Healthy Changes

Since it’s January, I’m joining in with the masses and making some decisions that I hope will better my health. Actually I should say decisions that WILL better my health, because they already have – I’ve seen changes. Today, I wanted to share some of the systems that have been working for me, mostly because I find them either accessible, easy, or helpful (not necessarily all three!).

Diet

Note: cupcakes were eaten on cheat day! :)

First, my diet. This I would not put under the “accessible” category, because it is pretty difficult and requires quite a bit of willpower (for me, at least). But it is definitely helpful and I have seen results after only 2 weeks.

I am following the “slow-carb diet”, written about by Timothy Ferris in his book The 4-Hour Body. You can click the link to see a full explanation of the diet, but the gist of it is: you eat solely protein and vegetables 6 days a week, with a free-for-all day 1 day per week. No carbs (including fruit), nothing that could be considered “white”, no rice even if it’s brown (!), no dairy. Basically your meals should consist of protein and vegetables, and that’s it.

The more you think about this diet, the harder it seems (at first). No fruit! No rice! Unfathomable. And indeed, the meals are a little boring. It’s hard to think of meals that don’t include some kind of carb. But eventually if you think about it creatively enough, you can come up with some food that is yummy and healthy. No joke! Here’s what’s been working for me:

  • Shrimp stirfry, with peppers, onions and broccoli
  • Shrimp + avocado salad
  • Eggs, cottage cheese (allowed in small quantities) and broccoli
  • Black bean burgers (no bun) with guacamole and salsa
  • Panfried Korean-style tofu
  • Sweet potato fries and green salad with edamame, beans or avocado
  • Bean salad with beans, onions and a light dressing
  • Homemade chili with lots of kidney beans and veggies
  • Nuts or spoonfuls of nut butters for snacks
  • Big mug of tea with 1 sugar cube to fend of nightly sugar urges

Now, I’m a (quasi) vegetarian, which makes this diet a little bit harder for me. If you’re a full-fledged carnivore, it should be a breeze! Swap out different proteins with veggies on the side and you’re set. Personally, I love food, so I haven’t been satisfied to eat the exact same thing every day (except for breakfast). So I’ve tried to be really creative with my food without breaking the rules, and I’ve enjoyed most of my meals immensely.

You might be saying that the diet seems too hard, too many rules. For me, I like the set rules because I can work creatively to stay inside the lines without it being too demanding (for example, I fail at counting calories..). It is hard though. BUT. And here’s the big but: I have seen results. I’m talking approximately 10 pounds of results. Visible! I can tell you right now, it works. I mean, cutting out bread and dairy? You’re bound to lose weight. So I’ve been really pleased with the progress so far.

Exercise

I was really moved by the video above. It’s around 9 minutes long, but I encourage you to take the time out of your day to watch it fully and absorb the message. It’s a powerful message! A game-changer!

In the video (if you don’t feel like watching – which you should!) he basically asks the question: can you limit your sedentary (sit on your butt) activities like sitting and sleeping to only 23 1/2 hours a day? 

Holy moly, batman! When you put it like that, it makes me feel like a lazy hippopotamus!  Of course I have 1/2 an hour a day to spend actively. OF COURSE I DO. And so do you.

I set up this great chart that I LOVE. I saw the idea initially on Elise’s blog, and formatted my own chart. You can download mine here, or make your own. Here’s the premise that I use: if I do some kind of exercise for 30 minutes, I get to make a check/smiley/exclamation mark on the sheet. And this counts for any kind of exercise. If I go for a run, a swim, a walk, do some yoga, go to the gym: it counts. I don’t try to figure out if it’s “enough” exercise or how many calories I may or may not have burned – as long as my timer goes for 30 minutes, I’m good for the day. I’ve been trying to hit minimum 5 days a week.

