If you are like most people in the world, you are probably on a diet as we speak.
Losing weight is a simple mathematical equation. There are 3,500 calories in a pound. Essentially, if you were to eat approximately 500 calories less each day, you could lose a pound a week (note: this is not taking into account exercise/activity level or your maximum daily caloric intake allotted)
We all took math class, and most of us know how to subtract, so why is it so difficult for people to lose weight and keep it off?
“I’ll start my diet on Monday.”
This is the mantra that ruins it all.
Many people who diet, myself included, fall victim to the all or nothing mentality when it comes to fitness and nutrition. Let’s set the stage, shall we?
It is Friday night and you are getting ready to go out with your friends. As you sip on your one cocktail of the night (or so you tell yourself), your tummy grumbling in anguish from “banking” calories all day, you reflect on the many smart eating choices you made since Monday. All week you have denied yourself the right to indulge in those cupcakes that your boyfriend brought home from the store, you stuck your nose up at your co-workers as they greedily shoved their faces with bagels and croissants, and you exercised vigorously everyday to try and squeeze into those skinny jeans that have been sitting in your closet since last summer.
Fast forward to Sunday morning. After a full weekend of eating out, drinking, and getting fancy drinks from the Starbucks drive-thru to cure your weekend hangover, you pretty much threw your diet out the window. Like most, your Sunday probably consists of you being curled up in your bed surrounded by a pizza box, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and chocolate truffles, kicking yourself for not sticking to your diet that weekend. Suddenly, without fault, that mantra sneaks into your head… “I’ll start my diet on Monday.”
Before you know it, you traded in those skinny jeans for sweat pants, and your new best friends are the remote control and your refrigerator.
If you are serious about losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle, then repeating this mantra on a weekly basis is sure to send you down a sad road of self-hatred and an irrational anger towards your food.
The first step in eliminating this barrier in your weight loss journey, is to stop dieting. I know, sounds pretty crazy right?
Let’s take a second and look at the word diet. Take away the “t” and the word die pretty much sums up how most of us feel trying to function when being on one. It is important to look at healthy eating as a lifestyle, not a medieval torture device.
Here are a few simple guidelines that have helped me work towards a healthier lifestyle.
Stop Making Excuses
The number one reason why I choose not to exercise is because of lack of time. The truth is, I would LOVE to wake up at 10 a.m. and exercise, but that just is not realistic. I have work and well, a life. Exercise should be a priority. Hopefully you brush your teeth and shower daily, so why not put exercise on that list of being non-negotiable? Wake up earlier to make time.
As cumbersome as it might sound, write down everything, and I mean everything, that you put in your mouth (get your mind out of the gutter). You may not think a little bit of extra cream in your coffee or nibbling on that second cookie makes a huge difference, but if you were to “accidentally” eat an extra 200 calories a day, that totals 1,400 extra calories a week! Tip: Bring your lunch to work rather than eating out. Not only will you keep your waistline from expanding, but you will also save your wallet from shrinking.
If you are someone who can run on the treadmill every single day, and still feel excited to workout, then good for you. I hate you (kidding…sort of). In my experience, I have found that when I mix up my workouts during the week, I tend to be more consistent with exercise, and I enjoy it more. It is important that you also incorporate weight lifting or some sort of resistance training in your weekly plan. Although cardiovascular exercise burns calories, lifting weights keeps you toned and enhances your physique. With more muscle, your workouts will become more efficient, meaning MORE calories burned overall.
Don’t get me wrong, I love drinking Belvedere on a Friday (and Saturday…sometimes Sunday, sorry mom…) night. But alcohol can be the evil nemesis on your weight loss journey. One issue with alcohol is that it offers zero nutrition. It is essentially empty calories. Alcohol also lowers our inhibitions. Combine these two issues, and you have a recipe for disaster. Not only will you be hungry after a night out, but you may also become the next victim of a midnight madness binge in your kitchen (Helloooo there pizza, doritos, and oh wait, are those oreos!?). If you really want to go out and have a few drinks, add more cardio to your daily routine instead of restricting calories and “banking” them for later in the day.
Drink. More. Water. If you are someone who enjoys soda or juice, try replacing those beverages with some good ole H20. Many people do not realize that feeling hungry can actually be a symptom of dehydration. Drinking water will not only make you feel less hungry, but it can also help reduce headaches and binge-eating behaviors. Tip: Try drinking a glass of water before your meal to reduce over-eating.
Breakfast. Eat it. Enough said.