Life Beyond The Weight Loss

It hasn’t taken long for me to realize through media, talking to people, and my own personal interactions that there is a whole lot of time spent focusing on weight loss, losing weight, ways to lose weight, how fast we can lose weight, and trendy diets to help us lose weight.

The weight loss/diet industry rakes in billions of dollars a year so we could even assume from those numbers people are hungry to accomplish this goal. ( oh I just made a cute pun, appreciate it 😉 )

Many will set out with good intentions only to always be on some kind of diet track or have the idea always on their mind they “have” to lose weight.

Many just give up and quit.

Others, others will get it. They will find the thing that works best for them. The “thing” that allows them to slowly, steadily drop weight, live life, not feel deprived and it will be sustainable long term.

They will cross the bridge that leads them to a lifestyle change. This is the only permanent thing that will last. They will find a healthy balance of all foods, learn the right amount they need to lose, then maintain that loss. They will have figured out that a their favorite meal or a treat here and there isn’t going to end their success, in fact, they will have figured out it can lead to their success.

This month marks my 8th year since I crossed over “the bridge”.  8 years of  not just losing it, but keeping it gone. It’s my celebratory month of figuring out what worked for me and getting out of the hamster wheel diet mentality/trap. I’ve learned so much about myself in these past few years. I’ve learned a lot about food, nutrition and exercise too.

Of course, just because this is the month I started the process doesn’t mean it’s when all things connected for me. That took some time, some patience, and some strong willed perseverance. It took a willingness to learn and experiment. To stumble and get up again.

Eventually, I hit a point where losing weight wasn’t such a focus anymore. I stopped my weekly check in’s with the scale. I stopped thinking or worrying every bite was gonna land on me like a ton of bricks. I stopped worrying about what size label my clothes carried.

I was in a good place.. the land of maintenance.

So what about those who “get it” who cross over into that understanding that the only thing that works forever and long term is a lifestyle change. It’s about losing the old lifestyle and mindset that got you there in the first place.  This means mentally, physically, and emotionally. An entire changed perspective on how to approach food, our relationship with it and finding the balance of eating just enough but not to much. It’s a better awareness on taking care of yourself.

Where do you go after weight loss?

In the beginning you’re so focused on the numbers changing, whether it’s your clothes or the scale it unwittingly becomes your main focus on the journey. Once you hit that point of being comfy you realize you need to have a new focus.

I’d say where I am now, as to where I was then, I’ve learned a lot more about food and nutrition.  Yes, you can lose weight with almost any foods as long as you are creating a daily deficit.

Losing weight comes down to having a negative expenditure each and every day. It’s just learning what to eat ( in a positive way) to contribute to the weight loss.

But there are things that start to happen in this process, in the “after” part of losing weight…

You really start to prefer healthy, nutritious foods

I was never a horrible eater  but I probably snacked on stuff that didn’t support my health and fitness goals like I do now. It has been a ongoing learned process, to intentionally select good foods over fast foods or some junk type of food.  In time your body really does begin to crave the good foods and you lose your taste for a lot of the things you used to find so desirable. I often eat salads now simply because I enjoy them, I crave the veggies, and it leaves me feeling energetic and not sluggish for my day.

By the time you get to a maintenance mode, you’ve learned more about the foods that got you there and don’t view eating that way as being deprived or missing out.

So yeah, you’re much more tuned in to how to eat and what to eat and you feel better not only physically, but mentally too when you do. Making good choices just makes you feel good all over.

You don’t dread those morning workouts anymore

I try and tell people this when they are wanting to start exercising. They seem to not believe me. I’m telling you, do it enough, it becomes a habit. And it turns into a habit you WANT to do. You anticipate them and you might even find yourself up for some new challenges you never thought possible. And you’ll get all kinds of energy from keeping at it. Not only that it builds your confidence, clears your mind, helps center you and gives you a new appreciation for what your body can do.

