Friday, March 15, 2013

Small Changes, Big Difference

My diet has been tweaked again and again over the last several months - both for breast feeding Hannah and balancing my own body's needs. Primarily, I stick to a pretty clean-eating diet plan; lots of fruits a veggies, lean meats, whole grains, nuts and seeds. However, even eating as healthy as I was, I still developed some pretty bad eating habits, like over indulging and late night snacking (or a deadly combo).

With all the running I was doing while training for the half marathon, I was forced to count my calories to secure my milk production. Knowing how much I loved to sit down and relax with some snacks and a glass of wine at night after the girls were asleep, I would try to "save" my calories for after dinner. I kept to the 5-6 small meal plan that I was already in a routine with from pregnancy. But I quickly learned that this no longer worked for me; I was never really "full" after a "meal" during the day, so when it came to my nighttime snacking, I went a little crazy. And even though my choices were fairly healthy (homemade popcorn, pretzels, carrots, nuts...) I would eat enough to fill half a days worth of calories. I went to bed feeling gross and woke up feeling guilty. Not to mention those last 2 or 3 pounds of baby weight was not going anywhere with eating habits like that. I had to make a change.

I started experimenting with cutting out (even more) foods - especially those I seemed to have no self control over, like almonds and peanut butter. I lost 4 pounds in 3 days doing this - too much. So I added them back, but with moderation in mind. After all, nuts are where I get my main source of fat and calories.

I know milk production thrives with hydration, so I upped my water intake. This helped tremendously, even though I was once again peeing like a pregnant woman. I start and end my day with a large glass of water, and go to bed/wake up feeling great.

I also started drinking my morning coffee BEFORE breakfast instead of after. This is because I researched that coffee boosts your metabolism, and just like eating after a work out, your body digests more efficiently with an already amped up metab. Also, because I try to make breakfast my largest, most carb-filled meal of the day to fuel up. The coffee switched seemed to really help. I feel full sooner and feel a difference in smoother digestion.

I usually have 1/2 a cup of coffee in the afternoon for a little extra caffeine boost, which I just switched to green tea. It gave me the bit of caffeine I needed without the jitters or stomach ache that I always seem to get with coffee cup number two.

My last and (for me) most drastic change was to knock off the nighttime snacking. I'm like an alcoholic when it comes to this - I can't do it in moderation. So it was the most important change I needed to make. I accomplished this by eating 3 complete (nearly 500 calorie, protein/carb/veggie balanced) meals throughout the day, with one protein packed snack between lunch and dinner (when I "allow" myself to fill my almond or nut-butter cravings, moderately). I love this change. My energy throughout the day is better, I actually feel and stay full until my next meal, and best of all, I am not starving come bedtime. Now my nighttime routine is some herbal tea with some vanilla almond milk, and maybe a handful of carrots.

Of course, everyone needs cheat days, which I am a huge supporter of. If its all or nothing, you'll find yourself either miserable or binging. I save my cheat days for my hubby :) a nice glass of wine and some snacks after the girls are in bed on the weekend is just what we need after a week of barely seeing each other. The calorie counter gets turned off and I just eat as I please. As long as you don't turn "cheat day" into "cheat days", you are totally entitled to them. One quote I read always sticks in my mind: "what you eat in private you wear in public."Cheat away! But be sure to get back on track once the day is over - that's the key! Unlike me who would wind up "cheating" every night and feeling like death the next morning.

It took a while but I seemed to have finally found a meal plan that fits my needs as well as filling the ones I need for Hannah and her sensitive belly. Clean eating is amazing, I've never felt better!

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