Mainly, I’ve been going for outdoor walks, and I’ve been getting my heart rate up by walking briskly to try and stay warm! I like walks best because I can do them in my clothes for the day and don’t sweat, so no need to shower or for it to take any longer than 30 minutes. Yes, I’m lazy sometimes. I have also been merging my walks with Project365 by bringing my camera along, and in order to feel like I’m “being productive” (as if exercise wasn’t enough) I’ve been listening to TED talks – free podcasts at the iTunes store, and I know my mom practices her Italian on her walks. I’ve also ventured to the gym once or twice, and I’m signed up for a 2x weekly Power Yoga class which means that exercise is built into my day without having to think about it.

Other

  • I’ve been going to bed at a reasonable + semi-consistent time each night, and using the free Sleep Cycle app to track how well and how much I sleep. Definitely recommend the app.
  • I’ve been eating when hungry, and trying to have a snack (usually almonds) with me all the time in case I get hungry. I find on days when I wake up later, I only need 2 meals and a snack.
  • I’ve been journalling (these hardback, lined journals are my favourites) every night, about 2 pages each night, but on some nights when I’m feeling more anxious – I write many more pages!!
  • I’ve been watching less TV during the school week

Whew – that was a long post! But there you have it, all the positive healthy changes I’ve been making lately. I am doing slow-carb for 1 month, so I will be finished by the 1st of February. I think then I will start experimenting with green juices again, and still keep the carbs/dairy to a minimum (though I will re-include quinoa and other complex carbs).

I’ve seen weight changes, I feel lighter, I wake up easier (not feeling like I was punched in the face!), and when I ate junk food on my last cheat day I felt like crap. So it’s definitely noticeable. Viva les whole foods!

5 thoughts on “Healthy Changes”

  1. That was a great video. Definitely makes me reconsider some of my lifestyle choices. I’m glad to hear that you’re seeing results with the slow carb diet. You might also try lentils — they’re a good source of protein and pretty filling as a soup. Good luck!

    1. I know, the video is great. It really makes you think, doesn’t it?

      And thanks for the tip – I didn’t mention it in the post, but I’ve definitely been eating my fair share of lentils! Ready-made lentil soup is a lifesaver. Thanks :)

  2. Wow, your meals actually sound delicious! I made the mistake of clicking over and reading the link you posted before I read yours, and his meals made me want to gag. I’m not a vegetarian, simply because if I’m craving chicken or (even more rarely– we’re talking 3x a year) beef, I want to have it without looking like a hypocrite. That being said, I rarely eat meat. Shrimp & fish on the other hand- bring it! Sooo I am definitely looking at trying this thing your way! :)

    I would just like to ask, as someone who rarely cooks (and when I do– it’s usually not that healthy. Hence the need for this intervention! :D), how do you make the stir fry (only looking for a brief description please!) & what else do you put in the shrimp & avocado salad? If you could fill me in, I will be eternally grateful! Sorry for the extremely long comment!!

    1. Hi Sarah! Glad to get your comment – don’t worry it’s not too long at all. :)

      I know, I was uninspired by his suggestions, so I decided to get a little creative on my own instead. It’s worked out well for me. Technically sweet potatoes aren’t allowed in his version, but I’ve decided if I cut out all other starches it won’t make much of a difference in my weight loss. So I’m glad you like the look of my meals! I’ve been enjoying them quite a bit, even though it’s still a bit restricting sometimes.

      You can actually see the stirfry recipe I used here. I find it pretty simple and yummy, but I omit the extra tsp of sugar and use a sweet chili sauce instead. Basically I just saute onions, peppers and broccoli on a fairly high heat in some canola oil until they start to wilt, then add shrimp and stir until they are pink all the way through, then add the green onions and sauce and stir some more. So easy!

      My shrimp + avocado salad is more of a “guacamole and shrimp” dish. I make guacamole (1 avocado, some diced onions and tomatoes, a little cilantro, garlic powder, salt, pepper and a dash of lime) and then saute the shrimp and throw them on top. Very tasty.

      Hope this helped! Good luck on your journey.

  3. Pingback: Breakfast Smoothies » Life In Limbo

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