On My Plate: Getting Healthy
These days it seems like everyone is talking about getting healthy. It’s a fun topic to discuss, actually. The thought of transforming yourself is exciting – especially if that involves shedding some unwanted pounds. But getting healthy isn’t something that happens overnight; it’s a process that involves gaining knowledge and applying it for the rest of your life…and the problem with diets is that they are often temporary. In September of 2011 when I started my healthy journey, I knew I wanted to make a life change and form good habits that would help me live a longer and healthier life forever.
So how do you begin? First, if you’re going to attempt really big changes, make sure you see your doctor to insure you’re on the right track. Then, start researching healthy foods that you enjoy. There are SO many out there. Eating healthy doesn’t mean eating food that tastes like cardboard. Read articles, visit health-minded websites (see my suggestions below), watch food documentaries to get inspiration (see my suggestions below), etc. So much of this research is free and right at your fingertips. The more you engross yourself in healthy learning, the more you’ll be inclined to incorporate what you’ve learned into your own life. If you’re on Pinterest, start a board of healthy food and recipes to keep on hand. That has helped me a LOT. I just look at my boards and meal-plan for the week. I’ve tried so many new, good foods and recipes, and have learned how to incorporate food I’ve always enjoyed into new dishes. And make sure to talk to others who are already on their healthy journey. Chatting with folks who are accomplishing what you’re hoping to do are some of your best resources for tips, info, and motivation.
Next, outline some goals for yourself – and make sure this list is actually attainable. Since you’ve done some research now, you probably have a better idea of what a realistic goal is. If you want to cut out junk food, cut out one thing at a time and replace it with something that is better for you. I started by giving up soda and switching to flavored sparkling water (calorie free!), that way I could still sip on something bubbly without all of the calories, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and other fake ingredients. Baby steps like this will carry you a long way.
I had lost about 50 pounds on my own before I started incorporating exercise. Regular physical activity has helped me shed the pounds even further, but I started very slowly by walking and eventually moving up to running. Do more research to find out what kind of exercise you enjoy. Explore different sports, etc, and who knows, you might be surprised to find out what you enjoy the most! I loathed running growing up, and now I can’t imagine my life without it.
Here’s a photo of me before I started eating healthy in September of 2011 and a photo of me after eating healthy and exercising (a little) in June 2012 (95 lbs lighter at this point).
In my research I’ve done my best to figure out what healthy people typically eat, and guess what? There are tons of options for everyone. Eating more protein, for example, doesn’t mean you have to have a meat-and-cheese only diet, as there are TONS of plant-based foods that give you protein. I’ve come up with my own list that has helped me lose 95+ pounds in less than two years. All of these items are favorites of mine that I cook with constantly (and it’s not exclusive, there are many more). I hope this list inspires you!
• Brown rice
• Petite diced tomatoes (canned)
• Black beans (canned)
• Chopped green chiles (canned)
• Vegetable broth (canned)
• Green beans (canned)
• Corn (canned)
• Collard greens (canned)
• Tomato paste
• Tomato sauce (straight up sauce in a can)
• Chickpeas (canned) – I make hummus ALL the time, and different variations, too
• Oatmeal (just oats at 150 calories per ½ cup, none of that packaged/flavored stuff)
• Pumpkin (pure pumpkin in a can, not pumpkin pie filling)
• Pineapple chunks in juice, not syrup (canned)
• Tuna (canned, packed in water, not oil)
• Cocoa powder
• Shredded coconut (unsweetened)
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Honey (local)
• Balsamic vinegar
• Coconut oil
• Salt & pepper
• Chia seeds
• Popcorn kernels
• Herbs de Provence
• Chili powder
• Smoked paprika
• Ground cinnamon
• Ground ginger
• Garlic cloves
• Almond extract
• Vanilla extract
• Maple extract
• Vidalia onions
• Bell peppers
• Sweet potatoes
• White potatoes
• Spaghetti squash
• Strawberries (we’ve always got fresh ones frozen in our freezer)
• Variety of greens: kale, collards, bok choy, spinach, lettuce
• Shredded cheeses (low-fat mozza and cheddar)
• Grated parmesan cheese
• Skim milk
• Greek yogurt (plain)
• Low-sodium soy sauce
• Lemon juice
• Lime juice
• Sparkling water
• Sweet potato fries (frozen)
• Frozen fruit
Food: When I’m not cooking for myself I love eating at restaurants that have health-friendly menus like Chipotle. You get a lot of bang for your buck and some guilt-free nom noms. I also LOVE Ethiopian food – it has a lot of beans, lentils, collards, etc, AND, you get to eat with your hands. Sign me up! I also love sushi. I just stay away from fried rolls and anything with cream cheese or cream/mayo-based sauces. And I splurge here and there as well with a burger and ice cream out, pizza, beer, etc – just usually around once a month.
Here are a couple of my favorite food documentaries that are available on streaming Netflix: Hungry for Change and Forks Over Knives.
Here are some of my favorite go-to places to get awesome and healthy recipe ideas: Skinny MS, SkinnyTaste, Greatist, Shape Magazine, Pinterest.
Health: Earlier this week the AMA (American Medical Association) declared obesity to be a disease. The story has created quite a buzz, with both positive and negative feedback. We can all agree that obesity is a real problem for our country, but what we don’t seem to agree on ways to treat the real issue at hand. Is obesity something that we should be treating with medicine and weight loss surgeries? Or is a more holistic approach the direction we should be heading? What are your thoughts on this?
Homesteading: I had a sweet potato that was growing eyes (roots) the other day and suddenly I realized: duh, we could plant those just like we did the white potatoes! So off went The Hubs to create another potato tower just for the sweet taters. I am OBSESSED with sweet potatoes. They are so good for you. Did you know they have more potassium than a banana? I love slicing them into ½-1” slices, coating them in some olive oil and baking or grilling them. When they are piping hot I love drizzling them with some honey and smoked paprika. Also, we were given two Topsy Turvy’s and, since we’ve already got our tomatoes growing in big barrels, we decided to use these for our sweet and hot peppers! I’ve never grown anything up side down before, so I’m excited to see how this goes.