A couple years back, a good friend who I hadn’t seen in a while said to me, “Kelly, you look great! What’s your secret?” I responded with, “no secret, really. I just exercise and try to eat well.” She looked kind of disappointed and said, “Oh. I hear that works.”
It seems like everyone is hoping for a quick fix. Others are hoping there’s some magic secret to being in shape that they’ve never heard before. There are a million diets out there that promise really fast weight loss with very little effort. Anyone who tells you that you can lose 10 pounds in a week (and not pass out from hunger) is lying to you. You might lose it, but I promise you won’t keep it off! Staying healthy and in shape takes effort and consistency. Hate to break it to you, but going to the gym once in a blue moon won’t make a huge difference.
Through consistent exercise and (mostly) healthy eating, I’ve been able to stay within the same 5-8 lb. range basically for the last 10 years. It’s been hard at times, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve managed to do it by sticking with some simple and basic principles. Here are 3 of the top ways I stay on track:
How I Stay Healthy (and still eat pizza)
1) Don’t use the word “can’t” when referring to foods.
“I can’t eat dessert/bacon/pizza/etc.” Just stop saying that! When you self-impose harsh restrictions, your lifestyle no longer feels like a choice. Suddenly, you’re a prisoner to food, which will make you resentful of eating healthier foods. Even worse, it send the message that you didn’t actually choose to eat this way!
Instead, make conscious decisions about what you want to eat (and what you don’t), and don’t make a big deal of it. If someone offers me McDonalds, I just say, “thanks, but I don’t eat fast food.” Not that I CAN’T eat it. I could if I wanted to, but I don’t. Just changing that one word gives me a sense of empowerment over my food choices and I feel like I now have complete ownership over my decisions.
2) You don’t have to move a LOT every day, but you do have to move.
This is easier for me because I really LOVE working out. Breaking a sweat is rarely a chore and I love being in the gym. On days I don’t work out I walk the dog, which is always enjoyable!
She never has to be convinced! Some days I’m sore, tired, sick, or just don’t feel like doing an intense workout. So I don’t! I do some easy cardio or use that time to get in more stretching than I normally would. It’s not a requirement to be a hard-core athlete to be in shape. All that matters is that you make physical exercise a part of your daily lifestyle.
3) Educate yourself about food
This one is a biggie. You can’t make healthy choices unless you actually know what’s in your food! I’ve cringed so many times when I hear people say things like, “I’m trying to be healthy, so I had the crispy chicken salad instead of the steak. That’s great, right?”
Let’s compare this for a second. Using the Outback Steakhouse nutrition calculator as a quick example, I’ve compared the Crispy Chicken Cobb Salad with honey mustard dressing to a sirloin, veggies, and house salad with light balsamic dressing.
Salad: 1.195 calories, 90 grams of fat, 21 grams of sugar (WHAT?!?!)
Steak Entree: 544 calories, 11 grams of fat, 16 grams of sugar
Surprised? So was I when I first saw this! The point is, do your research. The more information you have at your disposal, the more likely you are to make healthier choices.
One of the best things I ever did was download the My Fitness Pal app on my phone. I don’t really count calories, but I use it as a reference when I’m trying something new or just want to get an idea of what a “serving size” really is for something. It’s a major eye opener!
Those are just a few of the general principles I follow in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I’m not a fan of restriction, judgement, or extremes of any kind! I also believe that all the research, preparation, and good intentions won’t change the fact that sometimes you just want a piece of cake. If you’ve been keeping it simple and being consistent, that one slice won’t put a major damper on your efforts, so go ahead and eat the darn cake!
By keeping my food and exercise philosophy simple and flexible, I feel like it’s something I can maintain long-term, which is really important to me. I’m not working towards a goal weight/size/waist measurement. I’m just interested in being the healthiest I can be while also allowing myself to live a little and to feel empowered (not restricted) by my lifestyle choices.
Your turn! What are your tips for keeping it simple?