After the holiday a couple of weeks ago, I felt so gross. Like, icky. Off. At that point, I had eaten and drank to my heart's content...to the point where I had absolutely no cravings left because I had satisfied them ALL! To my credit, I still worked out like I usually do, although exercising has never been the reason behind my weight gain in the past - I'm convinced that my diet is at the root of all evils! Anyway, after Thanksgiving, I needed a big change in order to shake myself out of it. I'm not sure that I gained any weight, really...maybe a few pounds, but I just felt icky. Sluggish and yes, guilty. So last week, I picked up a cleanse kit from Whole Foods that I was going to stick to all week. I set some rules for myself, but I still ate regularly...I've never been able to fast without getting massive migraines. I told myself that I would stay away from processed foods as much as I could, and make a concious effort to eat more fruits and veggies (which had really fallen out of my diet all together in the weeks prior).
The actual cleanse was a boxed product (about $28 at Whole Foods) that had three steps to follow every day for one week (although I think there's a two week version available, too). Step One: Liver Cleanse (2 pills in the morning), Step Two: Fiber powder (mix a scoop into beverages twice a day) and Step Three: Colon Cleanse (3 pills every night). The supplements weren't very strong or harsh. It was a lot of pills, yes, but I didn't really experience any weird or uncomfortable side effects from them. I liked that the pills were all capsules, as well. If you've ever tried to take those packets of multivitamins before, then you know how bad those chalky pills can taste sometimes! My cleanse officially ended yesterday when I finished all of my pills (still have some fiber powder left though) so I decided to mix it up this week for my regular Bridal Fitness on Paper post and share how it all went!
Overall, I'm happy that I did the cleanse. I think that I mostly feel better because I'm no longer beating myself up mentally for eating so poorly, but it also got me back on track...I started paying closer attention to what I was eating and how much water I was drinking. I'm also going to try to continue swapping coffee for tea, and my wine for water and juice at least a few times a week moving forward. It also reminded me of one very vital lesson that I had forgotten - I don't do well when I'm told (or when I tell myself, really) what I can and can't eat. I'm much more successful when I allow myself to eat what I want, but limit the portion size. I'll take half a cookie over a whole plate of salad any day. Haha...it sounds bad, but it's true! If I tell myself that I can't eat something, I immediately begin to crave it, and I eat everything else I can get my hands on to satisfy that craving, and it still doesn't help. I do much better when I can eat what I want, but I don't eat too much of it.
The whole experience got me thinking about how important it is to listen to your body when you're trying to lose or maintain your weight. I'm a sweets person. I love cookies, cakes, chocolate...all of it, and I've accepted the fact that I'm going to have to eat something sweet after dinner every night. And no, Jell-O and Cool Whip doesn't do it for me. However, once I accepted that I wasn't going to be able to cut sweets out of my diet entirely, I started working on limiting how much of it I was eating instead. Once I started paying attention to my portions, everything became much more managable in my mind. All I have to do is pay attention. You see, that's the trick. I notice that I'll go weeks (and sometimes months) at a time when I'll choose to ignore what I know about portion sizes. I'll serve myself a full plate of spaghetti knowing that I should only eat half that much because I choose to ignore that little voice in my head. The trick is thinking about it, and more importantly, listening to yourself and not just eating mindlessly because it's easier or it feels better at the time.
With all of this thinking, I decided to write down all of my tips or "tricks," that I've used in the past in order to keep my diet under control. It's the holiday season...so this is the time to be listening to them, right?!
- Eat on a smaller plate. When I'm trying to lose weight, I don't use dinner plates or full sized bowls because I instinctively fill them up with food. If I use a smaller dish, then I get to finish all of the food on it, and it's much easier for me to manage my portion sizes.
- PB&J...it's my best friend when I'm dieting. I only use one piece of bread, and I fold it over with the peanut butter and jelly in the middle, and eat it with a glass of milk. I know that it's not the healthiest thing in the world, but I feel like I'm indulging in something salty and sweet, and I still get (and stay) full, even with the smaller portion.
- When I'm out at a restaurant, I put a napkin over my plate when I'm done eating. I've learned that I have to do this, especially with my husband because he's the world's slowest eater; otherwise, I'll keep eating even though I'm full. If I don't remove the food from my sight, I'll just keep picking at it.
- If I'm struggling with putting my fork down when eating a really good meal, I make a little deal with myself. I stop and take a break for 5, 10 minutes. If I still feel hungry after that break, then I'll eat a little more. More often than not though, I find that I'm really full and won't go back to eat the rest of it.
- I try to limit the amount of snacks that I keep in the house all together, but when I do buy them, I hide them. It's kind of a running joke with my husband and I, that if we have any good cookies or sweets in the house, he'll usually find them in the bottom kitchen drawer with all of the spices. I work from home, which means that if I'm not careful, I'll be in and out of the kitchen munching all day long. If I "hide" the good stuff so I don't have to walk by and see them all the time, I usually don't touch them more than once a day. And when I do, it's because I'm making the concious effort to dig them out and have myself a treat. Out of sight, out of mind.
- I LOVE breakfast. I do. I love it. I would eat breakfast for every meal of the day if I could. I used to skip breakfast entirely when I was in school, but then I learned that statistically, women who eat breakfast daily are thinner than those who don't. From that point on, I decided to change my routine. Now that I'm accustomed to eating breakfast, if I don't eat anything, or if I don't eat enough for breakfast, I feel hungry all day long. It really doesn't even matter how much I eat the rest of the day - I stay hungry for some reason! It really affects how you feel all day long.
I, of course, am not a medical or nutrition professional, so it's important to consult your doctor if you're thinking about changing your diet, trying a detox or cleanse of any kind :)