The one thing that I seemed to skim over in the last post, and many of you asked me about, was what changed in my eating habits? On January 20th, 2008, when I came home to clean out my fridge, what did I take out and what did I put in?
My eating habits before I started this journey, of fitness and healthy eating, was not good. It was not good at all. I was of the belief that the less carbs I ate, the easier it was for me to keep the pounds off (remember that Atkins diet that was hyped up a few years ago, well that was me). To me, the less carbs I thought I was taking in, the leaner I was. That was where the problem started. At first, when I started "that" diet, I lost 20 pounds. However, that's where I started to relax and slowly let carbs back into my life, without even realizing it. Not only was I letting carbs back into my life, I was consuming huge calories of fattening foods. For example, Kentucky Fried Chicken. I would go and pick up a five piece meal thinking, "oh it's chicken, protein, no carbs. Plus, the skin is not so bad because it's just spices." WRONG! To make a long story short, at some point I pretty much just went off the Atkins diet and went straight back to eating very poorly.
The other thing that I was doing very poorly was not eating throughout the day. In my head, I thought that the less food intake I had throughout the day would be beneficial. I never ate breakfast. EVER! I skipped lunch! Yes, skipped lunch! For those of you keeping track that is two of the three normal meals that people eat throughout the day. But, to me, I was burning calories because I was not eating. Because of this type of thinking my brain told me that I could have whatever I wanted at supper time because I wouldn't be eating again until later on the next day (probably supper time again). This type of thinking got me to the supermarket where I would almost, everyday, no joking here, buy a box of honey garlic chicken wings and a bag of mozza sticks. Plus, you have to have some dessert so I bought two cupcakes from the bakery. What's wrong with that? I hadn't eaten at all the day and I would burn those calories tomorrow. Oh, by the way, did I mention that I didn't usually sit down to eat supper until 8:00 at night. Yep, so my dinner consisted of a whole box of chicken wings, a bag of mozza sticks, and two large cupcakes, just as a treat. Probably looking about 5000+ calories right there in one meal. To me though, that was ok. That is, until my world changed (see the previous post).
As you are probably thinking to yourself, doing that on a regular basis definitely added to packing on the pounds. That and saying to myself, "oh one cookie here, a chocolate bar here, I can have a large pizza all to myself, that's not so bad." Oh, and when Halloween came around, those little chocolate bars, forget about it! What's one when you can have three? What's three when you can have eight? What's eight when you can....you get the picture. Then you are left with the question of "Where did the box of chocolate bars go an why are my jeans so tight?"
Two songs come to mind as I just typed those last few paragraphs. Does this sound familiar? Click the links to see the videos
Fat - Weird Al Yankovic
Eat It - Weird Al Yankovic
Are you getting the picture of what my eating habits were like before? Good.
Then that kick in the butt happened (again, see previous post) and my world changed.
As you can probably guess, as I was cleaning out the fridge on that day, there were boxes of chicken wings, mozza sticks, and "treats" heading into the garbage and out to the dumpster. First thing about food control, out of site, out of mind. If it's not in the house, you can't get your hands on it. Let's face facts, we all have (not me anymore) our "secret stash" of something sweet or salty in the house. It's what we call our "comfort food" or our "treat". However, if you are eating it on a daily basis, doesn't that mean that it is not longer a treat? Just sayin!
Even though I hadn't learned about the running aspect of fitness yet, I did realize, quite quickly, that I did have control over what I was shoving in my mouth. So, on that day I went to the grocery store and bought what I considered "healthy":
- Life Multigrain Cereal
- Strawberry Yogurt (sweetened with Splenda)
- 100% Multigrain Bread
- 1% Milk
- Canned Tuna packed in water
- Miracle Whip (you have to put something the sandwich)
- Baby Carrot Sticks
- Frozen Green Giant mixed vegetables
- 100 calorie Honey Butter Pringle Sticks
I had to start somewhere, and that's where I started. To me, I had enough to go on for a bit. Now, after looking at that list, has much changed in my shopping list? Not alot. These things are always in my cart when I go get groceries. I am a single guy and make my own meals. One of my favourite things to eat is sandwiches so I do eat them on a regular basis because they are quick and easy. Tuna sandwiches are my favourite things to make and luckily tuna is a very lean meat. However I also picked up lean turkey and ham from the deli counter from time to time, just to change things up.
When I sat down to see what I would eat on a daily basis this is how it would look:
- bowl of multigrain Life cereal (with milk)
- 1 bannana
Lunch (packed to eat at work)
- 1 ham sandwich on multigrain bread
- baby carrots
- 1 banana
- 1 apple (usually eaten during the afternoon as a snack)
Supper (eaten around 5:30 or 6:00)
- 1 Tuna sandwich with tomatoes on multigrain bread
- baby carrots or mixed vegetables (sometimes both)
- Strawberry yogurt (2-3 cups)
- 1 pack of Pringle sticks or an apple (usually as a snack in the evening)
For the first week, was it torture to make that quick of a transformation from what I had been eating before. YES! Did I miss my wings? YES! However, what I realized was that because I had started including breakfast and lunch into my plan, instead of starving myself till supper, I wasn't famished before supper and eat everything in sight.
