9 Small Changes for Big Results for Health and Weight Loss

by admin on July 28, 2011

I want to preface this post with a few reminders:

1. This is not a blog about weight loss.  It’s about learning to live a healthy lifestyle, which generally results in weight loss, at least initially.

2. I am not a doctor, a registered dietician, or any other medical professional with the training and knowledge to tell you how to lose weight or how to be healthy.  If you need medical advice or have any unique conditions, please consult your doctor.

Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, let’s talk about why a blog that is absolutely not about weight loss is talking about weight loss.  Short version: a lot of people asked me to write about it.

When I started notjustacarnivore, I intended to teach myself (and all of you) how to live a healthier lifestyle.  It took a few weeks to really learn as much as I needed to in order to make good changes, and then I was travelling a lot, so I’ve only had about two weeks of totally living according to the lifestyle about which I blog.  In those two weeks, I’ve dropped an inch off both my hips and waist, I’ve lost 8 pounds, and I’ve had tons of people asking me how I did it.  My answer: “Read my blog.”

Even reading the blog, a lot of people want more information, so I promised quite a few friends that I’d do a post about the types of food I’ve been eating and changes I’ve been making.  This post is just about the small changes; look for another post with meal ideas that demonstrate how to live the healthy lifestyle promoted by notjustacarnivore.  

I’m not guaranteeing that you will lose weight by making these changes; I’m simply saying they’ve had that effect on my body.  I do promise that it’s a healthy, fulfilling way of life that has left me energetic, satisfied, and happy.

Small Changes

1. White vs. Wheat – When baking, I try to use Arrowhead Mills All-Purpose Baking Mix instead of white flour; it’s whole grain and unbleached, which puts fewer chemicals in my body while providing me with more fiber.  For this reason, I opt for whole wheat instead of white most all the time.  When I don’t want a whole wheat version due to flavor differences (like when I made tacos and knew whole wheat tortillas would taste really different), I try different grains, like spelt and millet.  In the taco case, I used spelt tortillas and they were excellent.

2. Natural vs. Processed – I use natural peanut butter, not processed peanut butter.  Read my thoughts on peanut butter here.  I try to go unprocessed with a lot of foods.  I’ve done some reading on preservatives and food processing (but that’s another post), and while the jury is still out on how those chemicals affect our bodies, they’re still chemicals, and I’m personally much more comfortable eating foods that come with an ingredient list I understand.

3. Water – Drink it!  Lots of it!  I carry around a water bottle that I refill every time I get a chance.  I am never without water.  The benefits of good hydration are endless (again, another post).  For me, it’s helped get rid of chronic headaches and helped my muscles to relax and respond better to massage and relaxation.

Don’t like water?  Flavor it!  Use lemon, lime, orange, or cucumber to give your water some flavor.  I also enjoy the flavor of watermelon in water.  Not interested in drinking water at home?  Fill a clear pitcher with water, throw in some fruit, and keep it in the front of the refrigerator where you’ll be tempted by the colorful, summery drink.

On the go?  Try flavoring packets.  I hate to point you toward artificial sweeteners, as the jury is also still out on those but seems to indicate that they’re not good (again, another post), but I believe that taking in artificial sweeteners in water is better than taking in no water at all.  Healthy-to-Go also makes a good acai berry water flavoring using Stevia.  Stevia is a natural sweetener, not a processed artificial one, and I recommend it.

4. Sugar – It is absolutely a fact that high sugar intake contributes to a larger waistline.  I don’t even feel the need to cite that because you can find proof in so many places (and this particular post just doesn’t go that in-depth).  Try to take in most of your sugar through fructose – not from juice, but from the actual fruit – where you get all the nutrients.  When sweetening your drinks, try stevia as an alternative.  Want something that tastes a little more similar to regular table sugar?  Agave nectar has a similar flavor (and is a natural sugar), but is much sweeter than sugar and, thus, requires less sweetener.

5. Fiber  – Few Americans have enough fiber in their diets.  Fiber helps to control appetite and blood sugar levels, as well as helping to  lower bad cholesterol and improve GI functions.  Where can you find fiber in food?  Whole grains, nuts, legumes, most green vegetables, bananas, avocados, tomatoes with skin, flax, and oats.

6. Dairy – Don’t get me wrong, I love dairy and it certainly has its health benefits.  It’s also fattening and should be consumed in moderation.  I still keep skim milk in my refrigerator and I enjoy it, but I’ve been using soy milk in my protein shakes, almond milk when baking, and almond or coconut milk in my oats.  I also enjoy yogurt made with almond milk.  These little changes add up, not to mention different nutritional benefits I get from the different “dairy substitutes.”

7. Veggies – Find a way to get them into your diet!  Don’t like veggies?  I didn’t think I did either.  Turns out, I love squash and zucchini with onions, eggplant with onions, sauteed green beens, okra and tomatoes, and the mixed greens used in salads (spinach, arugula, etc.)  I also enjoy spinach in my smoothies – they still taste like fruit but contain the nutritional value of spinach.  Read about my first smoothie with spinach (aka, green smoothie) here.

8. Protein – Watch the proteins you put in your body.  Beef and pork have always been my favorites; they’re also among the fattiest.  Try chicken, fish, soy, and nuts for healthier protein options.

9. Enjoy! – Keep some healthy snacks you enjoy on-hand.  If you’re REALLY craving something unhealthy, it’s okay to enjoy it – just enjoy in moderation.  Depriving yourself will only leave you feeling unsatisfied and will likely lead to binges later.  Eat foods that you love – just take the time to learn what healthy foods you love and stick mostly to those!  And don’t be afraid to try new things!

What small changes have helped improve your health?  

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

sprint2thetable July 28, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Great recap – I’m always amazed that 90% of Americans don’t follow these simple guidelines on a regular basis. We are truly lucky to have the access and knowledge that we do to more easily maintain healthy lifestyles.

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notjustacarnivore July 28, 2011 at 11:31 pm

It’s so true, Laura! I’ve always known that my eating habits were bad, but I had no idea how terribly I was treating my body. Once I started learning, my whole world changed. I’d love for everyone to be able to understand (and care) that food is our fuel, and our bodies are only as good as what we put in them.

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Lee July 29, 2011 at 8:02 am

I lost a bunch of weight like 7 years ago (half of which I’ve gained back, but whatever) and I think a huge contributor was that I drastically cut back on the amount of sugar that I ate. I should probably look into doing that again!

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notjustacarnivore July 29, 2011 at 8:47 am

I feel you, Lee! My weight has been up and down my whole life. I had a trainer for a while helping me get ready for the wedding and he really pounded the sugar intake issue home. I’d lost body fat everywhere – lots of it – but gain belly fat. So he’d ask about my diet, and it always came back to sugar. It’s a tough one to get control over.

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