Tammy’s Top Ten (t3 report) Ways to Influence Good Health Habits

It’s no secret. I’m battling extra pounds. No, I haven’t hit the obese rating on any chart but I am squeezing into once comfortable clothes and struggling against the scales. Age is not making it any easier.

Nemesis

A friend and blog reader offered up the book Switch as one that contains research about how to make change stick. I devoured it cover to cover and while I may not be able to practice every good idea, I do have a few ways that I’m working to eliminate excuses.

1. Carry the gym bag in the car. In the morning when I get ready to leave, I make sure that I have work out clothes and shoes, a water bottle, a towel, a yoga mat and a hair tie. I can’t say that I don’t have my gear.

2. Move my vitamins into the bathroom. Yes, I know. They keep better when they’re in the fridge. Well, guess what? They keep for years that way because I don’t take them. By moving them to the place where I brush my teeth, I’m much more likely to indulge.

3. Wear a step-counter. I used to do this years ago when the 10,000 steps movement first began and when my pedometer broke, I forgot about it. I’ve since employed a new one and it’s eye-opening. On a typical day, without exercise, I get maybe 3,000 steps. Knowing this causes me to park a little further away.

4. Use the bathroom on the floor below me. In line with the last recommendation, this adds a good 500 steps each way. Every bit helps.

5. Make a date for exercise. Last night I met a friend for zumba. Tomorrow morning, I plan to hit the hiking trail at 5:30 am. With a friend to meet me there, I’m a lot less likely to blow it off.

6. Stack up on the snacks! I went to the market and bought a lot of good dense food items for the drawer in my office; dried goldenberries, sprouted almonds, raw bars, and there’s always fruit in the fridge.

7. Fill the Vitamix canister the night before and store it in the fridge. This makes it much harder for me to leave the house without eating and much easier to create a great healthy green smoothie in the mornings.

8. Don’t buy it. Yeah, my boys hate this one but if it’s not in my cabinet, there’s a high probability that I won’t eat it. Don’t buy crackers, chips, cookies, or other high calorie snacking foods.

9. Go to bed at a reasonable time. Sure, it’s hard to pull away from the blog when some fantastic blogger like the Scratch Club just posted a list of weekend reading but really, getting enough sleep is a foundation for all the rest.

10. Alcohol makes the appetite grow fonder. Don’t drink. I love a glass of wine but know that when I do, that slice of gorgonzola on crostini seems like a farm to table option that I must have in order to fulfill the Agrigirl mission.

This is a challenge for me and I’d love to hear the ways that you’ve managed to enjoy great food and live a healthy lifestyle.

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85 Comments

  1. Great suggestions!!! For me, #10 is a biggie. One glass is enough for me to have questionable food judgement!

    Reply
  2. For me Tammy, making the exercise fun is imperative. I do 100 Belly Dance ‘Figure 8′s’ in the morning and 100 at night. I am NOW ready to up the anti to 200 each part of the day. I am noticing a difference and I feel beautiful!

    Reply
  3. Exercise is so important to me. My days spent at the computer are otherwise sedentary and I need the mental and physical time as a counterbalance to that. Getting to the gym at the same time everyday helps it stay part of the routine. Because we live close to our downtown I can also walk everywhere for the most part. Then I got the dog 10 years ago to make more of an excuse to take walk breaks during the day. A pet is a big responsibility, but they are great at keeping their humans active!

    When I’m not at a desk, I’m cooking and testing recipes, so that’s a challenge. Portion size is really important, so is a balanced diet. The old “small plate, smaller portion size” may sound like old news, but it does work.

    Reply
    • You know, there is solid evidence around the smaller plate strategy – something I need to blog about sometime. I’m hopeful to have a solid routine one day that will allow for a consistent exercise plan. Right now I plan it weekly.

      Reply
  4. Oh my god Tammy! The Vitamins. I thought I was the only one who forgets them. Such great tips! i am actually going to be following 3,4 and mostly 10 too now that there are only 6 months to the wedding.

    Reply
  5. Lisa H

     /  July 7, 2012

    Great tips, Tammy. I like your idea of filling the Vitamix the night before. I also don’t buy snack foods, that is, chips or cookies, since I would devour them. The kids eat the same snacks I do. For the school lunches, they are allowed to pack one treat, which are kept on the sack-lunch shelf and only used for lunches, not snacks at home.

    Reply
  6. Great post, Tammy. I always had a metabolism where I could eat anything and everything without even considering consequences. Then, maybe 15 years ago, my thyroid slowed, I quit smoking and I started menopause all in a span of a few months. Now I have to watch what I do, and what I eat. #8 is the big one for me: no junk food comes in to my house. Thanks for some good pointers!

    Reply
    • I’ve had the same metabolism for years and then, BAM. It’s really hard to adjust so I’m having to adjust everything else.

