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Motivation Makeover

In the fight to lose weight, do whatever you can to keep your goals sustainable and not miserable, which will allow you to gain momentum and build up to harder things.

Tiffany Duncan
February 28, 2018

By the time you read this, I’ll be dead. Kidding! That’s just how these things always start. But really, by the time you read this, it will be the beginning of March, but magazine turnaround time makes it so that I’m writing this at the very beginning of February. Which means I have had one month so far in attempting to change my health and fitness habits in 2018.

Admittedly, progress has been a bit slow, but at least it’s progress nonetheless. I’ve lost 6 pounds since I first weighed myself Jan. 1. It may just be fluctuating water weight, although I will say I feel like my face looked slimmer in some photos I was tagged in from various events, and I have started to feel less puffy in general. One big thing I’ve been making sure to do this month is drinking tons of water; my water bottle is 32 ounces, and I’ve been trying to drink at least two full ones a day, as well as always choosing water to accompany all meals.

In previous Januarys, I’ve found that I sabotage myself almost from the get-go by living under the pressure of making sure every single thing I put in my mouth could be deemed “healthy.” Therefore, I would buy a ton of groceries totally out of my cooking repertoire (all kinds of lettuce and veggies) that I did not actually know how to cook and eat. I guess I figured if there was healthy food in my general vicinity, I would automatically lose weight. Guess what? That never happened.

Because I didn’t have a practical application for these grocery items before purchasing, I would fumble and fiddle around with them until I just got so starved and frustrated that I’d give up, and the foreign veggies would rot until I unearthed them from the fridge drawer sometime in mid-February.

But this year, I skipped the crazed and misguided dash around Whole Foods and decided to simply begin to make better food choices from what was already in my kitchen and let the momentum build from there.

And lo and behold — it’s working! I started by changing my daily breakfast routine and worked with what was already in my food knowledge base. For example, I know that eggs and oatmeal are high in protein and low in fats and sugar, so I found ways to incorporate them into my mornings. Eggs are so insanely versatile that I rarely get tired of eating them. One morning I’ll eat two eggs fried in coconut oil on top of toasted whole grain English muffins, and then on another day I’ll make an omelet with chopped veggies and low-fat feta.

Now, I know some people who’ve just read that will automatically pick up that I’m still eating wheat and dairy, but giving both of them up cold turkey is simply not feasible for me. I know myself, and I know that deprivation will lead me to binging on something worse that’s full of carbs and fat because I haven’t yet learned how to get truly full and satisfied without wheat and dairy. Maybe down the road I’ll experiment with giving up one or both categories, but right now I’m simply choosing to make healthier choices.

Duncan highly recommend finding a living room workout that works for you, whether it’s from a fitness DVD or YouTube channel.
Duncan highly recommend finding a living room workout that works for you, whether it’s from a fitness DVD or YouTube channel.

Another thing about breakfast: I’ve actually started eating it. Before, I would simply sleep as late as possible and skip it in my hurry out the door. I work part time in a coffee shop, so my decision to skip breakfast resulted in me absolutely starving by 9 a.m. and grabbing whatever was closest to me, which was almost always a hot and bubbly ham and Swiss croissant. I’m fairly certain I put on 10 pounds alone from them.

To avoid this scenario, I do not skip breakfast anymore, and I’m happy to report that not once have I fallen prey to that desperate morning croissant, nor the resulting pan cheese. What’s pan cheese? Oh, just the melty Swiss that seeps out of the buttery croissant and bakes golden crisp onto the pan while cooking, which I’ve scraped off and consumed for years when no one is looking because I make questionable life choices.

What’s also saving me from devouring pan cheese like Templeton the Rat (Charlotte’s Web) is my new favorite breakfast item: overnight oats. Overnight oats are rolled oats pre-portioned out and soaked in a liquid overnight. I use almond milk, but you can also use low-fat milk, coconut, soy, or whatever you prefer.

Because overnight oats are prepped easily the night before, it’s easy to grab from the fridge and go in the morning even if you’re running late. Hearty, filling, versatile, packed with protein and absolutely delicious, overnight oats will revolutionize your morning and allow you to begin each day with a strong start.

My husband’s 30th birthday was also this month, so there was a whole week in there where I was baking cakes, cupcakes, and generally bad-for-you treats for his big blowout party. I chose to indulge a little bit and celebrate with him and everyone else, but I didn’t go overboard. I also drank a lot of water to help combat any celebratory bloating from beer and sugar calories.

As far as working out … here is where I fear I failed this month. I had big plans to try some beginner yoga or join the YMCA, but I just couldn’t make it happen this month. I was extremely busy in January, but I assume that isn’t a factor that will change over the course of this year, so I need to do what I can to make more time for working out. I did, however, do four or five sessions of Jillian Michaels’ DVD workouts in my living room, and they kicked my butt.

I highly recommend finding a living room workout that works for you, whether it’s from a fitness DVD or YouTube channel. Getting those initial few workouts in is far less intimidating when there aren’t a bunch of strangers with perfect booties watching you.

Overall, January was a slow start, but unlike previous years I haven’t given up yet, which is huge for me. Never discredit the small victories and simply start where you are. If you aren’t ready to give up bread, then don’t. Find other things that you can do, like switching to whole grain, drinking more water, making time for breakfast, or sweating it out in your living room, and not eating past 7 p.m. Do whatever you can to keep it sustainable and not miserable, which will allow you to gain momentum and build up to harder things.


Overnight Oats
Overnight Oats

Overnight Oats

This is how I make my overnight oats. This recipe makes two 12-ounce mason jars for breakfast two mornings in a row.

I always start with a base of the following recipe:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • sprinkle of chia seeds
  • sprinkle of  ax seeds
  • 2 tbsp. honey (can also sweeten with pure maple syrup or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)

I put all of this in a medium-sized bowl, mix it together, and then split the mixture into two mason jars. From there, I might add peanut or almond butter and a mashed banana to one, and frozen blueberries and a spoonful or two of Greek yogurt to the other. Other possibilities include a melted square of dark chocolate (at least 70 percent dark), carob chips, cinnamon, shredded coconut, cold brew for an added caffeine jolt, cocoa powder, or mixing in toppings like seeds, almonds, and dried fruit. Utilize Pinterest for more ideas.


Buddha Bowl
Buddha Bowl

Buddha Bowls

In addition to overnight oats, Buddha bowls are my new food obsession. Not only are they easy to prepare, they are rich in nutrients and so satisfying. And the best part is they make it easy to meal prep for days ahead.

Buddha bowls are a mixture of the following:

  • Grains (1/4 of bowl): quinoa, brown rice, couscous, whole wheat or GF pasta.
  • Protein (1/4 of bowl): black beans, edamame, chicken, salmon, chickpeas, or eggs ( fried, boiled, poached, scrambled).
  • Veggies (1/2 of bowl): a mix of raw (leafy greens, carrots, cucumber, sprouts, onion, broccoli) and roasted (sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, asparagus, bell peppers, beets).
  • Toppings (a light amount): avocado, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, Greek-yogurt based dressing, low-fat feta, lemon juice, balsamic, olive oil, hummus

Instagram handle: rightyes_rightno_918
Blog handle: rightyesrightno918.com

Utilizing as many free and cheap resources as she can find in the 918 area, routinely forsaking her fitness comfort zone to discover effective workouts, and cooking more intentionally from home, Duncan is publicly documenting her progress in each issue as she works to lose 30 pounds in 2018.