Good nutrition is an important part of healthy living. Combined with physical activity it can help you to reach and maintain a healthy body weight and fitness level. This will significantly reduce the risk of chronic diseases. About 1/3 of the adults of the US population are obese and approximately 18% of children ages 2 – 17 are obese. By deciding to make better food choices, you can dramatically change your life for the better.
The main reason that my diet used to be poor was time. I was always rushing around and never caring where my food came from. I would stop by the closest fast food restaurant, make a quick sandwich, or eat a bowl of cereal. When you are busy and hungry, all you want is what is convenient. Whatever is on the way home or quick in the refrigerator was what I consumed.
The first step for my lifestyle change regarding my nutrition was education. My personal trainer realized early on that I was quite stubborn. He told me that he was not going to put me on a meal plan because he knew I would not follow it. Instead he started asking me questions about what I ate on a daily basis every time that saw him. I remember his facial expression the afternoon he asked me what I had eaten that day. My response was, “A bowl of frosted flakes, 2 bologna sandwiches, chocolate cake, potato chips, and a Hershey bar”. He looked at me and did not respond. It was a moment of awkward silence that I will remember for a long time. He asked me if I knew what nutrient dense food was, I told him that I had never heard of the term. He told me to go home and look it up online and we got back to our workout.
When I got home that night I began my google search with what is nutrition? Then I jumped from website to website looking at what good and bad nutrition looked like. Then I learned that nutrient dense food means how many nutrients you get from one thing. Then I searched for a list of nutrient dense foods. The list consisted of some of my favorite things like salmon, kale, blueberries, broccoli, dark chocolate, quinoa, & avocados. Over that week I began to research more and more of the foods that I ate and how they were affecting me physically.
The critical part for me what when I searched, how do I read a food label. Understanding what total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, carbs, fiber, calories, sugars, and protein were and how they affected my life was important knowledge that led to a whole new me.
My diet consisted of chocolate milk, sweet tea, scones, cereal, deli meat sandwiches, pasta, and processed box meals my calories, carbs, sodium, and fat intake was literally killing me. I was 411 pounds.
In the last 3 years I have lost 175 pounds and 40% body fat. The main reason I have lost this is because I learned that nutrition is a key factor in living a life that is healthy.
Figuring out what bad nutrition and what good nutrition looked like was easy when I took the time to educate myself. The hard part was giving up the things that I had learned to love and depend on. I ingested a lot of sugar in my drinks. My daily hydration consisted of sodas, sweet tea, juices from concentrate, and chocolate milk and was responsible for about 2000 calories daily entering my system. After 40 years of unhealthy living I knew myself well enough that if I attempted to give it all up at once I would not stick to it. I started by giving up 1 thing a week. This part was crucial to my success, it allowed me to have the self-control I needed to be successful.
With combining portion control, eating nutrient dense foods, consuming more water, reducing my gluten intake, and focusing on strength training to build muscle I saw a very dramatic improvement in my life.
When I built enough muscle to carry the excess weight I had, the aches and pains went away. I was able to climb stairs and wanted to get up and do things. I had energy for the first time in years and I was enjoying it.
Many people have strong feelings about gluten. I am not a dietitian or expert, but for me when I reduced my gluten intake to almost nothing I felt incredible. I do not have Celiac’s disease nor am I gluten sensitive. I often tell people to take a 2 week gluten-free challenge to see if they notice a difference. It is amazing at the positive responses that I get from them because they feel so much better. I still eat gluten, but only in very small amounts.
Food preparation is important to living a healthy lifestyle. Knowing what you are eating is easy when you prepare it. I prepare my food on Sundays for Monday – Thursday meals and then again on Thursday for my Friday – Sunday meals. I make meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as 3 snacks so that I can eat 6 times a day to keep my metabolism strong and always working. I had to become disciplined at this in order to be successful. If you would like to try it, I recommend starting of small and just prepare some snacks for the week, then progress to making your lunches, etc. By doing this over time and not all at once you will create routines that will help you to be successful.
When educating yourself by doing research, look for things that inspire you. Watching cooking shows on TV, reading food and nutrition blogs, learning about your local restaurants that offer healthy meals, shopping at your local farmer’s market. These are all great sources of information and inspiration. I am very fortunate to live in Oregon where local foods and produce is a big part of our culture. Buying organic is second nature to me now both in my produce and my meats. Avoiding added hormones and chemicals that were killing me has led to a healthier and happier me.
If you need help figuring out what is good and what is bad for you, I am here to help. Often times just having someone in your corner when you are trying to figure these things out is comforting and makes a difference. I have life coached many people on their health and weight loss. I am a living example of what success looks like and I enjoy sharing my success with others.