Healthy Lifestyle Changes: Replacing Bad Habits with Good Habits

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“You’re so tiny you can eat all the Girl Scout Cookies you want!” says the mother of a very used car salesman-like aggressive Girl Scout when I turned down a box of thin mints (against every ounce of my being) leaving Publix today.

Um…no.

At the risk of stating the obvious, eating all the Girl Scout Cookies I want is not something I can do if I’d like to stay thin. I love Girl Scout Cookies. And I totally would have left with four boxes of thin mints (and a box of Samoas for my husband) if the girl selling them hadn’t been screaming things like “What kind of person doesn’t support little girls!? It’s not even right to just ignore us! What? You can’t spare four bucks for a cookie but you’re driving away in your Mercedes?!”

Seriously. I was so appalled by her antics I never would have purchased cookies from her. And I got cash back so I could buy cookies, too. Also, her parents should probably stop conversing in front of her, because kids repeat what they hear…trust me on this one. Hashtag firsthand experience.

Back to my original point, I can’t eat whatever I want if I want to stay thin. Y’all, 34 is fast approaching and I can feel my metabolism slowing down at a rapid rate. And to be fair, while I do love some good old-fashioned junk food, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth most days. I did in the past, and it got me into a lot of trouble when I graduated high school and no longer had sports. I ate what I wanted, and I gained a lot of weight.

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I didn’t see it, of course. It took coming home from my honeymoon when I was 21 and seeing my wedding photos for the first time to finally realize I had to change my habits. I was still young and my metabolism was still on fire, but I wasn’t cheering and I didn’t have softball anymore. I was sedentary, and it showed. I was mortified.

To this day, you will not find one wedding photo displayed in our home. We will renew our vows eventually, and those will be the wedding photos I display. I was 21-years-old, I weighed 20 lbs. more than I should, and I was embarrassed and mortified, and I hated looking at myself in the mirror after I saw our wedding photos. It was time to change.

My Motivation

I won’t lie; I was highly motivated when the professional wedding photos arrived. I didn’t need another push. I threw out all the crap in our house – I had a huge sweet tooth back then – and I stopped eating fast food. I made the decision on a Friday. I’ll never forget, because our photos were ready that day. I made the decision to lose weight and get healthy again, and I never looked back.

Lifestyle Changes

I don’t diet; never have, never will. I don’t believe diets are the answer whether they’re the kind that have been around a million years or they’re the hottest and most amazing thing on the planet at the moment. I believe in eating well, working out, and living a healthy life.

The first thing I did was change our menu. We began cooking a lot of chicken and salmon, and we got rid of the starchy sides. I grew up eating a potato and bread side every night with dinner, and I was simply unaware we didn’t have to do that every night. I gave it up and we had two vegetables. Usually a salad and some steamed green beans or broccoli or something.

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I’ll tell you this – the first week eating like this was a struggle. I craved McDonald’s fries or the amazing donuts from this little family-owned donut shop near us. I wanted them every day, but I forced myself not to get them by leaving my debit card and cash at home every morning when I left for work. I had to eat what I had with me, or I couldn’t eat at all without any cards or cash on me.

Week two was a different story. I finally stopped craving those things. It seemed to happen all of a sudden, like I went to bed wanting ice cream and cookies to not wanting them anymore. My body was done with all the sugar, and it really began to enjoy what we were eating.

Indulgence

Let’s get something clear; I do not deprive myself. At all. I no longer crave sweets 99% of the time, but I’m not about to turn down some Mickey ears at Disney or anyone who offers me crème brulee after dinner. I also love a chocolate frosted donut with sprinkles when I take my kids to the donut shop for a little treat. I also love Girl Scout cookies (when they’re not being sold by a 12-year-old used car salesman).

I eat these things, but it’s in moderation. I don’t eat them every day. I don’t even eat them every week. I eat them when I feel the need to eat them, and I usually can’t finish all of what I’m given. The key for me is to enjoy treats, but only on occasion.

New Cravings

What’s amazing in the past 12 years of my life is how I’ve learned to listen to my body. I once had a sweet tooth like you wouldn’t believe, but now I’m forced to pop four ibuprofen and down all the water if I indulge – and pray. Sugar gives me a terrible headache. My body now craves things that aren’t so bad for me. If I want something sweet, my body starts dying for some Greek Yogurt with blueberries on top. If I want something savory, I find myself gravitating toward this amazing broccoli I make (I’ll share the recipe with you eventually). I want good for me things.

I can tell when I haven’t been eating well, especially when we travel. I can feel it. I’m tired, sluggish, and I don’t sleep well. Those things make me want to eat well, because I like how I feel. I like my new cravings, and I like that they fuel my body rather than take my energy and my motivation.

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Exercise

All right…I love to work out. I’m not looking to become a body-builder or gain crazy muscle or anything like that, but I love to work out. I do it every day, whether it’s a long walk, yoga, or playing sports with the kids. For the past year, it’s been 5-6 days a week at the brand-new YMCA by my house.

Okay, okay. So I like working out because they have free childcare and I need a break from my four little darlings.

In all honesty, I really do enjoy working out. I like the way I feel. I like the energy I have. I like how I feel the rest of the day after a workout. I’m calmer, much more relaxed, less stressed, more focused, and I have so much energy. I also sleep well, and I’m in a much better mood when I work out.

I don’t do anything special at the gym. I do some arm machines, I do the elliptical, the tread mill, some of the weight machines, and sometimes I mix it up with a Body Pump or Jazzercise class. I don’t like to do the same thing day in and day out, and I don’t always like to work out with other people. It all depends on my mood, but I enjoy a good mixture of different machines, company, and working out alone.

 

All in all, seeing my wedding photos was a huge shock to me. I wasn’t happy with them, and I don’t love seeing them. I love seeing me now. I’ve had four kids, I look great in a bikini, and I’m comfortable in my body. I’m strong, I’m imperfect, and I’m happy when I see myself in the mirror. I don’t diet, I don’t deprive myself, and I live an active lifestyle. I want to live long, healthy, and strong. I want to enjoy my life, and I don’t want to be like so many people who believe that having kids ruins your body and that’s just what happens when you become a parent. I want to be strong and healthy, because I have four kids. That means I’m going to have a lot of grandkids one day, and I’m going to need some serious energy to keep up with them.

At the end of the day, it’s eating well, living an active lifestyle, and really taking an interest in how you feel that makes the difference. It’s not easy to get rid of bad habits overnight, but it’s entirely possible to create healthier habits that stick after a few weeks. Try it now, and remember that you’ll feel so much better about yourself and your health after a week or two. That feeling is so much nicer than the taste of a cookie or ice cream. More energy, more patience, a better mood, and enjoying the reflection in the mirror is a feeling you cannot replicate.

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All right, all right…I like to drink my calories, so I have to eat well and workout.

There.

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