When you lose a lot of weight, you not only find your clavicles but you also find your self-esteem and self-confidence. It’s amazing….isn’t it? There it is….it must have been buried amongst the “extra” pounds! Oh, yes, it may be shattered and broken but it can be fixed!

Now, what to do with this new find? It’s not like riding a bike, where you remember how to use it. You have to re-analyze yourself and understand why you had it in the first place and how and when you lost it. It comes with a new mind set and a new self image. It is very fragile and you will have to take precautions in building it up and protecting it from being torn down again.

What is self esteem? It is the way we look at ourselves….our judgment of how we perceive our self as a whole. It’s not necessarily the facts that help us build our self esteem, rather, it’s what we believe to be true that creates our self esteem.

Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Sound familiar? It’s the Golden Rule. In the Bible, it reads, Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31. I don’t think you would walk around all day calling people in the office fat, lazy and worthless? So, then why do we allow ourselves to be our own enemy? We do this from the moment we wake up…I’m late, I’m wasting time, I’m not worth that breakfast…and on and on all day long. We are slowly kicking our own selves down. How then can we expect to treat others with respect, if we cannot even do this for our self?

It doesn’t take losing weight for this to be implemented. You can start this right now. If I would have started working on my self image before losing the weight, I probably would have lost it much faster or at least had more fun doing it!

Here are some great tips in helping re-build that self esteem:

  1. Stop being so critical of yourself. We are human and make mistakes. We will never be perfect!
  2. Get rid of your fears and anxieties that you face about yourself. Life is too short to worry.
  3. Learn to forgive yourself. Mess up…move on….try and do better next time. Forgive!
  4. Change your negative into positive, I can…I will…I am….replace all negative thinking with positives.
  5. Jealousy hurts. It’s not yours…get your own. Who knows…maybe it wasn’t meant for them either.

I will end this with a quote:

“The most important opinion you have is the one you have of yourself, and the most significant things you say all day are those things you say to yourself.”

~ Unknown Author

Learn how to love yourself again!

Do not allow the scale to control your emotions!

This morning, you stepped on the scale just to see that ugly number staring up at you. Ah, well, it was probably that treat that did it…you know, the one that you had one too many of. That’s okay, you say, I’ll work on that this week. Not even two minutes after you get off the scale, you become depressed, miserable, want to starve yourself and motivation has dropped to zero….sound familiar?

This happens to me at least once every few months. It gets me discouraged and often times, it’s not even because I cheated. I can do everything right for months and the scale will not reflect my hard work.

What’s up with that? Why does this number have so much control over us? What can we do to empower ourselves against the numbers on the scale?

  1. Remember that the numbers on the scale represent a variety of things including water weight. The amount of water your body retains is caused by your sodium intake. If you eat too much sodium (salt), you will easily see the scale tip up anywhere from 2-9 pounds! Just the same, if you drink a lot of water and you step on the scale, it reflects that.

  2. Did you know that your weight fluctuates through out the day. The best time to do an official weigh-in is in the morning, right after you wake up, and after you use the restroom. Do not drink anything before you weigh. This would be the closest weight but you should remember number 1 can effect the scale even in the morning! Your weight can fluctuate anywhere from 1-7 pounds through out the day. Step on the scale in the morning and compare it after dinner. It doesn’t mean you gained anything, it is just weighing the food and water in your body.

  3. 3,500 calories equals one pound. Do you realize that you would have to eat more than 5,000 calories in one day to gain a pound “officially!” Your body burns calories just being alive, heart beating, lungs working, etc. It burns approximately 1,500 calories per day just laying in bed. So, if you moved, sat up, walked around or did something “spontaneous” like reach for the remote…then you burn more calories. So, eating over your calories in one day makes it impossible to gain a pound. Now, if you did this every day for a few week, then yes, the pounds will start coming back!

  4. Gaining muscle will cause you to gain weight. Muscle weighs more than fat but takes up less space. Let’s say you have been working out on the stationary bike a couple of months and gain a pound or two. Feel your legs, they have grown stronger, tighter and muscular. The scale reflects this new muscle. Did you know muscle burns more calories while you are just relaxing? Yes, it does…isn’t that awesome?

  5. Heavy food such as beef can cause the scale to go up even a couple of days after consuming. Beef takes a few days to digest and can sit in the intestines and cause a temporary weight gain. Easy rule to avoid this gain is to try and eat beef only once a week. If you do eat beef, make it lean and no more than 4 oz per meal!

So, the next time you step on the scale and see a gain, think about 1-5 and determine what caused the temporary gain. This will ease your mind long enough to keep you motivated so you can workout!

