My wife has lost more than 20 pounds over the last year. It’s not unusual for old friends and acquaintances who haven’t seen her for a while to ask her if she’s Okay. She is. She wasn’t obese to begin with, and she wasn’t obsessed with losing weight. She wanted to live a healthier lifestyle.

Competition or Lifestyle?

I was the opposite. I joined a weight loss competition and weighed myself every day, sometimes more than once. I starved myself before weigh-ins, didn’t drink water or coffee before I stood on the scales, and took my shoes off. For me, it was more about the competition than an improved lifestyle.

My wife asked me what my weight loss intentions were and I explained to lose weight every week during the contest, and then she asked, “What about after that?” Good question. I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I guess I wanted to keep the weight off, but the truth is I’d participated in this group weight loss effort previously, lost weight, but eventually put it all back on.

A Lifestyle Change

My wife looked at me and said, “If you want to live healthier you won’t accomplish it through an eight-week contest. You’ll have to change your lifestyle.” She was right.  I’m working on lifestyle changes. I’ve cut out several foods that triggered compulsive eating such as potato chips and cookies. I’ve reduced late night snacks, and I’m working on eliminating them.

I’m walking, hiking, gardening, and exercising more, and I’ve reduced my intake of carbohydrates by at least 75%. These changes aren’t only for the Thursday before the Friday morning weight in. They’re lifestyle choices that are becoming lifestyle changes.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Replace Trigger Foods

For me, it was chips and cookies. I‘ve replaced them with seaweed snacks; my favorite is Wasabi flavored. I also snack on edamame, almonds, and carrots. Another key for me is avoiding temptation, for example, I no longer walk down the cookie or chip aisles in the store, and I stay away from the Friday morning company donuts because I know I can’t eat only one.

Sleep 8 Hours

Sleep at least eight hours a night. I’ve always believed I was a night owl and didn’t need as much sleep as other people. The truth is closer to I could function on less sleep but wasn’t at my optimum. It wasn’t a healthy lifestyle choice. For me, the key to eight hours of sleep is turning off my TV at night not falling asleep with it on.

Smile and Cry

Be happy. Be a glass half-full person, and you’ll live a longer healthier and happier life, but at the same time don’t hold it in when you need to let it. A good cry is a healthy lifestyle choice, it not only gives relief, but it also removes toxins. Psychology Today — The health benefits of tears.

Stop Stressing

Stress is a killer, mentally and physically. More and more research shows us that stress can lead to chronic illness, shortened lifespans, and mental duress. Stop Stressing Out at work.

Exercise

You don’t have to run a marathon, bench 300 pounds, or do CrossFit seven days a week. You do need to get off the couch and exercise. My preferred activity is hiking because it accomplishes two things exercise and time outdoors. The Benefits of Hiking  (I love this photo from a hike last fall at Eagle Creek Park.)

Lifestyle Change is a Choice 

Your plan for improved health and wellness won’t look like mine. Our needs, as well as our triggers and bad habits aren’t the same.  However, like me, If you want to change your life, you’ll have to change your lifestyle.

 Photo credit: Alan Cleaver via Foter.com / CC BY