Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tools of the Trade: What got me started?

A year ago I thought diets were not only impossible, but expensive. I could never afford programs like Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers. I had even considered going to a legit doctor to get diet pills as a final resort, but my insurance didn't cover it. Then I also found out that the pills they put you on include anti-depressants... I might not have been happy because of my body but I wasn't about to go on a chemical substance to make the change. When I finally said enough is enough, I was (and still am) determined to reach my weight loss goal naturally and with out doing any crazy fad crash diets.

So what's a girl to do that's determined to lose weight but doesn't know where or how to get started, and can't afford the expensive diet programs with meal plans?

Get the Advice for FREE!

Last April when I was lamenting the same concerns to my Dr. she told me about

Whats sparkpeople? It's awesome! Sparkpeople is a Completely FREE Website dedicated to weight loss and healthy lifestyle. Everything that you pay for on other sites is free! They have sponsors that allow them to run the site for free.

What does spark people have for free that other websites make you pay for?

  • Nutrition Tracker
  • Exercise Tracker
  • Meal Plans
  • Grocery Lists
  • Food database
  • Excercise pointers
  • Diet advice (written by certified nutritionists)
  • Daily emails on nutrition, motivation or excercise
  • Supportive Commuity
The website might seem a little overwhelming when you first sign up, but you'll quickly learn to navigate all that. Sparkpeople gave me the guidance I need to get my diet going in the right direction. They start you off with a basic Body Mass Index reading (if you want the most accurate reading you need to see a Dr. or Nutritionist). Your BMI determines how many calories you should eat a day to lose weight at a healthy pace that makes it easier for you to maintain and keep it off in the long run.

It's all about Portion Control

I don't think anyone is going to deny that our concept of a proper portion has become as bloated as our waist lines!

What's a healthy Portion??

let your hand guide you

Sparkpeople taught me portion control. The website set me at about 1500 calories a day starting off (they provide you a target range to stay in for calories, fat- only a percentage of which should be saturated, protein and carbohydrates). Then you take a look at your meal plan and you'll learn what portions you should be eating at each meal in different food groups to get a healthy balance.

But what if you don't like the food they provide in your meal plan?

It's all good baby! You can change it. I hate raw tomato's, and it was recommended that I eat them. I will not eat raw tomato's. Its as repulsive to me as meat is to a vegetarian. But on sparkpeople I can click on the tomato's and an entire list of vegetables in the correct portion and calorie range is provided for me. Carrots it is! yum! In fact you don't have to follow their meal plans to the tee, you can add your own food from their data base, OR if it's not on their database enter the food to your favorites and copy the information off the nutrition label. Sparkpeople's meal plans are there to provide you the guidelines of a balanced meal. They'll give you the correct portions and calorie range to stay in. If you don't like their food, choose something else in the same portion and calorie range and you can substitute it on the Nutrition Tracker.

You'll quickly learn using SP that eating two slices of whole grain bread (average 90-110 calories a slice) is going to fill you up a lot better than one chocolate chip cookie. So put the cookie down and pick up the bread, because if you eat the cookie you'll still be hungry later and guess what you'll probably just grab another cookie.

Or perhaps you really like ranch salad dressing, you'll quickly learn to switch to something like Newman's Own Lighten Up Balsamic Vinaigrette and save the extra calories. 2 table spoons shaken well through out the salad is more than enough!

You could have a slice of whole wheat bread with the (almost) 100 calories you save by going with the healthier option and that will fill you up more!

You know what else is awesome about Everyone on the site is there for the same reasons, health, fitness and weight loss. You can easily find another member with common interests and form your own little support group.

If you can't find food in sparkpeople's data base another great resource is You can even download their tool bar to your browser for fast access to their food data base.

But you're used to large portions what do you do?

Nobody said weight loss was easy, if it was easy we'd all be fit! Our bodies are a reflection of our life styles some are luckier than others with genetics, but don't think about them it's time to think about YOU. No more if, and's or buts. It's going to be tough, I was constantly hungry at the beginning of my diet, but you know what it only lasted for 1 month. ONE MONTH and then I got used to eating less. I over ate my entire life, 26 years, but it only took one month for me to get used to eating the right way. Think about it, one month of your life trying to make a change or staying in the same rut for the next 26 years? Try for one month and see if that leads to two, and then three etc? It is possible!

I also think of what someone said to me once, a silly Russian man put it into perspective, "don't be a slave to your stomach," he said. He's right, we are slaves to our stomachs, we just eat and eat and eat, but are never satisfied, don't let your stomach control you.

To make sure I didn't slip up I bought a food scale for home, and an extra set of measuring cups & spoons for work.

This food scale only cost $20.95 on A small price to pay for such an invaluable tool. Can't figure out if your piece of chicken breast is too large this will let you know very quickly if you need to trim a little off.

If I didn't know how much pasta or rice to eat, these came in handy

If I thought I was using too much salad dressing these came in handy.

So what are you waiting for  you have the tools

Now get out there and get started!!!!

p.s. always remember to talk to your doctor first to find out what diet might be right for you, this one happens to work for me, but it might not work for everyone.

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