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  7. It is amazing how fast the pounds don’t melt away after a certain age. I never had to excercise before to lose weight before. Now…well at least I feel better.

    Tim

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  8. There is so much sensible advice on this list. Good luck with introducing these changes. I’d like to get a step counter too. I think that would be very interesting and would give me an incentive to do a lot more walking xx

    Reply
    • It’s absolutely amazing how many steps we don’t take and then once aware, I find I’m parking further away and finding all sorts of ways to get more activity in.

      Reply
  9. Danielle Luko

     /  July 7, 2012

    Chia seeds in my water each day keep me full and energized. They have many nutrients such as omega 3, fiber and more.

    Reply
    • Interesting idea Danielle. I have some that I put in kombucha from time to time.

      Reply
  10. Great suggestions. Making a “Date” is key for me– that was how I got myself in the habit of exercising, and how I’ve pushed myself, too. I sure would not have been running at 5:30 this morning if it weren’t for my lovely neighbor. :)

    Reply
    • Yes, that really helps. Whether it is an early morning hike or a trip to the gym, it’s much more likely to happen when I’ve made a date.

      Reply
  11. Tammy, thank you so much. I can feel like such a loser at this, so knowing that others are working on it too, and that it is not necessarily easy, helps. I’m trying to replace some of my junk food habits with healthier snacks, slowly. And because I can’t exercise as much as I’d like to and need too, I am fighting that voice that says just not to try . ..and do lit bits of exercise when I can. I with you in every bit counts!

    Reply
  12. Jen

     /  July 7, 2012

    I’ve run off and on in the past, but then I started struggling with an extra 10-15 pounds, so I made a commitment to train for a half marathon. In the process, I became a running addict. Even though I’ll still indulge in good food, I drink a lot less now and try to get more sleep, so that I suffer less while running.
    I like your list of tips! Good luck with everything. :)

    Reply
    • I’ve thought about committing to an event as a way to start training and get in better shape. And I think you’re right, it does influence your other habits.

      Reply
  13. I love #7! im totally doing that! I’ve heard about that book before…i may put it on my reading list soon. Thanks for stopping by! I look forward to reading more from you!

    Reply
  14. We used to have a little breakfast and big dinner. Oops. Switch that around if you’re doing the same: have a big breakfast and a little dinner. More calories are burned during the day than at night! Most dinners for us now are a raw soup made in the Vitamix.

    When exercising regularly you lose fat and build muscle. This means numbers on the scale going both down and up can be a good thing. Rather than use scale numbers as a goal then use clothing size numbers. I’m back in the same size jeans I wore in high school, but weigh 25 lbs more! The scale isn’t intimidating then, it’s just a helpful guide along the way.

    Don’t be horrible to yourself. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure associated with your favorite foods and drinks; just enjoy them in moderation. A child’s portion of your favorite high-cal dish, with a bigger serving of something more nutritious, is easier to live with than a diet of cauliflower and grapefruit. Yes, it slows down progress, but it helps prevent you from quitting the whole process due to harsh cold turkey pangs. This isn’t a temporary thing, this is a new lifestyle you’re adapting into… so make it fun, one you see benefit from and can live with happily. You’re being good to yourself! You deserve this! Enjoy it!

    Reply
    • We were cross commenting Rob! What a positive thing and I like the idea of focusing on the clothing but that also indicates that there is work to do. I definitely think the idea of the smaller evening meal is going to be key for me. I worked with an RD recently and her analysis showed that I’m taking too much in later in the day – just as you’ve suggested. Really appreciate your encouragement.

      Reply
  15. as always…great list :)

    Reply
  16. Sleeping enough is so important and so often neglected! I know that when I’m sleep deprived, I’m constantly hungry, although I’ve been eating enough.

    Working for my food seems to be my recent unintentional diet: hauling water and hay to goats and hiking down the hill to the garden and back up.

    Reply
  17. Great stuff. Thanks. #1, #3, and #4 make the most sense for me right now. Will give them a shot. Great ways to change habits.

    Reply
    • The step counter is eye opening and an easy way to start. I can’t believe how inactive I am when at my desk.

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      • Right, I spend a lot of time in my home office, I am now very curious how inactive I really am. 8)

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  18. Great tips! The “workout buddy” has been my only salvation, keeping me from re-gaining all 50 pounds that i lost. But when we both slack? The the weight creeps back on… My grand challenge is sweets. Avoiding sugar. i don’t buy it – but the candy jar at work is always there, and there are always yummy baked goods lurking by the coffee pot. Trying to come up with tactics to avoid that…

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  19. Running is the only thing that works for me. I’ve also discovered that by simply not eating sweets, chocolates and biscuits I can also lose weight. Who would have thought??!! I have a husband who’s addicted to sweet stuff so I really have to exercise self-control. DIFFICULT!!! But my twin baby weight is starting to come off slowly. Great blog, by the way! :)

    Reply
    • Thanks so much. I can go forever on an elliptic but running on the street puts me out quickly. I have been going out for about a quarter mile at a time.

