Monday, December 29, 2008

Reality Check ...

I don't mean to scare you with this picture, but I thought it might be time for a reality check here. What with all the cookies, and baking, and holiday feasting - you may be wondering if I'm still "The Diva on a Diet?" I assure you I am.

After returning from a wonderful - and delicious - Christmas spent with my family, I braved the scale yesterday morning to find that I lost 2 pounds last week. This is not unexpected. I almost always lose weight over Christmas, despite all the indulgences, due to all the running around and the fact that after baking 4,000 cookies I couldn't care less about eating them. Which is not to say that I've denied myself anything, I really haven't. I've eaten mindfully, which is something I advocate year round.

With that in mind, and as my post-holiday gift to you, I'd like to offer some tips for regaining control - if you need to - or staying in control while you enjoy the remainder of the holiday festivities. I like to call this list ....

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Losers:
  • Eat a Healthy Breakfast Every Day - Do not skip breakfast, doing so is counter productive. Irregular eating habits disrupt your body's metabolism and saving a few calories by skipping breakfast will leave you hungrier later in the day - and therefore prone to making bad choices. Some combination of a lean protein, whole grains and a fruit seems to work best for me ... half a grapefruit, a boiled egg and a slice of sugar-free 9 grain bread is one of my favorite ways to start the day. Choose wisely and you'll be setting yourself up for a good day!
  • Snack between Meals - And I don't mean on Doritos! I prefer to eat 4 or 5 small meals throughout the day, rather than fewer, larger meals. I keep a variety of healthy snacks on hand and eat something roughly every 3 or 4 hours. Nuts, hummus, raw veggies, low-fat cheese, sliced turkey breast, non-fat yogurt and popcorn are my "go to " snacks. I make sure to include some protein in every snack and I don't over indulge. Some red bell pepper strips dipped into a few tablespoons of hummus is more than enough to keep me going.
  • Stay Hydrated - I drink 8 to 10 glasses of water and or iced green tea every day. I do this without fail. I know there have been some conflicting reports of late on the water/weight loss issue - and I also know what works for me. I believe that adequate hydration is essential - both for weight loss and for good health in general.
  • Keep Moving - This one should really go without saying ... yet I'm saying it anyway ... stick with your exercise plan, even if its the holidays. Stick with it because its the holidays! If you've over indulged a bit, then ramp up the exercise as well. Its one thing to make some dubious choices food-wise, don't compound the error by skipping your work-out too.
  • Make a Date with Your Scale - and keep it! Ignorance may well be bliss ... and its also rather foolish. I like to know where I stand and for me that means weighing myself nearly every day. I'm not at all suggesting you do the same, once a week may be sufficient for you. I prefer the every day method because it eliminates the stress of "the big weigh-in." I don't live by the scale and it does not dictate my mood. Daily check-in's allow me to see the normal fluctuations that exist and account for them. Doing so also allows me the opportunity to reel it a bit if necessary - or discount a small gain if I know its cyclical. Bottom line here: information is power. Don't skip the scale because you're afraid of it. Let's face it, one of two things will happen when you step on ... you'll either be pleasantly surprised and therefore affirmed, or you'll be afforded the opportunity to nip a major gain in the bud. Its a win either way.
  • Dump the "Diet" Mentality - This may sound funny coming from a self-titled Diva on a Diet ... but I don't think of myself as being "on a diet." Anyone who eats food is on a diet. I prefer to think of the changes I've made as life-style changes and these changes are permanent. "Diet" implies that this is some short-term, results-driven proposition and that's not what I'm about. I prefer to eat mindfully; to eat well - with an eye towards health. I don't deny myself anything that I really want - I eat everything ... in moderation. My goal is to eat well or "eat clean" 98% of the time and that means taking the long view of my food intake. A cookie here or there will not derail this train - though I'm careful not to string a bunch of less than optimal choices together. Honestly, this may be my most important tip. I believe that this shift in thinking has been the key to my success. I've lost a total of 34 pounds ... kept it off, am still losing, and have not deprived myself in the least. Rather, I've nourished myself - abundantly!
So, there you have it. A bit of a post-holiday wake-up call, or pep talk, if you will. I certainly didn't intend this post to be a buzz-kill and, obviously, I'm no expert here. These tips are simply a collection of my thoughts on the matter of weight-loss and I offer them as much for myself as anything else. Its useful to see my plan in print and periodic self-evaluation can be a good thing. I beg your indulgence and hope you will find something of use here for yourself.

Meanwhile, I'm nothing if not a walking contradiction ... so with that I'm off to begin prepping for my New Year's Day party ... the menu of which will contain foods so verboten they'd make your hair curl. Really! More on that later in the week. Stay tuned.

For now, what's your best weight-loss tip? Curious Diva wants to know.

Bon appetite!

6 comments:

Juliet said...

Lots of great tips and advice!! I'm envious that you lost 2 pounds rather than gaining 2. That is fantastic!!

Dana McCauley said...

THanks for this list of good habits. I have gained over the last couple of months and will be joining the ranks of the losers very shortly (I hope).

Deb said...

Welcome back from the wilds of suburbia Diva. Glad to hear your holidays were a success weight wise. I am going into detox mode. I did not deny myself any treats this holiday and did eat mindfully and did exercise madly. I do however need to rid myself of the inevitable sugar cravings that arose from this period of indulgence. A week on the beach (south beach that is) should do the trick. I'm not so far gone that I can't reel myself bck in. I really don't have too much to add to your tips, they are all so good but I do swear by logging my nutrition and the web site Sparkpeople.com. The community there has been very supportive plus there is so much good info there and after all dear diva it is where we first met!

pixelgal said...

Since reaching geezerhood and taking stock of all the weight I've gained and lost over the years
I really believe you've got the basics down for weight loss...and I agree with everything you said except for one thing. The scale!! It's the one thing in life I fear. If I got on the scale daily and gained a pound I might be depressed for the rest of the week and have a pity party for myself complete with chocolates for consolation. But my way is equally scary. I only get on before my doctor apts so I won't faint in his office and have him prescribe yet another pill. The other thing I think is that if you do fall off the wagon, don't beat yourself up. Just get back on and eventually you'll lose it again. Trust me on this....and have a Divalicious New Year!

Laurie said...

Yikes, I don't even want to look at my scale!

My best weight loss tip is just about portion control. I learned that I was eating about twice as much as I needed to be full every night at dinner. So now I stop halfway through a meal and say, "Am I still hungry?"

Usually, I'm not.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Juliet - trust me, I wasn't being careful at all ... I just ran myself ragged with the holiday prep and burned all the calories off! LOL

Dana - I know you will be joining the ranks of the losers as your recipes are so yummy and healthy. So difficult to maintain at this time of year.

Deb - good point in suggesting Sparkpeople.com! Its a tremendous resource and I still read all of their emails ... just not enough hours in the day for me to get there consistently. A week back on the Beach will do the trick no doubt. Its weird, but I do not get sugar cravings. Not before and not since SB ... I crave salty things instead. LOL

Pixelgal - you're so right about not beating one's self up for falling off the wagon. Its best just to forget it and move on. As for the scale - eh, you know me and I can't leave it alone! :)

Laurie - that's an excellent tip as well. Portion control is so important and you're right, we don't need as much as we think. Good for you for getting into the habit of stopping halfway through. That's a great tip as well!