Once again in an attempt to prove why we can’t have nice things, one of the other pieces of the article I quoted in my last post talked about how dark chocolate may not necessarily be all that great for you either. I am well known among my friends, family, co-workers, and fitness community for saying “I eat very healthy, but you’ll have to pry the chocolate out of my cold, dead, rotting fingers.”
And I am totally serious. 😀
Granted, on one hand, one must not overdose on anything–especially anything that’s sugary and calorically dense. But on the other, I can’t help but feel that there’s a great deal of scaremongering as click-bait to take advantage of people who are already neurotic about food. Every couple of days I get emails titled things like, “Why exercising makes you fat”, “Why drinking water makes you fat”, “Why cardio makes you fat”, and am expecting the next one to be titled, “Why merely breathing dooms you to be fat, you fatty fat fat person”.
Chill. The. Hell. Out.
There’s this unnecessary struggle in a culture that wants it both ways. We can’t be sedentary and consume twice as many calories as needed and expect to be healthy. At the same time, we can’t obsess over every crumb we put into our mouths until we develop an eating disorder. The phrase “clean eating” is constantly thrown around, but it’s become a nebulous term without a clear definition. People are told “Avoid processed food”, but technically nearly everything is processed to a certain extent, so that’s meaningless too. “Avoid chemicals”, some say, but once again, technically EVERYTHING is a chemical and is composed of chemicals so this is once again meaningless. “Appeal to nature” is a logical fallacy which is oft used by the health and fitness “experts” to scare you into buying their product, book, what-have-you. Don’t buy into it. Don’t try a fad diet or think that you have to eat in an unnatural, highly restricted, and limited way in order to be healthy. Use common sense and good judgment.
People fail at “diets” because they see them as the following:
“Clean eating” is about eating reasonably healthy 80-90% of the time and enjoying yourself the rest of the time. It’s about making changes in your habits you can feel comfortable and content maintaining for the rest of your life. People need to develop a healthy relationship with food and learn how to enjoy it in moderation without either feeling deprived or starved. Food is fuel, but it can be tasty fuel.
This is one of the many reasons why I tell people over and over again: any diet which vilifies any of the macronutrients: fats, carbs, or protein, avoid like the plague. All are required in your diet in varying amounts in order to have a balanced meal plan. So when you hear “Carbs are evil”, “fat makes you fat”, run, just run. Neither “advice” will help you to be healthy and will actually harm you in the long term.
And enjoy your chocolate (in moderation). 😛
Side note: one of the sanest reads I’ve found in a while on the subject is called The Lean Muscle Diet: A Customized Nutrition and Workout Plan–Eat the Foods You Love to Build the Body You Want and Keep It for Life! A lengthy title but a worthwhile read. Regardless of whether or not you are vegan or paleo (and the book discusses both), it’s invaluable. It discusses in depth how to eat for fitness in a sensible way that you can maintain indefinitely.
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From Monday to Friday, we have a routine due to our busy work lives and often it’s easiest to stay on track with our nutrition and exercise during that time. On weekends, it’s entirely too easy to slip up, binge on unhealthy foods at parties and gatherings, and throw out the rule book entirely.
You don’t have to deprive yourself, but you don’t have to kill your fitness goals entirely every weekend, either. Stay on track by remembering to drink plenty of water, eat lots of veggies, fruit, and whole grains, and when presented with options that are less than healthy either passing them up for healthy food instead, swapping them out with a healthier version, or picking one thing to eat in moderation and leave the rest.
I’m a firm believer in the 80-20 rule: eat healthy 80% of the time and 20% of the time allow for reasonable indulgences. Same holds true for weekend. Don’t do 80% unhealthy or worse yet, 100%! Remember your “whys” and your motivation for living a healthier life.
And then, have an ice cream sundae on occasion. 🙂
It’s been published a lot lately that the longer you spend sitting down during your day, the more years are being taken off of your life. While this sounds utterly morbid and depressing, it’s not entirely out of your control.
A lot of us work 9-5 jobs sitting at desks, but we don’t all have to suffer from unnecessary weight gain and health issues as a result. Exercise and fitness is something a lot of people put off. In Stephen R Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he breaks up daily tasks into different quadrants: urgent and important, urgent and not important, not urgent but important, and neither urgent nor important.