Speaking of energy

it’s fairly obvious, the less you have to drag around on your body during the day, the more energy you might have. Of course, if you’ve been exercising along the way that has been building your entire cardio system so you’ll feel more energetic in your daily tasks without huffing and puffing so much and as well during your purposeful exercise.  I just love having the energy to still hang with my young 20something kids if we’re up late ( they freely admit I have more energy than they do) or to be able to play in the pool with my grandson catching him ( over, and over, and over ha) as he comes off the water slide. And in a weird way, energy seems to breed energy, so the more you do the more you seem to produce. It’s a good feeling.

Clothes shopping anyone?

ok I’m a girl and it goes without saying, I can be drawn in by lots of pretty things. It’s even more fun when all the pretty things fit great and look good ( hmmm maybe that isn’t a good thing) it’s just an enjoyable experience.  I really do love fun, trendy fashion, a lot. There were times in the past I didn’t want to shop nor did I find it nearly as fun as I do now.  Shopping is just much more enjoyable when you are rewarded with fitting into smaller clothes for your efforts.

You might find yourself inspiring others or giving advice

In a weird turn of events, what started off as me doing my own thing to lose weight and get on a healthy lifestyle change has morphed into being here talking to you ( my blog) as well as sharing things on my other social media sites, and encouraging/helping people who ask me questions on everything from nutrition to how to start running and all things in between.  I think that’s like, a super cool thing. My desire always is that if someone can see I’ve done it, they can do it too. There’s nothing I love more than seeing someone “get it” and start on their own journeys.

The rest of your life

I guess it goes without saying, being at a healthy weight, exercising to keep your body strong and fit and eating good foods to support that will go a long way to letting you live a full, healthy life. Hopefully without diseases or ailments that can plaque people who carry extra weight or lead a sedentary lifestyle.   Being a strong, healthy you means the ability to live a active life to enjoy your family and all the adventures you want to have with them.

Strong. Healthy. Fit. Energetic. Active.

I’d say those are some pretty good goals to have in the long run far beyond the weight loss.

 

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Celebrating 8 years of  living a strong, fit, healthier lifestyle
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Holidays, Food And Guilty Feelings

baby

 

 

So I’m writing this post pre Easter weekend. I am assuming that the majority of you reading will have just celebrated it in a variety of ways.

I can’t speak to the rest of the world. but in the U.S. it will involve family and faith and  all kinds of tasty foods as well as a plethora of candy.

It is however,  now Monday and you may be feeling guilty over your “self indulgence” of the weekend. You maybe feel like you enjoyed those stolen treats out of your kids basket a bit to much.

Heck, I usually have plenty of left over stuff I don’t need to raid their stuff ( and yeah, I still make my adult kids Easter baskets 😉

Seriously, though. I have a deep appreciation for chocolate although now days, it just takes a little for me, to much makes me feel yucky.

Of course I see things circulating on the internet that always make my skin crawl… meme’s that talk about doing certain exercises to “negate what you ate”

For the love of chocolate bunnies, you can’t undo something that’s already done!

Of course, there are things you can do after the fact…..like… move on and get back to your regular routine. Move forward…life as usual… you know, normal stuff.

Did you enjoy your time with your family? Was the food good? Did you have fun watching the kids experience the day? Whatever your day looked like, was it good?

Life is good. It’s meant to be enjoyed. That means there will be times we have celebrations and food and its food we really love ’cause it’s special to that event.  Life isn’t about constant restrictions and feeling guilty over what we put in our mouth.

A “diet” shouldn’t ruin our holiday celebrations.  On the other hand you shouldn’t use it as open season to just eat like an out of control person because it is a  holiday.

Balance. Moderation. Be sensible. It works.

One thing I’ve learned on my health journey that’s been freeing is that the food is always there. The chocolate is there. I don’t have to just drop into the deep end and gorge like I’ll never have it again.

I know I can. I know I will. I just let myself live in those boundaries.

Will I maybe have more than “usual” of food or treats over the weekend?

Most likely, yes.

Will my body let me know it’s not used to it and get back on track ? Absolutely.

That, my friend is how you need to train yourself too.

After a celebratory weekend you should be focused on getting back to what you do ( which is hopefully eating well) .

You don’t have to throw in the towel.

