Being healthy and maintaining a trim physique isn't about dieting or killing yourself with an insane workout routine. Sure, both of these can help you reach weight and fitness goals, but in time you will inevitably burn out, or just be so so SO sick of cottage cheese you can't even look at it anymore! The secret of skinny people isn't that they work out 8 hours a day, or that they genuinely enjoy salad (please, anyone who tells you they just LOVE lettuce with a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar is LIEING THROUGH THEIR TEETH!), it's that throughout the day, millions of little decisions they make (and probably don't even think about) are just....healthy. Did you know fidgeters burn up to 400 more calories per day than people who don't fidget? Yup, 400 calories. That's like running almost 4 miles.
I wouldn't lie to you!
I'm not at all advocating that you become a fidgeter because, honestly, it's super annoying when someone won't stop jiggling their leg in a meeting. What I AM advocating, is attempting to trade in a few habits for their far healthier alternatives, and becoming an accidentally skinny person. So in the spirit of the new year, and the incredible enthusiasm I've received for my healthier posts, here are 5 bad eating habits that are very simple to trade in.
Bad Habit #1) Diet soda
Sure, it has zero calories, but studies have shown that people who consume diet soda on a regular basis have LARGER waist lines than people who don't drink diet soda. Not enough for you? Artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas have been linked to increased hunger, increased facial weight gain, cataracts, cancer, muscle dysfunction, depression, skin irritations, chest pain, bloating, mood swings, palpitations, mental confusion, liver side effects, kidney side effects, and visual disturbances. Just to name a few...
Trade it in for: Iced tea or coffee
Coffee reduces your appetite, is loaded with antioxidants, and can boost your metabolism by about 16%. BONUS it's also 0 calories if you drink it black. If you must add milk and sugar, just be sure it's REAL sugar and skim milk, and add as little as you can.
Bad habit #2) Eating low fat desserts
Seriously?? Who are you? Get off my blog! Just kidding, stay! But please promise not to eat low fat desserts anymore! This is the greatest food crime you can commit. When you sit down to enjoy a molten chocolate cake, your first thought should not be "this has enough calories to feed an African tribe for a year" (even thought that's probably true), it should be "This cake is gonna be AWESOMEEEEE!!!!!!!" As if the enjoyment factor alone weren't enough, people who eat low fat and low calorie desserts on average actually end up eating more calories, because of the psychology of thinking of it as "diet" food. "If the cake isn't that bad for me, then I guess I can have another slice"
Trade it in for: Full calorie and full fat desserts
Enjoy your food!! Dessert should be a special treat not an everyday occurrence, so when you have it, really savor every bite and don't feel an ounce of guilt over what you ate. Would you rather have a really crazy awesome flour-less chocolate cake with raspberry coulis that just melts in your mouth every once in a while, or a piece of lame chocolate flavored cardboard everyday? That's what I thought. Dessert is sacred, treat it with respect.
Bad Habit #3) Skipping meals
In case you didn't gather it from my blog title, when I'm hungry, I am not a fun person to be around. It's so apparent, that boyfriend will frequently say things like, "It's ok [you're being a psycho], I know you're just hungry." Even if your main concern isn't becoming the hungry hulk like mine is, skipping meals can actually increase your chances of becoming overweight or obese (4.5 times more likely to be exact). Primordial man was a grazer, so if you don't eat for an extended period of time, your body begins to think you're starving. It responds by slowing down your metabolism, and then when you do eat, more readily converting those calories to fat reserves so you won't die if the famine continues.
Trade it in for: Eating every meal!!
Hell, why stop at 3 meals a day? If you want to get crazy about stabilizing your blood sugar and metabolism, eat 5 small meals a day. Gastric emptying time is about 3 hours, so eating frequently ensures you never have an empty stomach, which means you never have energy lags, which means you never feel hungry, which means you never have to deal with that horrible hungry feeling that makes you head to the vending machine at 3pm. Bonus: your metabolism will be at it's peak performance, and your body will be at it's lowest for fat formation. Just be sure your total calorie count for the day is still acceptable for your body size.
Bad Habit #4) Eating before bed
Your body is fully capable of burning fat while you sleep, but if you go to bed with a full stomach, the energy that would have been spent on that, is instead spent digesting food and storing calories.
Trade it in for: No eating within 3 hours of bed
As I mentioned before, gastric emptying time is about 3 hours, so try to finish dinner 3 hours before you plan on going to bed. If you're prone to late night cravings, try replacing them with just a cup of herbal tea. It has zero calories, and can help relax and prepare you for sleep.
Bad Habit #5) "I'm too busy to exercise"
I believe you that you're busy. I really do! Life is hectic! I work a full time job, a part time job, have a full time student class schedule, friends to keep up with, and a boyfriend to spend time with. Do I have time to go to the gym? Heeeeeell no.
Trade it in for: "I WANT to exercise"
But I still go! If I don't exercise I feel sluggish. My brain feels fuzzy, my body feels soft, I'm way more tired, and stress effects me a lot more. I make time to exercise at 5am or 9pm or whenever I can because I feel a billion times better about myself when I do. For me, a gym works, for you, maybe it won't. Maybe you don't like running, or lunking around the gym picking things up and putting them down. Das fine. But be active. If you're really stressed out try taking yoga! If you used to dance when you were little and loved it, sign up for a class! If you're single and ready to mingle, join a social sports league (Boston's here)! There are literally hundreds of ways to be active, find what works or you, and love working out!
*All images via google image search