TO COUNT, OR NOT TO COUNT? (CALORIES)
This was me, in April of 2000, about a month after my third child was born. I lost about five pounds the next month, and then nothing. I started running that summer, and only managed to lose about 5 more pounds. I hadn't, as yet, made a change in my eating habits.
My husband bought me a book on the Montignac method of losing weight. Which I read over half-way through (and have yet to finish, maybe some day?). But that gave me the boost I needed to start changing my eating habits.
There are myths going around about fat people and diets and losing weight.
MYTH NUMBER ONE
FAT PEOPLE EAT TOO MUCH, THAT IS WHY THEY ARE FAT.
Let's bust that one right away. Fat people do not eat more than regular people, in fact, quite often they eat LESS than regular people. It is not how MUCH you eat that matters. It is WHAT you eat that matters.
MYTH NUMBER TWO
BEING FAT IS HEREDITARY
Fat people have fat kids, my parents are over-weight, that is why I am overweight. Therefore obesity is genetic. Right?
Wrong. Genetics might help a little bit, as in where on your body you put on the weight and how your metabolism works etc, but it is WHAT you eat that makes you fat. Not genetics. Children have a tendancy to eat the same foods as their parents. If your parents are overweight and you are eating the same foods they eat, chances are you will be overweight too. Chances are, your children will eventually be overweight as well.
MYTH NUMBER THREE
IF I EAT LESS I WILL LOSE WEIGHT (CALORIE-COUNTING)
If you are going to eat less calories, and to do so, you switch to foods that fill you up but have less calories, then that might work. If you just eat less of the same foods you have always eaten, and you are still feeling hungry after, this won't work. You might initially lose weight, but you will gain it all back once you go back to eating more. That is because your body thinks it is starving and it will hang on to anything you give it to counter the starving. Your body will be storing fat instead of getting rid of it. You will most likely end up gaining more pounds.
WHAT WORKED FOR ME
Now that we've busted three common myths. I'm going to tell you what worked for me. I lost 25 pounds. That's probably not a lot compared to some people, but that was about how much I needed to lose to be in shape again.
You need to cut down on sugar, not just fat. When refined sugar (white sugar) enters the body, your glycimique levels rise, and eventually, this causes you to store fat. (Montignac explains how this happens in his books, if you want the details, check him out.) Starchy foods in the body break down into sugar and cause the same effect. Which means you need to cut down on foods like potatoes and rice as well.
I put whole wheat flour in everything, from pies to cakes to muffins. I never use white flour for anything anymore. When I buy bread, I check the label to make sure that the only flour in there is whole grain flour. Multi-grain does not equal whole grain. Check the label. Extra bran, does not equal whole-grain, again, check the label. I make my own cakes and muffins, because you can't find those in a supermarket without white flour. I cut the sugar, or even better use fructose instead of regular sugar and use only half or 2/3 of what the recipe calls for. I substitute apple sauce for oil/butter/margarine. Some of you may think you need to do half and half, but you can choose to not use any butter/margarine at all. It works just as well. Brown sugar is also a healthier option to white sugar, as are honey and maple syrup.
A healthy lifestyle starts at the supermarket. I never buy what I don't want tempting me around the house. Not even for my kids. A change of lifestyle is not just for me, it is also for my children. The tendancy towards obesity starts young. They may not start to store fat right away, but what they eat while they are young will make a huge difference later on, in their weight. They have to get used to eating right while they are young.
Eating healthy doesn't mean depriving oneself of yummy foods. Healthier, just as yummy options exist. I have a sweet tooth, so I try to make sure I have a lot of different fruits (which I love) around the house. You can get jam sweetened with grape juice instead of sugar, (and it is even tastier than the kind sweetened with sugar in my opinion.) Buy low-fat yogourt for deserts instead of puddings and other sweets. You can buy the plain kind and sweeten it with the above-mentioned jam, maple syrup (delicious), or even a touch of brown sugar. (Or eat it plain) Or you can get the kind sweetened with something besides sugar.
Always check the labels. Diet foods might have less fat, but they often have MORE sugar. I worry more about the sugar content than the fat content. Some fats are good for you. And if you stay away from refined and starchy foods, the good fat just passes through your body anyway, instead of sticking. All processed (refined) foods are to be avoided. They do nothing for your body, they only serve to keep you fat.
Chocolate is NOT bad for you. It is the sugar added to the chocolate that is bad for you. Chocolate should be 70% cacao minimum. Milk chocolate is to be avoided. Not all chocolate is the same. I have eaten 70% cacao chocolate that is bitter, and I have have eaten some that aren't. You have to taste the different brands and see. Lindt makes 70% cacao chocolate that is bitter. Désir Noir by Cémoi makes 72% cacao chocolate that is scrumptious. (Of course I have never liked milk chocolate to begin with, so for some dark chocolate might be an aquired taste... but it is worth it. Chocolate is actually GOOD for you.)
Get used to not putting sugar in tea and coffee. Reduce your sugar intake in other areas. Go slowly if you have to, but start reducing it now. It has been about 5 years now, since I started reducing my sugar intake and I don't even get cravings for sugar anymore. Sugar and other refined foods act similar to a drug on your body, you have to wean yourself from them. If I eat something really sweet like a donut now, I feel yucky afterwards. It's when you get over that addiction, and get used to eating better that you realize just how bad it was for you when you don't feel quite right after eating even just a small quantity. I find I don't crave sweets anymore. I crave fruits now when I have that "I gotta munch on something" attack. I even crave vegetables when I eat meals. Who'd have thunk? Rice and meat just seems so bland and missing something. I like to stir-fry veggies (with lots of onions for taste). Yum!
Instead of putting ketchup and barbecue sauce into meatloaf, I use V8 juice. (or the equivalent - again, check the label, some store brands add sugar, V8 has no sugar added. President's Choice now has the equivalent with no sugar added either.) That way, not only are you cutting out the processed foods from your meatloaf, you are adding VEGGIES!!! (Shhh, don't tell your kids, they won't notice.)
All that is darn good for you, but I found I wasn't losing weight very quickly. It isn't until I tried eating a huge breakfast every day for a couple of months at the end of 2004, that I lost the last 15 pounds that I wanted to loose. I started eating two eggs, 4 pieces of whole wheat toast, a fruit, orange juice and/or water, and yogourt for breakfast everyday. That filled me up so I was barely hungry for the rest of the day. Eggs have lots of protein, which you need to start the day. Eat more at breakfast, and you will automatically eat less (and snack less) the rest of the day. Supper should be the smallest meal of the day and breakfast should be the biggest. You should also avoid eating too much bread the rest of the day. I felt like I suddenly melted. It didn't happen right away in the first month, I think my body was probably adjusting to the new regime first, but in the second month, my body practically melted!
And here I am in April of 2005, 25 pounds lighter, and much healthier. As I have recently mentioned, I got pregnant again, (was actually pregnant in this picture) and gained weight again, which I am losing, slowly but surely, (10 pounds already - but the initial 5 hardly counts, I always lose five pounds about a month or two after giving birth, it's the rest that's harder to lose) and once the baby gets older, it'll probably go a bit faster.
I NEVER count calories. I eat until I am full. I just make sure what I'm eating is good for me (most of the time - one CAN cheat every once in awhile...).