Small Changes, Big Results

I wrote recently about how I’ve embarked on a bit of a mission to lose the Dad bod. I’ve also tweeted about how this is going pretty well. 6 pounds down in 5 weeks. Not earth shattering by any means, but exactly what I was looking for. Steady progress based on tweaks to diet and lifestyle.

Well the weight loss plan is part of a number of changes I have been making to my lifestyle all based around small changes. No ‘new me’. No revolution. No miracles. Just refinements to existing habits.  Most based around eating and exercise, but others not.

So I thought I would document some of them in case it helps anybody else.

Cutting out chemicals

One habit I used to have which I knew wasn’t healthy was Diet Coke. Whilst this wasn’t contributing to the calorie count you would be a fool to think it was good for you to be putting those chemicals into your body. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I was addicted, but it was my go to non alcoholic drink when the occasion arose.

Upon thinking about it I began to realise it wasn’t actually anything to do with the taste. It was far more about drinking something ice cold and carbonated. So I found something which hit that spot without the chemicals, carbonated water. The same effect with the chemicals. Since making this change I have not had a single Diet Coke and have not craved one once.

Ditching Convenience

Everybody knows that when you are resorting to eating or drinking the most convenient thing, it is unlikely to be the best for you. I fell into a habit of buying my lunch every work day and that made me less healthy as a result. Some days I would still opt for the salad bar at Morrisons, but others I would also stump for a Boots meal deal. And even when I did go for the salad option, I couldn’t resist something mayonnaise drenched on the side!

For the last three weeks I have been preparing 4 meals for each week on a Sunday night. Allowing for the fact I work in a social led industry where at least one day is going to be rules out by a ‘lunch meeting’. I’m lucky in that I have no issue with eating the same day for lunch 4 times so I just cook up some chicken thighs, and box up with some vegetable and past of some variety (more on that below). It costs me less, I am eating better, and it contains less calories overall.

Move more

I was already on a track towards this before my latest changes, however I’ve stepped it up a notch. I little while back I sold my car. I was using it primarily to drive the mile to the train station each day and home in the evening. We have another one for the family. For a couple of reasons I decided this was ridiculous and sold it. Since then I have been walking. With the walk at the other side this meant my daily commute already contained about 3 miles walking.

But then an offer came around work for the local gym. Pocket change cost and no contract. Up until 3 years ago I had regular gone to the gym before work and on my lunch break but a change of jobs had stopped it. But with this offer I thought why not? Even if I only make it once a week it is good value, and if I don’t go I will just cancel.

I now go 3-4 times a week on my lunch break. No marathon sessions just 30 mins of movement and exercise to help firm a few things up and burn off some calories. I’m a firm believer that too many people worry about ‘what’ they will do at the gym rather than just making sure they are doing something. Just move more.

Removing the addiction

If I do have any true addictions at all it would be coffee. I dont see this as too much of a concern as it has health benefits too, but it is one thing I have as part of my routine I wouldn’t remove. I have never though felt I was particularly addicted to caffeine or that it had any great effect on me. I could drink a cup of coffee immediately before sleep for example. But in the back of my mind I have always known it is one of my weaknesses.

So when i got the chance to trial some fresh coffee which was decaffinated it felt like a good opportunity. I always describe myself as a coffee snob, not a coffee connoisseur. I only drink fresh coffee, but dont expect me to tell you the difference between a Ethopian and a Guatamalan bean!

Decadent Decaf have won awards for their coffee flavour and I can a test that I have managed to ditch the caffeine without sacrificing the flavour one bit. The decaf is flavoursome and scratches my itch without fuelling the addiction.

Plant based replacements

One of the core benefits of my homemade lunches is replacing man made food (bread, crisps, mayo) with more natural ones (vegetables, meat). I’m a big believer that just by eating more naturally many people could improve their health significantly. One of the vices in this approach though is pasta. Many of my homemade lunches contain pasts, very much to bulk them out and fill me up.

So in an attempt to address this I’ve turned to the sea! Seamore I-Sea Pasta is billed as a natural pasta alternative with better health benefits. So I thought, why not give it a go!

I prepared a week of meals using Seaweed instead of pasta, using my usual chicken and vegetables. First observation, you can definitely tell it comes from the sea when you cook it! Make sure your kitchen is well ventilated before you begin.

I mixed mine with lemon juice and pesto as I was pretty sure from the off I didn’t want to eat it ‘neat’. Once mixed though it was a pleasant alternative to pasta. It took a bit of getting used to as the bite is very different however I sorted me out for a week of meals and I will turn to it again. I don’t really see it as a full time replacement, but as a change every now and then it is definitely worth a go.

Saving the pennies

Whilst its not linked to health or weight, another habit I have is my morning coffee. Each morning I visited either Starbucks or Pret a Manger and picked up a filter coffee. And although this is the cheapest offering on their menu, it is also more expensive than making your own. As my mum used to say, take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.

So when I was offered a trial of a Corkcicle travel mug which promised to keep my coffee warm for over  2 hours, it seemed to good to pass up!

It took a little while getting used to doing the morning commute with something else to carry with me, but it certainly worked. The cup itself is great and definitely lives up to its promise of keeping your drink warm. I can get door to door  – which takes a little over an hour – and my coffee is still piping hot.

I was a bit confused by the name of the mug to begin with, but once you visit their site and see their original products, it all makes sense. I’m going to also start using it for cold drinks over the summer as it does both.

The net result

These relatively minor changes to my lifestyle and routine have left me lighter, healthier and better off financially. It’s amazing what small changes can do. Give it a go for yourself, what small changes could you make?

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