Travelling and maintaining your weight can be a real challenge. My husband and I returned from Mexico the end of April. While there, I put on some weight, which I was not too happy with.
Our last month there, we started exercising every other day but it wasn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, we love eating the Mexican way – rice, beans, avocados, corn, tortillas, margaritas (!) but if you are not careful, you can put on some unwanted pounds, which I did! So I decided I would lose 10 pounds in 30 days.
Upon our return, we visited our friend John who had lost quite a bit of weight since we saw him last and he told us how he got that way. His theory is that you don’t necessarily have to exercise but you do have to watch what you eat. For him, for a month, it was mostly smoothies, vegetables and protein for dinner – no fats, pastas or rice – snacks consisted of nuts or a bit of fruit.
I don’t believe he gave up alcohol as he and his partner Judy make their own amazing wine!
Here I will tell you what I ate, what I stopped eating and drinking and how I lost the weight.
My Thoughts on Alcohol
I lost weight at one time through Herbal One and on the program it said you were allowed a 3 oz glass per day. I also read an article claiming that alcohol did not necessarily cause weight gain, but it was the mixers that you use and the snacks you eat.
“One study suggested that in general, light-to-moderate alcohol intake is not associated with adiposity (severely overweight or obese) gain while heavy drinking is more consistently related to weight gain.”
My issue was that a 3 oz glass was never enough! This time, though, I chose to give it up (after all, it was only one month). With the money I saved, I was able to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables which can be expensive when out of season.
What Motivated Me
You know the saying “never ask a lady her age?” Well, I would like to extend that to never ask a lady her weight but I figure I need to be honest here. On a good day, I was tipping the scales at 168 (other days it would waver between 169 and 170). And just to put this in perspective, I am 5 ft 2.5 inches, not very tall as you can see.
Most people who know me would never say I weigh that much which tells me I “carry” it well, but for me, it was not fitting into my clothes or feeling as though I was squeezed into them that motivated me. After talking to John, I thought, “I can do this.” What is one month out of my life if I can look and feel better? But here is what really tipped the scales (no pun intended). My husband accidentally put on my jeans instead of his own and he not only fit in them, but he was able to fasten them up. If that didn’t motivate me, I don’t know what would!! (I wish now I had taken a photo but I was too shocked and surprised at the time!)
My main goal is to lose 30 pounds in 3 months. My shorter goal was to to lose 10 pounds in the month of August.
As I mentioned earlier, a few years ago I joined Herbal One, and I lost 33 pounds over 3 months. (I also used their supplements so there was a cost involved.)
This time, I decided to do it on my own. This is how my journey went.
MONTH OF AUGUST – BEGINNING WEIGHT 169.6
WEEK 1 – Weight Loss 7.6 lbs (Monday August 5 – Weight 162 lbs)
On July 31, I weighed 169.6 lbs. My first weigh in was on August 5th (not quite a full week)
Breakfast consisted of a smoothie, after my first coffee and lemon water (juice from ½ freshly squeezed lemon and warm water). As lemons can be expensive where I live when not travelling, I would check for sales and stock up enough to last me at least a week. I would take this first thing upon getting up, before my coffee and then drank it while stretching.
The smoothies varied – avocados, fresh berries (strawberries and blueberries), bananas, mangoes, even apples and some frozen fruit. I am not a biggie on ‘green’ in my smoothies but if you love Kale, kudos to you (I know they are good for you but they just aren’t my thing). I do make this one amazing smoothie with fresh Cilantro, the closest I get to anything green – it is not my recipe but I will include it at the end; it is delicious and refreshing!
For the liquid, I used a nut milk (mostly almond but sometimes hazelnut or coconut) or half milk and half coconut water. If you are ambitious, you can always make your own almond milk (you can also use water instead of milk if you want to cut out even more calories – 1 cup of almond milk is usually 30 calories to 80 calories depending on if it is unsweetened, sweetened, etc.).
Always make sure you have a protein in your smoothie ( for example, a raw egg – so not my thing even though you can’t taste it!), or some almond butter, a handful of nuts, a scoop of protein powder, or any other protein you want to use.
