If you want to make changes that will last a lifetime, then the others are right that it's best to start with small changes and let them add up over time. You didn't get where you are overnight, so plan on it taking as long as it takes, with the idea that all is well so long as you are heading in the right direction. You'll find it a lot easier if you get your family on board with you, so finding ways to involve the kids in the changes will help head off any arguments with them.
The very first thing to do is to get all of your info in to SparkPeople and get a calorie and nutrient range set for your goal. Be realistic about what your exercise will be every week, and be realistic about your time-frame. Also think about tracking a few key nutrients (iron, folate, calcium, potassium, sodium, or fibre, for example) as these will give you a good idea of how "healthy" your overall diet is. Just track what you are actually eating and doing for a couple of weeks so that you have a realistic idea of where you're starting from --- the ranges given by Spark will show you where you need to make changes to be where you want to be.
Next, I would start by changing one meal at a time. Maybe start with snacks, and start with having veggies (baby carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, snap peas) that have a satisfying crunch and are fast and easy to grab. Buy some hummus (or make some), or guacamole (or make some), or yogurt dip to have with the veggies and add some healthy fats and protein for a more satisfying snack. Have popcorn instead of chips, and start playing around with different toppings for it (there are some great spice mix recommendations around for BBQ flavour, or salt & vinegar, or garlic & parmesan for example).
Once you and the family are settled with that change, then maybe have a look at breakfasts. You don't do eggs, but there's nothing wrong with overnight oatmeal (really quick and easy to do, and you can have different fruits or veg in it every day so that you get some fun variety for you and the kids), or with whole-grain toast with peanut butter or cheese and a fruit. If you are stuck inside on a rainy day with the kids, then maybe try baking some healthy muffins with them (banana muffins made with rolled oats, oat bran, whole wheat flour and yogurt, for example). These are easy to freeze, and can be pulled out for a quick and healthy breakfast or snack later. There are some pretty healthy cereal choices out there, too, that can make a great breakfast with some milk and fruit. Don't be afraid to step out of the "breakfast food" rut, and have leftovers from dinner for breakfast sometimes!
When you get to lunches, then have a look at what you consider a good and filling lunch and see what you can tweak. Instead of a massive sandwich and chips, maybe look at using a whole-grain wrap or lettuce leaf to hold the sandwich filling, and replace the chips with veggies. Try putting your sandwich meat in a salad that has different greens, a sprinkle of cheese, some nuts, and a healthier dressing on it. Soups can be great, even purchased ones (if you're careful about what you find on the nutrition label). Add a bunch of different veggies to a store-bought soup, along with some extra water, and you'll drop the sodium while adding a lot of nutrition.
Suppers can be tricky when you're short on time and hate to cook. A few things that work for me are stir-fry's (lots of nutrition, and really quick), slow-cooker meals (that have everything tossed in earlier in the day so are ready when you are), and home-made pizzas (use whole-grain pitas or tortillas as the "crust", a no-sodium-added tomato paste with your own spices, and let your family each choose which veggies and meats they want to add to their own, then top with some shredded cheese and pop in the oven --- easy, tasty, and kids usually love this since they can choose how they get theirs!). I really like batch-cooking, especially for meats. I rarely cook just one meal's worth of meat --- extras are sliced and frozen in portion sizes so that they can be pulled out and added to meals as needed. I also like to prep my fruits and veggies all at once when we get home from the store --- I'm far more likely to grab them when they're already washed, sliced, and packaged in portions so that I don't need to think about it when I'm in a hurry. This could be a project that you get your kids involved in: even toddlers can hand-split cauliflower and broccoli florets, and wash veggies and fruits (if you have a step for them to reach the sink).
I strongly recommend browsing the public nutrition trackers on here for meal ideas. There are so many folks on here who are really successful and who list what foods they eat --- I've gotten some fabulous tips and ideas from doing this!
When you make the changes gradually, it is not only much easier (since you're only dealing with one change at a time), but it's far more likely to last as each change becomes the "new normal". Eventually you will have a much healthier lifestyle that is seen as just "normal" for the whole family. While you are making the changes, focus on what is really tasty and fun for you and the family --- this is not about "dieting" or deprivation, make it an adventure in search of new and tasty foods!
While you may never learn to "love" cooking, you may find that it becomes less "hateful" as your tastes change and you start finding that fast foods and junk foods don't really taste anywhere near as good as the healthy foods that you make from fresh ingredients at home. A plate full of vegetable stir-fry with a healthy portion of meat, and maybe a portion of wild rice or quinoa is far more filling, tasty, and satisfying than a burger, fries, and soda from a fast-food joint. It is incidentally also a whole lot less calories and a whole lot more nutrients.
Good luck, and remember to have fun with this!
Start weight: 240 lbs
Goal weight: 155 lbs (reached March 7, 2014)
Afraid of a colonoscopy? Believe me - they are much less frightening than surgery and chemotherapy.
Colonoscopies allow polyps to be removed before they can become cancer, or let cancers be found before they are too widespread. If you are 50 or older, or have any symptoms, please don't let fear stop you from covering your butt.
| current weight: -2.2 under