January 26, 2011

Ready to Reveal: My Secrets to Staying Fit and Trim

At 4’10” (and hitting that age when I’m more likely to spread and shrink), I work hard each and (nearly) every day to keep the needle on the scale pointed at just below 100 pounds. To mark the launch of the next iteration of hopewarshaw.com, I thought I'd reveal my trade secrets to staying fit and trim for a few decades.

Reality is, these aren't really secrets! My watchwords and guideposts are the same tried and true messages offered time and again by weight management experts who’ve studied, coached and learned from people who have lost weight and kept it off. Read these blogs for a few more details: Weight Loss, Control: Expectations vs. Research-based Realities and Make Weight Control Second Nature, Learn to Live Naturally Thin.

Hard work? Yes, there’s no easy way to get and stay fit and trim, especially in our world today without walking the walk (literally and figuratively) day after day.

While I’ve never been overweight by more than a few pounds (post pregnancy), I don’t consider myself “naturally thin” -- the eat anything you want and not put on a pound -- type. Oh no, every morsel shows up somewhere on my small frame.

So, what do I do?

Yes, I practice what I preach and follow the 90/10 rule of thumb -- 90% of the time I eat healthfully and 10% of the time enjoy a fabulous taste treat. Some people can get away with 80/20, I can’t. My rule of thumb may actually be closer to 95/5.

I’m by no means perfect or saintly. I enjoy a few French fries, caramel popcorn, super-premium ice cream (why not enjoy small amounts of the best?) or a few bites of a fab shared dessert at the end of an upscale restaurant meal.

Trust me,  I pick and choose those extra calories with care – when I go for it, those calories have got to be scrumptious and absolutely worth it.

As mother of a teenager (who is not a picky eater, thank goodness!) and chief of shopping, planning and cooking, I know very well how challenging it can be to get those meals on the table and eat healthfully. The pulls to veer off track are always around the corner -- whether it’s a restaurant meal or stopping for ice cream. Oh yes, they’re favorite names for me are the The Portion Control Queen or, even nastier, The Food Police.

We’re eating at home more than ever before because it’s simply easier to eat healthfully….and control portions and the pocketbook.

Breakfast is most often dry or hot cereal with fruit and yogurt. Lunch is typically an entrée salad with assorted raw vegetables, a few raisins and nuts as toppers and a few ounces of protein, from tuna, to turkey to ham and/or cheese. Dinner ranges from vegetable-based soup, to bean-focused casserole or burritos to the typical meat, starch and a vegetable or two.

Getting to those five plus servings of fruits and vegetables a day is a high priority for nutrition and controlling calories. My secret weapon is always having a container of cut-up fresh fruit and berries full as well as a container of chopped and ready-to-eat salad veggies, from carrots to cucumbers, red cabbage and onions ready to top those ready-to-eat field greens. Yes, I do ALL the cutting and chopping! 

I do eat (and enjoy) restaurant meals. They add up when connecting socially or traveling for work or pleasure, or when we yearn for ethnic fare that I can’t pull off nearly as well as natives. My secret to success in restaurants is portion control - splitting and sharing menu items and practicing menu creativity. It’s particularly easy eating ethnic fare.

The critical other half of the weight control equation for me is burning calories and exercise is becoming even more important as the struggle to control my weight gets harder. My husband and I hit the pavement at least four mornings during the work week covering a couple of miles a day. I head to the gym once during the week and again on the weekend for weights, spinning and or a stint on the elipitical and treadmill. I must say I do enjoy my gym time.

What keeps me focused and motivated to say no to this or that food and practice portion control like a queen? Feeling good today with the goal (and hope) of staying healthy for years to come.

My pledge to you in the advice I offer is that I won’t suggest an action, if I can’t do it.

There you have it! Please reveal your secrets to successful weight control.