Getting on Track: Figuring Out Proper Nutrition

We’ve all heard that in order to lose weight, calories in must be less than calories out.  We also know that not all calories are the same.  Once I decided to try to get healthy (in other words, lose weight as quickly as I could for my wedding), I started thinking about what foods are the best for weight loss.  My main approach was to pay attention to how many calories were in every single thing I consumed, including drinks and condiments.  My new plan was to eat whole grains, fruit, veggies, meat, beans, and nuts, and watch how many calories I consumed a day from dairy products, condiments and beverages.  I also did my best to only eat grains with breakfast, so I would have the whole day to burn them off before bed.  This did not usually happen, although I did my best to count calories and only have one serving of grains per meal after breakfast. (This meant measuring my pasta, having one burrito and a salad instead of two, etc.) I usually had half a serving of leftovers for lunch with a salad, greek yogurt, and/or fruit.  I ate protein like cheese and peanut butter or an energy bar as snacks to help keep me full.  I also tried to only drink alcohol sparingly.  It was hard not to cheat when I did not pack a lunch and was tired of fast food salad, when I did not feel like cooking dinner, or when my significant other wanted a meal that I knew wouldn’t help me lose the pounds.  How could I resist?  The pizza and mac’n’cheese smelled amazing, I was hungry, and I was tired. I really didn’t want to cook an entirely separate meal just for me. So yes, I cheated, but I did succeed in losing a good deal of weight.  When I went to try on my wedding dress a month before the wedding, I found that it was too big and ended up getting it altered last minute.

The entire time I was dieting this way, it was a struggle.  I was never entirely sure about what I should and shouldn’t eat to best lose weight.  I figured eating healthy was the best way to go, but more often than not I wasn’t sure what “eat healthy” really meant.  So I tried to eat no more than one serving of “normal” food and fill the rest of my stomach with salad or vegetables, and then snack on fruit and “healthy” proteins like cheese, peanut butter, greek yogurt, and hummus.  It seemed like a lot of work, and I was hungry all the time.

I stopped dieting after our wedding.  I still made an effort to eat healthy, but I stopped counting calories and allowed myself pizza or a burger and fries every now and then.  As I mentioned earlier, my husband decided to get fit and healthy since our move to California.  Of course I was ready!  He spoke with a personal trainer at the gym about his new goals, and she recommended cutting out all carbs.  He did some research, and came across the Paleo diet.  He thought it sounded like just the diet he was looking for, so he told me about it.  I looked into it further, and decided that this diet made a whole lot of sense.  I had been searching for an explanation of healthy eating, and this diet offered one that was logical to me. If you are thinking about going Paleo, I would recommend doing some research on the diet first.  Here are some articles I found helpful: Beginners Guide to the Paleo Diet; Ultimate Paleo Guide.  There is also something called the “Whole 30.”  The Whole 30 is spending 30 days eating clean, whole, non-processed foods, 100% of the time – no cheating allowed.  This is meant to flush your system of any toxins and to cut out any foods your body could be allergic to.

Here are some links to great Paleo Recipe Blogs to help you get started: Stupid Easy Paleo, PaleOMG, and Paleo Plan.  You can also check out the recipes I have saved on Pinterest here.  I haven’t made all of them yet, but I will be posting the recipes I have made – and my changes to them – in the near future!

I am not going to lie to you – starting a new diet is a lot of work.  I spent  lot of time figuring out what we could eat, finding recipes, grocery shopping, and cooking during the first few weeks.  The first grocery trips were a lot of work because I didn’t know what many of the items really were on my list.  Almond butter – that’s in the butter aisle, right? Nope, it is with peanut butter.  I have yet to find a Paleo almond butter in a store, but it is very simple to make.  Eating all natural foods means cooking every meal yourself, which is not as easy as ordering a pizza or sticking a frozen lasagna in the oven when you are too tired to cook.  You can cook enough to produce leftovers though, and you can freeze things like chili for a quick and easy dinner.

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