During nursing school, all I would do is eat, study, and sometime sleep. I barely had enough time to hang with my friends, spend time with my family, take care of my dog, or take care of myself. I hardly exercised. My form of exercise was taking the stairs as an alternative to the elevator. It was during winter break in 2014 that I realized I was at my heaviest. I weighed in at 145 lbs, which may not seem a lot to some, but it definitely made me realize that I had gained a lot of weight since high school – at least 30 lbs (the freshman 15 is a real thing, guys).
After graduation, I promised myself to a healthier lifestyle and to be able to practice what I preached to my future patients. I began being careful about what I ate, how often I worked out, and slowly recognized a difference in not only in my weight, but as well as how I felt. I was able to fall asleep faster, I felt like I had more energy, and I learned that “full” doesn’t mean you have to keep eating until you feel completely stuffed. Of course, there are some days when I treat myself, but for something to become habit, takes a lot of will power and persistence. These changes in my lifestyle helped me begin my journey:
- Learn what works for YOU! I first tried counting macros and it was mentally challenging for me. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is the greatest way to be on a “diet” without it feeling like you are on one since your options are not limited. However, I disliked looking at food as numbers and if I didn’t eat my caloric intake goal for the day, I would force feed myself more protein or fiber – even though I wasn’t hungry.
- I started to make my own lunch and ate the same thing the entire week. By doing this, I save time, money, and know exactly what is in my food when preparing it.
- Learn how to portion food. Being Filipino, I was taught more rice, the better! Cutting back on the amount of carbs (especially rice) everyday has helped. When I make my meals, I try to measure carbs about the size of my hand – or less, veggies about the size that can fit in both hands, and a protein source about the size of my palm.
- Strive to workout three times a week. Entering adulthood and working 40 hours/week can be a real struggle, especially working as a nurse and being on my feet for hours. Whether it is a 30-45 minute cardio session or a full body workout, the only hard part is getting myself to the gym. After my 10 hour shifts, I am physically and mentally exhausted and would skip the gym and go straight home. So, I started to go to the gym at 4:30 AM – 5:00 AM to make sure I had no excuses.
- ALWAYS eat breakfast, even if you are not hungry in the morning. Not having anything in the morning, just made me want to eat more and more throughout the day. Even if it a protein shake, hard boiled egg, or pancakes – have a good breakfast. It really is the most important meal of the day.
- Sacrificed going out with friends every weekend and/or every occasion. This was the hardest part for me. I try to eat out once or twice a week. If there were multiple events during the weekend, I could only choose one, especially if they all involved eating out. After getting over the “fear of missing out” feeling, I realized that I would much rather enjoy quality time with my dogs and my love ❤
- Don’t eat until you are at the point of throwing up. This may not be a normal thing, but sometimes I struggle with learning how to control myself when I am at buffets and/or potlucks. I keep eating and eating to the point where it is hard for me to breathe. I realized that I had a problem and started to listen to my body when I would go out. Learning to control myself, learning when I was “comfortably” full, and only take what I can finish, has helped me with my problem.
- I stopped ordering sugary drinks at Starbucks. I used to order white chocolate mochas, caramel macchiatos, vanilla lattes, etc. I didn’t realize how much sugar and fat can add up in a tall, 12 0z cup everyday until working as a barista at Starbucks. For example, who knew that frappuccinos were made with whole milk by default?! My go-to orders are now americanos, drip coffee, iced teas with splenda instead of classic syrup, and if I’m feeling pretty naughty – a pump or two of white chocolate mocha with two espresso shots over ice.
I hope sharing these lifestyles changes of mine will help you think of baby steps of your own! Until next time (: