5 ways I’m improving my diet for better weight loss.

I’m stepping up my weight loss game. For the last month I’ve transitioned from a junk food vegetarian diet to a whole-food, plant-based one. The results so far have been good but now I’m ready to delve a bit deeper into healthy eating. Here are 5 upgrades I’m making:

  1. “Whole” whole grains: even though some breads and pastas are labeled “whole grain” they can still be highly processed. I’m upgrading to sprouted grain bread and buckwheat pasta. The less refined flour the better.
  2. Fewer nuts: nut bars and trail mix have been my go-to snacks but they are so caloricly dense that I end up overeating them. Nuts are good for you but in moderation. I might still add nuts to my cooking but I’m getting rid of my nut snacks. 
  3. Oil: I’ve cut down on the amount of oil I use in cooking but I still use it a bit out of habit. I’m going to focus more on eating whole-food fats and not using up my daily calorie allowance on oil.
  4. Sodium: I’ve stopped cooking with salt but sodium manages to sneak its way into my food. I’m going to crack down on the sauces and condiments we use that are high in sodium. 
  5. Coffee: Coffee is like a religion in New Zealand. I love my ritual of walking to the shops to buy my soy flat white. Really though I’m just wasting my money on a steaming cup of empty calories. So I’m going to try to make coffee at home with a splash of soy milk. This will be the hardest habit to change!

I’m hoping that these changes will accelerate my weight loss! Any other suggested upgrades? 

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If you can’t go fast, go slow often 

I struggle to find time to have a proper workout. The logistics can feel nearly impossible with a baby. I thought I needed to go to the gym or go for a run to be “active” but the truth is you can be active around your house all day long. 

Once I got my Fitbit, I could see how little I was doing in a day. It was then that I started upping my activity levels around the house. Now I dance around the house with my daughter instead of sitting on the floor. I march in place while folding the washing. I avoid the couch. I walk to the shops to get a coffee. It’s not a workout per se but I end up burning a lot more calories than I did being sedentary. Just by slowly moving throughout the day I walk around 10 miles! I now surpass my jogging friends on Fitbit in steps per day. (I feel like the tortoise winning the race!)

Our bodies were designed to be on the move. High intensity workouts are great, but if you are struggling to fit it into your schedule, don’t let it be an excuse to sit on your bum all day! 

The photo is a pohutukawa (we call it a kiwi Christmas tree because it blooms around Xmas). Can you spot Ziggy enjoying our wee walk around the park? 😊

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Lose weight breastfeeding? Yeah right!

If you’re a new mum you’ve probably met at least one skinny woman who has claimed to have lost all their pregnancy weight by breastfeeding. Truth is, most of those women were probably pretty healthy before they had their babies. They claim to eat anything they wanted while breastfeeding, but what they wanted was an extra piece of chocolate not the whole damn slab! 

But breastfeeding burns calories, you say! Yep, that’s what I told myself while shovelling pizza and sweets into my mouth. I’d have to be breastfeeding all the babies in Wellington to burn that many calories! Looking back, I realise that I used having a newborn as an excuse to binge eat. I was stressed, sleep-deprived, and giving myself a free pass to indulge my bad habits (food addicts can always find an excuse to eat, eh?). So I ended up coming out of that 3 month fever dream of new motherhood being just as heavy as the day I gave birth! Man, seeing that number on the scale was a real shitty feeling.

So if you’ve got a problem with food, don’t make the same mistakes as me and delude yourself into thinking breastfeeding will solve all your problems. Instead, find quick, healthy snacks you can eat with one hand (dried fruits, raw bars, etc.). Encourage your family or friends to bring you good meals instead of takeaways and baked goods. Find healthy ways to cope with stress even if it’s as simple as taking 3 deep breaths (sometimes that’s all you’ll have time for). And don’t listen to your skinny mum friends who say they can eat anything they want while breastfeeding! 

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5 ways to create accountability for your health goals

Some people need external accountability to keep them on track. I am definitely one of those people. Maybe it’s the mum in me, but I always seem to show up for others but rarely for myself. My health is the first thing to go out the window when juggling with the priorities of parenting. So here are some ways I’ve created accountability for my health goals:

  1. Share health goals with the people you trust. It can be embarrassing to admit that you’re overweight even when the physical evidence is right there for everyone to see. I found it difficult to even talk to my physically fit husband about my health goals. But if I wanted to change the way my family eats, he needed to be a part of the conversation. How is he supposed to know not to order pizza if I don’t talk to him?! Having the support of others is a huge help for keeping yourself on track. 
  2. Schedule activities. It is easier to stay committed to a scheduled activity than a serendipitous one. It’s hard to find time for fitness with a baby, so I’ve signed up for a “mums n bubs” yoga class and I schedule buggy walks with friends. When you have a four-month-old you’ll always have a good excuse not to do something, so that pre-commitment is key. 
  3. Fitness trackers. When you can’t get to classes or out with friends, fitness trackers can encourage you to stay active. I recently got a Fitbit and I love it! I get competitive comparing my weekly steps with friends (to the point where I’m marching in place while I brush my teeth just to beat my husband). Here are my steps from the other day (I think all parents can relate to the lack of sleep!)
  4. Keep a food diary. Logging your food for the day gives you a chance to reflect on your food choices and find areas for improvement. When you’re rushed off your feet it’s easy to not think about the calories in that muffin you’re eating. Looking back on my day I can see the pitfalls where I need to make some healthier substitutes. The easiest way to do that is to keep all the “bad foods” out of the house. 
  5. Get Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen app. Knowing the right foods to eat is just as important as knowing the ones to avoid. This simple app helps remind you to get all of the good foods into your daily diet. 

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Making a lifestyle change

So here’s the skinny (pun intended I suppose): a year ago I was newly pregnant, just shy of obesity and living a “fat-tarian” lifestyle of bad vegetarian foods. A year later I’m 10 kilos heavier still and living on a diet of caffeine and sugar to get through the exhaustion of having a young baby. Looming over me is the knowledge that I know how to be healthy, but it is my last priority. I think most mums tend to make themselves the last priority. But I can’t keep on the road I’m on. I want a healthy life and a healthy family and if I don’t want my daughter to follow in my footsteps then I need to make this a priority now, before it’s her habits that need breaking too.

As I sit here feeding my four-month-old, I’m thinking about all of the diets I’ve been on, the countless pounds I’ve gained and lost and gained again, the life I want for my family… I’m reluctant to call my whole-food plant-based journey a “diet”. To me diets are quick fixes, they stop and start and always eventually end. I want to live healthy forever. Starting this food makeover is exciting and encouraging but I worry for the future. I worry about when I’m too tired to cook, when we go out to eat, and when the communal plate of sweets is passed to me at a mothers gathering. Will my conviction be there then? Because we all know starting is the easy part, it’s the sticking to it when the novelty wears off that’s the hard part.

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