The Secret to Shedding the Weight

My “secret” to shedding my weight hasn’t been in any one particular eating philosophy (I don’t do diets), workout regimen, and certainly not some “magic pill” (because let’s face it those don’t exist!).  I’ve been asked many times, especially over the course of the last year, what the “secret to my success” has been.  And truth be told, the root of my success lies in my will.  Not my will to say no to certain foods or bad habits, but my will to change and for the better.  When I started I needed to change a lot; that included my mentality, financial state, emotional well-being, habits (eating and activity), and willingness to accept/deal with change.  Life is change and instead of embracing it, I wanted to fight it!  

I’ve written about my turning point many times before, but if you are a first time reader (welcome!) I’ll briefly reiterate it again.  My “aha moment” came at a point where I thought I had hit rock bottom–well I HAD hit rock bottom (at least at that point in time).  In a month’s time I had lost my job, my mom, and my grandmother–there’s a life eye opener for you, talk about the “perfect storm”.  But in looking back, what surprised me most was my will.  I emerged from all that with a new will to live my life to the fullest.  It’s almost like I myself had died and come back with a new lease on life.  I realized that I wasn’t really living life much at all prior to and wasn’t going to waste any more of however long I had left by packing on the pounds (345 lbs at that point) and working in a job that I had no passion for.  
I can remember seeing people I used to work with after shedding 50 lbs (which made a difference but not quite the visual difference you can see now) and they’d ask what I did.  Jokingly, I used to say that it was because I wasn’t working there anymore!  But there’s some truth in that.  I was unhappy working there but didn’t realize it until I got out.  Life is meant to be lived and there I was dying.  My character, personality, uniqueness ..all were fading away a little each day.  I was becoming what I saw in many of them who worked there for so long–jaded.  There outlook on life and others in this world were often negative and their own individuality was dimmed–it was sad.  But because I was on the inside, I didn’t realize that I too was turning that way.  By getting out, my spark was rekindled and I’ve found what my vocation truly is!  
I still remember someone asking me when I was young what I liked to do and wanted to become when I was older–“I like helping people, I want to help people.”  Sounds good at 9 but there’s no specific degree or career that fills that description so when it came to picking a major I was torn.  I had always had a creative and artistic side from the start but I didn’t want to become the stereotypical “starving artist”.  I also had business passion, just not in the traditional form.  What am I getting at here, you may ask?  Well, just because something doesn’t already exist doesn’t mean it’s not possible! 

A healthier and happier version of myself didn’t exist until now.  During the process to get here, I was able to discover what my vocation is and how I could live it!  The secret to my shedding success didn’t lie solely in how/what I ate and my activity, but it was about my WILL to live and live my life to it’s fullest.  Sometimes that’s hard to see when we are at our low points or in the thick of it.  But if we have a will to want to change and embrace that change–come what may–then the change will happen.  Keep in mind that we didn’t end up in our circumstance over night and the change won’t occur overnight (or even close to it), so it’s true–patience is a virtue.  Also, I took on this new way of life not knowing what would be in store for me, so you have to be brave!  Initially, that took a little bit of “faking it to make it” but eventually I didn’t have to fake my bravery anymore.  All this came from someone who never really embraced or welcomed change in my life–even though change was inevitable.  
If you didn’t get what the secret is after all that, I’ll simply state that the secret to shedding is internal not external.  What we turn to externally are simply tools to aid in the process.  We can have the tools (brand shinny new or older and well loved–both work the same) but without the will, there’s no sustainable way to achieve a healthier you.  Our health is all encompassing–mind, body and spirit.  So to achieve the success we see in others, we much find it in ourselves!

What’s On Your Plate?!

March is National Nutrition Month (hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).  This month focuses on bringing awareness to all of us as consumers and eaters to making more aware and nutritionally sound choices when it comes to what we put on our plates.

