The Saturday Skinny: Forget willpower, just make healthy choices to lose weight

By: Don Chaddock, Gold Country News Service
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This has been a week of meetings held in restaurants, a family gathering at a buffet and Celebration of Life for a friend lost to cancer. Through it all, I managed to stay focused and lost another 2 pounds, bringing my total weight loss to 107 pounds. How did I do it? By making healthier choices. Let's break it down to make this easy. Over a breakfast buffet meeting, I skipped the bacon, cereal, cinnamon rolls and pastries. I loaded up my plate with fresh fruit, scrambled eggs and one low-fat yogurt. I drank my coffee black, since there was no non-fat milk available. At an Italian restaurant, I ordered the grilled chicken breast with a side of steamed veggies. I also indulged and ate three small slices of garlic bread. I asked for my dressing (balsamic vinaigrette) on the side for my salad. During a buffet lunch meeting, I skipped the roll, creamy mushroom-sauce chicken and pasta, opting for a small slice of beef, salad (with a small drizzle of dressing) and lots of vegetables. On Friday night, my parents wanted to take me out to dinner. They were concerned about picking a place with healthy food choices (not for themselves, but for me). As I told them, any restaurant they chose was fine by me. I would be able to find something to fit my healthy eating plan. They opted for a buffet. Talk about temptation city. Fried foods, pastries, cakes, pasta and everything else I've been avoiding were all there for the taking. I chose to load up on a salad first. No healthy dressing options were available, so I went with salsa. This is a great choice. Fresh salsa has little in the way of calories and fat, but is packed with flavor. I loaded up a plate with fresh spring-mix lettuce and vegetables (mushrooms, tomatoes, shredded carrots). For my main meal plate, I went with three fried prawn (as a treat to myself), two small pieces of baked fish, bourbon-glazed chicken and rice. For dessert, I walked by all the cakes and pies, selecting (off in a back corner), the frozen vanilla yogurt. I never heaped my plate with food and patted myself on the back for a job well done. There was a time when I would have gone back for seconds and thirds, stuffing myself on all the fat-laden offerings made available. My justification? Getting my "money's worth." What I've learned on this weight loss journey is my health is worth far more to me than a few dollars. Now I ask myself this simple question - Do I really "need" that (insert unhealthy food option here)? Is this a "want" or a "need"? Sure, I wanted a piece of fried chicken and mashed potatoes, smothered in brown gravy, but I knew it wasn't something my body needed. How to begin The first choices of the day set the tone for my weight loss journey the rest of the day. If I skip breakfast, I'm more likely to overeat during the rest of my meals. I make sure I eat my breakfast and mid-morning snack, followed by a healthy lunch, afternoon snack and a healthy dinner. For my bedtime snack, I usually choose a cup (or two) of frozen grapes. I do not drink fruit juice, soda or anything else loaded up with calories. Juice does nothing for you. I keep some in the refrigerator to add as a base for smoothies, but that's about it. Usually I go for non-fat milk in those smoothies. For breakfast, avoid breads, pastries, bagels and sugar cereals. Go for fresh fruit, eggs (scrambled is my preferred method, with fresh spinach cooked in) or yogurt. Get your body moving Take a quick walk in the morning and afternoon. If you work, like me, I usually do so when my computer is tied up with some major task (such as downloading a ton of e-mail). Take a 10-minute walk. It'll do you some good. When I get home from work, I try to pull weeds in the garden, being careful not to strain my back. Doing little things can add up throughout the day. If you can devote 30 to 40 minutes each day to exercise, that's ideal. If not, get it in when you can, broken up into more manageable blocks of time. Follow us at or e-mail me at