The key to losing weight = Eat less, exercise more.
True, but this is really not as it simple as it sounds. Real life comes into play bringing along stress, cravings, sleepiness, and a lack of time to get everything scratched off of your to-do list.
This is week three for me and my dieting experiments. To give you a short re-cap on what I have already discussed in the past two weeks, I am basically against “meal-replacement” diet plans and I have found that recording what I eat and when I exercise in a daily journal helps me stay on track. To read more about these two topics, check out the last two Tuesday posts.
This week I wanted to discuss “cheat days.” For the past three weeks I have been doing so well with my self-made diet plan. I have exercised regularly, started to engage in more strength training, ate up to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and have successfully cut back on carbs. Then at the end of the week, usually on Sunday (which is my homework day) I have a cheat day. Some people will tell you it is a good idea to allow yourself one cheat day to eat the things you enjoy. I do not agree because for me, I felt like I just threw my whole diet off. Eating cookies or ice cream on Sunday just made me feel tired and sluggish instead of the balanced and satisfied feeling I experienced all week. Besides, giving into cravings could lead to overeating, which then leads to weight GAIN instead of loss.
I was skimming through some dieting tips on the internet and I came across one that literally said: “Have one cheat day a week that will prevent your body from adjusting to your new eating habits.” This is precisely why I don’t agree with cheat days. Shouldn’t you be adjusted and comfortable to your new eating habits? Won’t that new adjustment minimize the stress from dieting? Giving into one little craving only leads to more cravings to come. Your body will never be adjusted to the right eating habits unless you fight through the cravings.
For this reason, I think an important part of dieting is to come up with a separate plan for “things to do to avoid cravings.” I think it would help to be conscious of the weaknesses in dieting to be able to overcome them.
Going for a run or workout will definitely eliminate cravings. Exercise make you feel good and so it would be less likely for you to want to go chow down on a pizza after all that hard work you put into a good workout. This will only work if you enjoy exercise though, not if you think of it as a chore that you can’t wait to get over with.
Get lost in a novel. Just read a few chapters at a time, but steer clear from studying as your textbooks may only make you even more stressed and want to crave food even more.
Be open to trying new things! Dieting is a lifestyle change, literally. That’s why it can be so difficult. You have to change your habits and that’s not easy. Try out new things like meditation, craft projects, book clubs, etc. All of these things exclude diet and exercise, but at the same time keep your mind off of cravings. I just recently became a volunteer at a local venue downtown to help promote social justice. Volunteering is another idea!
Be alert of mindless eating. This could be when you’re cooking and you taste test all of your specialties before serving them. Also, I was thinking, when you are dieting it can be difficult to eat out. To maintain portion sizes try ordering from the children’s menu if the restaurant allows. I know for a fact that Cracker Barrel allows adults to order from the children’s menu as well as creating your own meal including combining vegetable sides.
To sum it up, no cheat days and try to come up with ways to overcome certain weaknesses of dieting such as controlling cravings and stress. Keep a diet and exercise journal, try new hobbies that will reduce stress and keep your mind away from cravings, drink plenty of water, eat lots veggies, and exercise regularly.
Keep your eye on the prize!