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The Saturday Skinny: If you believe in yourself, weight loss will follow

By: Don Chaddock, Gold Country News Service
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Sometimes the simplest changes can have the biggest impact on your waistline. In our culture of instant gratification, it’s no wonder the weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar business, especially with promises of fast weight loss. There is no quick fix for weight loss, no matter what promises are made. True, healthy weight loss is a process that begins in the mind, not in the gym. When I was able to recognize I had a problem, and truly accept it, only then was I able to do something about the problem. What was my problem? Like many, I took comfort in food. When I was down, I tried to comfort myself through eating. That led me to tip the scale at 303 pounds by the end of 2010. When my youngest daughter, Deirdre, was born on Dec. 30, 2010, I decided I had to do something to change my situation. I didn’t always do it right the first 10 months, when I stumbled around a weight loss plan, repeatedly fell off the “chuck wagon,” and only managed to lose 20 pounds. That’s when something clicked for me. In October 2011, I made a true decision to do something about my weight – no excuses. Now, in October 2012, I hit my goal, weighing in at 190 pounds, losing 113 from my heaviest. Does this mean I go back to my old lifestyle? Certainly not. I will continue to do what I’ve been doing – making healthy choices for myself. BATTLE OF THE MIND In my experience, after 23 years of battling my mid-section, I have come to this simple conclusion: Losing weight is a battle fought in the mind, not the gym or kitchen. Only when I was finally able to “flip the switch” and face my issue, was I able to start a real weight loss journey. The battle rages today, but now that I’m armed with better coping mechanisms, I can face fear, self-doubt and pity with determination, positive attitudes and humility. I know I’m not perfect, but I know what I can control – what and how much I put into my mouth. I also control how much I can get this body moving, to aid the weight loss. THE BATTLE PLAN Since I know it’s a war, I have a battle plan. This is not a war to be won overnight because the problem didn’t happen overnight. A car accident in my early 20s sidelined me from doing what I loved – running – and that led me into a tailspin. The weight took a long time to layer on my body and it’s taken a while to come off. To prevent its return, I must stay vigilant and continue making healthy choices for myself. In the beginning, that meant changing my entire lifestyle. Here’s the plan: Get off the couch, move your body, eat healthier foods and give up the stuff that is unhealthy. Simple, right? It’s easier said than done, of course. That’s why I recommend you start small. If you have a routine of unhealthy habits, start changing them one at a time. When you come home from work, do you find yourself sitting on the couch with a glass of wine or a beer, the TV turned to a game or your favorite show? Rather than beer or wine, try carbonated water with a splash of juice (for color and a hint of flavor). Go ahead and watch your show, but get off the couch and do some stretches or, better yet, get out a small stool and do step exercises. Alcohol is a depressant and will only deplete your energy and bring you down. If you still want some alcohol, try mixing a small splash of wine with the carbonated water or switch to lower calorie light beer. Limit your alcohol consumption to one to four drinks per week. You’ll notice increased energy levels and the scale will reflect the change. For me, alcohol is rare and saved for times when I’m out with friends, which wasn’t always the case. Over time, you’ll begin to make more healthy choices. MEAL PLANS Breakfast One morning, try a half-cup of non-fat plain yogurt, a handful of grapes, one sliced banana, one chopped apple. Mix in a bowl and serve. You’re getting a great start to your day with some protein and plenty of healthy carbs. The next day, make yourself a scramble. One half-cup chopped kale, handful of mushrooms, 2 cups raw spinach, 1 cup egg whites, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. In a skillet, heat olive oil and sauté kale until soft (just a few minutes). Add spinach and cook down, adding mushrooms as well. Finally, pour in your egg whites and scramble until done. Mid-morning snack Two to three hours after breakfast, have a healthy snack. A small 6-8 ounce container of non-fat yogurt or a piece of fruit should suffice. Avoid bread and sweets. Lunch Salad is my usual go-to for lunch. It’s easy to pack and travels well. I make it using one romaine heart, chopped, with raw spinach and kale. I top that with raw mushrooms, black beans and tomatoes. Instead of regular salad dressing (which is LOADED with fat and calories), try a yogurt-based dressing (usually 15-35 calories per serving) or fresh salsa (5-15 calories per serving). For added flavor, try adding a 1/4-cup brown rice or cooked quinoa. This is a big salad and very filling. Afternoon snack Same as mid-morning snack. Dinner Eat a lighter dinner, with four-six ounces of lean meat (chicken or fish). Avoid sauces, potatoes and bread. Have plenty of veggies (another salad or non-starchy vegetables). Grilling or roasting the meat is a great method of cooking. Late night snack If you’re like me, an after-dinner snack is common. For me, that means a piece of fruit or a cup of frozen grapes. Exercise Get it in where and when you can. Park at the end of the grocery store parking lot to get in extra steps. Walk a few extra laps around the store when shopping. Take walks around the neighborhood or during breaks at work. Try getting a light hand weight (5-15 pounds) to do some arm exercises. It doesn’t take much when you’re doing regular exercise, but the key is to be consistent. WHAT DO I BUY AT THE STORE? This is a common question I receive. Here’s my tip: Go to the produce section first, followed by the meat section, then dairy and frozen. That whole section in the middle? Stay away from it. They usually only stock processed foods there anyway. Venture in there only if you have a list of specific items (oatmeal, whole grain cereal, etc.). Instead of bread, try sandwich thins or whole wheat tortillas. Instead of mayonnaise or sour cream, use non-fat plain yogurt. In one of my previous Saturday Skinny columns, I focused specifically on grocery shopping lists. Farmers markets are a great way to find fresh produce and meat. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF Here’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned over these two years of finally being able to lose weight: I can do anything if I believe in myself. I know I will stumble along the way, but it’s how I handle that stumble that matters most. Do I give up or dust myself off and keep going? There was a time when giving up was easy. That is no longer an option for me and you shouldn’t give others (or your doubts) power over you and your healthy choices. Here’s a question: Who has the power to change their own lives? You do. Remember, if this 40-something newspaper editor with five kids can do it, so can you. Reach Don Chaddock at donc@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow us at Facebook.com/TheSaturdaySkinny.