When I decided to change my diet last year, I knew I needed to do so in a way that I could live with for the rest of my life. Massive, sweeping changes weren’t going to be sustainable for me. In the past, I joined Weight Watchers and tried their method, but I could never get into the “this is just how I eat now” mindset which would allow me to go longer than 4-6 weeks. I was always chomping at the bit for when I could go back to eating my way.
So, instead of a major overhaul or signing up for a plan someone else invented, I invented my own. I chose a few things to change right off the bat, but not so many that it was overwhelming. And I did those things each day with no questions asked until I could do them 100% for two weeks in a row. Then I added another little habit, another “level up”, and got really good at it. Then added another. Rinse and repeat.
I’d say that on all of these, I probably average a 90% effective rate each week. When I look at my journals and realize they are probably dropping below 80%, I refocus on getting that thing tightened up. But for the most part, there are now certain things I “just do” and certain ways I “just eat,” and I’ve learned how to do that by taking it one small change at a time.
So here’s the big list of small habits I’ve changed in the last year. More habits will be changed in the future, I hope!
- Stopped drinking milk as a beverage. The added calories, sugars and carbs weren’t worth it.
- Drink water, mineral water, and unsweetened iced tea with meals. Exclusively.
- Switched all breads and rices to whole grains.
- Added oats to breakfasts at least 4 days a week.
- Switched low-fat yogurt to full-fat. Lower sugar and carb counts, better satiety.
- Add a serving of fresh fruit to yogurts and oats.
- Take my coffee black (and cold if possible). Only occasionally add steamed milk when it is going to be worth it (ie. in excellent coffee I’m enjoying in a leisurely way.)
- Stopped getting rice on my Mexican combo plates. It’s never been worth enough on its own to justify the added carbs and calories. Refried beans are the star of that show.
- Place 3 bananas and 2 apples on a table where I can see them. Try to eat them all during the week. In oats, in fun salads, in my apple and cheese sandwich, etc.
- Found a few go-to fast food options that I can always hit up in an emergency. Panda Express is a good option on Friday nights when I’m tired and cranky.
- Walking in the mornings. Started at 3 days per week. Now up to 6-7 days per week, 30-45 minutes each walk. Slowly increasing distance in that time.
- Drink 48-64oz of water every day. I pee a lot, but I’m not as drowsy during the day, it helps stabilize my digestion, and my skin looks great!
- Drink a half a glass of water before and after a meal. Keeps me from overeating that meal.
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Helps with the overnight fat burn and lowers crankiness so I make better food choices.
- Stop 1/2 way through a meal for 60 seconds. Decide how much more of it I will eat to try to avoid overeating.
- Cut wine/alcohol intake to once a week at most. And only on days I’ve walked.
- Cut out snacks. Now eat 2 – 3 meals a day and don’t add extra unless I am legit hungry (not bored, stressed, etc.)
- Brush my teeth after a meal, especially if I’m tempted to eat more for no reason.
- Automatically look at a menu and decide what are the “Good/Better/Best” choices (and get honest about which one I’m going to choose and why.)
- Make a weekly overall meal plan and 24 hour food plans. No matter what. (The plans can change, but I’m more likely to make good choices when I have a plan for the day.)
- Log food honestly in My Fitness Pal every day.
- Food prep every Sunday. At first it was just breakfasts and lunches, so I can grab and go. I now add vegetable prep for the weeknight meals. During shows, I food prep small meals I can eat prior to rehearsals. Microwave and go.
- Added strength training every Monday and Thursday. Even when I don’t feel like it.
- Put my walking clothes out the night before I intend to walk. Shoes and socks, too.
- Pay attention to how full I am an hour after each meal and how I feel the day after a big meal. If I’m uncomfortable or low-energy, I look at what I ate to see what can be cut back.
- Put cravings on my meal plan for 2-3 days away. If the craving is still there, I eat it. If it isn’t, I skip it.
- Assess my weekly food habits to see where I can improve next week.
- Review food exercise and weight loss every 2-3 months and choose something to “level up”.