Honest Advice | How to start any healthy diet / lifestyle ? 11 simple tips

Since losing over 80 pounds I often get asked for advice on either how to lose weight or how to start a diet. I usually take the time to write out my responses, but that gets tedious after awhile. So, here is my LONG overdue 11 simple tips on starting a healthy diet / lifestyle. These things work regardless of the diet, and I have done all of them myself.

*obligatory legal notice*
Before this list I need to remind you that I am NOT a licensed medical professional, I’m just a regular person who has lived the fat person life and has done these tips to change their lifestyle. Please consult a doctor before starting, stopping, or changing your diet OR starting/stopping an exercise program. Thank you!

1. Lifestyle NOT diet

Even though I will refer to “diet” in the video and post, you shouldn’t go searching for a diet. Instead try to find a way of living you can sustain for most of your life with only few modifications. For some this could be paleo or vegan or just flexible dieting. You need to break the habits that got you to where you are today, and I assume, overweight. If you just think of it like a “diet” you’re more likely to gain the weight back later. Which leads me to my second tips..

2. Do it for YOURSELF!

Seem silly this is my #2? Well not really. I explain it to people like this. I used to smoke, and I tried to quit a lot, but it wasn’t until I wanted to do it for myself that I actually did it. Not when my husband quit, or when he asked me to or when my family bothered me about it. Heck, I didn’t even quit knowing it was the right thing (I wasn’t ignorant of what I was choosing to do to myself). Eventually I WANTED to quit smoking, and I did it cold turkey. A diet is the same way. Don’t quit just because a family member wants you to. To break those nasty habits takes self motivation, without it, you’ll probably end up just as fat or worse off.

3. Baby steps or not : whatever works for you!

You’ll often hear people tell you to take baby steps, or maybe to JUST DO IT! (Shia reference? yeah horrible I know!) Well you need to figure out what works for you. For example: if I have junk food in the house, I will eat it because it’s there. It’s best for me to just not buy junk food. I am the type of person to just go all in on whatever I do. For some people though that scares them and if you need baby steps, you do that instead. Set goals and work towards them, but limit yourself on time. If you take “baby steps” for 3 years, you aren’t really accomplishing anything, sorry to say!

4. Make realistic goals

Again, it’s so simple but important. A lot of people get frustrated they don’t lose 20 pounds like the girls in the magazines or can’t lose weight as quickly as their favorite celebrity. The fact of the matter is this, everyone is different. I also tell everyone this simple thing. Chances are you didn’t gain all your weight that quickly, so why should you expect to lose it super quickly? My goal for 2015 is to lose 20 pounds. If I go past that then fantastic, but I’m being realistic. Just because your fitness website says you CAN lose 2 pounds a week eating 1200 calories doesn’t mean you should A. eat 1200 or b. lose weight that quickly. Weight loss is NOT linear, you can look at my weekly weight loss videos and you’ll see what I mean.

5. Set mini goals & reward yourself!

The grind of losing weight can be very stressful, so instead of worrying about it set small goals. Maybe in 3 months you’d like to work up to exercising 3-4 times a week or maybe you want to learn to enjoy new vegetables / foods. Also, don’t forget to reward yourself. Maybe you lose 10-20 pounds and you go buy yourself a nice shirt, or a new pair of jeans. I did this and now my jeans don’t fit anymore and I have to wear a belt to keep them on my butt. HOWEVER I look at these jeans and I feel proud about what I’ve done and that reward is very powerful for me. Try not to reward yourself with food, that can be a bad habit to form.

6. Track your calories

A lot of new fad diets tell you not to count calories and for a lot of folks, this doesn’t work well in the end. You don’t have to be a calorie nazi, but having an idea of what you’re putting in your body is a good thing. Look into websites like myfitnesspal.com , sparkpeople, or cronometer.com. I’m not sponsered by them and have used them before. I personally am on myfitnesspal or mfp. It’s probably the easiest to use, plus there is a social aspect to it. Also, I suggest using a food scale and using GRAMS (yes sorry my American friends) to weigh out food. You’ll find over time, it’s much easier to judge the calories in food. These days I can almost do it just by eye.

7. Pre-plan meals or pre-cook foods for the week

If you find you’re often crunched for time, consider either meal planning your meals for the week OR doing large batch cooking on your days off. For example: if you want to eat quinoa, but that is something you don’t normally have time for. Cook a large batch and store in the fridge, it’ll stay good for 5-7 days depending on conditions. Also consider freezing meals for later like homemade tv dinners. You’ll also probably save money and not waste a lot of food! Extra bonuses.