      Reply
  20. All excellent suggestions!

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  21. Great list! I just miss, “leave the car at home and walk!” :D

    Reply
    • Oh, so hard where i live but so much what I did in the past. I’m going for it so please inquire within and I will report back.

      Reply
  22. Great challenge here, Tammy. I am proud to say I’ve run 12 miles in the last four days. Not always the case, but I continue to try and make it a priority. I am doing most of what you recommend here. The one thing I will add (as a foodie-nut) is that I will allow myself to indulge more on the weekends and try to be more disciplined during the week. Makes me feel like I am getting a reward, instead of just an indulgent lifestyle.

    Reply
  23. I love your lists, Tammy, and this is a good one. Your tips about creating good exercise habits are so important! What a difference daily exercise makes in metabolism. I also think eating whole, unpackaged foods is a big part of the solution, as is eating low on the food chain. Staring one ingredient straight in the face builds stronger understanding of exactly what I’m putting in my body.
    Eleanor

    Reply
    • I don’t have trouble with the eating part but I do think that I need to change some things like Rob suggested and have smaller meals earlier in the evening.

      Reply
      • My healthy sister always says “nothing after dinner” — a simple rule that does away with mindless evening snacking!

        Reply
  24. Nice to know I’m not the only one struggling now. I was stable for ages (though admittedly a few pounds higher than I’d like) but now I’m edging up. And if you think the wine is dangerous, try a nice craft beer! I’ve concluded that the light dinner is going to be a must for me but its hard when that’s the only time the family is together. Time to really get creative I guess!

    Reply
    • I love craft beers. Let me know if you come up with any good trips to managing this.

      Reply
  25. These truly are great suggestions, Tammy, not only for those who would like to lose some weight, but like your title says, to influence good health habits. I, myself, like to follow as much of these as I can manage :)

    Reply
    • Thanks Estrella. My next steps are around the alcohol – only allowing it on weekends. Then exercising everyday and then shifting the evening meal earlier. That’s a tough one in our house.

      Reply
    • Yes, I am trying to focus first on good health and hoping that it will lead to losing weight. Not yet, unfortunatley.

      Reply
  26. I’m getting back to the healthy habits as well. Alcohol is not a huge problem for me, but I do like my glass of chilled white wine on a hot summer evening. This week, I decided to buy some unflavored seltzer and some organic cranberry/blueberry juice. I can make a wine spritzer with just a dash of the juice and replace half the wine with the seltzer (better half-wine than all-wine) or go all the way with just the seltzer and dash of juice.

    Reply
  27. You could be writing about me, Tammy. Nothing worse than that waistband-chalenged feel. Fantastic tips, especially the exercise dates and the vitamix. Great post!

    Reply
  28. Some great ideas.
    The best way I found to lose weight, is to use a food diary, like Fitday.
    http://www.fitday.com/
    I downloaded the program onto my computer, it is easy to see where I make mistakes, like eating a bowl of Peanuts and it also shows me if I am getting enough vitamins, minerals, etc.

    Reply
  29. Yes. Just downloaded it also!

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  30. I love idea No. 7!! I’ve become terrible at using my Vitamix lately to make smoothies (or at all), so that idea might actually work.

    Reply
  31. A lot of great suggestions here, Tammy. Thank you. Exercising, walking with our dog every day, eating more fruits, veges and drinking more water + some wine on weekends only are probably a few things I am trying to maintain to stay in good health. Sleep is a big problem though.

    Reply
  32. Sounds very familiar. You are where I was a year and a half ago. I decided then enough was enough and made a committment to exercise. NO dieting. Here I am, all this time later, feeling MUCH better, full of muscle tone and very proud of myself. Your tips are WONDERFUL and will certainly help.

    My tip? SWEAT! Yep, many folks “exercise” but they don’t get their heart rate up enough and/or for a long enough time to burn off the calories and raise their metabolism (the burn that keeps on burning). This is what has worked for me. Oh, that and consistency. It is very easy to start a program, more difficult to stick with it.

    I wish you luck! You already eat healthy and trust me, once you get into this, you will do even better. Hydration is also key as well as replenishing electrolytes. All things I learned the hard way. ;-)

    Reply
  33. I chuckled to myself when I saw the picture of the scale. Every checkup, my doctor says “time to get on the lie-detecto scale,” and I laugh every time.

    Lots of good suggestions. I plan my workouts for every 2 weeks and put them in my calendar, making dates with myself! I try to have workout buddies, but my friends always bail on me and aren’t as committed. Guess THEY don’t feel as guilty as you do. Maybe I need some new friends?

