January 31, 2012

When I was losing weight, I heard a lot of comments from my family and friends about my new healthy habits.

"Oh, you’re not eating dessert?"
"How can you just eat vegetables? I could never do that."
"Why do you want to go to the gym today? You already exercised once this week."

I knew they cared about me, but these comments often made me feel uncomfortable and even angry at times. Why couldn't they respect my choice to get healthy and lose weight? I wish I could say that I lost the weight all on my own, but I quickly realized that I needed the support of those around me. What these people said and did could impact just how successful I was with my weight loss. Instead of getting upset with everyone, I got serious about my goals and looked to a few strategies to help me drop the pounds once and for all. Here's what I did, and what can help you too:

Announce it
When I decided to lose weight, I announced it to my friends and family. I didn't scream it from the top of a mountain, just slipped it into conversation, but I made sure to really let them know that I was committed to improving my health and losing weight. I knew if they really cared about me, they'd respect my decision and want to help me achieve my goals. I also wanted them to understand how I planned to improve my eating habits and exercise more regularly to get them on board with my new way of life. Plus, announcing my desire to lose weight held me more accountable for my actions because now my loved ones were watching me.

Buy your own groceries
When I started my journey, I lived with two roommates, so I bought my own groceries separate from theirs. This worked out well because I purchased exactly what I wanted to help me stick to my new healthy way of eating. My roommates still bought their favorite foods (chips, cookies, etc.), but since I didn't pay for them myself, they were off limits and didn't tempt me. Since my cabinet in the kitchen was filled with my favorite healthy foods, I didn't forget about them when l wanted something to eat or tempted by the box of Cheez-Its that my roommate offered to share with me.

Educate others about healthy choices
When I first started to make healthy lifestyle changes, my family and friends often questioned my actions. They didn't understand why I was doing what I was doing, so I explained myself with the help of some scientific research. Really! I know this probably sounds sort of crazy, but it actually worked. Once they understood the reasoning behind my choices, they instantly backed off their criticisms. I also think knowing my stuff inspired them to make some changes in their own lives, too!

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Offer to cook
Most nights, my roommates and I were too tired to cook, so we'd just order takeout or pop a frozen pizza in the oven. Of course, this way of eating made life seem easier, but it was wasn't good news for our health. I wanted to stick to my healthy habits and introduce those around me to my new way of eating, so I offered to cook for them. I'd plan a couple of meals each week that incorporated fresh ingredients, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. I loved being able to control what went into our meals, including the amount of fat and calories in the recipes. I often used fresh herbs and spices to amp up the flavor profile and made healthier versions of my favorite recipes, so my friends could see that healthy eating can be delicious.

Find healthy options you love
My roommates and I often stayed home on Friday nights to watch movies and relax on the couch in our sweats. We'd typically break out a bottle of wine (or two) and a bunch of not-so-healthy snacks to munch on. Of course, I didn't want to miss out on our Friday night tradition, so I found healthy foods options that I loved just as much as the unhealthy stuff and shared those with my friends. So, for instance, instead of Doritos, I ate pita chips with goat cheese; instead of chips and spinach-artichoke dip, I snacked on hummus and veggies; instead of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, I enjoyed peanut butter-stuffed dates. It actually didn't seem like "diet" food to me at all because I enjoyed it so much.

Exercise together
My resolution was to lose weight, so I asked my friends if they wanted to start exercising together regularly. We were already members at the same gym, but our workout schedule wasn't very consistent, so we made plans to exercise four mornings before work and once on the weekend. When I wasn't motivated to wake up early for a workout or wanted to sleep in on Saturday morning, my roommates always managed to get me to the gym. Having this type of team mentality in which we relied on each other really helped me get into a groove with my workouts. After a few months of regular workouts, it became part of my routine, and I didn't always need my roommates' encouragement to get me to the gym.

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