8. Motivation from family and friends

Going it alone is difficult, so when possible recruit a family member or friend to do this with you. Maybe you and your spouse can go to the gym together or go for walks after dinner. Maybe you and you kids can go play outside or go swimming. You could also make friends online and get together to exercise or keep each other on track. This is a great thing and don’t be embarrassed. My husband and I inspire each other and he makes me want to work harder in the gym. We also check each other meaning if he’s gonna eat something really bad I will say “maybe you shouldn’t” and he will do the same thing to me. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for us.

9. Eat veggies first

This is a great tip for everyone, especially those working on trying new veggies. When I was a foster mom I would have all the children (step son included) eat the vegetables first. Over time you learn to enjoy them more, you are also ensuring you get good nutrition and the fiber helps you feel full and gives signals to your brain. This is a habit we all still have today.

10. NO NIGHT EATING!

No matter what diet you follow, unless you work overnight and have your hours flipped around, stop eating towards bedtime. I hear so many people say “It’s just a habit I have”. Well break that habit and make it important. Eating before bed effects your sleep as you then have to put effort into digesting, it can also give you acid reflux, and overall bad sleep. On top of that it can mess with insulin levels and those sleepy time hormones. It’s best to give at least 3-5 hours before bed. If you honestly can’t go that long, then try your bed. No bowl of cereal before bed, no doughnut 30 minutes before bed, and holy crap don’t wake up in the middle of the night to eat. Take a drink of cold water and go back to bed.

11. Exercise isn’t the most important?

Finally we are at the end folks with the most controversial tip on my list. Exercise doesn’t have to be the most important! Put your pitch forks down and let me explain please. At my highest I was 298 lbs, I was in pain and even walking a few blocks was a chore for me. I decided I needed to lose some weight and that was more important than “toning”, but really how much toning do you do at 298 pounds?, anyways I focused on food. I walked when my back would allow me and over time I found I naturally got better at it and my stamina allowed me to do more. Now, I’m not telling you to eat a salad and sit on your butt all day, but if that is what you need for the first few months, then so be it. People often overwhelm themselves by getting healthy. They think they need to go to the gym 3-4 times a week, quit all their bad habits, and eat “clean” (which is a whole different rant!). This isn’t the case. Focus on the food first and get used to your chosen “diet”, then let the rest fall into place.

Do you agree with me ? Do you have tips of your own? Leave me a comment and let me know. Thanks guys and I hope you enjoyed. bye-bye!

Whole Foods & Hyvee Grocery Haul – 02/07/2015

So this week’s grocery haul video is a combination of two places. Hyvee, a local store from the Midwest, as well as Whole Foods market. I spent like $110 dollars, not totally sure and I can’t list the stuff I bought because in the confusion of construction I lost the receipts! Oops, sorry!

Asian Market Grocery Haul 1-24-2015

This grocery haul was all about stocking up on the essentials that aren’t that common. Of course we need our staple: rice, but also things like sesame oil, and kimchi making supplies. My main reason for going was to purchase pig fat to render into lard, that video will be coming soon I promise!. Life has been fast paced lately so I apologize for not uploading recipes this week.

My total was $84.49

15lb bag of Sweet rice $16.49
jicama $0.53
ginger $1.35
Japanese sweet potato $2.15
yellow onions $1.45
assi noodles $1.49
rice noodles $1.39
Chinese style noodles $0.99
rice stick noodles $0.99
crushed red pepper $3.99 (for kimchi)
potato powder (starch) $1.49
glutinous rice flour $0.99
tapioca starch $0.75
young Thai coconut $1.59
Napa cabbage $1.82
2 green onions $1.50
cilantro $0.50
red onion $0.31
Tianjin (yali) pear $0.32
burro banana $0.20
daikon radish $1.57
sesame oil $15.99
pork fat $4.89
bento box $12.99
bamboo skewers $1.99
Bonito flakes $3.99
Chinese soup spoons $1.38

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Costco, Trader Joe’s, & Whole Foods Grocery Haul 1-17-2015

Today was a HUGE haul for me! My mother in law came to town to take us shopping. (She lives 45 miles away from us, so it’s a big deal) So when she comes over, we always go to Costco.