However, after the first week, it became quite natural to just make the food and eat it. Everything was easy to prepare, it was healthy, and I was putting good things into my body. Plus, I had absolutely no temptations or "treats" in the house to reach for. I had no choice but to eat what I had in the house and everything in the house was healthy. "Come on Young, you probably ate 5 of those packs of Pringle sticks a day." Nope! You know why? There is this thing called "Will Power". I had to make a choice. Do I put it in my body or not. Was I going to change or not? My choice was to change so I didn't stuff my face.
As for drinks, I didn't drink alcohol before (never have, never will) so that wasn't a temptation for me that it might be for some. Plus, I am not a coffee drinker so I didn't have to worry about that, as well. As for pop or iced tea, I had to get rid of it all. I went straight to water. That's it. I drank water. To this day (two years later) I bet I have only had about 10 cans of pop. I just don't crave it anymore. At restaurants, water. Best investment, get a water bottle like the one in the link. I am actually staring at that water bottle right now. If you have it with you all the time, you will use it. I make sure that I have one for at home and the gym, plus I have another one at work so that I can fill it up on a regular basis. My goal is to always get through two litres a day at work and more on my training and gym days. If you keep it with you, you will use it. Trust me, after a week you will find that you don't crave the other stuff anymore. You just have to make that choice and stick with it. Oh, and as for those 100 calorie drink crystals or whatever they are called, I don't use them. You could if you wanted a snack but I just don't drink them. To me, they just taste gross. I will admit now that I am two years into this whole thing, I have added V8 vegetable juice every so often to a meal and one thing that I am really liking is Mint Green Iced tea (non sweetened). That is a pitcher of hot water, 4 mint green tea bags and let it chill over night. Zero calories and it tastes good.
Ok, now for the dirty secret. Are you ready? There is such a thing, in my world, as a cheat day. Now, when I say cheat day, I don't mean "consume 10,000 calories because I can" day. I mean, I picked a day, which for me is usually Friday, when I have my weekly "treat". Yes, a weekly treat. No, it is not a full cake or a carton of ice cream. Nope. It is a pack of M&Ms. Just a pack. I look forward to Fridays! Some of you are rolling your eyes right now. Trust me, if you knew that you could only have one treat a week, you would love those M&Ms. The other "treat" that I am enjoying now is Carnation's "Low Fat" Hot Chocolate made with Splenda. During our winter months, that is my treat every so often.
Cravings? Sure, they happen. Like being in a staff meeting where they serve cinnamon buns or cookies. YIKES! The old me would be eating those up left right and centre. However, when I go to meeting now, I make sure to have some Pringle sticks, an apple, or a banana with me to crush the craving early. Oh, and I make sure to have my water bottle right beside me. Would rather be full of water than a bun loaded with fat and sugar.
This process started two years ago. Do I know that it will be different for everyone? Absolutely. Will there be times when we are celebrating and have some chicken wings? Yep. Will there times when some birthday cake will be eaten? Yep. When you go to the movie will you have some popcorn? Yep. Notice the word "some" is placed in all the sentences. Do you have to have a ton of wings? Your choice. Do you have to have a huge slice of cake? Your choice. Do you have to get the XXL sized popcorn at the movies. Your choice. Are you getting the picture?
You have a choice in what food you put in your mouth or what you drink. I can't reach through this computer and say to you, "eat this, not that" (interesting book by the way). All of us passed elementary school, and in elementary school we were taught what is healthy and what isn't. Were you listening during that lesson? Again, just saying!
Folks, there isn't a magic formula (no matter what they say on TV or in the magazines). It all comes back to the choices that we make. Who is putting the food in your mouth? YOU. Do I have days where I eat the things that normally I wouldn't. Yep. Uhhhhhhh, Walt Disney World people, we have been there, the food is GOOD! Le Cellier's Cheddar Cheese Soup, oh man I love that stuff! It is so rich and creamy.....oh right, healthy eating! :) However, having those days, I now know that means that I am going to be running an extra mile or workout for a bit longer to crush those calories. As a runner (still seems weird to call myself that), have I noticed that I have to eat a bit more to stay healthy and have the energy I need to keep running and working out? YES YES YES. I have to feed the machine, but I get to choose what goes into the machine!
Eating healthy should not be about losing weight (although it is awesome that it contributes to it). For most of us, it is a lifestyle change and over time it becomes second nature. I can't even imagine what would happen if I sat down to eat a box of chicken wings, a bag of mozza sticks, and 2 big cupcakes now, and I don't want to think about that. Does the former fat Brett sometimes pop up and scream, "EAT EAT EAT"? To be honest, yes he does. However, I look back on the last two years of my life and the positive impact it has had on me and ask myself if I am ready to give that all up? That guy usually goes away pretty quickly after that thought.
I am not a health professional or a doctor. I am just a guy who made a change, in his life, two years ago. I know what it is like to change (that picture below reminds me). Was it hard to change the eating habits? A little, but eventually it just took over and I look back now and cringe at my unhealthy eating. Again, cheesy line, "if I can do it, you can do it." You just have to make the choice to do it. Again, JUST SAYIN! Love that line! :) #getoffthecouch
Just realized I am out of apples! Anyone have one they can throw me?
Have a good one!