You don’t have to wait till another day to “start”.

You don’t have to feel guilt or beat yourself up.

You don’t have to go to the gym and workout longer or extra hard to burn off calories you’ve consumed days before.  ( PLEASE! don’t)

What can you do? What should you do ?

Don’t weight yourself! It’s not “fat” you’ve gained but a healthy dose of water weight. If you need to weigh yourself, wait at least one day before you do. You don’t get “fat” from eating some extra calories for a day or two.

Be thankful for the day you had with friends and family.

Be thankful you were able to enjoy good foods and treats.

Pick right up with your balanced and sensible eating.

Do your exercise ( whatever you do) do it how you usually do. Don’t attempt to push yourself harder ( you may get hurt)

Refocus on your goals and remember living a healthy lifestyle also enjoys room to breathe and enjoy life and get back on track again.

Love yourself.  You’re doing a great job.

The key to success is to keep moving forward and staying positive.

I understand this may be a foreign concept to you, but with a little practice and patience, you will learn to implement it into a part of your healthy lifestyle 🙂

Healthy Eating Habits

Healthy Habits

So it’s afternoon coffee time and I’m ready to kick back and write for awhile. This morning was my “brick” training session… meaning I run, bike, then run again. Today I increased my miles on foot to a full 5K.  I’ve been gradually moving it up as I’ve adjusted to this activity.  I really do love it. It’s different and it’s challenging.

Oh. And I want to do a duathlon at the end of the year so I do have some extra motivation 😉 It involves a 5k run, 22 mile ride, and a 5K run… on some crazy hills as well.

The weather was on the hideous side. Foggy, misty rain, poor visibility, cool, but not cool once I warmed up. I gave up on wearing my glasses as I couldn’t keep them cleared off ( any tips or ideas on that faithful readers?) once I was on the bike I was chilled from being wet and now flying down the road, water running off my helmet into my face, my gloves wet and the roads somewhat tricky in some places.

Good times.

I believe if I’m training for something, I need to do it in all weather ’cause I never know what race day will deal up.

Anyway, it’s a rather strong way to start my day. I’m really loving multi sport days. As time moves along I will most likely increase my training to two days a week doing it.

But goodness… it can fire up my metabolism all day long!

Ok enough of that.. on with the show!

I thought since I talked about building new habits yesterday I’d focus on a couple specific to eating.

One should be obvious but often it’s one we ignore or sadly, we never experience it anymore.

Let yourself get hungry and experience those hunger signals.

To often in our world, we are programmed to eat “because it’s time”.   As if we experience those growly, hungry feelings we might not survive.  It might take some practice, but learn to experience hunger 30-60 minutes before a meal time.  It is one thing I began doing years ago, learning to eat when I had true hunger.  Not because the clock said I should eat. It’s amazing how good food really tastes when you have true, real hunger.

( and hunger after a hard workout?? eek.. food has never tasted better haha)

Seriously, though. Get back in touch with your body if you can’t remember those feelings or overlook them.

Again you will have to work at it. It might be a new habit for you to work on if you don’t currently practice it.

Once you start getting in touch with your bodies natural signals again, you might want to practice this next step, or new habit.

They kinda tie in together…. which is…

Learn to eat just enough food to satisfy your appetite, but not over eat.

This might be tricky in the beginning for you. We are often conditioned to eat what’s on our plate, or eat because it just tastes good. We can eat well beyond what we need to be comfortable and satisfied.  Allowing yourself to eat slowly and really savor your food gives your body and mind time to be in sync. You will be surprised that a lot less food will handle your hunger.  Again, it’s a practice, a discipline, you will have to work on to build this as a new habit.

And a final new habit you might consider….

Learn to eat 3-4 healthy balanced meals in your day.

Unfortunately so many of us have been conditioned to skip breakfast or lunch and then go crazy at dinner like it’s our last meal or something. We practice a weird form of starvation all day and gorge in the evening.  When you learn to eat real meals, at regular times, and satisfy your natural hunger you don’t spend all day thinking about when you can eat.

Crazy, I know.

