A friend recently posted about having a hard time getting back down to her pre-baby size and was asking people for nutrition/fitness tips. Well, this is right down my alley. I'm almost done with my Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science: Fitness and Wellness Management. I don't know everything there is to know - OBVIOUSLY - but I have learned a lot in my program at BYU and also from stuff I've studied independently. Overall health is my passion, so I thought I'd share a few pointers of things I do, or have done in the past, that can help with some problems one might encounter when it comes to being healthy. My stance is that health comes in MANY shapes and sizes. Healthy people do typically look healthy, no matter their size and shape, simply because a healthy person follows healthy lifestyles that contribute to healthy bodies. Healthy people typically have better complexions, healthier looking eyes, teeth, hair, nails, etc. Although a healthy person may not look like the collegiate sprinter next door or their 18 year-old cheerleader sister, healthy people typically are happy with their size because they feel good in it. So here are some problems with cures I've found have worked for me. If anyone has any other problems they'd want addressed, let me know and I'll see if I have any advice, and maybe do a follow-up post to this one.
PROBLEM: I too often eat for reasons other than hunger.
CURE: Write down why you eat other than when you're hungry (out of boredom, when I'm tired, when I'm stressed, etc...). Then write down a list of things you could do when you're bored, tired, stressed, etc, that don't include eating (and maybe are things you wouldn't normally take the time to do). My list includes (or has included in the past): giving myself a pedicure, giving myself a complete makeover, reading a certain book, organizing a drawer, going on a walk, visiting my friend/neighbor/etc, looking up a very healthy recipe and making it (to eat at my next meal), making a picture frame, doing some craft, taking a bubble bath, playing with photoshop, etc) The list could go on and on I'm sure.
Next time you have an urge to eat and you know you aren't hungry, drink a big glass of water and then do one (or more) of the things on your list.
FACT: Did you know that sometimes when you feel "pangs" of hunger, your body is actually just trying to signal to you that it is thirsty. Always drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes before deciding you need a meal (other than when it is meal time - then you can still drink a glass of water, but make sure to eat to - don't want to be depriving your body of nutrients it needs.
PROBLEM: I'm always overfilling myself when I eat.
CURE: We don't need to eat until we are full, just until our body is content. If you're like me, many times you crave to keep eating because everything tastes so good, but after all is said and done, you feel gross and your stomach and head hurt because you ate too much.
Drink Water!! Have a big glass of it with your meal, remember to drink during your meal, not just at the very end or beginning.
Eat somewhat slowly. You don't need to cut everything into dime sized pieces - that would take FOREVER, but just try not to scarff (which I used to always be guilty of). That way you can recognize that your stomach is filling up, and avoid that "I ate 5 cups of rice but didn't feel full until 20 minutes after and now I fill SICK."
If you are eating at home, always dish up your plates before taking them to the table. Feel free to put the very healthy parts of the meal on the table (like a bowl of fruit or vegetables) but leave the rolls, the meat, the potatoes and gravy, etc, over by the stove/counter top so that they aren't just staring you in the face the whole time you're eating. Dish yourself up less than you think you'll want to eat (watching the portion sizes my friends). After you finish off your plate, if you are still hungry (listen to your body), by all means go to the kitchen and dish up a little more, afterall, we don't want to go hungry, we just want to avoid eating more than our bodies need.
If you're eating out, either ask for a to-go box at the beginning of the meal, or just separate it yourself on your plate and make one side of your plate the "to eat" side and one side the "to-go" side. If you get a box, dish a portion of the meal into the box so that it is out of sight and out of mind. If you're separating it on your plate. Finish your "to eat" side and then ask for a to-go container so you can put it away and not look at it for the next 1/2 an hour while you're waiting for your check.
PROBLEM: At the end of the day I realize I've eaten more than my alloted "eat sparinglys".
CURE: Now, I'm sure you've all heard about a food diary where you write down everything you eat. These work, but only if you do them right. The best way to do it is make yourself write down anything you eat before you eat it. Thinking before doing makes you feel a little more responsible for what you're eating.
