molly’s healthy lifestyle plan
This blog post is definitely a place for Molly to do all the talking (writing), but I wanted to kick things off with a quick introduction for those who may not be as familiar with our team here at Becky Higgins. Molly has been with us for a couple years now. I hired her for two main purposes: Help to alleviate some of the business-related burdens I was carrying on my shoulders and open up the doors for us to be able to do MORE because there would be someone to oversee and manage various projects.
Well … Molly isn’t just “someone” to do the job. She is a remarkable human being. The care and attention she gives in EVERY aspect of her life as a wife, mother, friend, worker, and someone who gives so much of herself to serving others in various ways is inspiring to anyone who knows Molly. I am so grateful that she is part of our team and a personal friend. You can imagine that watching her get more + more healthy this past year has been a delight for ALL of us here. We’re soooo proud of Molly and inspired by the changes she’s made in her life. That’s why I’ve invited her to share this specific part of how she is cultivating a good life — first on a Facebook Live broadcast and now here in this blog post. We totally know that so many of you connect with the struggle and hope you find inspiration in her journey.
All you, Molly.
Hey there friends! I want to share a piece of myself with you! I have been overweight for the last 15 years or more. I have tried many times to lose weight, unsuccessfully. You name it, I’ve tried it – Weight Watchers, HCG, Atkins, Body For Life, and so on. Nothing has worked long term. Sure, I lost 20 pounds in a month doing HCG, but the weight came right back on when I started eating more than 500 calories a day. And yes I lost weight on Weight Watchers, but I never had the money to pay for the program where I would actually weigh in and be held accountable, so the results never stuck. I’ve tried doing meal replacement shakes but decided a long time ago that I really LOVE to EAT! Drinking my meals just wasn’t doing it for me. I know I could never go vegan, which happens to be a big fad right now where I live. Knowing my personality and our family’s lifestyle, I knew I couldn’t do anything too drastic because I was sure to fail. I needed something I could sustain as a busy, working mom. Mentally, I have never really been there until now. I hit a breaking point and needed to commit and just decide that I had to be mentally ready.
I started talking to friends and listening to many people who gave me so many tips and tricks that they have used. I gathered all of those tips and took what I felt I could do and what made sense to me. Last year on Halloween I decided it was finally time and I was ready to start taking care of myself. To date, I have lost a solid 60 pounds, with a desire to lose about 20 more. I have compiled all of my tips and included them right here in this blog post. In addition, you may have caught my recent Facebook Live broadcast. If you would like to watch that in its entirety, it is now live on YouTube as well, or you can view it at the bottom of this post!
1 – Drink H2Orange
This is a mixture of 1 part orange juice (not from concentrate) to 7 parts water. I start my day everyday with this. I usually start with 24 ounces and drink that throughout the morning over a few hours. The theory is that when we wake in the morning, we are not actually hungry but we are dehydrated. Drinking this will help to get you hydrated. The natural sugar in the orange juice helps to keep your blood sugar stable and therefore you will experience less cravings. I now don’t eat a meal until I have been up 5-6 hours, and thus I only end up eating two full meals a day. I will often drink more of the H2Orange throughout the day; I just keep my straw cup filled. To make that easy, I keep it pre-mixed in my refrigerator.
2 – Eat at a Level 3 Hunger
Hunger happens in 4 stages. It’s important to listen and eat at a level 3.
Level 1 – Not hungry, you eat out of boredom.
Level 2 – You would eat a snack but not leftovers.
Level 3 – You’re ready to eat a full, satisfying meal.
Level 4 – You’ll eat anything in site – don’t ever reach a 4!
Most people reach a level 3 hunger 2-3 times per day. Typically, level 3 hunger occurs 4-6 hours after waking up. Because of this and because of the H2Orange, I now only eat two meals a day 90% of the time, with a small snack between the two meals. I’m just not hungry to eat more often than that. Our bodies are in optimal fat-burning mode between a level 2 and level 3 hunger. It is important not to eat during that time or your body will burn the fuel you are putting into it at the time, rather than the stored fat. This is why 6 small meals a day may not actually work for a lot of people. It has never worked for me. Eating two meals a day automatically means that I am not eating from 7/8 at night until 10 or 11 the next day. This is similar to the intermittent fasting theory (which I haven’t read much about, but it makes sense to me!).
3 – Eat SLOWLY
Be prepared to put your fork down between every.single.bite. Chew everything twice or three times as much as you normally would and eat smaller bites than you ever really have. Set a timer for 10 minutes (I use my phone) when you begin your meal and stop when the 10 minutes is up. Then spend 5 minutes not eating at all — again set your timer. This break will allow your brain to begin to catch up to your stomach. Once the five minutes has ended, start the timer again for 10 more minutes. During the second ten minutes, you will listen to your body and stop eating when you are full, not stuffed but just full and satisfied. Don’t be afraid to leave food on your plate! Eventually you will learn to take less food so you won’t leave food on your plate.
4 – No Snacking
Try really hard not to snack. If you can’t make it to your next meal time, but you are at a level 3 hunger, eat a healthy snack. Snacks should be made up of at minimum 2 parts protein to 1 part sugar. Have approved snacks on hand at all times so you are not stuck without choices.
5 – Avoid “Trigger Foods”
Don’t cut out an entire food group – like sugar or carbs or bread or wheat – you will be more likely to “cheat” and thus more likely to fail. I decided to choose one thing that I just loved to eat so much I could eat it any time. Once I figured out what that was, I decided to cut it out completely. For me, it was cold cereal. From the day I decided to steer clear of it, I never looked back. I did use it as a reward after I had lost 25 pounds and guess what? It made me so sick. In addition, as a byproduct of cutting out cold cereal, I also cut out milk.