Many of us grew up on the government’s food pyramid, which recently evolved into myplate.  I choose to use the IIN Nutrition Plate because I firmly believe that health and wellness is not solely about the food you consume or the activity you do (or don’t do).  Health also is about your mindset–emotionally and spiritually speaking.  Let’s face it, we’ve heard it before–“not eating the whole box of cookies takes willpower!”  Or “voices in my head call to me to eat the chips” and then next thing you know–empty bag!  Speaking from personal experience, I now know that those “voices” are really my problems, that I’ve been neglecting.  I know that usually when I’m feeling lonely, it’s my man that I’m missing not Ben & Jerry (pint form 😉 ).  That’s somewhat of a surface issue, but my point is that I now make conscious and aware food decisions versus emotional and careless.  I’m also one of those people you will see in the supermarket shopping mostly on the perimeter because I prefer to eat food in it’s natural state versus processed.  When it comes to those food items that have a nutritional label, you will DEFINITELY find me reading the label before I put it in my basket.  I choose to fuel my body with food that it needs versus “food” that my emotions think I want.  I always feel better physically AND emotionally when I make the better choice.

Let’s take a look at the plate above.  Half of the plate is filled with fruits and vegetables.  When you sit down to eat do you see any of that on your plate?  Did you know that the daily recommended serving of fruits and vegetable is FIVE?  So if you are eating three meals a day you should have at least one or two on your plate.  I know a lot of people skip out on breakfast (I’m not sure how you do that, I wake up hungry!), so that means you should have no less than TWO on your plate for lunch and dinner.  Are you even using your that basket on your counter and crisper (that clear drawer in your refrigerator) for what they are intended–FRUITS AND VEGETABLES?  Check!  If not, stock ones you like.  Try new ones so you don’t get bored.

I’m going off the plate for this next one….see that big blue circle up there?  How much water do you drink throughout your day?  I have to admit, I’m a HydraCoach “addict”!  I had one of those big 32 oz bottles but I’d always forget how many times I filled it up.  So after watching a Dr. Oz show one day I found the HydraCoach product and I love it!  Rule of thumb for water consumption should be half your body weight (using weight in pounds) of water in ounces.  So if someone is 150 lbs, then they should be drinking about 75 oz. of water a day.  There are lots of other factors to consider like daily activity, climate, altitude, etc. and you can find a lot of resources online to help find the answer for your specifics (here is a good one).  One thing to keep in mind, especially if you aren’t already drinking water regularly, is that often times the “hunger pains” you feel are actually your body telling you it’s thirsty–time for some water!

Lean meats and whole grains are up next–promise to keep this part short because I know this is a lot of info to take in!  No, chicken is not the only lean meat out there on the market to eat; many people jump right to that one.  Try lean cut pork, flat iron steak, buffalo meat, ostrich ..there are a lot of options out there if you just take a second to look–I didn’t even get into the fish you could eat!  During my journey of losing over 140 lbs, I’ve had to get creative to keep from getting bored with what I eat.  It’s a good idea to always keep an open mind to try new foods so you don’t get bored in living a healthy and happy life.

Whole grains–where do I start?!?  Do you even know the difference between brown and white rice?  Neither did I until just recently!  Brown has all the fiber and nutrients we need still on it whereas white rice has been stripped of it.  But I’m getting off track.  I brought up rice to tell you that I’m a convert who will no longer miss rice because I’ve met farro!  I make it just like I’d make rice or risotto and it tastes delicious!  If you’ve ever walked the aisle of a Whole Foods, or any other kind of health food store, you’ve seen the vast array of healthy whole grains–quinoa (the one few people can pronounce, or remember how–like me LOL), oats, barley, spelt, millet, etc.  Again, keep an open mind and try something new!  If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it again.  But with the large number of options, there’s probably a health option out there for everyone!

All this comes from someone who just wanted to change and realized it was time to!  I’ve found the path to my true passion in helping other’s find their healthy journey and I did this through finding and living my own!  I’m self taught with a great success story on being the “real deal” and doing it naturally!  I’m now working on my certifications to be a Holistic Health Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and Group Exercise Instructor.  But most importantly I find it vital to share the above with you because I want to end our nation’s trend of obesity, so this is my way of “paying it forward” by sharing and having the discussion with all of you!

In good health,

Andrea
http://www.linkedin.com/in/arhall
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