At Costco I spent a total of $207.87 , I couldn’t show you the receipt because she paid for everything and then I just gave her cash. It’s easier than having to split the groceries up, it tends to confuse the cashiers and causes it to take longer. Here is what I got:

  • cat food $19.89
  • Brussels sprouts $4.49 X 2
  • 1/3rd pork loin $6.84
  • 1/2 bag kale salad kit $2.54
  • butter $6.99
  • 1 avocado 91¢
  • tomato $1
  • romaine $2.24
  • molasses $4.89
  • tomato paste $6.69
  • black beans $6.59
  • kidney beans $6.59
  • 3 dozen eggs $3.59 X 2
  • oatmeal $7.99 X 2
  • big can of green beans $3.29
  • frozen broccoli $5.99
  • 1/2 container of bread $2
  • 2lbs ground beef $7.38
  • 1/3rd beef roast $11.91

As for none food I am VERY happy to say I was able to purchase a special pressure cooker set for $79.99 . Normally when you got to the store, or look online, you can get an 8qt pressure cooker for $99, well I was able to get a set that has a 4qt AND an 8qt pressure cooker PLUS a steamer basket and a glass lid all for only $80. I was really needing one of these so I am so happy. I used it to cook beans yesterday and love it!

Next place was Whole Foods. Unfortunately my husband was rushing and left the bag in my mother’s car so I didn’t receive it until today actually. (THANKFULLY she had to come back to Omaha today for something else) She was able to freeze/refrigerate what needed to be kept cold so the food is still good. The croissants might go bad before we eat them all, but nothing I can do about it.

  • Bob’s red mill cream of wheat $3.69
  • Bob’s red mill masa harina $3.69
  • Luna chocolate coconut bar 99¢ x 3
  • bulk bin ginger snaps $1.90 ($9.99/lb)
  • Luna smores bar 99¢
  • Luna caramel nut bar 99¢
  • bulk bin organic oregano 48¢ ($23.99/lb or $1.49/oz)
  • bulk bin organic garlic powder $1.28 ($15.99/lb or $1/oz)
  • Applegate farms uncured pepperoni (from deli) 77¢
  • 365 deli Havarti cheese 1/2 pound approx $4.54
  • 6ct package of Whole Foods Croissants $6.99
  • 365 frozen organic cauliflower $1.99 X 2
  • 16 ounce brewed coffee $2.00
  • 20 ounce brewed coffee $2.25
  • bulk olive bar $4.07 ($10.99/lb)
  • bulk bin organic chives $2.46 ($40.99/lb or $2.56/oz)
  • credit of 10¢ for bag refund

Total @ Whole foods was : $44.35

Finally we went to Trader Joe’s. (I told you it was a huge grocery haul day!) I had to refund some items, because I didn’t like them. That’s the great thing about TJ is there “if you don’t like it, bring it back” policy. No one else is better. In total I got $11.97 back from returns, so that’s already taken off the total.

  • Organic free range chicken broth $1.99 X 4
  • TJ Soy sauce $2.99 X 2
  • Baking cocoa $2.49
  • TJ Sriracha roasted garlic BBQ sauce $2.99 X 2
  • can of TJ coconut cream $1.49
  • TJ traditional marinara sauce $1.49
  • TJ organic ketchup $1.99
  • can of black refried beans 99¢
  • TJ beets in vinaigrette – $1.69
  • TJ unscented deodorant $3.49
  • organic red palm oil $5.99
  • Luna nutz over chocolate bar 99¢
  • Luna smores bar 99¢
  • cliff peanut butter bar 99¢
  • TJ corn and chile salsa $2.49
  • linguine pasta 99¢
  • bananas 19¢ X 9
  • organic carrots 99¢ X 4
  • carrots of many colors $2.49
  • Zipline beer $1.34
  • TJ madras lentils $1.99
  • TJ sliced almonds $3.99
  • TJ frozen raspberries $2.69
  • Golden potatoes $2.49 X 3
  • Red wax Gouda cheese $3.18
  • Turkey jerky $5.99
  • Natural whole roaster chicken $9.05

Total @Trader Joe’s was $81.76 (if you take off the credit it would be $93.73)

All in all, don’t think I’ll be grocery shopping til next month. My freezer is completely full. I’ll probably buy like milk here and there, but that isn’t video worthy. Yikes… did the math and I spent a total of $333.98 O_O oh my…

Homemade Gluten Free Vegan Pizza (It’s what was for dinner!)

So I bought a new product the other day at Whole Foods; this vegan gluten free cheese called Daiya. I’ve seen many a vegan rave about this stuff claiming it tastes “EXACTLY” like real mozzarella cheese. Well I won’t go into huge detail about it (review coming soon!); however I will say its much better cooked than not. I started out making a crust which is hard to see since I like thin crust. Sauteing some soy chorizo, prepped all the veggies. Rolled out my crust on a silpat, flipped into a pan. Pre Baked at 375 for 6 minutes, and ladies and gentlemen the rest was history. Now, in my house I have 1 die hard meat eater, and my husband who is more of a flexitarian like myself, however, this pizza has my step son fooled it was meat and my husband shocked it was gluten free AND vegan. Best of all, my stomach didn’t freak out from the milk or the gluten and at the end of the day we were all happy people. The following is the recipe as close as I could guess (I freehand all my recipes) because originally, I didn’t plan to post this, but it was so amazing I couldn’t resist. Depending on your flour brand and climate you might need more water or more flour.

