Marching Into Fitness: Little Changes, Big Rewards

One of the mistakes that I find myself often repeating when it comes to altering my diet and fitness levels is that I take it on full force at a gazelle level and burn out quickly. I get so excited about my latest ambition to succeed at a healthier lifestyle and instead of setting off at a jogging pace, I take off at a sprint. This would be OK if it were a short little race but honestly, altering a lifestyle is more like taking on a marathon. You have to pace yourself. I mean, it’s not like I just overnight starting making unhealthier eating choices or not allowing myself to find time throughout my day to exercise. So I can’t expect myself to just change every bad habit overnight. (Though I wish I could!)

I have to keep reminding myself that little changes will bring big rewards and the most important thing I can do is to have patience and to continue to praise myself for each little accomplishment I make along the way.

I had really great success this last summer when I took on some little changes to my eating habits. I didn’t just completely stop eating junk food and switch to veggies or tofu or anything. But I just made tiny changes over time. Once again, I’ve taken on this same mindset and have had luck with eating healthier and squeezing in some exercise since I’ve been back from the Blissdom conference. I thought I would share some of the things that I’ve been doing. (But please, keep in mind something very important; you must never change your diet or exercise routine without consulting with your physician first. Also, what works for me, may not work for you. You must find what works well for you and keeps you the healthiest.):

1) Cut back on “nibbling” on food when I prepare meals – This is a tough one for me. I often find myself distracted when I cook and that seems to lead to eating part of a meal before I even get to the table! So now, I either chew gum, nibble on fruit or just altogether force myself to be conscious of what I’m eating. It also helps that I did a Freezer Cooking Session and I’m spending less time cooking this month.

2) Serving Food Family Style – I used to dish up the plates trying to take a guess at what everyone would like and to the amounts they’d eat. Now, I serve everything “family style” and we just take little bits of food at a time. If I do go to add food to my plate, I’m very aware of anything extra and take note of it—am I really hungry or did I not allow myself time to digest what I already ate? I also seem to have less food to throw away from our plates and more leftovers when we do this. But you have to be careful not to allow yourself too many extra servings, which can happen with the food being so easily accessible. (Ask your Dr./Nutritionist what are healthy portions for you to follow.)

3) Cut up fruit/veggies at each meal – Every night at dinner, I cut up a big bowl of fruit and/or veggies. I serve up what I think is a healthy portion of my other food and then when I feel like I’m still hungry, I choose to eat from the fruit/veggie bowl instead.

4) Quit eating what’s the kids leave on plates – I have a hard time throwing food out. So I let the kids choose what they want now (again from the family style serving). I always make sure they get their proper nutrition but by letting them make their own choices, there’s less to throw away. Also, I tend to put less on my own plate in case they pick something and don’t end up liking it. Otherwise, it’s so easy to end up eating way too much.

5) Choosing healthier foods – Overall, we eat fairly healthy as a family. But I am making even more of a conscious effort to make sure our snacks are healthy and that “junk food” or candy etc is something we have just at random or as a treat. Side dishes are more along the lines of yogurt, steamed veggies, or fruit and sometimes cheese or pickles, as opposed to fried or greasy foods.

6) I’m eating a little slower – It used to be a guarantee that I’d always be the last person done eating at any meal. But just over pregnancies and then trying to make sure I got myself and the little kids fed, I think I’ve almost trained myself to eat faster. I’ve been trying to make an effort to pace myself and actually try to enjoy my meals than to inhale them now. :)

7) Squeezing in exercise when I can – I have a hard time getting in full exercise segments, as I mentioned, so I now opt for “Time for 10” with the kids or even use the Just Dance Wii game with them. (They don’t follow the steps but create their own little dance steps!) I also use my EA Sports Active and other Wii games, as time permits. When the weather breaks, we’ll be getting in a lot more walks together.

I actually did an entire series on 30 Ways (Ideas) for Losing a Pound last year. They mostly focus on eating habits and not diet/nutrition advice. I’ve had a lot of readers email me that they’ve had really good luck with them. But again, keep in mind the important fact that you must consult your physician before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.

I hope that by sharing some of the little changes I’ve been making that it will help inspire you to seek out a few of your own so you can slowly start working towards a healthier lifestyle. I’d love to hear what works for you, as well. I’m hoping that you’ll also find those little changes that add up to big rewards in the end!