains instead of white breads (I have also enjoy the Orowheat Sandwich Thins)
- brown rices instead of white rices
- teeny amounts of real butter instead of any amount of margarine or real butter,
- lower sugar fruits like berries and apples
- Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt
- Healthier proteins like chicken, lean meats instead of red meats and fattier portions
- Lots of veggies, especially low starch ones or very small portions of higher starch veggies), etc.
- Lower carb tortillas
- I have pretty much cut out cheese for the 90-day challenge, except an occasional slice of thin swiss on a sandwich or a mozzarella cheese stick.
Often times, you may find that by simply cutting back the portions of what you are currently eating may be close to enough to do the trick!
2. Smaller portions – This is actually one of the best methods that Cassie implemented in past years. She found that by using smaller plates and bowls for her meals, she was able to naturally cut back her portions and eat less. Yes, she did have to be intentional about her portions as well, but just that one small trick helped her immensely. Her stomach shrunk by half and in a short time she was satisfied on half the portions she used to eat.
3. Lower carb/fat – Either of these are very popular methods for especially kicking off a diet plan. One thing I do like about the two options mentioned above are they are more permanent, whole life options. You probably cannot sustain the lower carb/fat for a long period of time, but we do know others that have seen a lot of success by either of these.
4. Other hundreds (thousands?) of diet versions/crazes/programs – We all know that there are probably more diets than you could ever imagine – and yes, some much better (or worse!) than others. But we thought it would be great to encourage you to at least encourage you to look at a lot of different resources to help you make your final decision. Obviously, many of the tips from yesterday (find what has worked best for you in the past, see what options might be more accessible to you, etc) can help you decide which one is best.
We did want to list a number of sites that help you match your body type (and other factors) to the best diet for you. Instead of rehashing their information, we thought it would be best to just let you research it yourself so you can make your own decision.
- Take a diet quiz to help you match up your body type to the right diet
- Check popular and reputable sites
- Dr. Oz is always a great resource!
Finally we wanted to give you just a few more thoughts that might be helpful:
- Find a diet plan that you can see yourself following for a longer period of time.
- Remember this is about slow, gradual weight loss. Often quick weight loss schemes can end up with you gaining even more weight later.
- No matter what you choose – do it!
- Be Intentional – We are sure you get tired of hearing this, but you know its true. At a recent training we were encouraged that everything we would hear that day we would already have known. But its the reminder to apply what you already know that is important.
- Did we mention…do it?!?! 🙂
Plus don’t forget that one option you can use to help track your diet is by utilizing the health and fitness downloads (you can see how to get these at that link) that we shared in the first post. We all have different ways we enjoy keeping track of our goals (I like the electronic tracking whereas Cassie still loves the tangible, hands-on planners) so we wanted to offer these for those of you that are more like Cassie. Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you. 🙂
Tomorrow we’ll look at another part of this challenge – some tools you might want to use – especially a few that I have found to help me find success already as well!
Need to catch up? Come join us on this challenge from the very beginning by clicking on the 90-Day Fitness and Health Challenge and sign up to start receiving your automated challenge from the very beginning!
One final thing…we also have a private Facebook Group where you can engage in discussions, receive encouragement and talk to others that are participating in this challenge for more ideas! Head to the Fitness and Health Challenge with The Thrifty Couple Facebook Page HERE and ask to join us there! You can also invite friends and spouses too!
Disclaimer: We are not licensed health professionals. We are only a couple that are excited to offer you a place where you can find encouragement and resources to help you in your quest for health, weight loss and fitness. Any tips we share should not be construed as medical advice but is only there to let you know of other options for your health. If you have questions or before starting any weight loss or fitness challenge please make sure to talk to your doctor.