6 – Attainable short term goals
When I began this journey, my end goal was to lose 80 pounds. That is a huge number and super daunting. I decided I need to work in short, attainable goals of 5 – 10 pound increments. Each time I hit a certain weight, I would tell myself that I am never going above that number. Since I have been doing that, I have not gone above any of my goal weights! But I know that if I do, I have the tools to easily lose and drop back down.
7 – Accountability
Be accountable to someone even if it is just yourself. I have a weight chart hanging in my bathroom. I weigh myself every day but record my weight twice a week. This is not for everyone, I realize that. Daily weighing helps me to look at the day before and what I need to do differently whether I lose or gain. Another idea is to text friends. Find people who want to be on this journey with you; it is so great for encouraging each other. Be open and honest about your weight. Once I was honest about my weight and decided I didn’t care what others thought, it was easier to lose because I could see exactly where I was and own up to it!
8 – Exercise
Of course it is important to move, but exercise has been the least important thing for me. Early on, I would walk 3 times per week. I didn’t do anything crazy; in fact, I was working out more before with zero results. Now I am exercising more because I feel so good. I am spending more time hiking and running and just being active in general. But I’m still only exercising 3-4 times per week. Knowing that I really only have to get in 3 times a week makes it easier for me to be successful. It’s another attainable goal. If I started out saying I was going to work out at least 5 days a week, I am positive that I would have failed.
9 – Calorie Counting
In the beginning I tried to stay at or under 1000 calories per day. I knew that if I was hungry and weak or lacking energy that I would need to up my calories. The fact is, I have never felt deprived of calories. I have always had the energy I need to do everything I need to do. This was easy early on when I wasn’t exercising much. It’s harder now to stay in that calorie range because I am exercising a lot more and my body is wanting more calories. Although, with only 2 meals a day, it’s not too hard to stay low in calories. I love using My Fitness Pal to track my calories.
10 – No diet foods
It’s important to eat real food, with real calories. Try to avoid protein shakes and protein bars as meal replacements — eat something real instead. I spent 9 months drinking a protein shake every morning and exercising a ton. I lost no weight at all. I haven’t had a shake since and it seems as though my body likes the real food a lot better!
Rules about snacks
- Always at least 2 parts protein to 1 part sugar
- Fruit is NOT a good snack choice unless you pair it with a protein. For instance, grapes — every 4 grapes contain about 1 teaspoon of sugar.
- If you want to eat fruit, eat fruit with your meal so that the protein you eat will balance out the sugar in the fruit. Or eat some almonds or nut butter or cheese with your fruit for a snack.
Snacks that I always keep on hand
- Almonds – especially flavored almonds – Blue Diamond Sriracha and Habanero BBQ are my favorites.
- Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges + pretzel sticks or Triscuits (there are so many delicious flavors of wedges)
- String cheese
- Snack size cheese snacks
- Carrots & hummus
- Peanut butter filled pretzels
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Greek yogurt (I don’t usually use this as a snack because of the sugar, but it is often a go-to meal option for me) Dannon Light and Fit is the only Greek yogurt I can handle!
- Any other veggies
- Naked Popcorn (giant red bag from Costco)
- Beef/pork jerky
- Lunch meat
- Apple slices and peanut butter
- Avoid trigger foods at meals as much as possible
- My triggers include breads, high-sugar foods, and carbs.
- Eat proteins and veggies first
- Don’t completely cut out the things that you love!
- I love meat and potatoes. I will still eat those anytime, but I try to avoid breads or rolls.
- You will start to tell when your body responds better to certain things and when it responds negatively.
- Be sure to eat protein with every single meal!
- Grill a ton of meat at the beginning of the week. It is so good to have easy, already prepared meat ready to go. I can easily grab some precooked chicken or pork or meat of any sort and pair it with vegetables or salad for an easy, healthy meal.
Eating out + my favorite restaurants
- Chilis – They have a fantastic low calorie menu. We eat there all the time!
- Rumbi Island Grill – They have some amazing salads and even the bowls aren’t too bad for you. They are happy to give you a calorie sheet to look at.
- Chipotle – build your bowl or salad as healthy as possible and then eat half of it. The tortilla is the very worst part so don’t get one!
- In-n-Out – When I am really wanting to be “naughty” and feel like I’m cheating, I go to In-n-Out. I get a protein style, animal style burger with no pickle. This thing is so good. I mean really good. And it’s supposedly only 300 calories or so. Just don’t order fries or a milkshake to go with it! :)
- I love Taco Bell. Weird I know. I used to order the same three things on the menu every time I went. Now, if I have a desire for Taco Bell, I will go and just order one of those things and eat it super slowly. I get the taste I want without consuming all of the calories.
- Cafe Zupas – So many great salad and soup options!
- Smashburger – the Smash Chicken with no bun is a favorite!
It is absolutely possible to eat at all of your favorite restaurants, just pay attention to what you are ordering and time yourself so you don’t eat too much!
I am so excited that so many people have shown interest in beginning a journey of their own. I am happy to answer any questions you might have! Add your questions to the comments and I will personally hop back on here and answer them as best as I can. I also promised on Facebook Live that I would officially launch my Instagram Account, LoseItWithMolly. There are only a few posts, but I intend on posting there regularly with tips, tricks, and inspiration. Feel free to follow me over there and let me know how you are doing on your weight loss journey!