Note from the real RiledUpRunner:
Below is a guest post from my college friend, Tara, whose simultaneous appreciation for delicious food and healthy ingredients makes for some awesome recipes that are impossible to pass up. Tara is just two months away from her big wedding date (what up, Mike? Let’s meet someday, fo’ real.) and three-and-a-half months out from our five-year college reunion. Start gathering your favorite 80s gear now! (More for the latter event, but you never know…) Enjoy her post, and check out her blog for more recipes.
There are so many diet gimmicks out there – pills, shakes, drinks, juices, superstitions, tricks – and the list goes on. However, losing weight isn’t magic (unless you use Photoshop) – it’s a science, or a simple mathematical equation: calories in < calories out = weight loss. For those of you who hate math, let me rephrase: eat less than you burn and you will lose weight.
Unfortunately, no matter how many math or science courses we took at college, they did not teach us this equation. What they did teach, however, was how amazingly delicious calorie-packed food can be. Anne and my small liberal arts college was ranked No. 1 nationally for food, and with an all-you-can-eat dining hall, we indulged – a lot. Between the delicious meals, intense studying and a lack of physical activity save for dance parties, we were eating more than we were burning for four whole years, which meant we quickly packed on the freshman 15 (or in my case, 50).
So when graduation came and we entered the real world where sweatsuits were no longer acceptable everyday attire, it was time to drop the freshman 15 (or 50). And instead of giving in to gimmicks, Anne and I each separately decided to do it the good old fashioned way (and the only way proven to work): we resorted to healthy eating and exercise, or calories in < calories out. While running became a passion for Anne, my passion became cooking and eating healthy food.
Two years (and negative 50 pounds) after making the switch to healthy food, I decided to start sharing my recipes with the world, and my blog InspiredbyMollie.com was born.
The philosophies I follow in my blog – and life – are as follows:
Use healthy ingredients. This means incorporating ingredients that are packed with nutrition so the calories that are consumed are beneficial to your body, including vegetables, protein, fruit, whole grains and healthy fats. At the same time, it’s important to avoid empty calories, or foods that are high in calories but low in nutrition (e.g. processed white bread). Also, you can typically find low-calorie nutritious substitutes for high calorie favorites (e.g. spaghetti squash for traditional spaghetti or fat free Greek yogurt for sour cream). Here are a couple of my recipes that are packed with healthy ingredients and incorporate such substitutions:
Exercise portion control. This is especially important when eating rich foods or treats. It’s simple: if something is higher in calories, eat less of it. And if you are anything like me, and you don’t have self-control, use portion-sized bowls and plates to help you. Also, if you just need a “big” meal, increase the volume of your meal by adding a bed of lettuce or a ton of low calorie vegetables. Here are some of my portion-controlled favorites:
Indulge! Sometimes. Just because you are watching what you eat does not mean you have to deprive yourself of flavor or fun. Use low-calorie flavors like spices and herbs to enhance the flavors of your healthy food without destroying their nutritional value. Just beware of salt, as it causes water retention and thus apparent weight gain. And if you’re a sweets person, don’t skip dessert! It’s OK to eat a small treat once a day. Just remember – portion control is key. Here are some great portion-controlled desserts that won’t break the bank:
Plan and prepare. Plan ahead and prepare your own food. This allows you to make good decisions, rather than impulsive hungry decisions AND it also allows you to control what you are putting in your mouth. I try to avoid eating out more than once or twice a week and when I do eat out, I look at the online menu ahead of time and make my selection when I am not hungry. I know this could be considered a bit OCD, but if it allows me to order the beet salad (which I love) instead of the mile-high nachos, it is worth it. Also, if you are really busy and thinking to yourself you don’t have time to make your own food, think again. Make healthy food in bulk on a day when you have time and freeze individual portions for a healthy meal when you are pressed for time. Here are some freezer friendly recipes:
Drink water. Lots and lots of water. This is very important when you are running and working out and also when trying to lose weight. It helps flush your body and also helps fill your stomach – and it’s calorie free! Sick of water? Add some sliced fresh fruit to a pitcher of ice water for flavor. Lemon, limes, strawberries, watermelon and cucumber are all delicious options!
Of course, I do not always stick to these rules perfectly, but I do my best to make one good decision at a time. Like training for a race, you can get derailed and face challenges or temptation. But overall, if you stick with the training and healthy eating, you will find success, just like Anne and I did.