Ingredients:

Crust:
2 cups gluten free flour mix (I suggest using my recipe, click HERE , however any brand will work that’s made for dough)
1 tablespoon yeast
2 pinches salt
1 1/2 tablespoons oil ( I used grape-seed)
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup warm water
heavy pinch corn flour for dusting, optional

Pizza:
1 pre baked crust (listed above)
1 medium (or 3/4 Large) bell pepper, I used red
1 cup green onion tops
small handful cilantro leaves
1/2 can of black olives, drained and rinsed well
1 bag Daiya mozzarella flavor cheese shreds
1 tube Cacique soy-chorizo (or 8-10oz any vegetarian chorizo)
1-2 cups your favorite pasta sauce or see note below**

Directions:

I started with the chorizo. You’ll want to follow the directions on the package because they vary, but you want to cook it over medium to medium high until the color darkens and it gets crispy. You might have to go a few extra minutes. Great thing is, you can precook this an hour in advance or a few minutes like I did.

For the crust: In a food processor put your water, salt, yeast, sugar, and oil. Pulse until the yeast is blended in well and let set 5 minutes giving it time to “bloom”. We will not be letting this dough rise, however, blooming the yeast will give it the traditional taste of pizza crust without the hassle.

Once your yeast starts to bubble and look like a science experiment. Take 1 1/2 cups of flour and add it to your food processor. Turn it on and let it blend. Slowly add more flour until the mixture comes together and looks like dough. You might need 2 cups or 3 cups of flour, it just varies. If you add a bit too much, don’t worry you can always add a splash of water.

At this point, preheat your oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Get a silpat or a piece of parchment or wax paper and put it on your counter. Put your dough on the counter and roll it to your desired thickness. We went for thin crust which only needs to prebake for 6 minutes, however; if you want something thicker you’ll want to 2X or 1.5X this recipe and prebake it for 12 minutes. Optionally you can take a pinch of corn meal at this point and dust on-top of the dough all over, this will prevent sticking later. If you prefer you can use nonstick spray on the pan. A good tip for transferring the dough is to put the pizza pan ontop of the counter with the dough sheet, slide your hand under the paper (silpat) and center it. Now in a rather quick, but smooth motion, flip the pan right-side up while holding the dough in place. Carefully peel off the paper or silpat and its that simple. Prebake your pizza until the top starts to firm up.

While crust is prebaking, prepare the toppings. Cut up bell pepper into 1/4 inch pieces. Halve the black olives, slice the tops off green onions, finely mince cilantro leaves, take the cheese out of the fridge, get your pasta sauce (see note if you don’t have**), and let your chorizo warm up if pre-made.

Take out the crust; spread your sauce on. I don’t like a lot of sauce, but use more if you want. Add the bell pepper, half the green onions, cheese, chorizo, other half of green onion tops, black olives, and cilantro. Adding the toppings in that order ensures the veggies cook enough to be tender and the chorizo is still crisp.

Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes depending on how well you want the crust and the toppings cooked. If your oven runs hot, starting checking at 15 minutes. When done you’ll have what I nicknamed the “Monster Pizza”. Over flowing with melted gooey cheese, “sausage”, lots of veggies and crazy amounts of flavor. You can’t tell its vegan, you can’t tell its gluten free, but you can tell its awesome, and kid approved! 😉

**Note: If you don’t have pre-made pasta sauce an easy substitute is to keep canned tomatoes on hand. I prefer any fire roasted canned tomato product. Take chopped roasted tomatoes, strain liquid, and pulse in food processor a few times to blend part of it up and then use that in-place of sauce. Its super simple and quick for those pizza emergencies. (this also works as a tasty quick pasta sauce!)

*Also: If you don’t happen to like the toppings I’ve chosen, feel free to change them. I was just using what I had in the fridge at the time.

PLEASE TAKE NOTE: If you are making this and/or cooking for someone with gluten allergies or celiacs disease. Make sure to purchase ingredients that are certified gluten free, and clean your utensils very well. Better safe than sorry.

TIME SAVING TIP: You ever tempted by those ready-bake pizzas you buy at the grocery store, well never again! Make the crust, prebake and let cool down. Top with all your toppings and shrink wrap and store in freezer. Pizza will keep for 3-6 months. To bake just add 5-10 extra minutes onto cooking time. Try making mini pizzas and let your kids top their own, fun for the whole family!

(Nutritional information assume you used the same ingredients and serving size is 1/8th)