Danielle Elkins: Good things come to those who eat their veggies | CraigDailyPress.com

Danielle Elkins: Good things come to those who eat their veggies

This month I hit the 35-pound weight loss mark and several people have asked questions about how I did it.

I'd like to tell them it was easy, but I can't. I learned there's no quick fix, magic pill or five-minute workout that will do the trick.

When I tell people I have four cups of raw broccoli and a protein shake for lunch almost every day, they look at me like I'm crazy, like I'm torturing myself. But honestly, I was torturing myself before, when I was eating fast food for lunch every day. A cheeseburger and fries would satisfy me for as long as it took me to eat it, then leave me feeling sluggish the rest of the day.

I've always had an unhealthy relationship with food. I don't like vegetables, and I love foods high in simple carbohydrates and saturated fat. As I grew older and further from having the metabolism of an active teenager, those delicious foods took their toll on my body.

The extra weight gain caused me to turn to fad dieting and diet pills, resulting in a vicious seven-year cycle of "yo-yo dieting."

Fad diets, like the Atkins low-carb diet, would work for about a month before I'd cave in once then give up. Diet pills would work for a couple of months before their effects wore off and my cravings returned, causing me to binge-eat.

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After trying a prescription diet pill again and finding myself weak from not eating enough to function normally, I'd had enough.

The diet pills had caused me to drop weight rapidly, but, based on my past experiences, I knew I would gain back the weight quickly if I didn't do something.

Someone I know had recently found success with Beachbody's 21 Day Fix program, so I decided to give it a try, although I was skeptical of an at-home program.

The 21 Day Fix program came with a booklet and color-coded portion control containers for vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats and seeds or Fix-approved dressings. The booklet explained the containers, gave examples of clean foods that go in each and offered recipes. It also guided me through calculating my basal metabolic rate, which determined how many calories I was allowed daily. The calorie bracket I was in based on my BMR determined how many servings of each container I was allowed daily.

I streamed the 21 Day Fix workouts through the Beachbody OnDemand application I downloaded to my Roku on my home television, making it possible for me to roll out of bed and do the 30-minute workouts in my living room.

Within a few weeks, I saw results so I kept going — and I'm still going.

Six months later, I feel better than ever, and I'm seeing muscle definition.

I attribute my success to the fact that the 21 Day Fix program helped me make a lifestyle change. I don't severely restrict or eliminate food groups, such as carbohydrates, like I did on fad diets. Instead, I eat foods from each group in moderation and allow myself a weekly cheat meal for balance.

Beachbody programs like the 21 Day Fix may not be for everyone but the take-away from my experience is that understanding your body's needs is vital to long-term weight management.

If you're going from fad diet to fad diet or taking diet pills but never reaching your goals, try a balanced clean-eating plan with regular, varied exercise and see how it changes your life for the better.

There are other options if you don't want to purchase a program or hire a personal trainer. A Google search can help you calculate your BMR and learn about your body's macronutrient needs, the difference between clean and processed foods, what a proper portion is for each food group and how many daily servings to eat of each. Several websites offer free workout videos, instruction on proper form, healthy recipes and other diet and exercise advice. Smartphone applications like MyFitnessPal can help you to set calorie, macronutrient and exercise goals, and keep track of what you eat.

Don't forget to eat your vegetables.