When you keep the diary write down the time you're eating the thing, what you're eating, how much of it you're eating, if it is part of Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, or a Snack, and how you're feeling right before you're going to eat it (sad, hungry, bored, happy). This may also help you figure out for what reasons, other than hunger, you eat. I find that sometimes I'd rather just not write down "14 chocolate chips" 8 different times during the day, so I may decide not to eat them a few of the times - simply out of laziness of writing it down.
If you're in charge of grocery shopping, don't buy things that are going to tempt you. Why look temptation in the face? You know you'll give in sooner or later, so just get it out and keep it out of your house.
PROBLEM: How can I get rid of my cravings??
CURE: Thing is, cravings don't just go away with a snap. But you can definately curb them and satisfy them when you have them and then eventually your body may start craving the healthier alternatives. When you have a craving, put it into a taste category. (salty, sweet, cold, hot, creamy, thick, crunchy, etc). Then figure out a healthier alternative that also meets the category(ies) that the craving fits into. Example: I'm craving potato chips and dip. The chips are crisp and salty. The dip is cold and creamy. Healthy Alternatives: Carrot sticks dipped in cottage cheese with salt and pepper or sprinkle some ranch seasoning in the cottage cheese (creamy-ish, cold, flavorful (if you add ranch seasoning)) to make it more "dip-tasting". OR Pretzels (crispy and salty) dipped in, once again, the cottage cheese or sour cream. Good thing with dairy is there is always (or at least 99.999999% of the time) a non-fat or low-fat version that tastes surprisingly good. Frozen Yogurt can be substituted for Ice Cream, Sometimes when I crave chocolate I'll eat a smaller amount of semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate because it takes less to satisfy a craving. Or I'll drink a glass of chocolate milk (low-fat/non-fat milk), which all though not the HEALTHIEST, isn't bad, and is much better than a chocolate bar. Anyway, I think you've got the idea.
PROBLEM: I can't find the time to exercise
CURE: If it is because you have a baby or multiple children, there are MANY forms of exercise that you can do that include the chitlins. Go on walks with them in strollers/on bikes/ in backpacks/ on foot, etc...., Go to the park and while they are playing and you are supervising, jog in place, do jumping jacks, stretch, etc.. Also, remamber that running around with the kids is exercise in itself, as is housework. So congrats to you mothers that are so busy with children and housework. You're likely more active than the average Joe/Josephine.
If it is because you work, go to school, etc, you can still increase your exercise in a few simple ways. I had to be creative when I worked full-time and went to school full-time for a 3+ years. Walk when you can. I'd go to the bathroom at work like every hour so I could walk (can they really tell you you can't go??). Park further away from the door you enter. If you get a lunch break, pack a lunch to take to work and either eat it while you're working and use your lunch break to jog/walk/exercise, or take the lunch on your walk. By packing a lunch you are probably eating healthier than when eating out :)
If you have a desk job or are at a desk at school: Sit closer to the edge of your seat so you can't slouch/relax against your chairback. Try to keep your posture straight and your tummy sucked in for an ab/back work out. You can also do calf-raises or leg-raises in your chair. Take some small weights (5 lbs-ish) to work and keep in your desk. If you get to work early, you can use them to exercise while you're reading emails or whatever else or if your co-workers don't think you're weird I guess you can do it even if it is during normal business hours. If you have an adjustable monitor, you can stand up while you work. Just elevate your keyboard with books or whatever else, and tilt/elevate your monitor so you can see what you're doing. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. When walking anywhere, tuck in your butt a little (tilt your pelvis forward) and suck your belly button in. This ads some ab/back/butt exercises. Be creative. You can exercise in pretty much every position you're in, just look for opportunities.
For any other reason, once again, there are opportunities to exercise in everything you're doing. Be creative!!
FOLLOW UP: Well, I know I didn't cover every problem one might encounter, but my brain currently can't think of any more. If you want advice on any problems you're encountering, leave a comment and if I have advice I will do a follow-up blog that addresses those problems. To your health!!