If you follow me on Instagram, you would be knowing that I have been eating clean (mostly) the past month or so. Eating better, is more like it because I am still having everything (in moderation) but for the sugary-stuff and mindless amounts of fried stuff, white bread and the likes.
I have been meaning to do this for quite a while but was generally just lethargic to get started. With a full-time job, a toddler, and general everyday hustle and bustle, I almost never made any efforts to take care of myself and that has been taking a toll on my health in terms of back aches, poor stamina and exhaustion. I wanted to set things right and get into a routine of at least eating better and sneaking in a few minutes a day of workout to begin with and I finally took the plunge over a month and half ago.
As I always say, I am no expert (and I think less than two months of clean eating with weekly cheat meals is too soon to talk like a Fitness Guru) but I thought I’d share my two cents (going by what I have been doing) for people who are trying to do something similar and tips which could possibly make it easier to get started with things.
The first and foremost thing that we need to understand and accept is that this is a change to our lifestyle and eating habits and not just some fad diet that we follow for a few days and get results that will last a lifetime (because it won’t, let’s be real).
Establish a goal – Like I said earlier, keep it real. Don’t expect to lose 5 kg in a month and then be disappointed (and jump back to old ways). So try to decide what you want to achieve from this change – it could be general wellbeing, losing weight, being fit or whatever. Also, remember that losing weight with just changes made to eating habits and not including any form of exercise would not yield results in a jiffy. If your goal is to lose weight fast, you need to include a fitness regimen and a good one will still take a while if you want permanent results.
Sneak in some form of physical activity to give you better results. You need not enrol in a gym to do this. There are TONS of resources online to get you started at the comfort of your home according to the time you have in hand, intensity you are looking for, etc. I was recommended the Nike+ Training App and Fitness Blender Videos and they’ve been really helpful.
I also do some exercises I’ve had pinned on to my Pinterest Fitness Board for years now. My workout schedule is of a fairly short duration (15-30 minutes on most days) and these resources have been very helpful since I customize them according to my requirement. If doing things together with other people is what keeps you motivated, join group classes that are fun (while also giving you a good workout) like Zumba, Pilates, etc.
Believe it or not, on days when I am hard pressed for time or if I am sleepy or feel like I need a break to freshen up, I sneak in to the restroom at work and do a bunch of squats/lunges/jumping jacks and it’s helped me tremendously. If you have a spacious (and neat) restroom like ours, I don’t see why you shouldn’t do it too. I also came across this article and I think it’s pretty cool.
Customize your meal plans to suit your taste. Making a change like this doesn’t mean you have to eat boring or bland food, my Instagram feed is proof enough. You can still enjoy a good meal without compromising on the taste as long as you know what goes in to your cooking and are mindful of the ingredients. Cutting down on the bread or rice certainly doesn’t affect you as adversely as you think it would. This is saying a lot, because I never thought I could have a meal without these. But I have grown to like and appreciate having my sabji, stir-fry, curry or dal without the rice or roti and still enjoy it. If you still want something more than vegetables to eat, there are always healthier alternatives like quinoa, millets, etc.
I haven’t completely eliminated carbs from my diet but have been trying to limit the majority of it to just one meal a day.
Don’t deprive yourself of things you like/enjoy. If you aren’t suffering a health condition or have any problem that requires you to stop eating something, there is no need to completely deprive yourself of a treat once in a while. I have realized that I am much better at controlling my sweet cravings and indulging in just the right amount of sweet treats ever since I cut down on sugar and all the products that are laden with refined sugar in one form or the other.
Dates, figs, protein balls (made of dried fruits & nuts) or a piece of fruit help me satisfy my post-meal dessert craving.
A concrete meal plan isn’t compulsory or necessary (I don’t have/follow one), but I highly recommend planning your grocery purchase in advance. This helps eliminate eating junk as a filler in between meals and also helps you make better meals which would work for the entire family. Stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables once or twice a week and also keep your pantry full with dried fruits, nuts, sugar-free granola/cereals, oats, the likes of quinoa/millets, etc. For me personally, a banana or apple wedges with nut butter works great as a 5pm hunger buster. I pack sliced cucumber, carrots, apples, oranges, etc. for snacking in between meals during the day. Unsweetened yogurt/Greek yogurt works well too.
Although it’s much more encouraging if the rest of the family joins you, it isn’t too bad even if they don’t follow it completely. My husband’s all for substituting millets/quinoa for rice but he isn’t a salad (only) person. So on days when I take salad meals for lunch, I do have to make something extra for the boys. I find that it’s easier to work around this if I know what I have in hand. Thank god for the pressure cooker, I can have a meal ready for them while I am chopping veggies for my salad or getting them grilled.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT weigh yourself every other day. I haven’t weighed myself ever since I started this whole thing. I am not even sure if I have lost any weight, but I do feel fresher and lighter, less bloated and less exhausted these days. So, I’m consciously trying my best to not make this revolve around how much I weigh. From all the research I have done, I know that I could be weighing the same in spite of getting fitter.
In the next part of this post, I will tell you guys what our meals are typically made of and what kind of ‘planning’ I do on a weekly basis. In the meantime, if you have any tips for me to get better at this whole eating right thing, please do comment and let me know. Thank you!