I’d like to say it’s easy, but it’s not

Id like to say successful, long term weight loss is easy, but it’s not.

None of the “diets” I followed ever worked for me. I’d manage a restricted eating plan for a few days, sometimes a few weeks or months.

The weight would come off, but then those old habits would creep back, shortly followed by the weight I’d lost.

It was disheartening.

It hasn’t been easy to get to where I am today – where I’m preferring to eat healthy options, and where I’m able to choose healthy foods at the supermarket and restaurant.

How I’ve done it, and am doing it? Sheer hard slog.

I realised I wanted to be healthy more than I wanted the laziness and crappy food.

I wanted to live a different life – one filled with wellness, happiness and activity.

It wasn’t the weight loss that was driving me at all. What drives me forward is the desire for change.

I want to be that person who glows with health.

I want to be that person with a normal relationship with food.

I want to be the best version of myself. My best me. And I knew I couldn’t do that by scarfing down kilograms of chocolate and guzzling litres of soft drink.

I couldn’t do that by eating junk food five times a week.

I couldn’t do that by eating huge portions.

I’ve made changes to my life, one at a time, that overall have transformed me.

Despite being hard, those changes are so, so worth it.

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Healthy eating is a hard habit to make, and an easy habit to break

After just over a year on OA, and working hard to improve my eating and exercise, things are finally falling into place.

These days, I eat 2-3 healthy meals a day, exercise roughly 5x a week at the gym, and am attending OA meetings regularly.

I’m feeling better, eating better, and the muscle that atrophied over the last five years of not exercising is coming back.

It’s taken – is taking – a lot of dedication and consistency, and the results are starting to show.

Gone are my old habits of eating family sized blocks of chocolate and litres of Pepsi Max every night. Instead I drink plain bubbly water (thanks to my soda stream), and when I feel like a snack I have a piece of fruit or some low calorie jelly.

It’s nowhere near perfect yet. I still occasionally binge, and I’d like to be able to say no on our weekly workplace morning teas, but I’m getting better.

It’s true what they say about consistency. You just have to keep coming back to OA, and keep practicing the good habits instead of the bad. It’s not easy – not one bit – but it will become a lifestyle if you keep working.

It’s becoming a lifestyle for me 😁

Tracking the little things, ignoring the big things

I track my food on the MyFitnessPal app.

It helps to enter what I eat before I eat it, otherwise I tend to “forget” and not log everything.

Especially the “little things”.

The “little things” are biscuits, ice cream, cake at work morning tea, dressings…and all these “little things” add up. A lot.

Once I started tracking properly, I learned that, quite often, I was eating more calories in the “little things” than I was in my main meals.

This is why you hear OA people say “three meals a day… and nothing in between.”

It’s not usually the meals that cause the problem. It’s the rubbish in between.

For example, one day last week I had my usual smoothie for breakfast, then shrimp and veggies for lunch, and chicken and vegetables for dinner.

All good…and coming to about 1400 calories, which is my goal for a day.

BUT…I then had an ice cream sundae from the corner shop in the evening. Which I estimate at about 800 calories.

One “little treat” ruined a whole day of great eating.

So now I log food before I eat. Especially the “little things”.

That makes all the difference.

Meal prep + gym + OA…

Life is going well. I’m finding that meal prepping really works for me. I know what I’m eating ahead of time, and being organised makes it much easier to stick to my food plan.

This week, I meal prepped two chicken breasts, roast veggies, prawns and asparagus.

The prawns were pan fried with a teaspoon of butter for flavour.

The chicken was diced, then pan fried (oil spray) with Moroccan seasoning.

The asparagus was nuked for 3 minutes with some slices of fresh lemon and ground pepper.

The roast veggies (a mix of broccoli, red pepper, onion and carrots) was dusted with Moroccan seasoning (again) then baked in the oven on a tray for 20 minutes.

These dishes give me the following meals: prawns with asparagus for 3 X lunches, chicken with roast veggies for 3 X dinners.

That gets me from Sunday to Wednesday, when I’ll cook again.

Great meal prep recipes should be 1) scalable, 2) easy to store and reheat and 3) dishes you enjoy.

I’m someone who doesn’t mind eating the same thing multiple times, and these recipes make everything easy!

Combining with OA and regular gym sessions means everything is working for me!