Lunch consisted of a big salad (lots of greens and veggies). Sometimes I would change it up by adding about 1/8 of a cup of walnuts and an apple. Dressing was balsamic vinegar. If you are going to use balsamic vinegar as your dressing, why not splurge a little and get a really good brand? And don’t forget a protein (nuts or a boiled egg, or even some cold salmon or tuna, for example).
Sometimes, in mid-afternoon or mid-evening, I would have a green tea (my favourite is ginger green tea or lemon green tea), black and no sugar.
Green tea is touted as having many benefits such as:
Help prevent multiple cancers
Make your heart healthier
Boost your brain
Clear up acne
Help with stress
Reduce asthma symptoms
I really looked forward to dinners and loaded my plate with lots of veggies. I mostly steamed them or did them in my frying pan with a little water. The use of oil was non-existent. In addition to the veggies, I would have a small piece of chicken, liver or fish, or a lean grilled steak. If I was still hungry, there was always more salad.
If you simply must have a dressing, try making your own with some virgin olive oil, lemon juice, a bit of raw honey and some spices).
WEEK 2 – Weight Loss 1.6 lbs (Monday August 12 – Weight 160.4 lbs)
Okay, so I didn’t lose much BUT I also didn’t gain, which was a good sign. I still continued eating the same but did slide a bit and had a few potato chips (I did look for the lowest in fat and salt and ate the recommended serving size) but I promised myself I would do better.
I did eat a bit more red meat than normal even though it was lean steak (and not ground beef*), and some beef liver, as well as chicken. I especially enjoy fish but where we are staying, either the fish is crazy expensive or is mostly frozen. I also realized that I was not drinking as much water.
Just a note here on ground beef – even lean ground beef still has quite a bit of fat. Whenever I cook it, I drain off as much of the fat as possible. I am always amazed at how much fat there actually is so try not to eat too much of it when desiring to lose weight.
I continued to exercise at our local Y every other morning, along with my stretch and lemon water (every day) and extra water throughout the day.
WEEK 3 – Weight Loss – None! Weight Gain – None! (Monday August 19 – Weight 160.4 lbs)
Well, this was a bit discouraging; however, I needed to look on the bright side which was that I had not gained any weight.
I decided to try a few different things – less red meat, some fish and more chicken as well as no nighttime snacks other than the nuts or popcorn. I also gave consideration to a three-day detox to try to kick start the weight loss but because I didn’t have the foods on hand I needed, I decided not to. I did increase my water intake though.
WEEK 4 – Weight Loss 1 lb (Monday August 26 – Weight 159.4)
Wow, I did it. I lost 10.2 lbs in not quite a month (28 days). I was thrilled to see I lost another pound and the scales go below 160!
The change in eating habits and drinking lots of water was obviously a good thing. I’ve heard it said that it takes 28 days to form a good habit.
Night time is and was my hardest. My usual habit would be to grab a glass of wine (or two), read or watch a movie with hubby and of course snack on whatever was available.
Since I decided to stop drinking alcohol, I switched to a glass of water and a handful of mixed raw unsalted nuts or a snack size bag of unsalted, unbuttered popcorn.
WHAT I DIDN’T GIVE UP
Coffee (black and no sugar). I mention coffee here because I did give it up for a while, in support of my husband who became sick shortly after we arrived in Mexico. Since then, I have gone back to it – it’s just something I really enjoy!
REACHING MY GOAL
I did reach my goal and was thrilled to see the scales dip below 160. As you can see, even 10 pounds is noticeable, especially in my upper body area and my face.
I am not going to tell you it was easy. There were many times when temptation reared it’s ugly head. But on the whole, I think I did really well. Even though I lost most of my weight in the first week, you have to understand that I totally eliminated certain foods and increased my fruits, vegetables and water and only had meat or fish at dinnertime in small portions.
I know my journey is just beginning if I want to lose another 20 pounds – and I do! Still, seeing the weight come off has given me motivation to continue.
Tips for Staying Motivated
You know you are going to get bored and maybe even frustrated; some days you won’t lose any weight and you will think “is this worth it?” Tell yourself how good you look, how good you feel, how you are looking forward to buying some new clothes, whatever it takes! Read inspirational quotes such as:
“Only I Can Change My Life, No One Can Do It For Me”
“If You Are Tired Of Starting Over, Stop Giving Up”
“Most People Give Up Right Before The Big Break Comes — Don’t Let That Person Be You.”
