We've all heard it, some of us out of our own mouths. "I'm doing everything right and the weight still won't come off." I'm guilty of that very thing. I work for weeks, or months (or years...) and nothing changes and I'm scratching my head because something must be wrong. I'm at the gym more days than I'm not, I eat healthy meals, I've passed on dessert, what gives?
It's time to take a long hard look at all of the little things that, when added up, aren't so little after all. Please take note that these are all things that I have been, and still am, guilty of. It's a process, friends and we're all working on it!
1. Not drinking enough water. Water is like a magical little diet helper. It keeps you from getting bloated and puffy, it flushes impurities (and fat) from your system, it keeps hunger at bay, and it helps your metabolism work more effectively. Hate water? Add lemon, lime, orange, a splash of juice...whatever you need to do. I struggle with water consumption but I have vowed to drink more water than non-water beverages everyday. It's a start, right?
2. Snacking while you're cooking. You're in the kitchen, your inner chef is leaping with joy as you create an incredible meal, and of course you have to taste your creations to make sure they're just right. That taste leads to a spoon/fork/mouth full. And another. And maybe another. That's not a taste my friend, that most likely could have added up to a portion of your dinner.
3. Portion Sizes. How much is too much? Just like all of those tastes can add up to a portion (or all) of your meal, do you know how many calories your actually eating. I'm not saying you need to count your calories. That works for some and not for others. I am saying that you might be eating more than you realize or even intend. That grilled chicken breast should only be the size of just the palm of your hand. Those veggies should only be the size of a baseball. Our plate sizes could be cut in half and that would be more accurate. Cut your portion sizes and don't go back for seconds. See what happens.
4. Grazing all night. Dinner's over, the dishes are cleaned up, the kitchen is clean, and you're ready to plop down and catch up on the latest episode of Modern Family. First commercial and you hop up to grab something to drink....and maybe a piece of fruit...or a handful of pretzels...or some pudding....or....STOP! Close the kitchen! For one, your metabolism slows down later in the day so you shouldn't be eating late into the evening anyway. For another, all of those little handfuls here and there add up. Grab your water bottle, turn the kitchen light off and forget about it.
5. Drinking (alcohol) too frequently. Remember the rules? No drinking at home. Drinking is only permitted out somewhere with friends. Saying no alcohol is too restricting. The holidays are upon us, it's football season, and I love beer. I do not, however, need to have a beer, a glass of wine, etc. every day. That can be anywhere from 100-300 or more extra every day. It's not like these extra calories will fill you up either. That's why they're called "empty calories."
6. Just a taste/just one/and so on. My husband knows about this one all too well. I'll order the salad instead of the fries and I'll "just have one" of his. Can anyone really just have one french fry? Same thing goes for that spoonful of ice cream, that split dessert, the jar of candy in the office, etc. If you choose not to have it, don't have it.
7. Complete deprivation. A friend of mine has lost over 60 pounds in the last year. She said to me, "I make healthy choices most of the time but I'm not going to completely deprive myself. If I want something bad enough, I will have it. But I won't make that decision every day, or even every week. This is a once or twice a month occurrence." If you deprive yourself of everything all of the time, you will eventually find yourself face down in a half gallon of ice cream. Exercise caution here but let yourself live a little every now and then.
8. Post-workout snack. You hit the gym, went for a long run, had a tough tennis match and now you're ready to re-fuel. You heard chocolate milk is good for that (which it is...read about it here) so you grab that. And then a banana. And then a slice of cheese. And then maybe a handful of almonds. Congratulations, you just consumed 500 calories. You only burned 400. Oops. Post-workout snacks are important for recovery but you only need one and keep it conservative.
9. Gatorade. You're heading to the gym for a run so you grab your Gatorade, right? Wrong. The majority of exercisers do not need an electrolyte beverage during their regular workout. Those drinks are packed with sugar and calories to fuel long efforts. Most people just need to hydrate with water during their workouts. General rule of thumb: if you're doing more than an hour of cardio, go ahead and grab your Gatorade. If your efforts lie within that 60 minute range, leave it on the shelf. Those drinks are made to replenish so you can keep going. If you're not going to keep going, you don't need it.
10. Taking the weekend off. You've been really good all week long. The weekend hits and you go for that extra drink, that big brunch, and those bad-for-you snacks during the game on Sunday. You've just undone everything that you did right Monday - Friday. Go ahead and celebrate the weekend but don't go too far.
It's all about calories in/calories out and we all do little things all week long that set us up for failure. Understanding what you're putting in your body and how it all adds up is so important. Personally, I don't do really well with keeping up with counting calories and journaling but doing it for a short period of time really opened my eyes and made me more aware.
I recommend everyone taking even a few days to track calories. Even if you don't keep up with it, it can put some bad habits in check. The best app/website I've found is My Fitness Pal. It's free, has a HUGE database of foods, adds calories to your "budget" if you log your exercise, and the app for your phone automatically syncs with your account on the website. Try and see how it goes!
Until next time..