Exercise falls into quadrant two, “not urgent but important”. If you spend more time dealing with tasks that fit this category, you can prevent them from turning into “urgent and important” later. This should be common sense, but often times people confuse what is not important but urgent with what is important but not urgent. I highly recommend this book; it’s one of the best ones out there for getting your life into gear not matter what the topic.
“I don’t have time to workout.”
“I don’t have time at work to get up and stretch.”
“I don’t have time to eat healthy.”
…yes, yes, you do.
Here are my suggestions to combat the 9-5 “desk death”:
- Get your clean eating habits in gear. Too many offices surround themselves with junk food, and often the trap becomes that food is social. You don’t have to not be social, just be mindful of what you’re putting into your body.
- Get up and walk around whenever you can. Grab water, grab tea. Will it mean more bathroom trips? Sure, but it beats not moving around much of the day and if you wear a Fitbit or Bodymedia device you WILL see the difference. When you walk, you burn 4-5 times more calories than sitting. When you stand, you burn twice as much as when sitting.
- Do office workouts. There are lots of exercises you can do at your desk.
- Go out for walks during your lunch break. Try to organize walks with other co-workers, if you can.
- Stretch. Many of us have bad backs due to being slumped over at a keyboard all the time. Exercising and stretching has helped mine, and I am often working at my stiff neck and shoulders to prevent injury.
- Park further away from the office and walk. Take public transportation whenever possible to maximize walking versus driving.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Get creative! Do squats in the bathroom stall. I do them, no joke!
And that’s the key–prevention. Too often people wait until there’s a visible sign of a problem in order to do something about their health. Fitting into clothing is one thing, but injuries and illnesses are another. Join up with Team Happy and Healthy and beat the 9-5 “desk death”!
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How do I lose weight?
Why is my scale stuck?
Diets mean starving, I don’t want to diet!
The only way to lose weight is to go hungry.
If I eat more than 1,000 calories, I gain weight!
I’ve heard all of these in some combination or another, but did you know that undereating can cause you to hold onto fat as much as overeating can cause you to gain weight?
Ideally for fat and weight loss, you want to be in a calorie deficit. That is, you want to burn more calories than you’re eating. This is a precious balance, because we don’t want to eat too many and we don’t want to eat too few. Any deficit of 1,000 or more every day sustained over time can actually cause your body to go into starvation mode and kill your metabolism. And we don’t want to kill your metabolism!
What you want to do is this: move more and eat less junk. By junk, I mean overly processed foods, foods which are high in sodium, foods which are fried, foods which contain refined sugar, etc.
The best way to get in gear is to increase your level of physical activity and do food swaps:
- Bag of chips? Try celery and hummus instead.
- French fries? Slice and bake a potato. Doesn’t have to be a sweet potato; all potatoes are good so long as they’re not fried in a ton of oil and/or butter.
- Cheese and dairy freak? Cut back and/or make substitutions. Also, non-dairy cheese isn’t necessarily healthier. I know of someone who had a nearly impossible gut to lose until he started eating significantly less dairy products and began to eat leaner versions of the high protein sources he normally ate. Tony Horton rants about this too, and he is right!
- Swap hummus for cheese, avocado for mayo.
- Decrease all sources of refined sugars and/or eliminate them entirely: white pasta, white breads, white rice, baked goods, etc. Stick with whole grains and in moderation.
- Increase the amount of veggies you eat, especially fresh ones.
- If you are a meat-eater, replace about 25-50% of the meat you eat with vegetable sources of protein. They are not only leaner and lacking in cholesterol, but unlike animal products they contain fiber and will fill you up faster.
- Go easy on oils, nuts, and seeds. They are very healthy in moderation; however they are calorically dense and can add up fast!
- Drink more water. If you like tea, drink more eat–especially green tea.
- Consider drinking coffee black if you’re used to having it with some form of milk and sugar. If you have a lot of it, that too can add up–it is not calorie free.
As a general rule you want to save your calories for that which is higher in nutritional density. Much of the problem with junk food is that it’s high in calories but low in nutrition. Eat smarter and you won’t have to starve in order lose weight, move more and you don’t have to worry as much about eating less as much as eating right. Problem solved!
Need more tips? Looking for accountability and motivation with your fitness goals? Help is a click away!