Somehow we’ve accepted a thought that eating breakfast is a good way to lose weight or that we don’t have time for it.  Or if we skip lunch we can have a bigger dinner.

But what if you had satisfying meals, staged at regular times, and got hungry for each one? You’d be less likely to snack or be thinking about when you could get your hands on food again.

The “4th” meal would be if you workout heavily, you might need extra calories somewhere between your meals.  Some days I need more, some days I need less depending on how hard I workout.

As in any other habit, you will have to be intentional about what you do. It wont come easy or over night, but with practice you’ll master these new habits. New habits lead to a lifestyle change and steady sustainable weight loss.

 

 

 

So You Eat Healthy

green and red healthy food

 

“So you eat healthy?”  I heard it behind me but didn’t pay much attention ’cause I was lost in rapture at how totally gorgeous and big the red peppers were.  I just assumed in a store full of people that it wasn’t directed at me.

“So you eat healthy?” that broke my concentration in my study of the lovely red peppers. Still grasping one in my hand I turned around looking for the one directing the question now obviously at me.

Then I realized I had to look down somewhat as there was a young man in one of those motorized carts with his gaze fixed on me as he repeated the question again… for the third time.

I glanced at my basket that was full of produce, smiled at him, and said “yeah,  for the most part I do eat healthy”

“It’s so hard, isn’t it!” he blurted out

Still clutching a pepper in my hand and stuffing it into the bag, I glanced at him and said “No, I don’t think so. At least it’s not for me now.”

He then started telling me how his “doctor told him he needed to start eating better and healthier” and he was trying but it was just so hard but he knew it was something he had to do for his health.

I offered him some encouraging words and a few suggestions before I left him looking kinda pathetic studying the produce.

I’ll tell you this, if he’s in one of those little carts and he has a doctor making these suggestions to him, it sounds kinda serious. I certainly didn’t probe into the details but it appeared he needed to make some changes for the betterment of his health.

If you know my story and back round, 8 years back my doctor made a suggestion that I might change some things I was doing for my health. Thankfully, I had no health issues or problems that forced me into it. Thankfully, I listened to his advice and made some changes to create a healthier lifestyle for myself.

Sometimes, people wait till it’s to late or they are dealing with issues before they are forced to recognize their bodies aren’t designed to consume to much sugar, fats, processed foods, alcohol etc that contributes to excess fat which in turn leads to all kinds of health related problems and diseases.

Our bodies need good food for health and well being.

It’s not supposed to be something horrible and torturous to eat good nutritionally dense foods. It shouldn’t be viewed as some kind of death sentence.

“I have to eat healthy”

Believe it or not, in time, you lose your desire for so much of the not so nutritionally good foods as you feed your body more healthy foods. You really will begin to crave them and want to eat them and it won’t make you feel like you’re “missing out”

Listen, what you will miss out on for having health problems and other related ills is an energetic life or having a body that is strong and able to do things with your family and for yourself.  There are diseases brought on by obesity that you just don’t wanna mess around with. Some of those things can’t be changed and the effects they have on your body are permanent and lasting.

You don’t wanna “miss out” on an active abundant life. That’s what you don’t wanna miss out on.

Learning to pass on foods that don’t build a healthy body shouldn’t be viewed in a negative way.

Your focus should be on caring for your body so you can fully and energetically enjoy the precious life you’ve been given.

I like being able to run and chase little kids and walk stairs and park far from the store and not be huffing and puffing. I like having energy and knowing I can take on things I have to do in my day and not be exhausted from the exertion.

No. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.

But it has taken me some practice, discipline and intentional steps to get where I am.

Can I offer these words of advice to you? If you know you’re carrying excess fat ( and trust me, we ALL know when we are) please don’t wait till you’re at a doctors office and he’s giving you the ultimatum of ” you must do this now or else….”

Begin to take small steps that will lead to bigger changes.

Look for ways to get more movement into your day.

Learn to try a new vegetable. Learn how to cook them different ways ( I love roasting almost everything ! A little olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper, I’m in heaven 😉

Aim to eventually get veggies in at all your meals.

