Yet, while our content has historically centered on internal inventory, occasionally we like to spice things up and go against the grain1.
Thus, for today, I want to talk about some practical ways we can improve our eating/exercise habits having recently reached a major weight loss milestone.
Now I admit…I’m not the savviest of nutritionists nor do I sport the chisel-est of bods; however, what I do have is discipline, resolve, and the patience to see them through.
Accordingly, it is my hope these four dietary tidbits, while more conducive to long-term results, can better your family dynamic and pursuit of a leaning life…
1. De-dairy your diet
When time turned 2014, my body was in rough shape2. Granted, I wasn’t obese or struggling with an eating disorder; however, with a weight only a pound or two off my all-time max (i.e. 207 lbs), the sluggishness was real.
Thankfully, after making a list of dietary resolutions, it wasn’t long before I realized what dietary changes I needed to make and in what order.
The first step? De-dairy my diet.
To do this, I narrowed the goal down to three phases:
- I replaced cow milk with almond milk – an unpopular move for my palate initially, but one I adjusted to3 after a month or so.
- I eliminated processed cheese from my diet – a minor correction, but a necessary one given my acid reflux history.
- I reduced my intake of frozen dairy – easily, the toughest out, but conquerable once I a) allowed it to be a novelty and b) embraced dairy-free ice creams like Halo Top.
At first, physical changes were subtle; however, the more I established this rhythm, the better I felt overall on a daily basis.
Nowadays, if I’m ever craving cereal, a burger, and/or ice cream…check out the built-in savings…
- Honey Nut Cheerios (1.5 cups) with almond milk – 210 calories
- Honey Nut Cheerios (1.5 cups) with 2% milk – 255 calories
- Difference: -30
- Burger King Whopper with no cheese/mayo + steak sauce – 550 calories
- Burger King Whopper with cheese and mayo – 770 calories
- Difference: -220
- Halo Top chocolate ice cream (1 pint) – 320 calories
- Ben & Jerry’s chocolate ice cream (1 pint) – 1000 calories
- Difference: -680
Yeah, yeah…I know these examples may seem insignificant, but trust me: as you’ll soon see, they add up well with time…
2. Bun Voyage
If reducing dairy was the footing, cutting carbs was the foundation. After an August 2014 biometric screening revealed high amounts of triglycerides in my system, I realized I had to cut carbs and after weighing (pun intended) my options, I determined the best place to start was to make every sandwich an ‘open face’.
After all, the best part of a sandwich/burger is what lies in the middle. Why not cut out the redundancy?
At any rate, after three years later of de-breading/de-bunning my sandwiches/burgers …not to mention all the pizza crust thrown to my dog…the results speak for themselves.
3. Walk the Plank
If you’re like me in the sense you have strong cardio discipline (~ 3-4 workouts a week), you likely have some sense of what foods will help you exercise more effectively; however, while tracking protein and complex carbs is ideal for better workouts, if you’re losing weight, it’s important to define what you trim.
For instance, I do a 3-5 minute variety plank routine and/or 40+4 push-ups before each run. Certainly, not a ‘have to’…but highly encouraged if you want a short and sweet road to transition fat to muscle within your core.
As I like to think, if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a plank a day can only further the distance5.
By the way, this is not how you plank…
4. Select Fasting
No question, my biggest dietary weakness is caffeine. It’s a drug for the day, a muse in the morning…whether you’re talking iced tea/cold brew/bottled soda on a hot, summer day or a roasty expresso on a cold, midwinter morning, the temptation is often tough to pass up.
However, as I discovered in a recent week-long fast, taking a break from fluids not named water, while old-school, is arguably the best way to detox your system. In my case, when fasting, I like to replace coffee and soda with sparkling peach-flavored water and green tea. Of course, there are many more options to choose from. The key here is not so much the substitution as it is giving your system time to be shocked.
If liquid fasts aren’t your thing, consider fasting chips (or a similar salty guilty pleasure) one week, desserts another. Personally, I like capping my calories categorically (i.e. chips to 250, soda/dessert – 400 (on the few days I consume them), meals, in general, to 800), especially through liquid fasts since most of my empty calories come fluidly.
Another method you might try is ‘going green’ where 75/80%+ of lunches/dinners have the color in the meal. In our house, with dinner, we aim for steamed veggies and/or salads as sides 4-5 times/week; with lunch, we’ll often replace meat with cucumbers and heartier toppings with kale or spinach on wraps/bowls. Even snacks, we’ll munch on carrots or multi-grain crackers with avocado, hummus, black bean spread if we need a tie over. Again, not ground-breaking, rocket science strategies as much as tactical frameworks we can eat between.
Ultimately, the key with select fasting is identifying your weak points, targeting them as voids, and filling them in with healthier alternatives6.
So there you have it. Not the most inventive guide to a fuller, fitter life, but a workable template if your goal is to gradually lower those pant sizes, circumferences, and cholesterol levels. I know for some of you, going the keto way (or something similar) probably sounds more enticing, but if you prefer simple short cuts with long-term potential, consider these suggestions.
As always, feel free to leave a comment below if you want to share any additional advice or testimony.
If not, know we’re cheering you on as you pursue a healthier, happier you…
- Foreshadowing alert
- Gaining ten pounds of stress weight leading up to my wedding day in April 2013 that I hadn’t fully recovered from
- One could say I started finding it utterly delicious 😉
- My push-up count isn’t a set # as much as it is whatever my physical limit is for that day
- Speaking of distance, consider basing your cardio workouts on calories burned as opposed to miles. For me, I cut my runs off at 400 calories, unless I have more time/energy to burn.
- Specifically, ones that meet a nutritional need (i.e. vitamin ‘x’) as opposed to a habitual hankering
Cover photo creds: Wallpaper Studio 10