Diet + gym = happiness

I’m loving my return to the gym.

I’m finding that I sleep much better, and just feel better overall.

Gym keeps me sane. I forgot how well it keeps me sane, and wish I’d never stopped going. But covid happened, and everything ground to a halt, and the gym was closed.

Then when I could have gone back, I didn’t.

However, I’m back now.

I’m feeling very weak in comparison to where I was – I’m back doing baby weights again.

It’ll soon improve. I’m taking things very cautiously, as I don’t want to injure myself. It’s easy to forget I’m not young any more! (I’m in my 50s now…yikes!)

But I am loving the movement. I love feeling better about myself. I love eating better too.

I’m fully aware these days that junk food, like drugs or alcohol, is addictive. And I am an addict. So I have to keep away from junk, or it sets me off, the monster inside is released from its cage, and everything goes to hell.

I’m better off just eating well. I’ve learned from experience that I can’t control myself with certain foods, so more and more I’m just ruling them out of my life. That doesn’t mean I’m fully successful at ruling them out. But I’m doing the best I can.

Today’s food is prawns (well, shrimp really), and asparagus for lunch. Dinner will be chicken and asparagus. 1 cup of chicken, and a fair bit of asparagus (I’ve learned that I don’t have to count or limit green veggies).

So that’s where I’m at. Still doing OA, still eating well (mostly), and still doing gym every weekday.

Life is – dare I say it? – good. 😁

Meal prep: double up on lunch and dinner

I used to have different meals for lunch and dinner. Now, with meal prep, I have the same for both, just slightly smaller serves at lunchtime.

I was often having a bagel with vegemite, or subway, or a sandwich, then I found I was getting hungry mid-afternoon (like really hungry!).

I’ve realised the processed carbs (bread, bagels, subs etc) weren’t helping me. They’d fill me up for an hour or two, then I’d be hungry later.

So now I have the same thing for lunch and dinner, which is a protein plus salad or veggies. If I want I’ll grab an apple or have a miso soup as a snack if I need it, but not very often.

Because I’ve realised my serving sizes were nutso huge, I’ve now reduced them significantly, and find that my shopping bill hasn’t increased, despite eating two proper meals a day.

For example, one steak will do me lunch and dinner, because I divide it into two, and cut it into slices, so it is slower to eat and more filling.

This is working well, cuts back on preparation time, and it means I know what I’m eating in advance, so there’s less waste.

I’m also feeling happier eating this way. Eating by repetition prevents me overeating, and I tend to eat better overall. It also helps me avoid getting junk food in, which used to happen a fair bit when I had nothing planned.

I guess you could say I’m a bit of a food prep fan!

Meal prep: dividing the week in two

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m meal prepping regularly now.

I divide the week in two (Sunday through Wednesday; Thursday through Saturday) then one half of the week I do veggies, while the other half is salad.

Then I just add a protein, which I also cook in batches. Common proteins I use are chicken, steak, pork chops, eggs and fish, and I’ll typically cook 2-3 days worth at a time.

I also prepare sides for the kids (I have three teenagers at home) in batches. Common sides for them are salad, roast veggies, couscous and rice. Common proteins for them include chicken, pork chops, eggs (omelettes), fish and mince meat (often in tacos).

The kids are having fried rice tonight and tomorrow. I’m having chicken breast and Greek salad.

I try to double up as often as possible, so most of the time we all eat the same pretty much, but when they have something a bit junkier as their protein (for example, fish with batter or home made hamburgers, I’ll have steak or seafood instead with my side.

Batch cooking (meal prep) is a gift for busy mums like me. I don’t typically get home until 6:30-ish, and I’m out three nights a week with activities, so having healthy meals organised in advance for everyone makes things much more manageable.

As for my husband, he’s doing the carnivore diet, and he just makes his own meals, often in the slow cooker (set and forget).

This all works well for us as a family, and we’ve reduced the junk food/eating out habit down to maybe once a month.

It’s meal prep day today!

I’ve been busy this afternoon, prepping meals for myself and the kids for the next few days.

I made fried rice for the kids, which will do them tonight and tomorrow night.

For me, I’ve cooked two chicken breasts, and made a Greek salad.