Understand what proper portion sizes are. I can guarantee, it’s not what you probably think it is.

Learn to eat enough to be satisfied but not stuffed.

Watch your alcohol intake.

Be aware of how much sugar you consume. Sugary drinks are huge offenders.

Stop going through fast food places, or learn to look for healthier options if you do.

Don’t eat when you aren’t hungry. Sounds simple, yet so many people reach for food to comfort them on some level. Find other activities, remove yourself from the kitchen, or call a friend… just do anything to give yourself time to think through why you don’t need to put food in your face.

In time, with repeated practice your new habits will take over leading you to a healthier energetic lifestyle and that’s one decision you won’t regret.

 

Tell me… is eating healthy hard for you?

So You Hate Exercise

hate exercise

 

I’ve heard it all now at this point. The exercise jokes. The good natured teasing. The “hey can you do this?” as friends share crazy exercise stunts with me. My son calls me when he needs muscles for a project. If I mention needing something from the store I’m told “well, run and go get it” Recently with the Pokémon Go games going on my sons are asking me if I want to walk 5/10K’s  to “help them out” …..

Ah yes… and you know what? I love it.

Exercise has made me strong and fit and able to do things in the rest of my life when I’m not exercising. When I’m jokingly told to run to the store for something, I honestly know I could do it. When I’m asked to help lift heavy things, I know my body has been trained and I can respond and do the task at hand.

I haven’t always embraced the workouts or been excited for the new  adventure for the day.

Oh no.

I grumbled. I  whined to myself. I found excuses. I pondered ways to wiggle out of doing it. I hated how hard it was.  I didn’t like how my heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest or my legs felt like rubber.

No, I wasn’t a huge fan of working out.

And from what I’ve gathered, a lot of you aren’t either. You cite many of the same reasons.

I’ve talked to so many people, trying to encourage them, that if they just start, just take the steps to do something every day they will be on their way.

It isn’t easy. I won’t lie. You have to intentionally get your body dressed, up and out for whatever fun activity you have planned.

exercise motivation

You have to determine that your workout is just as important as the breakfast your going to eat, or the job you will go to, or the grocery shopping you will do or anything else.

That, is a very intentional move my friends.

I talked to a young friend recently whom I hadn’t chatted with in awhile. He told me he had gotten into a routine, going to the gym, and that weeks on vacation had derailed him. But, as he was eager to tell me, “I could hardly wait to get back to it. I know you always told me I could get to that point  ( of wanting to do it) but I had to get started to understand that”

He was a former ” I hate exercise” person.

I know others who were in that club and who have come to the other side 😉

I think, there are some common threads that the former “I hate exercise” club members have in common ( I included myself in this club too)

  • There is a desire, a wish, to improve and be better.
  • The individual learns to ( daily) power through any excuses and go get the job done.
  • They are realistic and start with small goals and gradually increase their activity.
  • They select something they enjoy doing, want to do, and look forward to doing.
  • They understand they are in a competition with no one but themselves.
  • Set backs can happen and you just get right back at it again.
  • Strength isn’t built in a day and you learn to appreciate your body for the amazing machine it is as it adapts to the demands you put on it.
  • You recognize that giving your body purposeful movement isn’t to be viewed as a negative, but rather, a way to show love to it.
  • You begin to love the changes and all the energy you get from your exercise.

Perhaps even now, you are still in that club, but you have the desire to change.  Awesome!

Consider these things as you make that move:

Be patient with yourself.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Commit to the process. Make no excuses. None. ( unless you are honestly ill or injured )

Pick an activity you WANT to do. Heck, pick a couple. I think variety is what keeps you from getting bored. Not only that, multiple activities work all of your body.

Buy the right gear or equipment for your new activity. Even now nothing makes me more excited to get to my activity than knowing I have something new to wear 😉

Focus on the day you are in and just do that day.

Celebrate yourself when you are done. It’s ok to tell yourself “good job!” I mean, honestly, when I come flying back in from a run or miles on my bike, I have no one standing there cheerleading my efforts. It’s ok to be proud of yourself for getting out and getting it done.