    I also completely agree with the no snack buying rule. This has caused my husband to hoard cookies in his desk so I don’t see them. But I always know, because I’m buying more and more milk that he is secretly dunking cookies into!

    Reply
  34. These sound like wonderful tips…
    but they mess with some of my best excuses, though! ;)

    Reply
  35. heatherst

     /  July 12, 2012

    i always do my vitamins for two weeks in those daily containers and keep them in the bathroom. Returning the rest to the fridge. This also eliminates the question of wether you took them today as you should and does become habit forming as those daily containers are a constant reminder to take or to refill.
    Additionally, this makes things so much easier when you travel as you can take your vitamins with you without doing any extra work. I am also scheduling my exercises twice a week and I only do things I really like to do otherwise it is too easy to cancel. All of these are of course about making you and your health a priority!

    Reply
  36. I have my gym bag in my car but I don’t go! It is sad really but that is how I feel. My vitamins are also in the bathroom cabinet – much easier to remember to take them that way. I used to have a pedometer but it came off my pants some time last year so now I have an app on my BlackBerry that counts the steps (if I turn it on that is!). I had to look up what a goldenberry was – it is called a cape gooseberry here (because of the sheath and not because it comes from the Cape). To loose the extra weight we have stopped eating potatoes and pasta during the week – it has made a huge difference. Good luck :)

    Reply
    • Hi Tandy, Great to see you and I should’ve thought about there being a step counting app.

      Reply
  37. One thing that I forget is that often we are thirsty, and mistake it for hunger. I need to drink more water! I started going to the gym this year, which has indeed made me stronger, with improved cardio, stamina, and all. I do feel better, but have shed no pounds. Eating less, and eliminating sweets, are key to that for me.

    Reply
  38. These are great ways to nudge yourself in the right direction! I do a few of these. Most recently, I decided I could buy any fruit I wanted (and eat it, too!) in hopes of preempting my cravings for sweets.

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    • I am fortunate not to have a sweet tooth but if I do have a craving, dried fruit works for me.

      Reply
  39. I keep my gym bag at work so I can pop by the gym to work out over lunch and usually take a handful of mixed nuts to work to snack on over the day. But I struggle a lot with not buying snacks at the supermarket and sleeping at a reasonable time.

    I can’t believe you get up to work out at 530am! That seriously is some determination right there!

    Reply
  40. Tiffany

     /  July 17, 2012

    God is so good! I have been remiss in reading your noteworthy comments friend and had this huge nudge to read your post today. I love that you devoured Switch and are making the switch to greater health, since you’re well on your way. Funny thing is how, while I teach wellness at corporate sites, having cooking demonstrations with kale and other local veggies, I find myself experimenting more in the kitchen but less with exercise.

    So, I too have given up my excuses and recently started up with my favorite DVDs, like Rodney Yee’s AM yoga (brings me back home with the Grand Canyon scenery) and am choosing to take a yoga and zumba class near the farmers market (treat myself after going to class). Whatever I choose, I’ve learned that it won’t stick, unless I choose something fun for me. And, to let go of my “all or nothing” outlook. 10 continuous minutes most days counts (witnessing others meet their goal with this and tracking a day or two of what they ate – I learned I love eating fat!). And thank you surgeon general for clarifying that 7,000 steps a day equates to health! Hope you can stop by for a walk by the woods or the mall when in DC :)

    Reply
    • You’ve been an inspiration for me. And yes, I loved the book. Exercise is the first thing for me to give up so it’s really important to me to find fool-proof ways of building it in. Would love to hear about your new life.

      Reply
  41. Love this post! And goodness knows I need to do all but 10 (I don’t drink alcohol). My current health push is to ramp up to getting free of sugar – that feels insurmountable to me – but then, so did not drinking and it’s been almost 25 years. The step counter sounds like a good idea too, Thanks, as always, Tammy! You’re the best (and I think you look perfect, fwiw!)

    Reply
    • How’s the sugar abandonment going Diane? I’m sticking with these habits but finding it’s still a fight.

      Reply
  42. Good tips, Tammy.

    Here’s my tip for losing 5 pounds in 5 weeks without dieting . . . invite your mother to come live with you!

    All the extra exercise has caused the pounds to melt away. :D

    Reply
    • Of course, it also helps that I haven’t had time to sit at the computer for hours on end. For 3 weeks in NJ, I was “lucky” to have 30 minutes a week to read e-mails.

      Maybe I’ll call it the Step Away From The Keyboard Diet.

      Reply
      • I do equate much of my challenge with blogging Nancy. I haven’t been as available this year as I was in the past.

        Reply
  43. Love your post! Walking 1/2 hour everyday, eating less, eat whole organic foods and DIM supplement is what I do and it is working.

    Reply

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