Maintain your weight when you get discouraged!

It’s not a secret that everyone gets depressed, unmotivated, sidetracked or discouraged while trying to live a healthy lifestyle. It is during these times that we tend to have a “all or nothing” attitude. This attitude is what makes us overeat, stop working out and completely ignore the reasons why we started improvements in the first place.

We often gain all or most of the weight back and quickly go into denial mode. Denial mode is where we tell ourselves; it was never meant to be, I’m just big boned, that weight wouldn’t have looked good on me or I would have never reached my goal anyways.

It is important to understand that everyone has these moments where they do not want to exercise or eat right but it is more important to understand that we do not have to go backwards when this happens.

Once a month I get into a mood where I could care less what I eat or what I do for the day. This could be one day or go as long as a week! Everything in my world stops because that is just the way that I am. Especially if I am doing really well most of the month, it will hit me really hard. This could easily be called depression but I consider it to be my body going on strike. At first, I fought it. I would make myself exercise, knowing I wasn’t giving it my all. I would eat lower calories knowing that I was setting myself up for a binge.

Finally, I started going with the flow and guess what….my body appreciates me listening to it. When I get into this mode, here are the two most important things I do to maintain my weight!

  1. Maintain calorie intake – Stay within my maintenance calorie range if possible. Right now, my calorie range to lose weight is 1,250 – 1,600. My maintenance calories (to keep the weight the same and not gain) is 1,861 for 49 weeks. This means, that if I ate 1,861 calories every day, my weight would not change…no exercise needed…just calorie based. What this does not mean is if I eat over that, even for a week, that I will gain weight…I would have to eat over that amount for 49 weeks to gain!
  2. Maintain exercise – Exercise at least 10 minutes every day, even if it’s just heavy cleaning! Usually, I don’t even want to do that when I get discouraged but I make it happen. This has nothing to do with burning calories at this point. This is just helpful in keeping your motivation going!

It’s amazing how our mind can get scattered, especially when we are on the right path but it’s okay…not a big deal. The important thing is not to go backwards. Don’t think of how far you have to go but think of how far you have come!

Make the time to be healthy or time will make the decision for you!

Is it a surprise that so many people wait until they get bad news about their health to start eating healthier and/or exercising?

As I lay in bed 18 months ago, my chest started hurting. It felt like heart palpitations or an anxiety attack. I had never had this happen before and it really worried me. I stayed up all night long because I was scared to go to sleep. I felt like, if I go to sleep, I may never wake up again!

I was 33 years old, 5’2″, weighing 216 pounds. I was a heavy smoker, having started when I was 12 years of age. I smoked 1.5 packs a day! My weight certainly was not at the highest it had ever been….I had reached 234 at one time in my life! I never really worried about my health…I guess I figured because I was so “young” I didn’t have to worry about it right now,

As the days went on, the heart palpitations/anxiety worsened at night. Insomnia crept in and I started to feel horrible. One day, while working in the yard and after drinking an Energy Drink, my chest started hurting really bad. I had my husband take me to the ER because I was really frightened. I already knew what they were going to say; stop smoking, drink water not energy drinks, exercise, lose some weight, eat healthier food….lada lada lada…..but I felt I had to go!

I can tell someone all day long to change their life but we all know….it doesn’t work that way…plain and simple. A person has to have an overwhelming urge to change. They must be really determined and motivated. Some get it and some never do.

After an X-Ray on my chest was taken, the Doctor told me that I “might” have an enlarged heart. He wanted me to see a cardiologist. He also told me that mixing nicotine and caffeine was dangerous and that I was obese. Okay, I can handle the news, at least I know what’s going on with my body.

I get home and I do nothing….I throw the paper away to the Cardiologist…who has the money for that anyways? A few months go by and I get a call from my mother. She had visited her Doctor and they ran all the necessary test to confirm she had an enlarged heart. Now, I am a little freaked out but I looked online and seen it can be hereditary, so now, everything makes perfect sense.

My mother went to get treatment for her enlarged heart. They ran a lot of test and put her on steroids. She must have had an allergic reaction to the steroids because I got a call on August 20, 2011 that she had passed away in her sleep.

Imagine, the way I felt when I heard this. Thousands of thought in my mind. Shocked and just no words to explain. She had just turned 50 years old!

After her funeral, I vowed to stop smoking. She was a heavy smoker and I knew it would be a start! It didn’t happen right away, as a matter of fact, I just stopped smoking three months ago and do not crave it or miss it one bit. It is the best thing I have ever done in my life for me and why I didn’t do it sooner…..well, I can only wonder why I didn’t! I used the book Allen Carr’s Easy way to Stop Smoking. Read the reviews…857 people cannot be wrong! For $11.55..it’s a deal!

