Morale is huge.  You have to keep a good attitude in order to succeed in losing weight.  Morale and Motivation are the two most important aspects of a successful weight-loss effort.  Whatever it is that you use to motivate yourself will keep you focused on your goal, but your morale will determine how you feel as you get to your goal.

Honestly, in the past, most of my attempts at losing weight have failed because of morale.  I would allow an event (such as hurting my knee), jealousy and resentment, or just plain depression to creep in and destroy my efforts.

There are several ways to keep your morale up as you continue with your weight-loss plan.  First, do not focus on what you do not have.  Avoid lingering over the dessert menu, and resenting those around you who are ordering and enjoying dessert.  Second, eat well.  Stay away from tasteless pre-made diet foods and empty diet shakes.  Those shakes are awful.  They are high in calories, and leave you feeling empty and hungry in a short time.

It is much better to take the time to cook yourself a good meal.  I know it’s hard for anyone to make the time to cook a meal these days, but lets face it, you could probably borrow a little of the time back that you give to the television to prepare yourself a decent meal.  You can also be strategic with your meals.  If I can do this, you can also.  I work a full-time job, and my wife works in the evenings.  That means from the time I get off, I am taking care of a nineteen month old, and It’s not as hard as it sounds.  I use the weekends when my wife and I are together to help me plan for the week ahead.  I make sure to cook something for myself (and her) that we can eat (all week if we want to).  I make it something hearty and tasty like soup or beans.  I make sure that it is filling and does not leave me hungry at all after I have eaten.  I also will prepare a couple of dinner entrées on the weekend so that if I do not feel like I have the time or energy to cook in the evenings, I can still have a good, hot, and filling meal.

Third, dine out.  I try to avoid going out at lunch.  Lunches are cheaper than dinner, but the expense of dining out for lunch everyday really adds up, and I would rather dine out once a week with my family, than every day with friends or coworkers. 

I feel that it is extremely important to have someone else cook for you on occasion.  I do most of the real cooking in my house (my wife keeps me and the baby in clothes, and this is no small feat), but if I am going to be disciplined enough to eat the same thing (as good as it is) for lunch for an entire work week, I do not want to eat the same thing on the weekends.  This leaves me with a dilemma.  I cook good food, but I am slow at it.  And, cooking a pot of soup, for example, that will last a whole week, takes time.  You can actually lose weight while cooking (assuming you are not eating what you are cooking the whole time that you are cooking).  If I am going to cook two or three meals for the coming week each weekend, I find less motivation to cook food for the weekends themselves.  The answer to this, for me, is to dine out.  It is harder to make good food choices when you are dining out, but there are several things that can help you to be more successful.

Go to places that you know have something that you can eat.  For example, don’t go to McDonalds.  Even the salads there are bad for you.  Of course, when it comes to fast food, Subway does nothing to hide the fact that it is a better choice.  Jason’s Deli, McAlister’s, and Novrosky’s (I hope you have one near you) are places where you can have a hearty, more healthy meal.  Notice that I am saying “more healthy.”  Even the better choices at these restaurants are usually high in calories, but you can leave off the chips and get fruit instead.  And, usually you can get a sandwich at one of these places that will fill you up by itself without the side order of fries.

It may be easier to find a sit-down meal that is good for you, than it is to find one at a fast food restaurant.  Seafood restaurants usually have several good choices.  King crab is a great example.  It takes a lot of work to get at six ounces of crabmeat.  There is not a huge amount of calories, and it tastes great.  Of course, fish is never a bad choice as long as it is not fried or swimming in butter, an almost any restaurant has at least one good chicken dish.

My wife and I recently discovered Uncle Julio’s.  They have great food, and there are several items on the menu that fall into the “better choice” category.  I especially like the chicken tacos al carbon.  I can leave this restaurant feeling stuffed, and as long as I do not eat the whole bowl of chips and salsa (as I used to do regularly), I have made a better choice.  This meal may not be melting the pounds off, but that is what the rest of the week is for.  This meal is a better choice, and it fulfills its purpose of keeping my morale (and my metabolism) up.

Finally, another great place to eat is, Ghingis Grill.  I hope you have one of these around.  I have loved them for years, and have driven miles to get my fix of their food.  Recently they built one about a mile from my house, and it is great.  Ghingis Grill is a Mongolian Barbecue, and it is the best.  If you do not have a Ghingis Grill, I hope you have some equivalent that you can go to.  In this case there are about 15 raw meats to choose from, a rack of spices, around 30 different vegetable choices, and about 15 sauces to build your meal from.  The options are limitless, and the flavor profiles allow you to move around the globe each time you go back.  You could make bad choices here, as with any place, but with the variety of seafood and vegetables, it is easier to make good choices, and the spices allow you to punch up the flavor.  The price is great.  I mentioned King Crab above.   Well, the truth is, my wife and I cannot afford this every day, but at $8.99 a bowl (and that’s a big bowl), this is right in our price range, and the baby gets to graze off ours for free.

I’ll be providing some of the recipes that I fix for my family in future blogs, but I wanted to mention spice while I am talking about morale.  Herbs and spices are great.  They add nothing negative in terms of nutrition, but they are a great way to make a meal taste better.  Don’t be afraid to kick up the flavor in your diet recipes with more spices (sugar is not a spice).  I like it spicier than my wife, so I have taken shakers of red and black pepper to work with me.  These allow me to kick up the flavor, and when I go to Ghingis Grill and get to have my own bowl food, I don’t hold back.  I know it’s really good when the sweat begins to bead on my neck, and I have to keep a napkin ready in case my nose starts to run.