Lifestyle Changes

Over the last several months, I’ve been considering that I would like to get back to a lifestyle more centered around health and fitness. Although I’m pretty active and usually take dance, barre, and strength-training classes for five or so hours per week, I’ve let my eating habits become beyond horrible. As a result, the scale has been creeping upward, and in January I found myself at the heaviest weight of my life.

I say that I’ve been ‘considering’ getting back to a healthier lifestyle because even though I’m unhappy with my current weight and habits, I also haven’t done much to change the situation. But seeing myself in my summer clothes (the ones that fit, anyway) or in the mirrors at the studios I work out in, I know that I don’t like how I look with this extra weight. As I ice my sore ankles after each class, I also know that I don’t like how I feel with this extra weight. As I sat at my desk after dance class this morning with my ice pack strapped to my ankle, I decided that I’m done with this and I’m going to commit to making some changes so that I can get some of this extra weight off.

Functionally, I know how to lose weight. For me, counting calories has always been the one thing that worked and was sustainable. And I have been logging my food pretty diligently over the last several years, so I can say for certainty that the problem is how much I eat (and drink…margaritas, why are you so delicious??). If I use my same food-logging habits to set and stick to a calorie goal, the weight will come off. I’ve been here before and I know that this is an approach that works for me.

I’ve actually learned even more about calorie counting since I last used this method around ten years ago. Back then, I didn’t know that the trackers that count how many calories are burned are pretty unreliable, so I would “eat back” my calories. Now I know not to do that; my calorie goal is my calorie goal, and I won’t add allotted calories to my day for my workouts. I’ve also learned that it’s easier to have an average daily calorie goal, and to split that into four lower-calorie and three higher-calorie days each week, than it is to try and aim for the same amount of calories every day no matter what. By cycling my calories, I can still enjoy treats throughout the week; I just have to plan for them.

The hardest part of making these changes will be learning to tell myself no and to enforce that no. I’m a person who will wake up every morning full of motivation and promises to myself about how today is the day that I’m going to exercise, eat right, and start my new lifestyle. But by dinnertime I’m tired, sometimes I’m stressed, and all I want to do it go out to a favorite restaurant and connect with my husband. But that habit is expensive, and it’s unhealthy for both of us. I know we’re both getting older, and if we don’t build good habits now we’re going to really struggle when we reach old age. And that’s not what I want for either of us.

Right now I’m not ready to share what my current weight is, but maybe once I’ve made some progress I’ll open up about the actual numbers. For now, what I’ll share is that I’m making myself a plan for improving my eating. Before I go into the specifics of what I’m going to be doing, I want to say that this is what works for my body type and my life, and it may not work well for others. And that’s okay! Everyone is different and all bodies are unique.

I’ve chosen a starting point of an average of 1,600 calories per day for a goal weight of 133lbs. My goal on low-calorie days will be 1,386 calories, and on high days it will be 1,886 calories. As I go along, I may adjust this, but for now I want to try these numbers and see how it goes. In order to figure out what I wanted my calorie goal to be, I followed this video made by trainer Jordan Syatt. I plan to tailor my high and low days to my plans for each week, so that I can enjoy meals out with Bill or time with friends without feeling overly restricted with my choices.

For me, one of the things that works well with keeping my calories in check is to eat pretty much the same meals and snacks every day. I know some people like a lot of variety in their food, but I actually don’t mind the repetition – I think it makes it easier to eat healthy if I just automatically reach for the same things when I get hungry. Here are some examples of staple meals and snacks for me (again, these are things that I like to eat and that work for me personally – this isn’t intended to tell anyone else what they should be eating!):

Typical breakfast: Egg muffins made with egg whites, bell peppers, spinach, mushrooms, and Everything Bagel seasoning and a homemade almond milk latte

Typical lunch: Protein shake made with almond milk, chocolate Shakeology, and frozen mixed berries (Quick side note: I am not currently a Beachbody member and I don’t sell their products – I have two bags of Shakeology left over from when I purchased it regularly and want to use it up, but after that I’ll be looking for a protein powder that I like to make my shakes with)

Typical snacks: Apple slices (morning), Greek yogurt with a quarter of a cup of Kellogg’s All Bran Buds cereal (afternoon)

Typical dinners: Chicken on salad with dinner rolls, taco bowls, or grilled chicken burgers

I’m hoping that by writing about this on my blog, it’ll help me stay accountable and that I’ll have some tangible progress to report back! And anyway, it’s nice to be blogging again – I realized I missed it!

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