My Weight-Loss Journey: Making Healthy Choices

by: Danielle Ternyila

The way my family cooks and eats now is so different than a decade ago, which has been one of the best things for my weight loss journey. In the beginning, my parents were both starting their own journeys to take back their health. My father was doing a fad diet with a nutritionist and a 12-week program that cut calories and limited the types of foods he ate. My mother was preparing for a weight loss surgery, “the sleeve”, and so our kitchen underwent some drastic changes.

I was determined to lose weight my own way. I was only 22, too young to be considering surgery, and I had tried enough fad diets before to know it would not work for me; results were too short term. I needed long-lasting changes to my lifestyle so that I could live my healthiest.

Having just graduated college, I was living with my parents again, and our lifestyle began to change. My dad’s diet encouraged him to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and so the whole family did too. If mom is cooking dinner, she isn’t cooking a dinner for every one! If the parents planned to do cabbage and ground beef because of their diets, that was the menu. (Like I said, I just graduated college, and I was in no place to pass up free food, so cabbage and ground beef it was!)

Mom’s diet had to change after her surgery if she wanted to keep off the weight, just like with any type of diet, but this one has been a lot more restrictive. No more caffeine for Mama, so we started collecting all types of new teas to try at home. She is mindful of how much protein she eats, so we started finding all sorts of unique snacks and recipes to get extra protein in. Shout-out to one of our favorite on-the-go snacks: Sargento’s Cheese and Nuts pack!

Eventually our pantry was filled with very nutritious options, and all of the chips, cookies, and sugary snacks were out. This really helped in making healthier decisions because the healthy options far outweighed the bad. One tip I will share is to not throw all your junk food out and fill it with new snacks in one grocery trip! Take time trying new foods and snacks to find what you like, otherwise you’ll be left with nothing familiar as you transition to a healthier diet and probably more likely to run to the corner store or grabbing some drive through grub. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than feeling hungry and not recognizing a single snack in your pantry, or worse: hating every snack!

Eventually we found the snacks we liked that were also better choices, and that ultimately was a huge help in making healthier decisions. When you don’t have junk food around, you won’t eat it. When you venture out of your comfort zone and try new foods, you’ll find new and nutritious meals to eat in the future!

My dad’s diet was big on fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat, and that was about it. He was given some really unique recipes however, so we began trying out new recipes that incorporated all of these things in. We started cooking dishes in water instead of oil, sautéing our veggies in apple cider vinegar, and avoiding processed foods entirely.

Best recipe we got from this diet, though: Dirty Texas Rice, cooked with lean ground beef, finely chopped cabbage and chili powder with some hot sauce!

All of these things really contributed to my weight loss journey. I made working out a priority in my life, but it was important that I ate healthy too. I think the biggest part has been that I made these changes to my overall lifestyle. I can’t remember the last time my family had pork chops, pasta, mashed potatoes… all those meals that used to be the norm in our household but really weren’t the most nutritious.

Try to get every one at home involved when you are changing your diet! If you want results to last you a lifetime, you need to improve your lifestyle. Make healthier choices daily, start filling your cabinets with healthier alternatives, slowly cut out “the bad” from your kitchen, and it will not only get easier but become routine.

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