It took an obscene amount of time for me to realize fad diets and magic pills have no place in our health journey. I’m not usually one to blog about health and wellness, and if you saw my rollercoaster weight chart, you’d know I’m not the most qualified source. But my last post, The Chart, got an unusual amount of views, and I do think there is some value in sharing a piece of my journey.
I’ve given almost everything a try.
A random Eat Your Heart Out diet I found on Pinterest.
Some of these didn’t work at all.
Some of these worked… for like a week. Any time I tried a type of cleanse, I’d drop quickly, but then put it right back on just as fast or faster.
I’m not sure what finally got through my skull to make me realize this journey isn’t about a fad or certain product. It’s not even about being on a diet. It’s about adjusting my lifestyle and becoming the healthiest, happiest version of myself. Yes, at the same time. Because you can bet the extreme workout version of myself was definitely not happy.
This time around (Because there have been many, many times), I viewed weight loss as an adjustment to my lifestyle and everyday habits. Rather than fitness being a chore, I made it a part of my everyday routine, a non-negotiable habit to keep indefinitely. Rather than being on a “diet,” I adjusted to consistently include healthier choices, and I started weighing the food I chose to make sure I was only consuming a serving.
I know we’ve all read a thousand health and wellness blogs that tell us it isn’t as hard as we make it. I’m not the first person to tell you it’s just a math game: burn more than you consume. But if you take that knowledge and replace “diet and exercise” with “lifestyle and wellness,” it might be easier to tackle what sometimes feels impossible.
It definitely felt impossible for me sometimes.
As a female in my late 20’s, here’s what I did and continue to do. It’s not a diet. It’s my daily routine, my consistent lifestyle that allows me to be the best version of myself. I’m not a doctor nor an expert by any means; I’m just an Average Jane who spent a lot of time looking for my own custom balance. Maybe reading mine will help you discover and design yours.
My Daily Routine in 10 Steps
- Fasted Cardio, 20 minutes. Each morning, I wake up and hop on the elliptical for a 20-minute workout. I run an interval program, with alternating sprints and rests. Stay hydrated and listen to your body to know your limits!
- Breakfast. Activia or Greek yogurt, 1-2 egg whites, and a multi-vitamin. Still hungry? Add some melon. Don’t forget a glass of water to wash it all down!
- Walk. This is a very brisk 20-30 minute walk right before lunch. My route includes a couple hills, which is perfect to get the heart pumping.
- Lunch. A plant-based lunch with more water. I stuff pita bread with spinach, tomato, avocado, and just a splash of balsamic vinaigrette. I also add 1 serving of cheese, either sliced in the pita, or a Babybel on the side.
- Afternoon Snack. Fruit, usually a big Honeycrisp apple.
- Walk. Another brisk 20-30 minute walk before dinner.
- Dinner. I try include protein, grains, and a veggie. For example: chicken breast, a serving of wild rice, and steamed broccoli. I also still eat pasta! I just weigh it to make sure I’m only consuming 2 oz and watch out for hidden sugars in my sauce.
- Dessert. Yes, dessert!! I find that I am less likely to snack in the evening if I have a dessert after dinner. Garden Lites is a quick and easy frozen food aisle option I’ve discovered. 1 minute in the microwave and I have a 110-calorie little chocolate muffin that has some hidden veggies in it.
- Evening Snack. I usually don’t need to eat again after dessert, but if I’m particularly hungry, I’ll grab carrots or some fruit as an evening snack. I recommend completely avoiding chips and candy.
- 8 hours of sleep. I shoot for 7 – 8 hours a night so my body can recover from the day.
This is what works for me, and has become my routine. I do this every day, and it’s not a diet anymore. This is just my lifestyle. I’m not perfect…of course there are slipups and occasional cheat days. But those aren’t what define us. It’s the way we get back at it afterwards that show what we’re made of.
Some things that really help:
- Fitbit, or other fitness watch. I use this to monitor my activity and log my calorie intake to ensure I am burning what I take in.
- A dog. Mine holds me accountable for the 2 walks, and is great company.
- A water bottle. Carrying around a full, cold water bottle helps remind me to stay hydrated.
- I cut out beef, pop, and alcohol. I replaced beef with turkey. Jennie-O turkey burgers are surprisingly delish, and you don’t even notice the difference when you use ground turkey in chili, taco, or sloppy joe. I cut the pop and alcohol to limit my carbs, sugar, and aspartame intake.
- A buddy. Someone to hold you accountable and cheer you on. It was exceptionally hard to limit my evening snacking when my husband was sitting next to me elbow-deep in a bag of Doritos.
In summary, I shoot for ~60 minutes of total activity a day, choose healthy options, count calories to make sure I’m at a deficit, and try to get some good sleep. Don’t deprive yourself, don’t overwork yourself, and don’t stress out. Just adjust the lifestyle so you can be happy and healthy simultaneously. Do what you’re comfortable with, what you have time for, and what works for you. Find your own personal balance and stick with it. We’re all different.
You got this.