Share your accomplishments on social media. Not only do you have accountability, whether you realize it or not, you will be an encouragement to someone else.

Finally, learn to view exercise as a way to love your body and to celebrate all the amazing things it can do.

What motivated you to start exercising? Has it been easy to stay with it?

exercise benefits

What Shape Is Your Diet?

2_10_16-Food-Pyramid

 

“So, what do you eat?”  It’s one of a few common questions I get sometimes. What the seeking person wants to know or might be asking is “tell me how to eat. Give me a plan/structure ’cause what you’re doing, it seems to work for you.”

First, I personally abhor structured diets that tell me what I have to eat, how much and when. This is probably why I tossed all that nonsense 8 years ago when I started my crazy adventure.

Even when I work with people I don’t make a meal plan for them. Why? They need to learn how to eat and how to make their own plan work. I want them to know and understand their body and how to listen to it.

Second, how I eat is what works for me. My nutritional needs will be different on several levels. My natural daily metabolic needs as well as what I need athletically will influence my daily diet.

Therefore, I can’t just give someone a blanket “this is what I eat” and expect it will work for them too.

There are some things I do that I think are applicable to anyone and can lead to personal success.

  1. I eat healthy 90% of the time. Meaning, I try to eat real foods as close to their natural form as I can. Of course, I leave wiggle room for those treats that make life fun or don’t make me feel restricted and deprived. This approach has worked for me and I believe has kept me successful.
  2. I drink lots of water. It’s my primary drink ( followed by coffee of course;) I don’t drink alcohol or sugary drinks of any kind. Well, only Gatorade after intense endurance workouts, but that’s a bit different.
  3. I eat when I’m hungry and I eat enough to satisfy my hunger but not make myself feel to full.
  4. Veggies or fruit take up lots of space on my plate at all my meals.
  5. I get 3 meals in and depending on my athletic load that day, healthy snacks as needed.
  6. Protein is a major thing for me at all meals and snacks to support muscle growth and maintenance as well as it doing a fine job keeping me feeling satisfied and not hungry.

And depending on my training schedule and what type of workouts I’m facing for the day, will determine what my nutritional needs are. Obviously, some days, I will require more calories than others.

See how I can’t just make a blanket statement to someone telling them what to eat?

The first step ( I believe) for anyone, is knowing yourself. Be the best student of your body you can. Know what foods make you feel good and healthy. Know what your activities are and how you need to nutritionally support them. Learn to listen to your body and it’s natural signals for hunger and when it’s satisfied. I’ve learned what foods make me feel energetic, satisfied, help me athletically and help me build a strong body. It’s been a learning work in progress.

Make it your goal to eat real, whole foods and allow opportunities for the little treats in life you love ( in moderation)

How else can you make a winning eating plan for yourself that will lead to long term success and sustainability?

* Learn to eat three kinds of foods at meals. Obviously, the bigger variety of foods you eat, the more vitamins, minerals and nutrients you consume. Learn to experiment with different foods at each meal. Include plenty of veggies and fruit.

* Choose foods in their most natural states. Foods in their natural state or lightly processed have more nutritional value and less sodium, trans fats, and other non-healthy ingredients.

* Think moderation. Make a strong foundation of healthy foods, but don’t deprive yourself of things that are enjoyable to you too. Stop thinking of foods as good or bad. Think of moderation and if you enjoy something ( like an occasional coke or whatever your poison is) it can fit into an overall nutritionally strong daily diet. You may be surprised though, that in time, when you start eating good food, you can lose the taste for certain foods you once found appealing.

Teach yourself to not just eat, but to learn to eat better. Look at a stronger, daily nutritional plan as a way to love and respect your body.

Making small daily changes will get you on the road to healthy, balanced and successful eating and living an overall healthier lifestyle.

Tell me, have you learned about yourself? How to feed your body in a way that supports your life and daily activities? What tips or tricks can you share?

 

Salad Bar Strategies

salad-bar

 

I heard a news story come on the other day that caught my attention. The announcer was rattling off “come back and see how salad bars can be diet sabotage.”