When I stopped smoking, I had already started exercising and eating healthy. I was a couple of months into my plan and was short of breath while exercising. It was time to make a decision….I thought to myself…I can choose smoking or exercising. I chose life…..See, I decided to take my life into my own hands. I don’t want to die from a heart disease, smoking, cancer, emphysema, etc. and I definitely don’t want to die under a Doctor’s care! Nothing against Doctors but what happened to my mother was my wake up call.

I feel like a brand new person. I am 40 pounds lighter, non-smoker, no more health problems, healthy cook and eater, and love it! I will be around to see my children and their children grow up. I want to be around for them.

Our health is something we have complete control of and even small things add up. Exercise 10 minutes a day, eat right, don’t smoke and don’t drink alcohol. Sounds simple and it really is….if you have a reason to make it simple!

I hope that many of you out there today make that choice to a healthy life. You will feel so much better about yourself. You will still have the daily stress but you will learn better ways to manage stress, time and how to make better decisions.

Motivation is the secret to weight loss!

Let’s talk about motivation. It’s the key to the door to anything you desire! Without it, nothing gets started, nothing gets improved and nothing ever becomes.

Losing weight takes motivation but not just a simple “I want to lose a few and look good in my bathing suite” motivation. It takes a hefty “I don’t want to be unhealthy any longer and want to live life to it’s fullest” motivation. It’s not the exercising that’s hard…..it’s the getting motivated to exercise that is hard!

Motivation requires a no excuse attitude. This can sound difficult but it’s really not if you are certain of the reasons of why you want to lose weight! Motivation has to be fueled every hour of the day because one negative thought can send your motivation in a downward spiral and make it difficult to get back.

Here are a few simple set of rules I follow to keep myself motivated.

  1. Stay positive – Even when things don’t go quite so well, always try and stay positive. If you eat 2,500 calories in one day…think of it as a treat, a mini vacation away from the daily grind of low calorie food. Notice I didn’t say “diet” food. That’s because we shouldn’t be on a diet…think of this as a life changing mission of learning to cook and eat healthy.
  2. Stay focused – Go to sleep with your goals and wake up with your goals. Losing focus and getting sidetracked is one of the easiest ways to lose sight of what you are working for and quickly turns your motivation OFF!
  3. Be determined – Is the gym closed today…try a new gym! Did you miss your morning workout…that’s okay because an evening workout helps you sleep better and relax! It’s never too late to exercise and 30 minutes is just as good as one hour!
  4. Be conceited – Yes, I said it! Self confidence is what creates determination, keeps you focused on why you are doing this and keeps your motivation turned on. Improving self confidence allows you to see a different you and enjoy the progress today…not when you reach goals! People that are conceited have a high self esteem and love themselves…why shouldn’t we love ourselves?
  5. Share your journey with others – You shouldn’t be embarrassed that you want to be healthy! Making a change in your life is difficult but your friends and family really do want to share whats important with you. At first, you may get some grumpy outburst or gestures (you know how family can be) but they will be the ones coming to you for advice later!

Now, let’s talk about some concepts you can use to keep your motivation above water!

  • Learn to cook healthy great tasting cuisines!
  • Take weekly pictures of yourself to see non-scale victories.
  • Focus on one day at a time or one meal at a time.
  • Exercise at least 10 minutes per day!
  • Do not focus on the scale alone… take measurements!
  • Buy a pair of small goal pants (one size smaller each time).
  • Try Zumba…its fun and you can do it at home!
  • Get support! Try this website www.sparkpeople.com!
  • Make sure you have all the tools you need (Spark People has it all)

Everyday I wake up and “babysit” my motivation. Sometimes I can get a workout done at 6 am and others it takes me until 9 pm to get my workout in! The important part is it gets done. I have lost 40 pounds in the last 5 months. Start weight 216 pounds. Weight today 178 pounds! I use Spark People’s website to assist me with my weight loss as they have a fitness and nutrition tracker as well as support…all for free!

You can do it too!

Is it more expensive to eat healthy?

That depends. If you choose to continue eating large portions that are way out of range, then yes, eating healthy will definitely be more expensive for you and your family. When my family first started eating healthy, I had replaced the chips with grapes. I would set the chips out and the children would come in and grab a handful and run back out the door. Grapes are a bit more expensive than chips but one thing I did notice was, they hardly ever came back for more, like they would when I use to set the chips out. The grapes provide more nutrients, making them feel fuller, longer!

