August 9, 2012

the Skinny System

I hate the word "diet".
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The word itself implies doing something you have to do but not what you enjoy doing. I think there's a huge difference. 

If you're going to "be on a diet", be on one that doesn't make your eyes hurt when you see a slice of pizza, or make you fight back the urge to pant when you see a heavenly slice of chocolate cake. 

Now, I know this is easier said than done.
There are TONS of diets out there: the No-Carb (Atkins) diet, the South Beach diet, the You're-Only-Allowed-To-Eat-Soup diet, or better yet, the You-Can't-Eat-Anything (aka anorexia) diet ... you get the idea.

The only diet you should be on is a diet of moderation

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When I was in college, this girl in my sorority was constantly asking me about my weight. At first I was flattered, then I became annoyed. After awhile I began to realize she was generally curious because she always saw me eating.

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But what she didn't see was how I went to the gym 3-4 times a week.
She didn't see how I was NOT getting blacked out on the weekends.
And, more importantly, she didn't see what I was eating.

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The last point is probably the most important part.

Here are some of my tips for a happy & healthy lifestyle or "diet":

1. Motivation
You aren't going to see any results or get anywhere without a little motivation. Find something that lights that little fire under your seat that gets you going.

The new Nike commercial about Greatness really says it all.
Once you have motivation, it's easier to set goals for yourself.

2. Take Note
Now that you have some kind of goal, whatever it may be, start to be aware of your current lifestyle.
If you notice that you pair every meal with a Diet Coke, if you keep eating even though you're stuffed, or if you get exceptionally drunk a little too often than deemed normal, these are things to take note of.

3. Understand moderation
This is key.
Moderation with food is a fundamental part of my "diet".  I'm not saying I count out almonds or weigh how much rice I eat -- absolutely not.
What I mean by moderation is recognizing that a hamburger that's bigger than your face is probably not the best thing to be boasting about finishing.
When I'm hungry at 4:00pm I grab a handful of mixed nuts or have some yogurt with granola and wait patiently for dinner.

Moderation also means being in control of what you eat. Try lowering the amount of fried food and processed sugar. Instead, start eating more fiber, grains and natural sugar.

By paying close attention to the kind of food you put in your body & also being aware of how much of it you're eating, you'll start to see how much better you feel. The greener, more natural and less preservatives you ingest, the happier your body will be.

If you find yourself hungry a lot, think about why you might be hungry.
Are you hungry because you ate 5 hours ago? Or are you hungry because you're bored?
Are you hungry because you skipped breakfast? Or are you hungry because you're distressed?
This is a great chart to consult if you just don't know (complements to Rosie, the Londoner):

Most of the time hunger is a sign of dehydration.

So while you're first instinct when you're hungry is to stand in front of the pantry for five minutes, pour yourself some water and see if that doesn't do the trick.When I'm starving at 11:00pm I don't bee-line it to the fridge, I usually pour myself a glass of water instead. Late night munching is also a huge factor with moderation.
When you eat so late at night your body holds onto the sugar and carbs because it knows its going into hibernation mode. It's the same as drunk munchies, except this is much much worse because now your body has alcohol to contend with.

And speaking of alcohol, be smart.
Personally I'm a light weight. It doesn't take much to get me to a certain level, and knowing your limit is a good thing. If you know it takes you 6 beers, then why have 4 more? If a bottle of wine gets you seriously messed up, why finish it? Maybe it's because I'm out of college, but these seem like pretty basic concepts.

Finding that balance is different for everyone, but once you find a good equilibrium with nutrition, your lifestyle will adjust accordingly.

4. Move
Get off your butt, now.

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You don't need to run a marathon to be in great shape. In fact, I hate running.

I'm definitely not saying you should be at the gym every day, but for heavens sake do something!

I like to go on walks and hikes as a way to get my heart beating faster. Especially during the summer when the sun is out longer, going on walks after dinner is a great way to get your metabolism working and also working up a little sweat. Gym memberships are expensive these days, so I use a friends account and do MyBarre3 ( by the way) workouts in my living room.

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Don't know what to do?
Take the stairs.
Ride your bike.
Walk down the street to your friends house.
Who's that calling? Don't wait for it to go to voicemail - get up and pick up the phone!

5. Don't be afraid
Food is good for you.
If it comes out of the ground ready to eat, you're okay. If you look at the ingredients list on the back of a box and see more words that you can't pronounce, chances are it's not very healthy.

I've known people who starve themselves thinking that's going to get them thin. And sure you could lose weight, but you'll be miserable, hungry, cranky and far less healthy starving yourself than if you ate moderately.

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Mirrors are not enemy's either.
If you stare at yourself in the mirror, or step on the scale every day, you won't see what you are looking for. Instead, take a before picture. After a month of your "diet", take another. Track your progress that way, instead of scrutinizing your image in the mirror. As for the scale, just know that you won't drop those pounds over night.
It's all gradual. The more you get hung up on the numbers, the less you'll be able to focus on maintaing a healthy lifestyle.

6. Treat Yo Self
Dessert is not something to be feared either.
I love cheesecake, dark chocolate and anything with fruit on it. Just because it's sweet doesn't mean its bad for you. Your body needs sugar, just make sure you feed yourself natural sugar- none of that fakey stuff.
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Sometimes life gets in the way and it's challenging to maintain a good balance between moderation and good-for-you-food. When I know I'm going to Portland for a weekend of irresistible cart food and drinks, I pay close attention to what I eat when I get back and end up having more smoothies that week. Likewise, if I've been scarfing down salad's every day at work, I'll make myself a heartier dinner.

Just remember to treat yourself every once in awhile.

It's all about balance.
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Love yourself & find what works for you.
The happier you are the easier your "dieting" will be.


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