My first thought was… “Seriously? everyone knows what a nutritional trap those are” but then it was followed by the thought that, no, not everyone who is in the world is aware that salad bars can be the total downfall for their nutritional goals.

People with the best of intentions wanting to make better nutritional choices fall into a quagmire at the salad bar.

But first, let us also establish this. Straight up… not all salad bars are created equal. If all you’re offering me is iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, shaved carrots, some mushy looking tomatoes, with dessert offerings of bland chocolate and vanilla pudding, I’m totally passing it by.

You know what I’m talking about… you’ve seen those too 😉

I remember a couple years ago being with my husband at a popular deli restaurant which also happened to have an amazing salad bar. At this point in my health and fitness journey I had already figured out what to leave behind and what to load on my plate. A woman walked by our table with, I think? a salad, I couldn’t be sure it was covered in a sea of creamy white dressing . I could see no visible vegetables.

I wanted to jump up and yell “Salad intervention!!” so very bad but my husbands restraining hand kept me in my chair. ( Nah, not really. I can honestly behave when I have to 😉

I did want to tell her… “do you know how many calories and fat you have on that plate in just dressing alone??” or that you could’ve made a much better choice having a sandwich with lean meats and veggies, and probably even some chips for less calories?

First lesson in salad bar strategies: Watching out for those dressings. Ranch which is one of the most popular has  73 calories per tablespoon with 94% of those calories being fat calories.

Let that breathe over you for a second….

1 tablespoon. Have you measured out 1 tablespoon? it’s nothing.  Yet most people use far more than that . All those calories for dressing.

ranch
Each bowl containing 1 tablespoon

 

And not just Ranch, dressings in general are a nightmare. Opt for light vinaigrette, oil and vinegar or even dressings that might be more reduced fat ( although I think those are gross and would rather do without) if you really want Ranch, portion into a small container and dip your fork in the dressing before you grab some salad.

Second Lesson: Avoid all those pre-made salads. You know, the kinds made with mayo  or unidentifiable oils? This loads up the calories.

Third Lesson:  Beware of toppings. Croutons, bacon bits ( which most of the time aren’t even real bacon),  and other assorted items people pile on, again, not realizing  a tablespoon or two is a lot of calories.

Fourth Lesson: Beware hidden sugars.  Fruit served on salad bars is often served in heavy sugary syrup. Also watch for dried fruits which although not overall bad pack lots of calories. Always look for fruit served in it’s more natural form.

So you’re reading this thinking… “Well, super awesome! What exactly CAN I have??”

I’ll tell you. Let’s build it from the bottom up so that your salad bar trip really is good for you.

Grab your plate and layer it with lettuce. And by that I mean, the dark green leafy kind. If you know anything about me then you might know I have little use for Iceberg lettuce. It’s just so…boring… and has virtually no nutritional value compared to the darker kinds.

However, if that’s all that’s offered then you don’t have a choice. Even better? If they have fresh spinach, mix some of that with your lettuce. For me now days, spinach has become my lettuce for salads.

So once you get your lettuce/spinach in place, feel free to add any colorful veggies onto your plate. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, radishes, mushrooms, broccoli… you get it. Whatever fresh colorful veggies are offered, take them.

Veggies are your friend 😉

Once you get that built, you want to consider whatever lean protein is available. Select enough that is roughly the size of a deck of  cards. Hard boiled eggs can also be included with meat.

Then you look for “healthy” fats… avocado, nuts, cheese, olives etc. Select these sparingly, like golf ball size amount.

If you want a few “extras” on top, croutons or seeds or whatever floats your boat, do it mindfully.

Finally, when you have your colorful, fresh looking salad prepared, if you want some type of dressing, assess that carefully. As mentioned earlier, a single tablespoon full can pack a whopping amount of calories and fat to your healthy built salad.

Consider servings of dressings in marble sizes. Meaning, go sparingly.

Following a few simple tricks, and knowing what to avoid, will let you have a healthy, satisfying and nutrient dense meal without piling on tons of empty calories 🙂

Tell me, do you have any healthy tricks or tips you use at the salad bar?