Both are easy to do – the chicken is plain but I’ll probably add seasoning when I portion it out. The salad is dead easy – a cucumber, two tomatoes, orange pepper, about half a red pepper I had left, a quarter salad onion, 100g (4 Oz) of feta and about 10 olives. Chop it all up and mix together. So easy!

Chicken breast and Greek salad

The chicken and salad will last me 4-5 meals. It’ll be dinner tonight and lunch and dinner for tomorrow (Monday) and Tuesday.

I’m learning that portion sizes are important. You’d think I’d know this, but apparently all these years I didn’t. I’d just eyeball it and figure”that looks about right” without ever weighing and measuring.

I’ve now learned from experience that not only were my portions waaay too huge, I was also eating waaay too much altogether.

For me, as a female in her early 50s, I need about 150 grams (3-4 ounces) of protein per meal to keep me satisfied while losing weight. I can pretty much have as much salad or veggies as I want to go with it, but I’m avoiding sauces and dressings (which get out of control really quickly!) and instead opting to shake some seasoning on instead when I need to.

I am using lighter, more intensely flavoured dressing on occasion (I love Japanese sesame dressing and a little goes a long way!) but I’m avoiding anything creamy or mayonnaise-ey.

The good thing about Greek salad is it needs no dressing. The olives and feta give it heaps of flavour for few extra calories and not much added fat, which is way better than having a green salad then dousing it in creamy dressing.

Meal prepping is working very well for me. I’ll talk about how I’m managing it in a coming post, but it’s meaning I’m spending much less time in the kitchen, and wasting much less food.

Apps for health and fitness

I’ve found some terrific apps that I’m using to track my progress. They’re all free, and they work well.

  • My Fitness Pal. I’m tracking everything I eat – before I eat it. That’s the clincher. Tracking afterwards doesn’t work for me. I find I forgot what I ate if I track after the fact. Before works brilliantly though!
  • Fit Notes. This is a great free app for tracking progress with weights. It’s nice watching the numbers go up!
  • AA Big Book. The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous is available for free download. It’s advice, stories and prayers work equally well for Overeaters Anonymous.

I use all three regularly, and am finding the first two indispensable.

Gymming again…

I started back at the gym at the beginning of October. I’m going to Anytime Fitness and it’s working well for me.

Already – in less than a month – I can see and feel differences. My muscles are coming back (I used to go before covid) and I’m feeling fitter.

I’m also feeling in a better head space. I get a buzz from weights, and I’m feeling great when I leave the gym at the end of each session.

The next thing I’ve been doing is really starting to dial in my diet. It’s easier to stick to a meal plan when you’re going to the gym 5-6 times a week. It all fits neatly together.

So yes, with OA, diet and exercise I’m making life better 🙂

Gym + healthy food = happiness

I’m still doing Overeaters Anonymous. It’s still working for me.

I’ve also returned to the gym. It’s right close to my husband’s work. I go straight from my work (I finish earlier than he does), go to the gym every day, then get a lift home with him. That means I no longer have to catch the bus home, which is great as buses have been getting more and more unreliable.

Combining gymwith moderate, healthy eating and regular OA meetings, and I’m feeling heaps better. I’m also continuing to lose weight.

In short: it works if you work at it!

What does abstinence in Overeaters Anonymous look like?

For a long time I struggled with abstinence. I didn’t know how much to eat, or when.

I didn’t know what “normal people” ate. Correct portions were a mystery to me.

As time has gone on, I e got a handle on this. I’m learning why I’m overweight, and am learning how to remedy that.

Im learning to slow down my eating. Dinner used to be about how fast I could eat. I always finished first, and then was looking around for more.

I’m learning to enjoy the experience of eating. Savouring each mouthful, and enjoying the look, taste and texture of my food. I used to eat so fast I barely tasted it!

I’m learning to have fruit and vegetables with every meal again. Did you know that even at McDonald’s you can swap out the fries for a side salad at no extra cost? So a “value meal” of burger, fries and soft drink can become a reasonable meal of burger, salad and water. And if you can “healthy-ize” McDonald’s, you can make pretty much anything healthier.

I’m learning that exercise isn’t frightening. I’ve joined a gym, and am going regularly again. It feels good. But I’m also walking more, moving more.

None of this is rocket science. It’s all pretty obvious. But I needed to climb out of my rut and do it.

I’m doing it. I’m feeling better.