It’s the time of the year again here in America when we all take a few moments to reflect on the things that make us thankful. Rather than rehash the usual categories of family, friends and health, I’m going to take a quick look at the seven things I’m most thankful for when dieting.
I started my latest weight-loss plan about two months ago. During the first seven weeks, I dropped a nifty 27 pounds. But over the past 10 days or so I’ve kind of drifted and lost a lot of my resolve.
Perhaps by performing this seasonal exercise of thanks I’ll be reinvigorated and find the motivation I need to climb back up on my horse and ride on to a healthier weight – something that remains off in the distance!
So, here I go. When I am dieting, most thankful for…
1. Food choices
I still get excited when I walk into a supermarket and come face to face with so many food choices. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a very small town at a time when grocery superstores were the stuff of futuristic dreams or maybe it’s because I was one of seven kids so my mom stuck to the basics to both save on money and to come up with meals we’d all eat. Either way, I pretty much led a sheltered life where food was concerned until I left Pennsylvania for Florida and started doing my own grocery shopping.
They say variety is the spice of life. Having a wide variety of healthy foods at your disposal is also a great way to stick with a healthy eating plan. I never get bored with trying new foods. And I never grow tired of scouting for new foods at the supermarket.
Warning: For every healthy choice there seems to be 10 unhealthy offerings at most supermarkets, so be sure to read labels and know what constitutes a good food.
2. Diet choices
There are plenty of eating and exercise regimens that can lead to weight loss and better health. Most will do the job if you stick with them. However, do yourself a favor and do a little research before launching into a plan that asks you to skip food groups, fast or eat far too few calories.
And never opt for an eating plan just because your favorite celebrity happens to be touting it. Stick with proven science and companies or diet plans that have been around a long time. (Ahem, SparkPeople.)
You need a plan that is sustainable. I happen to like mixing it up, but you may be perfectly happy settling on a single eating plan.
3. The Internet
When it comes to researching healthy food and smart diet plans, I’m a Googlin’ fool. But I don’t trust everything I read. And neither should you. After all, when is the last time you actually were chosen at random to receive a $45 million prize from some foreign contest you never even entered?
But despite its Wild West, anything goes personality at times, the Internet brings the world to your fingertips. Using reputable websites, you can gain access to all sorts of nutrition studies, fitness breakthroughs and savory recipes that just happen to be healthy too.
Surf away, but be sure to tread carefully.
Even before I started blogging for SparkPeople, I was a big fan of the website. Founder Chris Downie is on a mission to give away a new lease on life to anyone who wants one – and the site provides the community support that’s so important for sticking with a healthy lifestyle. But then, you already know this, right? I am thankful that there exists such a place that’s staffed by people who actually care for the well-being of everyone.
5. Supportive friends
You really learn who’s a true friend when you announce you are on diet. The true friend wishes you well and offers words of encouragement. The fair-weather friend asks you to go to a fast food restaurant or to a bar for a few beers. True friends really care about you and your quest to live a healthier lifestyle. The fair-weather friend is jealous of your success or is more concerned about what your lifestyle changes may mean to him to her. I’m happy to say I have lots of good friends who’ve cheered my early success and urged me to stay the course.
6. Social media
I used to think social media was a passing fad, something that kids used to post silly thoughts or wacky photos and videos. But then I began to use it to get in touch with friends and past acquaintances, including a number of people I’ve met during my 12 years of working with diet websites. By posting my dieting success – and slips – I’ve had lots of my Facebook friends chime in with “likes,” thoughts, advice and encouragement. It’s a nice feeling to get such great feedback after you’ve put your life out there for the world to see. I now see the power and value of social media. It helps keep me on track and grows my all-important support base.
Living the rat race has put all of us at risk of winning the fat race. Yes, we’re all super busy people. But being busy doesn’t mean we need to eat on the run all the time. The occasional grab and go meal at a fast food joint won’t kill us but by repeatedly resorting to drive-thru windows we’re opening the door to the bad habits that will lead to weight gain and poor health. I’m not saying you have to find the time to cook from-scratch meals. I am saying the food makers have come to realize there’s a market for convenience foods that are healthy choices.
Bagged salads. Sliced fruit and veggies. Single-serving microwave meals. Pre-made meals at the supermarket. Low-sodium soups. There are plenty of grab-and-go choices that will fill you up without filling you out.
So that’s the seven things I am thankful for while dieting. In case you’re wondering, I will be enjoying a traditional turkey dinner this Thanksgiving. I will, however, do my best to feast on more white meat and steamed veggies than buttery mashed potatoes and deep-dish desserts!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and be sure to take a moment to reflect on the things in life that matter to you!
What are you thankful for today?
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