There is a secret your trainers might not be telling you. They might be holding out. All those workouts you are doing with your trainer aren’t really going to have a full impact on your fitness unless you are eating a healthy diet. In fact, eating well is almost a bigger determinant of reaching your fitness or weight goals than exercise. I used to think that running a lot and doing tons of workouts was the key to being slim. I would run 10 miles and then spend 2 hours at the gym and then gripe that I was sticking to the same weight or even gaining. Truth is, I was lying to myself. I was eating healthy foods but I had issues with lying part. It would start in the morning. I would look at my cereal box and see that 3/4 of a cup of my cereal had 110 calories. So I would pour myself a bowl and pat myself on the back for keeping my calorie check at 110 for the morning. However, the honest side of my subconscious was shaking her head at me. “Sarah you know you just poured 2 servings into your bowl.” I would kick that voice out of my head and enjoy my imaginary mini bowl of cereal. Little things like that would add up during the day. I would eat one serving of cookies and then add a little bit more. Well, those little things start out little, but they really do compound themselves. Truth be told, those serving sizes are pretty small. I tend to eat bigger portions and that is where my problems lie. I know what is good for me and what is not and I generally eat a healthy diet. Sometimes I have clients I work with who will complain that they are doing everything they can to lose weight or get back in shape, but nothing is working. They complain that they barely eat or don’t have dessert or are eating salads at every meal. For the most part, if that were true you would see results. There is a chance that you have thyroid issues or some other health problem that is causing your healthy living to just not do its thing. But for most of us, if we would sit back and really truly assess what we are doing with our exercise or what we are actually consuming it would become clear that something isn’t balancing out right.
Maybe you go to the gym and do a few minutes on one machine and then a few on the other and call it a day. You know that you really need a good 30 solid minutes of intense cardio to make that scale budge, but it hurts and you feel like your method should be doing something. Or perhaps you are eating salads at most of your meals but you know that you are adding a ton of unhealthy dressing or layering your salad with things you shouldn’t like bacon or extra cheese. We all have little ways of cheating that we think won’t add up. Sometimes when I pour a glass of wine I like to give it a generous pour and call it a “glass.” I cut a small piece of cake and then later find myself coming back for extra nibbles. I tend to omit these from my mental list of calories consumed. Later when I weigh myself I sigh and how could that possibly be? I get frustrated. But if I am really going to be honest with myself I know exactly why that scale isn’t moving. Usually it is because I come home from a run and I am ravenous and start eating everything in sight. This is so dangerous! There are a few ways to keep your healthy living in check and be honest with yourself:
Make a meal plan during the weekend. Figure out what meals you are going to eat Sunday-Thursday and then make a grocery list. Find some fun new healthy recipes for this adventure. Then when you are at the store try your best to stick to your list. Pick out some healthy proteins and then pair a new veggie with it for simple dinners. Or make something in the crockpot so you can have a few meals. By eating nutritious self prepared meals during the week you can enjoy dinner out on the weekend. Keep track. A lot of people find that by recording each and every thing they consume during the day they have a much better picture of what might be going wrong. Sometimes by seeing your diet on paper you realize that those extra snacks during the day might be what is causing the problem. Or maybe the liquid calories you take in mindlessly at work are where the issue lies. You will likely find some surprises here.
Drink up. Enjoy water during the day. Try adding flavors to your water to make it more enjoyable. A squeeze of lemon or a slice of cucumber or strawberry can help mix it up. Keeping your belly full can help ward off hunger. Sometimes what we might mistake as hunger is often our body trying to tell us we are thirsty. This is especially true after an intense workout.
Pick out a few safe snacks. I know that if I buy fruit and stash it in the fridge I will be lazy and when it comes time for me to eat something on the run and I will skip the fruit. So as soon as I get home from the grocery store I wash all of my produce with a vegetable and fruit wash and then slice it and put it in the fridge. No more excuses. Keep 100 calorie packs of almonds or popcorn on hand for quick bites that won’t break the bank.
Don’t beat yourself up. I am the queen of falling off the wagon. I slip and have a decadent dessert or more often I just pile my plate too high. I get annoyed but then I need to move on. Tomorrow is another day. Use your mistakes as lessons. I was at a basketball game with a friend a few weeks ago and her daughter used her own money to get some concession stand treats. Later her daughter was a bit ornery and feeling sick. My friend calmly looked at her and said, “Maybe what you chose to eat is making you feel pretty sick right now. Next time remember how this made you feel and try something a little better.” I loved this. This such a simple and great way for us to look at what you eat. If you ate too much yesterday and hated how you felt, remember that tomorrow when you go to make decisions.
On a lighter note, I have been away from the blog for a few days because we took a road trip to Northern Michigan to check on our summer house and do a little pre-spring cleaning. We drove up Monday and went straight to the house to get a few odds and ends taken care of. That was a mistake because this is what we arrived to.
On our trip back to Chicago I remarked, “Michigan would be just the perfect place if it wasn’t for winter.” I really believe that.