When you look at the big picture, it doesn’t seem so expensive after all! Portion control is the best way to to save money. When I started taking note of what I was purchasing from the grocery store, one of the things that really caught my attention was how much meat I was purchasing.

I am a monthly shopper, another words, I am one of those people standing at the cash register that looks like they are purchasing for survival of a hurricane or something. Generally, two baskets is what it takes for my monthly stock up.

I do this because I was raised this way. My father taught me to make one trip to the store, buy what was on sale, check the frozen isles for cheaper prices (breakfast sausage, ground turkey, etc) and get out of there! No need to make this a weekly routine, just get it all and go.

This has done two things positive for me; save me money and save me time. On the other hand, it is very difficult to keep vegetables and fruits fresh for a month, I am finding out, so I purchase more frozen vegetables and fruit to last me. I probably could change my shopping habits but I am just so used to this method and it works for me!

After discovering that I was buying so much meat, I decided to try portion control in my cooking. I cook and serve my family their meals everyday, so this wouldn’t be too difficult to implement. Once they were adjusted to the new portions, I was able to purchase less meat, saving me close to a hundred dollars a month.

We used to sit down and eat 2 lbs of ground beef for dinner. Why? because I would make beef stroganoff or something similar and no sides were added, meaning, we either had to fill our plates up with a large portion or go back for seconds to get full. Now, with portion control (you can read my blog about converting the family to healthy eating for specifics), we eat much less meat and more vegetables. A pound of lettuce cost much less than a pound of ground beef!

So, in the long run, you would save much more money buying and cooking healthy rather than not.

Converting the Family to healthy eating!

When I started my life change, I wasn’t going to be cooking just for me while I fed my husband and children fattening foods. I mean, I did try that for a week and felt really guilty. So guilty, that I decided to convert everything in my pantry to healthy!

I started switching everything white to wheat! White bread to wheat bread (I prefer Natures Own brand), White rice, pasta and noodles to wheat rice, pasta and noodles and White flour to wheat flour.

I decided to switch my cooking oil from canola and vegetable oil to Extra Virgin Olive Oil (no regrets here). I added more of a variety of beans to my pantry; dry pinto beans, dry black beans, dry navy beans, dry red beans and garbanzo beans.

Dairy products was easy to switch because we do not consume much milk, cheese or creams. I already was purchasing organic whole milk, so all I did was switch to 2% and 1%. I prefer baby Swiss cheese, Chobani yogurt plain (as it can be easily altered with fruit) and soy milk (vanilla and chocolate). I love cottage cheese 2% fat free!

I switched from ground beef to ground chuck which is more lean, chicken breast, whole chicken, pork bacon to turkey bacon, ground turkey, no more sausage, lean meats. Considering all we used to eat was ground beef and roast…this was a huge change because we started eating more of a variety and less portions of each. Rule now is once a week beef and the rest chicken, tuna, turkey and rarely pork.

I think the biggest problem in our diet was we never ate fruits or vegetables. I had to make this change and it was probably the most difficult. My children were used to eating a vegetable here or there (from school) but never before had they been used to 90% of their plate being filled with vegetables. They have adjusted well, though, but it was a shock!

Implementing healthy cooking and portion control was the biggest change I made for my family to adapt to. Their plates consisted of 5% meat, 5% carbs, 10% fruit and 80% vegetables.

Here is what a dinner would look like:

Chicken breast 4 oz

Pasta 1/2 cup

Corn on the cob

Grapes

Salad

Wheat bread

of course, this is a very generic sample as I could make chicken mozzarella, lemon chicken, spicy chicken or anything from above. That’s the fun of cooking healthy is I get to be creative and know that I am serving my family a meal that will keep them full and healthy! The first week was rough for them and I have to admit, that I didn’t put any effort into the meals. I did this on purpose because I wanted them to appreciate a before and after meal. For example, just plain carrots thrown on a plate as compared to creamy carrot soup. Baked potato as compared to scalloped baked potatoes. You get the idea. It was tricky but they did appreciate that second week when my creativity started flowing.

I had decided that second week that I wasn’t going to be on a diet and feel deprived or have to eat food that was bland. I wanted to taste the goodness and still be eating healthy! I did succeed and now some of my meals look and taste like cuisines. Another trick for children and even husbands is how you put the meal on a plate. Make it look good, nice and pretty…make them want to eat the meal…don’t just hash it all around and expect them to eat it.

I hope this blog helps anyone that is thinking about cooking healthy and/or converting the entire family to healthy eating!

Stay safe and be healthy!