Skip the dieting fads for a healthier lifestyle
If you’ve been following my HEALTHy WELLthy Journey, you know that since May, I’ve been working on improving my health. I joined a gym, started strength training, learned the importance of rest days and how to mix up my workouts to improve my fitness.
However, I keep hearing over and over again that weight loss is 80% about what you eat. I’ve already made some changes. I use MyFitnessPal to record my daily caloric intake and a food scale to weigh out my portions. But it still isn’t enough.
I have never been stick thin. I’ve always carried weight around my hips, thighs and stomach. No matter how much cardio I do or how much weight I lose, those areas never seem to budge. It’s only recently that I’ve stepped up my strength training to help lean my body out, but I also need to make some diet changes.
Turns out, my health insurance covers annual visits to a dietician.
My initial appointment took about an hour. I explained the changes I had made since May in terms of both diet and exercise. She weighed me and then pulled out a handheld body scanner. This was a smaller version than the one I stepped on at the She’s It booth at the Pennsylvania Women’s Conference, but it served the same purpose.
My body fat percentage was 26. That put me smack in the middle of where I should be for my age and height. Jillian, my dietician, explained that I could lose some that percentage by making a few small changes to my diet.
We talked through my current diet and listed the foods I typically had for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Jillian was quickly able to identify some tweaks that I need to make.
My typical breakfast of multigrain toast with butter, chai tea and coffee was fine. The problem was that I eat breakfast around 6:30 or 7 am and then don’t eat again until lunch at 12 PM. I always work out in the morning too so getting to noon is a challenge.
I learned that protein is vital to consume after a workout to help the body recover. Muscle tissue can get damaged or strained during a workout and the amino acids in protein help to repair that. The amount of protein needed post-workout depends on both your weight and your workout goals.
To figure out how much protein I need after working out, Jillian took my weight and figured that I need 77 to 109 grams of protein per day. She then figured out that I need 15 grams of protein after a workout. She suggested two string cheeses or 2 hard boiled eggs, tuna or ¼ cup of nuts.
Jillian also suggested increasing my intake of both fruit and whole grains, two areas I already knew I needed to work on. She wants me to aim for 3-4 helpings of fruit a day, which is actually pretty easy considering that half a banana or apple is one serving, so a whole banana or apple knocks two servings out quickly.
I’ve been doing a good job of weighing out my carb servings for dinner, but still have been eating regular pasta, rather than a whole grain pasta or brown rice. She pointed out that whole grain is actually more filling than white flour pasta.
She explained that with young children, it’s important to introduce them to whole grains now so they grow up with healthy habits.
She recommended Barilla Whole Grain pasta and suggested cooking it a little longer than suggested on the box, as well as amping up herbs and spices to bring in more flavor. Brown rice can be tricky to cook and takes a long time, but stores like Trader Joe’s carry microwavable frozen brown rice.
Jillian suggested I switch from whole milk to 2% and then eventually to 1%, another easy dietary change. She isn’t opposed to me having a small dessert after dinner either, as long as I do it in moderation.
The biggest challenge for me is increasing my water intake to the recommended 72 ounces a day. I tend to sip water throughout the day so while I know I’m always hydrated, I have not been getting enough.
My personal goal is to finish my water for the day by 6 PM so I’m not up all night using the bathroom. I aim to drink 10-18 ounces around breakfast time. My gym water bottle is 27 ounces and I try to finish that by the time I get home from my workout. And then I usually have one or two 20 ounces mason jars of water for the rest of the day. This has been my biggest adjustment, but I’m trying to keep on top of hydration.
Overall, I thought I was in pretty good shape in terms of my diet before seeing Jillian. She agreed but it was good to see her suggestions for small tweaks that can make a big difference. I am already seeing changes.
After the gym, I have a serving of nuts and a cheese stick, so then I tend to not be hungry at 12 PM and wait until around 2 to have another small meal (I like pb&j on a rice cake). I’m stepping up my fruit intake too, by incorporating a piece of fruit into each meal.
The final big change was that Jillian recommended I stop tracking my calories on MyFitnessPal. She says that it’s a great tool but that people can get obsessive about it.
She also wants me to learn how to eyeball portions to make sure I always have a balanced plate. I’ve stopped tracking over the last week and am aiming to eyeball my portions and then double check them on the scale.
I will see Jillian again in a week to assess how the last two weeks have gone and keep working together towards a healthier, leaner me!