Step by step
My story actually begins at puberty. But the few extra kilos didn’t bother me too much at the time. That changed when I got to my thirties and after several diets I did not manage to lose 5-10 kilos. The yo-yo effect … I know all about it. Protein shakes and soup diets, dietitian visits and Weight Watchers … I’ve been there. Unfortunately, these things only seemed to work for a while … until a Spanish doctor told me: “Buy a treadmill and grow your own veggies.”
I’m not slim by nature and never will be. Accepting that as a fact will spare you from a source of frustration. My body is my body, with its beautiful aspects and less beautiful ones … That my BMI is 24 and not 20 no longer bothers me. I feel good and live healthy, and that matters a lot more to me.
Belgians and people from the South of the Netherlands are sometimes said to have a ´Burgundian´ lifestyle, meaning that they indulge in the good things of life, more particularly in copious meals with meat, creamy sauces and rich products. But the true meaning of ´Burgundian lifestyle´ is “to enjoy a snack and a drink”. And that is exactly what I have learned here in Spain: to enjoy some nice tapas with a glass of fine wine. Essential to the Mediterranean diet is to enjoy food together, in the company of others.
Eating a healthy amount and being aware of what you eat is already a big step forward. It is the awareness that leads to change. But only when you are ready for it.
Step by step to a healthy lifestyle:
- Don’t kid yourself. Set aside excuses and excuses. Search for solutions together with your family.
- Do not step on the scale every day and do not count calories. Check now and then and make adjustments if you notice that things are going in the wrong direction.
- To move! You’re not doing me any favors with a fitness subscription. I know that I can only do something if I enjoy doing it and if I am relaxed, such as swimming and jogging. We have our own business here in Spain, so in terms of time it was a bit of a puzzle, but it was possible. My partner takes the children to school in the morning, I leave after breakfast and go swimming for 1km. That corresponds to about 30 minutes of swimming 4-5 days a week. In addition, I go for a brisk walk or jog 2-4 times a week for 35 minutes. I don’t know if this is enough sport, but for me this is feasible and therefore I can keep it up.
- Stop eating sweets. Even though I only ate two cookies a day with coffee … now I don’t eat cookies anymore. Treat yourself once a week and enjoy. For me it can be a croissant or pancake. If you manage to stop eating sweets, there will be no need and you will enjoy that one treat all the more. That way you don’t have to feel guilty either.
- Open your fridge and make room for fruits and vegetables. I bought several stackable trays and fill them with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, … that way they are always ready.
- Make weekly notes of what you want to prepare. You can download and print a handy weekly planner on my homepage.
- Above all buy unprocessed products! If you like to eat a piece of meat, buy a chicken leg instead of a prepared hamburger. Look for fair meat or fish, preferably unprocessed.
- Make time to read the labels on the packaging. Pay attention to the sugars, fats and carbohydrates. (know that 4g of sugar equals 1 teaspoon!)
- If you are making fresh vegetable sauce, make double servings. This way you have some reserve in the freezer for the days with less time. Also make various vegetable soups that you can freeze in batches. Always handy when you are short of time.
- If you’re not used to cooking with more vegetables, get inspired by the internet or cookbooks. You will see, the more inspiration, the more fun cooking becomes. And when you start experimenting yourself, it gets really exciting …
- Get rid of the classic plate of potatoes, vegetables and meat with sauce. Replace the potatoes with a different type of vegetables or, for example, legumes.
- Watch your portions! 80% are vegetables. If you also prepare legumes, they are 60% vegetables, 20% legumes and 20% fish / meat. If you eat from large plates, do not fill your plate! On my homepage you can find a handy rule of thumb to determine your portion yourself.
- If you suddenly feel hungry, make sure you have healthy snacks at home. For example, I always have raspberries, berries and grapes or pistachio nuts. When I feel like something salty, I can enjoy crispy seaweed.
- Invite friends over for dinner and challenge yourself to prepare a table full of goodies based on fruits and vegetables. You will see how positive the reactions are and how you stimulate that. Even a BBQ can consist mainly of vegetables.
- If your partner and / or children do not immediately want to participate in your innovations, please occasionally please them with what they would like. Here they sometimes like to eat potatoes and then I make oven potatoes with thyme and rosemary or puree. Ready quickly, no work and they like it.
- Organize a trip, take a walk or bike ride during the weekend. Try to do something active. If you do this regularly you will see that you are going to like it.
- Find the most feasible solution for you and your family, both in exercise and nutrition. It should be fun for everyone!
- And don’t forget to enjoy!
Don’t delay! You can always find a reason not to do something … Keep it simple and use common sense.
Look for motivation and set small achievable goals. For example, no more sugar in the coffee, no cookies for a week, … If you know yourself that you cannot resist the sweet temptation, don’t buy them!
Preparation is everything! “Meal prepping” ... Download and print your -Mediterranian kitchen-inspired- weekly planner including shopping list. Need inspiration?weekly organiser >
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