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Getting Fit: Part 1 -- Finding Motivation to Eat Healthy

Posted May 15 2012 12:00am
Finding the motivation to lose weight is a piece of cake. You know, the moment when you've gorged down a large piece of cake packed with cream and icing...
Then, the pang of guilt hits and your self-esteem goes down the drain because you can't believe how little self-control you have.

Once and for all, you want to change your diet and start exercising. Or some other similar experiences. You get the picture.

Now, the toughest part is actually staying motivated to continuously eat well and exercise. Here's how I do it with the food!

Before we go any further, we'll need to realign the mindset. Here are a few things that you need to understand and digest before attempting to do anything because if you don't, you'll forever be "struggling":

  • You will not lose weight overnight.
  • Changing into this new lifestyle should be gradual and so should your weight-loss. There is no short cut.
  • Unless you're willing to be very disciplined, don't set a model or athlete's body as your benchmark.
  • Don't be fooled by the 101 types of diet food, supplements, beverages and pills. Forget about slimming creams, stockings, shoes and corsets as well. 
The "secret" to losing weight is basically having healthy eating habits and regular exercise. When done properly, the results will show. More importantly, this is a lifestyle change and not just something you do for a certain period of time.

I find it highly unusual when people ask me if I'm going to stop eating healthy and exercising since I've already lost weight. Well, that's how you reverse all the hard work and go back to point A. Even though I've adjusted to my new lifestyle, I admit that falling into old habits can be easy if I do not keep up with the discipline.

Here are a few ways how I keep myself motivated to maintain my new lifestyle.

Motivation to Eat Healthy

Snack Consciously

I'm big on munching and I used to have a tendency to munch anything in sight. It wasn't because I was hungry... mostly out of boredom. The first thing I did to counter this habit was to drink water. So, whenever I felt like munching, I'd drink a good half a bottle of water and then decide again if I felt like a munch.

I'd also allocate snack time in the afternoon so that I'll have something to look forward to. Preparing my snack beforehand helps to prevent me from reaching out for the random biscuits and junk food we have around the office. I have a tub of pitted prunes and a packet of dried figs in the fridge for "emergency cases" but I would usually have a piece of guava or a banana (sometimes I nuke it in the micro turn it into dessert!) with a cup of tea. I also have a jar of homemade trail mix which consists of soy beans, chickpeas and lotus seeds (lower calorie options compared to nuts).

At home, I have frozen fruits (blueberries, mango & banana) to pop into my mouth whenever I pass by the fridge and feel the need to eat something. It will also help a lot if you keep your workstation or kitchen free from unhealthy snacks such as candy, cookies, chips and the like.

Make Healthier Choices

Eating out is one of my biggest challenges because "healthy" options usually come in the form of sandwiches or salads (usually overpriced) while unhealthy foods are aplenty.

On weekdays, when I have to eat out I'll simply have to keep in mind to cut back on the rice or noodles and avoid fried or oily dishes. With healthy options being so limited, I've taken to cooking my own food. At least 3 times a week, I would bring my own lunch to work. I cook up a variety dishes but basically I'd have a balance of protein (from eggs and meat), carbs (millet, quinoa, buckwheat pasta or sweet potato) and veggies. So, while my colleagues eat a McChicken, I'll be eating out of my lunch box.

Not to boast but I take pride in my healthy cooking because I put in the effort to make it taste good. I've posted a few pictures of dishes that I'd make and if you follow me on Instagram (@smellyocheese), I frequently post up what I eat. Ingredients I incorporate to make my dishes flavorful include garlic, onion, bell peppers, cayenne pepper, chili and dried herbs. I recently discovered this ingredient called " Nutritional Yeast ", which can be found in the organic section of major supermarkets, that adds a nutty/cheesy flavor to my stir-fry, eggs and pasta sauces. It's a good source for vitamin B12 too!

Eating healthy should be done regularly and not just an occasional thing. A lot of people make the mistake of strictly "dieting" for a few days or a week before they fall back into unhealthy eating habits. And then they wonder why they haven't lost any weight! Eating healthily on a regular basis means that I can pig out on the unhealthy food over the weekend without fretting.

Be Picky & Eat Only Good Food 

Before I started to eat healthier, I had the habit of "tasting" everything I see. Yet, even if I know the cake or biscuit doesn't taste all that great, I'd still eat it for the sake of wanting to chew or munch on something. This is not a habit that's easy to curb but besides turning to my healthy snacks for temporary relief, I've learned to be pickier with my food.

Very simply, I'm conditioning myself whereby if something doesn't taste good, I'm not gonna bother to eat it. Not only is it a waste of stomach space but it's also the added calories that I don't even realize I've consumed. All I know is that my pants were getting tighter. So, if I'm gonna use up my calorie quota for a cheesecake, it better a friggin awesome cheesecake!
By changing the way you approach food and learning how to appreciate good food, you'll find yourself eating a lot less junk and the weight will eventually go down. 

In Part 2, I'll be talking about how to find motivation to exercise regularly!
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