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Hey, I am a med student who likes to write. Each week I provide a handful of tips that will help you in your quest to become healthier.

Role Modelin': The Larissa Monologues

Written: 02/28/2008


Back in the beginning of Diethack's early days about 5 months ago, I did two articles on people who have achieved their health goals in life, one on Mark McManus who is a hardgainer who has managed to achieve his dream body and one on Jimmy Moore who has managed to lose weight on a low carb diet. You can check out their stories here:

7 Questions With Productivity & Fitness Junkie Mark McManus

Role Modelin': Livin' La Vida Low-Carb

A few days ago I stumbled on the personal blog of a diethack reader The Larissa Monologues. Mrs. Larissa Marks has managed to achieve her weight goal through small consistent changes to her lifestyle without any resort to extreme dieting. I asked her to share her story and the practical steps she took to improve her health with you and she politely accepted. Here is her story:


One year ago, I decided to make some changes in my life in the name of health. I was moderately overweight, with no regular physical activity, and poor eating habits. My goal was to lose 20 pounds through regular exercise and healthy eating. No starvation, no extreme diets, no extensive research or professional help - just simple, manageable lifestyle changes that I could sustain for the long haul. I have since lost 15 pounds, and am making my way to 20!

In my personal experience, the diet and exercise habits listed below have been the key to my weight loss. These habits fit my personality and lifestyle. However, I firmly believe every individual needs to find habits that work for them. Hopefully my experience will inspire and encourage other readers in their journey towards healthier living!

  • Eat a good breakfast. Ignoring conventional wisdom, I never used to eat breakfast (mainly out of sheer laziness). Now I make it a priority to eat a healthy and balanced morning meal, and I've experienced major benefits - more energy, less hunger, less desire to overeat later on. My standard breakfast is oatmeal, fruit and a glass of soy milk. Eat a balanced meal that will propel you into good food choices for the rest of the day.

  • Eat smaller portions. This habit took me a while to get used to, since I spent so many years overeating. In my house, there are two sizes of plates: mini and humongous (like wok-size humongous). I decided to only use the mini plates, utilizing dish-space psychology to my full advantage. Now my body and mind have adapted to healthier portions. Eat one serving on a smaller dish, eat slowly, and allow your body time to feel full.

  • Choose the healthier foods. I try to stick with whole wheat pasta, soy milk, brown rice, low fat yogurt, multi-grain bread, etc. instead of their counterparts. That way I consume foods with their maximum nutrients. Next time you go grocery shopping, look for healthier equivalents to your household staples.

  • Drink lots of water. My reusable plastic water bottle has become the best friend that I bring everywhere. Drinking water has so many health benefits, including curbing the desire to snack between meals. So instead of soda and juice, reach for the water.

  • Enjoy healthy snacks. Snacking between meals is fine when it's with fruit and vegetables. I go through bags of baby carrot sticks, and love them! Apples and oranges are also great have around, and easy to carry in my purse. It's pretty straightforward - stop eating junk, and grab something good for you.

  • Skip dessert. I've never been a big snacker, but I had a habit of eating dessert on most nights. I decided to wean myself off the dessert by committing to eat dessert only one night a week. This habit allows me to indulge a little, and gives me something to look forward to. Cut dessert out of your regular routine, but give yourself a little freedom once in a while.

  • Exercise three times a week. I began this discipline over a year ago, and have been able to sustain it. My weekly schedule includes one hour at the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Some weeks I'm not as disciplined, but I'll simply get back on track the following week. Each session includes both cardio and strength training. Make it a priority to get consistent exercise every week.

  • Get physically active in small ways. I love discovering opportunities to be active beyond going to the gym. Always take the stairs rather than the elevator. Park farther away from your destination so you have to walk. Lift weights or do stomach crunches while watching your regular television show. Find creative ways to get exercise throughout the day.

  • Join an online support community. I joined PEERtrainer with a few friends - the site is free, and allows you to be a part of a small group for accountability. There's nothing like the encouragement of other people who have similar goals. It's also a great place to keep a log of meals and workouts, and track your overall progress. There are many other helpful sites online - utilize the internet to it's full advantage!

  • Find inspiration. I subscribe to a Health magazine, and read blogs and websites related to health and weight loss. This simple act has done wonders for me. Now I get regular reminders of my health goals, encouragement, new ideas to try, and testimonies of real people who intentionally living healthy lifestyles. Find something to inspire you and keep you motivated.

Mrs. Marks is also a great cook and I highly recommend you to check her recipes over at The Larissa Monologues.


Editor's Note: If there are other readers willing to share their health stories, what right/wrong steps they took, any success or failure they had, please send me an email with your story and a brief introduction to yan@diethack.com

Your stories will help the diethack community a lot with their health.

Please be aware though that I won't accept commercial requests to push over products or sites. Thanks a lot.


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