Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Healthy Habits Challenge: January Weight Loss, Part 3

If you want to lose weight, nutrition is a huge part of it (most experts say it's 70-80% of losing weight, while the other 20% is exercise and 10% is rest). I am not a nutritionist, but I would like to talk about some things I have learned over the process of trying to figure out what has worked for me when I want or need to lose weight.

Tracking Calories

For the first week of my weight loss kickoff, I knew I wanted to keep a food journal. I created an account on MyFitnessPal, where it asked my current weight and height, and what my weight loss goals were. Based on the numbers you input, it will calculate how many calories you need on a daily basis. I would also recommend including your measurements (waist, hips, etc.) because your results will be more than just on the scale. (This is something I didn't do in the beginning and I'm kicking myself now.)

I also changed my carb/protein/fat ratio on the MyFitnessPal to incorporate a higher protein diet. The percentages you set may be different from mine as all of our bodies will respond differently to food.  My body responds to more than the 15% protein MyFitnessPal suggests so I put my percentages at: 50% Carbs, 25% Protein and 25% Fat.

If you're curious what you should be shooting for, the guidelines from the USDA are:
45-55% Carbs
10-35% Protein
20-30% Fat 

Feel free to play around with these ratios to see what works for you. I would recommend keeping the same ratio for two weeks to see what kind of results you're getting. To change these ratios, you must login to MyFitnessPal on a computer (these expanded options are not available on the mobile app). Once you've logged in, click "My Home", then "Goals", then "Change Goals", and choose the "Custom" option. On that page, changes the percentages you want and then when you're finished click "Change Goals" at the bottom of the page to update your account.

Once you have this all set up (it only takes a few minutes), you're ready to track. MyFitnessPal is super easy to use as you can search for foods- like a medium apple, or chocolate larabar. You can also scan foods so it will pull their nutritional informational. You can also input your own recipes or search keywords to find recipes similar to yours. And if you're out to eat, they have a great search funtction for that too. I was out at Chipotle the other day and search for "Chipotle Burrito Bowl" and found one with beans, rice and sour cream. It was super easy! You can also track how many cups of water you're drinking a day.

Curb Cravings

Cravings are going to happen anytime we are trying to "reprogram" our bodies to create new habits. Here are a few tips I have to curbing those cravings and succeeding.
  1. Be prepared. I've noticed if I'm prepared to fight cravings, I succeed. I've told you that I always have a chocolate or sugar craving in the afternoon around 2pm. I have found that if I have veggies or fruit readily accessible, I can easily pick that over the sugar. So I put carrot sticks in ziplocs all portioned out and ready to go. I also have all my fruit and veggies washed after we get home from the store so they are easy to grab. If for some reason that doesn't seem to have worked, I have a Pumpkin Chocolate Granola Bars as I've found these to do the trick.
  2. Drink a lot of water. It will make you feel more full and satisfied. If I'm having late night cravings, I drink a large glass of water and go to bed. 
  3. Paint your nails. If you're having a really bad craving, paint your nails. It's really hard to eat when your nails are wet. :)
Here's also a food craving chart that I found on Live Love Fruit that explains what our body really needs when we're craving something specific.

Quitting Soda

When I kicked off this weight loss, it was about a month after I quit soda. I had a crazy habit of drinking about three 12 oz. cans of soda a day and I knew it was a habit I needed to get rid of. The first week of quitting was tough. I had a constant headache and super tired, not to mention cranky. The second week was still filled with plenty of headaches, but by the third week, I was back to normal and never wanted to drink a soda ever again! Fast forward a few months, and the taste of root beer or sprite sounds really, really good on the weekends. So I allow myself to have 2 sodas a week. This gives me a fun drink to look forward to, but will not allow me to get hooked again.

If I have more cravings throughout the week, I make myself a glass of ice water mixed with fresh or frozen raspberries and lime juice. It tastes amazing and gives me the boost of flavor I was looking for over plain old water. :)

Reading Nutrition Labels

This weight loss challenge has motivated me to buy more local meat and fresh produce as it's proving hard to really know what is in pre-packaged food. Manufacturers are very clever in listing out ingredients on a package. Did you know that there are over 100 names for sugar? Amazing, right?  I am still learning, so I will be honest and say I'm no expert at reading labels. But there are a few things I look for when I'm buying packaged goods.
  1. Recognize the ingredients. I try to buy products where I recognize the ingredients. The less ingredients, the better! I follow 100 Days of Real Food's advice and try to only buy items with 5 whole ingredients or less, but sometimes it's really difficult. With more ingredients, there is usually more processing that comes with it. Watch this helpful video that Lisa Leake from 100 Days of Real Food created to help us understand the ingredients list.
  2. First ingredient. The ingredient list is written in order of what each product has the most of. So if the first ingredient is sugar, that's the main ingredient in the product and it''s probably not the best choice.
  3. The label. Keep an eye on bad fats (trans fat), sugar, sodium, and fiber.
    • Trans fat- These fats increase LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and lower HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) as well as slow metabolism.
    • Sugar-  To visualize how much sugar is in a food, divide the sugar grams by 4 to convert it to teaspoons. So if a food has 20g of sugar per serving, it has 5 teaspoons per serving. 
    • Sodium- The recommended daily sodium intake is 2300mg for the average person. 
    • Fiber- It's recommended that women have 25g of fiber everyday, and men have 38g. Fiber makes you feel full so you will eat less.
To get a good visual breakdown of the nutritional label, check out this graphic from Flavour Fiesta

Next week I'd like to share some sample daily meal plans and answer any questions you still have that I may have overlooked. Do you have any more questions about weight loss that I haven't covered? Feel free to ask them in the comments.

To see other posts apart of the Weight Loss Healthy Challenge, click on the links below:
Part One- Develop a Plan, Pick a Gym
Part Two- Workout Routines 
Part Four- Portion Control, Meal Plans & Indulgence

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