Stress, cold weather, and red wine. The three horsemen of weight gain came galloping my way this winter. I was overwhelmed with family issues, so all those stress hormones hung on to my calories. My daily exercise regimen was interrupted, because I really, really, really hate getting smacked by a cold wind in my face when running. I went out with friends too many times, and had an extra glass of red wine and greasy apps. And pizza. Ate a lot of pizza.
But I’m back on track. I briefly tried a fad diet, but quickly learned that I cannot maintain an all-liquid diet. I’m better off with my slow, but effective system. My healthy living system is similar to Pioneer Woman’s system (more tips from her here), but tweaked for my Italian-Jersey lifestyle.
- Last April, I started running or run-walking seven days a week. Laced up in bright Brooks sneakers and a warm sweatshirt, I do three miles along a local trail at the park. From April to mid-December, when I got covid, I was religious about my exercise. I should have shifted to the gym when the weather got bad or invested in warmer running gear, but instead I sat on the sofa and read romance novels.
- Exercise alone won’t lead to much weight gain. But it really shifts one’s mindset and leads to a day with lots more movement and vigor. For me, exercise is essential not just to weight gain, but my mental health.
- I am back on track. I’ve gone out four days in a row, and hope to finish this Saturday’s 5K. Local 5K races, which benefit everything from breast cancer to school sports, motivate me. I also belong to a running club that works out together every Saturday and Sunday morning.
- I also use several electronic devices and apps to monitor my exercise – my Fitbit, iPhone, and the Strava app.
- It’s easy for me to wander upstairs to the kitchen, put a cookie in my mouth, and go back to the computer to write without even noticing that I’ve done it. Sleepwalk eating. To prevent that really boring way to pack on calories, I have to write everything down.
- I use the free version of the Noom App. Every day, I weigh myself and plug it in. I plug in my meals for the day, if I can, and then make adjustments. The Noom app has a simple system — green, yellow, and red — to keep track of good calories and bad calories.
- When I stopped doing it over the winter, I gained weight.
Control the Vices: Carbs, Booze, Sugar
- I don’t really care about white bread, pasta, and white rice. I am perfectly happy with substituting all that for quinoa, beans, farro, potatoes, and brown rice. But I am often cooking for a family with young men, who crave carbs and don’t gain weight. So, I make two carbs – one for them and one for me. It’s a pain in the ass, but I’ll make enough to last for a few days.
- Booze is a bigger problem, because I love a glass of red wine with dinner. I am trying to substitute that glass of wine with a High Noon or a Corona Light. Noom says that those drinks are better choices, but they just don’t make me all that happy. Sometimes I will save up my “red” calorie quota for the day, so I have that glass of wine. Pioneer Woman said she basically stopped drinking. I am not ready to do that.
- I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, but I do love dark chocolate. I just don’t buy that stuff anymore, so it’s not a huge issue.
- We are fortunate enough to live in an area with a million restaurants and bars. It’s how we socialize with friends, celebrate events with family, and manage our busy schedules. Sometimes I don’t have time to cook dinner on Wednesdays after taking Ian to therapy and picking up Steve from the train station, so we end up at a local pub stuffing our faces with nachos. Friends text me saying, “MEET US AT THE DOGHOUSE FOR TEQUILA NIGHT NOW!” Or I’ve spent too much time at home in front of a computer, and I’m craving the social hubbub of a bar.
- All restaurant food is bad for you. It’s full of salt and extra calories. I always end up drinking two glasses of red wine, because of the fun atmosphere. I walk into a place, and I’ve blown my calorie count for the day.
- To reform my restaurant ways, I look at their online menu ahead of time, so I can make better choices. Or I will simply order a salad with protein, dressing on the side. Rather than wine, I’ll get a vodka and soda. And I try to eat out only once per week.
Anyway, this is my system. It’s not a super fast weight loss plan, but it works and isn’t terribly painful.