This week, the Go Red bloggers are focusing on eating well for women’s heart health. Rather than talking about what to eat, I thought I’d share the how of healthy eating that has worked for me lately. I mean, no matter which diet or eating plan you choose for heart health, it won’t do a damn thing for your heart if you can’t stick with it, you know?
Last year, I wasn’t always great about eating healthy. Overall, I felt like I was doing OK, but my healthy-to-crappy food ratio went from 80/20 to more like….60/40. I was just eating too many meals out, especially on weekends, and I wasn’t eating nearly enough veggies or high-quality foods. It wasn’t a problem every day or even every week, and I still was mindful with my eating, but I wasn’t thrilled about this change. It wasn’t good for my bank account, my overall energy levels, or my heart. Meanwhile, Eric was trying to lose some weight he’d gained after we started dating and he got a new (and stressful) job, and he wasn’t happy with his progress either.
Here are the changes we slowly implemented to clean up our eating habits:
First, we made a rule that we could only eat out twice a week (one breakfast and one other meal). This was mostly to save money on eating out, and it worked really well for a while, but then we kind of fell off the wagon, mainly because we weren’t accounting for all the weekend meals with our meal planning, and leftovers weren’t going as far as we thought they would.
So then we made 7-day-a-week meal planning A Thing, which has honestly has been the best thing I’ve done for my eating habits in a long time. Because these days, when it comes to food, I don’t really want to have to think too hard about it. I realized last summer that I was happy to eat whatever was in front of me. If nothing good was in front of me, I would either eat out or eat something like ramen noodles and a scoop of peanut butter; neither option was particularly good for my heart. But now that we’ve started meal planning more carefully, we can think about it once a week and then know that something good will be there for us every day. I really don’t seek out junk food if it’s not there (and something else good is) so my eating has gotten much healthier as a result. I’m eating more veggies, trying more new recipes, and eating a bigger variety of foods.
Eric also proposed a new rule for us at the end of 2012: if we wanted to get McDonald’s breakfast (which we did probably once a week), we had to walk there. It’s not that far, but — surprise, surprise! — we haven’t had McDonald’s breakfast since. It’s not even that we don’t want to walk, it’s just that we usually wake up hungry and don’t feel like making a 15-minute walk before we can even eat.
Now that we’ve put these new techniques in place, both of us are feeling really good; I definitely feel healthier overall and Eric has said the same thing. And once you get started with one good habit, that momentum can help you make other good choices. We’re both sticking to regular workout schedules and just being more active in general, and I really feel like it started with our meal plan. Having a fully-stocked kitchen all week is a really good feeling.
How do you stick with your heart-healthy eating plan?
Don’t forget, you can head on over to the fitbook by fitlosophy facebook page today and enter a drawing to win a little red food scale from fitlosophy! And bloggers, please consider joining in BLOG YOUR HEART OUT day on Feb. 22 — more info here!