And here is my favourite:
“It’s Not A Diet, It’s A Lifestyle Change.”
Other Helpful Tips:
Watch for trigger foods (foods that seem to control you)
Trigger foods for me are low salt crunchy potato chips, pizza, bread, pasta and rice so those came off my list. I love sweet potatoes so enjoyed those instead of the pasta and rice (but in moderation – maybe twice a week). If you can’t do without pasta and rice, make sure they are brown for more fiber and serving size is about 1/3 to ½ cup.
As I mentioned earlier, I also cut out oils – even the good ones like Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Coconut Oil. I asked my friend if he used any oils at all and he said occasionally Avocado oil.
Condiments such as mayonnaise, ketchup, barbecue sauce
Condiments are usually high in sugar and sodium. Salsa makes a great alternative to these items, no fat, delicious and easy to make if you would rather make your own. It is awesome on baked potatoes or sweet potatoes (skip the butter and sour cream and add a pinch of salt, some black pepper and a good heaping tablespoon of salsa).
Exercise doesn’t hurt; you will feel better, lose inches and firm up muscles. Make it consistent. I stretch every morning and every other morning I go to a local ‘Y.’ Our last 3 house sits before we head to Mexico all have home gyms (how awesome is that!!). Even if you don’t have a Y or a home gym, you can always find a corner of your home and grab a mat or thick towel. I have done this more times than I can count.
Far be it from me to tell you not to drink alcohol but I would suggest you cut down, buy light calorie beers, dry wines or make wine spritzers and, if you are like me and like snacking while drinking, then opt for unsalted, unbuttered popcorn or a handful of mixed nuts. Fruits are good too but I prefer them in my smoothies. Eating healthy with your drink will keep you from grabbing the potato chips or pizza.
Drink lots of water
The interesting thing about drinking lots of water is that it cuts down on your craving for alcohol and coffee. Also, sometimes you just think you are hungry – try drinking 8 ounces of water. Water is great for your skin, digestive system, delivering oxygen throughout the body, flushing body waste, preventing kidney damage and more.
I know, some people don’t like water! If this is you, try adding some fruit (strawberries, lemons) or cucumbers. I really enjoy water on its own but in the summer I will add lemons or strawberries to a big pitcher of water and keep it in the fridge.
It really helps if your partner/family supports you. For me, this was key. My husband is very good at supporting me and actually has lost even more weight than I have. He is looking amazing! He is not a beer drinker but does like wine, however, for the month of August he also abstained. This made it so much easier for me.
Keeping a journal
This might be a bit time-consuming but even if you only do it for the first few weeks, you will get an idea of what you are eating, what you shouldn’t be eating and what you really enjoy eating (this may surprise you!).
You might be wondering “Did I miss the alcohol, the pizza, rice and pasta?” Surprisingly, especially to me, the answer was no. That doesn’t mean I won’t buy them again. For example, I do like wine but I had been getting in the habit of having it every single night and one glass would soon turn into two which then made me crave the snacks.
Besides generally feeling better, I notice I had more money in my bank account – not a bad trade off!
I can tell you this. I will continue to watch what I eat and to make better choices as I believe that is the key – after all, I have another 20 pounds to go to reach my goal. We are doing more travelling and house sitting so I know I will have more challenges ahead.
I can also tell you I feel good, motivated, love the slimmer belly and eager to lose more weight!
Before I leave you, here is that Cilantro drink (from the web) I promised you.
Studies have shown that cilantro is incredibly detoxifying. Other benefits include anticancer effects and skin improvements. One quarter cup contains 5% of daily intake of Vitamin A. Since it is known to pull metals from the body, drink up, especially if you live in a city, have mercury fillings, or drink tap water.
• 1 cup almond milk
• 1 cup coconut water
• 1 cup papaya (fresh), peeled and diced
• ½ cup fresh or frozen peaches
• 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
• Stevia to taste (optional)
Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Other nut milks can be substituted for the almond milk. I omit the Stevia and it still tastes great! Enjoy!!
Do you have trouble with your weight? What tips can you offer that might be helpful?