How to set (realistic) food resolutions for 2017

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Last year, I wrote a piece for Brit+Co on easy-to-make food resolutions. As I look back at 2016 and the personal happiness it brought me and look ahead at some of my big goals for 2017, I am also remembering some of the ways I improved my health and eating habits this past year.

One of the simplest ways was becoming semi-vegetarian thanks to my boyfriend.  The other ways were following some of the food resolutions that I set forth. But here’s the trick: They weren’t about losing weight. My food resolutions were about other goals that filled me and fulfilled me in a much healthier way. (And I actually lost weight anyway.)

Last year I made the commitment to embrace eating healthy fats, to sneak in more veggies and fruits, to not be afraid to cook new foods, to get better at planning my meals, to start my mornings without sugar and to make food more fun, period.

Here’s how I did:

1. Embrace Eating Healthy Fats: When I embraced eating mostly vegetarian, I also started  to have more olive oil, avocado and (occasionally) salmon. This was surprisingly easy!

2. Sneak in More Veggies (+ Fruits): Of course, it was easy to sneak in more fruits and veggies once I started really focusing on the whole vegetarian thing too. I started also freezing fruit that started to go bad (we’re all guilty of letting things stay in the fridge a bit too long, aren’t we?), then adding it to smoothies later on.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Cook New Food: I’ve started to take on new challenges with my cooking. Primarily, I started to occasionally use Blue Apron or Hello Fresh to introduce me to new foods and cooking methods. I also started using my slow cooker a whole lot more, and that is continuing to introduce me to new flavors every week.

4. Get Better at Planning Your Meals: Well, as I mentioned above, using the slow cooker has been WONDERFUL for my cooking. Not only is it easy but it’s also allowing me to prep lunch ahead of time. I now spend most of my Sunday cooking ahead for the week, and kinda loving it honestly.

5. Start Your Mornings Without Sugar: With the exception of still having a little bit of sugar in my morning cup of Earl Grey, I have done pretty well on this resolution too. I’ve had no cereal, I’ve had no honey in my yogurt and I’ve mostly stayed away from pancakes and the subsequent syrup that comes with them. Of course, brunch on the weekends is another story…

6. Make Food More Fun, Period: I’m still struggling with this one sometimes to be honest, but I’ve found that adding spices to my meals has dramatically helped with this. I definitely still have some room to grow here, in particular with experimenting a bit more, but I’m in a pretty good place anyway.

The thing about these food resolutions is that they weren’t really resolutions at all. Instead, they were goals and ideas on how to eat healthier and make my meals better. They allowed me to grow in my eating habits and to do better for my body.

I would say that these “resolutions” were SO successful that these days I am feeling great. As a bonus, going mostly vegetarian (as in, I have meat or fish maybe 2-3 times a week max) has also stabilized my weight. These resolutions were so easy to follow, in fact, that I’m easily keeping up with them this year too. And why? Because they were realistic… AND they were kind of fun, really.

So what’s better than an easy-to-follow plan to eat healthier? Nothing, I think.

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MamasLatinas: November 2016

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Here is the full story of my 100+ pound weight loss (plus some resources)

Please subscribe to my newsletter and read more of my writing on my personal blog, The Cookie Dough LifeThank you!

promI was always a chubby kid. I remember wearing shorts in 5th grade and hating the way my thighs looked. I lost 20 pounds in the beginning of high school by experimenting with diet pills, not eating breakfast and only having a 20 ounce bottle of Wild Cherry Pepsi for lunch (yes, really!). But I was never happy with myself. At 5’2″ and 150lbs, I was still not within my normal BMI weight range. It wasn’t long until I started to regain the weight and was a bit over 200lbs by senior year. In February, my parents paid me to quit my sedentary after-school job and go to the gym instead. I got down to 190lbs by graduation.

beforeWW

But a summer traveling through Europe and then sitting at home with nothing to do soon got my weight back up. And first semester of college didn’t help any. The “Freshman 15”? It was the “Freshman 30” for me. When I joined Weight Watchers in January 2005, I was at 231.6lbs and officially at my highest weight ever. It took me two and a half years but I lost 90lbs with their program. I was down to 140lbs by the time I graduated school a year early. But going out after turning 21 and starting a full time job that summer took its toll on me. I slowly started to regain the weight and was 175lbs by the end of the year.

postWW

That New Year’s, I met somebody who loved my body for everything I didn’t. I had never had anyone appreciate me that much and it wasn’t long before I stopped paying attention to myself. I refused to cancel my Weight Watchers membership even though I never went to meetings anymore and had pretty much given up. A year later, I had regained 80 of the 90 pounds that I had spent two and a half years losing in college.

I realized for the first time that not only was I clinically obese, but I was exactly .5 points away from being classified as “morbidly obese.” I was terrified. But no matter how much I tried to lose the weight (and trust me, I did anything I could think of), it wasn’t working for me anymore. I tried diet pills again, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, exercising more and eating less, but my weight simply wouldn’t budge. My lifelong issues with emotional and compulsive eating had completely taken over my life.

Colombia

And so, in January 2009, I made the scariest and best decision I could make for myself at the time: I elected to have weight loss surgery. Per my parent’s suggestion, I traveled with my mom to see a family doctor in Barranquilla, Colombia, and had a gastric bypass.

I read a ton of books about the pro and cons of WLS and ultimately decided that it was the right choice for me. It’s not that I wanted an easy way to lose weight, it’s that I wanted a lifelong tool to help me lose and keep the weight off. Nothing else was working for me anymore, and I couldn’t stand the thought of it getting worse and my health deteriorating further.

postsurgery

A year later, I reached 120 pounds in weight (my very lowest!) though I quickly found that this number wasn’t ultimately healthy or sustainable for me. Despite losing the weight again fairly quickly, one thing I took away from this experience is that weight loss surgery, like Weight Watchers, is just a tool to help you. In the past, I learned the hard way that the most difficult part of it all isn’t losing the excess weight but maintaining your weight loss over time.

It’s now been almost eight years since I first got my surgery and, to be honest, it can still be a daily struggle. But by cooking and eating healthier, along with regularly going to the gym (something I’m still working on), I am keeping the weight off. Currently, I am happily settled around 140 pounds. It’s a number that has proven sustainable and, although it took a while for me to accept, I’m now (mostly) happy with my body.

I hope that by sharing my weight loss story, healthy eating adventures and everything else in between — mainly on this blog, in the articles below and in an upcoming book — I will continue to keep the weight off as well as inspire others on their own weight loss journey.

Resources & Articles I’ve Written

Disclaimer: I am not medically capable of giving anyone advice about their own weight loss journey. If you are interested in hearing more about my own personal experience or have questions about what a gastric bypass is like and how it’s affected my life, please feel free to e-mail me here. But do not take anything I say as the word of a medical professional. Please consult with your doctor about any serious thoughts you have about weight loss surgery.

Want more? Subscribe to my newsletter to get writing news and updates on my memoir (Moscow Chica). Then check out my personal blog and find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!

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Jessica Alba + 9 Latino celebs enjoying summer with their kids (PHOTOS)

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