Thursday, March 15, 2012

Throw food away? YES

Last night I had a moment of weakness at the grocery store. I came home with a giant bag of Hint-of-JalepeƱo Tostitos and some salsa.

Salsa has no fat and is low in calories, right? So — I told myself — if I'm going to give in to this snack craving, this is a good option.

Came home and ate half the bag. Went to bed without logging the calories, happy as a clam.

**note: I know better than to buy OR eat things without looking at the calorie content first and measuring out a reasonable portion, Like I said, moment of weakness.

Woke up this morning and realized my mistake. 140 calories per serving. Serving size: about 6 chips. 


Worse, half a bag of this delicious temptation was still sitting on my counter. So I threw them away while I was still feeling strong, because there's always another willpower-fail around the corner. For me, it's not a question of whether it will happen but when.

Of course I hate to throw away perfectly good food. I'm well aware of how lucky I am to have cheap, accessible plentiful food. But eating those chips wouldn't have helped a hungry child anywhere — or gotten my money back, or even nourished my own body. It would just make me fat.

Moral of the story: If you make a mistake and buy something you shouldn't have, and there's no one to give it to... throw it away as soon as you come to your senses!

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Weight Loss Plateau... how to cope

It happens to every dieter. Pounds are falling off in a more or less predictable pattern, and then suddenly… nothing. Same diet and exercise program going in, but no results coming out at the other end.

The most important thing is not to give up. It's easy to get frustrated and abandon your weight loss efforts altogether when the stubborn pounds refuse to budge — or when you find yourself losing the same three or four pounds over and over.

If you give up, though, you'll be amazed how quickly you can pack ten or twenty pounds or more back on! If your weight is holding steady, or increasing very slowly, then your efforts really are working to some extent, even if it feels like it's all for naught. Recognize that maintaining your weight loss for a week or more is something to be grateful for, not angry about.

Here are some common reasons for a plateau and some advice:

  • Your caloric needs have gone down. The lighter you are, the fewer calories it takes to sustain you. The same calorie count that was delivering a two-pound-per-week weight loss when you were 15 pounds heavier might cause your new, lighter body to gain a pound per week! If you're using an online calorie counter, make sure you're updating your weight regularly; it should self adjust. If not, use an online calculator (preferably one that takes your gender and age into account) to recaculate your calorie goal for your new weight. I like the one at Livestrong's Daily Plate, but you need to be a member to use it. This one is also good. 
  • Your portion sizes are creeping up. This happens to everyone after a while. It's worthwhile — and eye opening! — to measure everything for a few days until you have a handle on it again. 
  • Your body has adjusted to your workouts. Remember how hard it was when you first started [walking/jogging/zumba/whatever-you-do]? Is it that hard now? You need to be exerting the same amount of perceived effort (label it on a scale of 1-10 for yourself) in order to be burning the same number of calories. As your body becomes more efficient at what you've been doing, you'll need to step it up or change it completely.
  • You are indulging in little bits that add up. When you first started dieting, it probably consumed your mind and you were diligent. Now, maybe you toss 'just one' cookie into your mouth now and then, or have a couple of a friend's french fries. An hour later, you might not even remember that you nibbled fifty calories here, a hundred calories there. Weight Watchers has a rule: You bite it, you write it. Commit to getting serious about your program again.
  • Sometimes you can't identify a reason. It still doesn't hurt to change up what you're eating, what kind of exercise you're doing, or step up your dedication to measuring and recording your food intake. Eating more protein and dropping more carbs helps some people over a hump. Moving calories earlier in the day helps others. Switch up your exercise routine — more cardio/less weightlifting or vice versa — to keep your body responding.
If you discover that you've plateau'd because you were nibbling or overestimating portions, or stopped recording your food altogether, practice forgiveness. You're human, this happens to everyone! Recommit, let it go, and move forward.

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