I’m not claiming that Live-It is an original concept, but I like the idea of referring to my food and nutrition lifestyle choices as a “live-it” plan instead of a diet. I learned about it first back in the early 80s from a book by Richard Simmons entitled Never Say Diet. Now why I was reading that book in the 80s beats me because right now, I would love to weigh what I did then, but that was two children and more than two decades ago! Still, the idea has stuck with me. The word is more comprehensive because it goes beyond simply what goes in my mouth, but what I do to be healthy physically and mentally. (There’s also a book Don’t Diet Live It, but I haven’t read it.)

I did really well in 2011, losing nearly 30 pounds and lots of inches. I had to go do some clothes shopping at the end of the year because things weren’t fitting anymore. Now if that doesn’t make a girl feel good, I don’t know what does! But then the holidays rolled around. I got through Thanksgiving okay, then I was traveling for two weeks and started sliding off my program. Not in huge ways, but each little step adds up. Then I spent 3 weeks in our Alaska cabin where I was holed up with out of this world salted caramel hot chocolate, gingersnap cookies, and toffee from Williams-Sonoma and, well, I just couldn’t help myself.

Williams-Sonoma's yummy salted caramel hot chocolate - don't succumb to the temptation like me!

While in Alaska (where my home is still a work in progress), I did manage to get over to the neighbor’s house to use her treadmill to offset my wicked ways, but not enough to prevent a few pounds from creeping back on. My consolation is that it could have been worse and I’m not going to lose sleep over it. The setback is only minor and I know what worked for me last year. Here’s to a successful New Year with my 5 Ways to Live-It:

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Check out MyNetDiary for tracking your food intake

Track what I eat. MyNetDiary is a great tool. You can get to it from your computer using a Web browser, and there are mobile options if you have a tablet or smartphone. It comes with a lot of foods in its database already, and you can add your own foods as well. When I first started with this tool – about mid-2010 I think – I used its weight plan system to try to monitor calories and frankly it didn’t work for me. I was practically starving myself – it didn’t seem to matter how few calories I took in or how much exercise I did (which wasn’t obsessive but more than none!), I wasn’t making significant progress. Then I decided, what the heck, I’ll try WeightWatchers online. And that’s when the miracle occurred. I can’t explain it, because I haven’t figured out why, but it actually worked for me. I didn’t feel like I was starving and it has a built-in system for splurging now and then. Whatever is in that point system did the trick and I had a nice gradual weight loss over the year (without much exercise!). I no longer subscribe to the program because I got what I needed from it. I used the online tools during my subscription time, but then I bought the points calculator and I have a points book, which you can only get when you’re a member. Now that I’m no longer a member, I use MyNetDiary to track my foods and then calculate the points – stuffing the value into the Starch column when I add a customized food – so that I can track my points there too. I keep an eye on calories and try to keep it in the right range, but my main focus here is watching my points.
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© Hayk Harutyunyan | Dreamstime.com

Drink plenty of water.I’ve read different things about water, with some saying you need a lot and some saying not so much. At a nutrition seminar I attended recently, I heard “Drink five (glasses) to stay alive, and eight to feel great!” I know I feel better when I drink plenty of water, but then right now I live in Las Vegas where it’s dry so that certainly is a factor. Anyway, there are days I forget to drink enough water, so again, I need to track it. MyNetDiary has two ways to track water – you can track glasses in one area or you can track it like a food and use a column for Water to add up the number of grams consumed. Did you know that you can use a water calculator to find out how much water you need? For me, it said 88 oz. That’s a lot of water!

© Willierossin | Dreamstime.com

Exercise regularly.This where I run into trouble a lot. I travel. I work long hours. I can manage to get food into my mouth, but getting my body to move more than necessary to get from Point A to Point B can be challenging on some days. I have found that doing interval training on my treadmill is something that I can manage fairly well, because I can take my iPad with me and catch up on news or listen to an audiobook or watch NetFlix or something besides stare at a wall. MyNetDiary has options for tracking various types of exercise. I also use Runkeeper, which also has a mobile app for tracking walking, running, and other activities.

© Wimstime | Dreamstime.com

Eat 40 grams of fiber a day. At the nutrition seminar I mentioned earlier, I learned about the benefits of fiber. I plan to do some blog posts on this subject later, so I’ll keep it brief here. The recommendation was to eat 40 grams of fiber daily which is far short of the normal American diet. I can tell you that at first it was hard, but once I got into the habit and switched up my diet choices a bit, it became a lot easier. And of course using MyNetDiary helped me keep track. To accomplish this goal, I had to switch to a primarily plant-based diet. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a vegetarian. I have vegetarian days, even weeks, but I love other things, particularly fish. And when I move to Alaska later this year, I will have access to some great fish, like halibut and salmon. Which is also very healthy, but I digress. A short list of foods that I use to keep up the high fiber thing: pears, raspberries, oatmeal, chia seeds (sprinkle on stuff to pump up the fiber), mission figs, lentils, and black beans. Check out the Mayo Clinic for a list of common high fiber foods. I had my blood work done this year after doing this fiber focus for a while, and had perfect numbers all around. First time in years! My doctor asked what I had been doing, and I said that eating right and exercising seems to be paying off. Go figure. All I need now is some Geritol. Or not.

© Tmcnem | Dreamstime.com

Try one new recipe a week. It’s easy to get into a rut when I feel like I don’t have time to cook a good meal, let alone plan ahead and shop for it. And then when I get into a rut, it’s easy to get bored with what I’m eating and that’s a recipe for getting off the program. But I’m motivated by the success that I had last year, and especially want to encourage my husband to experience the same success. And his brother will be joining us in Alaska this year, with the express goal of getting healthy. So I feel obligated to develop a repertoire of tasty yet healthy dishes to share with them. And of course, it’s good for me too! If I find something I really like, I’ll share what I find here. Now, to be honest, I won’t always be able to cook a new recipe each week because I travel a lot, but I can try something new that I wouldn’t normally have and if I like it, I can figure out how to make it myself!

If I could summarize the most important aspect of my live-it plan in two words, I would say “track it!”. When I stop tracking, I have a tendency to slide. Although I have developed a lot of good habits this past year, apparently they’re not ingrained into me enough to do them all naturally. Now I’m going one step further beyond tracking by publicizing what I’m up to, inspired by the Get Hawt blog party kick-off for 2012.