After a long and rewarding relationship with fitness and nutrition, you’d think I’d have it all figured out. I don’t eat fast food. I religiously read food labels and avoid processed foods. Most of the days, I make time for a quick and effective sweat sesh at home. Yet, somehow I still find myself not where I’d like to be. Ok so there are a few dresses in my closet from the pre-kids era that I may never fit into again, and that’s okay 🙂 Being a skinny model is not my goal. But I feel there is a potential to gain more strength, endurance and muscle tone. And if a few pounds melt away along the way, well that’s just a bonus 🙂
Lately, I started looking into things that could be preventing me from reaching my health and fitness goals. So I thought I’d share them with you today in case you are dealing with the same issues. Careful examination exposed three main offenders:
Late night snacking
This is probably the worst habit that I struggle with. I do so well during the day following my meal plan. But come evening time and it all falls apart. Kids go to bed, and it’s easy to feel like you have to reward yourself with food after a long busy day. So you turn on TV and you set a bowl of crackers/cookies/chips/ice cream in front of you.
That immediate gratification inevitably turns into a mountain of regrets the next day you step on a scale. All the empty calories go straight to where you want them least. And trust me my friends, it is way easier to gain pounds than to lose them 🙂
So how do you fight the snack beast at night? Here are a few tips for ya:
- Eat a well balanced dinner with a healthy doze of protein. That’ll keep you full longer.
- Distract yourself with something exciting. Urge to snack usually lasts about 15 minutes.
- Brush your teeth after dinner. You are less likely to head back to the kitchen.
- Avoid the kitchen, lock the fridge, throw away temptations. Just kidding but you get the idea.
- If you must have a snack, choose a healthy option such as apples + peanut butter or Green yogurt topped with coconut flakes, berries and honey.
Staying up late at night
But I want some MEEEEE time after kids go to bed, right? I do it all the time: promising myself to go to bed early and get stuck working on a computer, watching a show or – worse – browsing through Facebook. Is it really worth it?
This is a no brainer but when we are tired our will power is at it’s weakest. Temptations are harder to resist and we give in to unnecessary indulgences. The little voices in your head starts telling you that you deserve a little treat to make you feel better. Technically this is true. The immediate post-cookie sugar rush gives you an amazing blast of energy. But it’s so not worth the unavoidable sugar crush that follows such indulgences, leaving you even more weak and tired.
In addition, when you don’t sleep enough the body cortisol levels spike promoting fat gain as part of a body’s defense system. Cortisol makes you feel significantly hungrier, less satisfied after meals, and lacking energy to exercise (source). So not surprisingly, lack of sleep can reduce and even undo the benefits of dieting. And there goes the vicious circle. Adequate sleep helps you recharge the batteries and restore the balance. So you can literally sleep your way to a healthier and skinnier You 🙂
To get your snooze in try these easy tips:
- Unplug from electronics (here is a disturbing research on looking at your phone in bed)
- Read a book or a magazine
- Dim the lights and take slow deep breath
- Burn a lavender candle or put a few lavender oil drops on your pillow
- Sip on hot tea instead of alcohol (just make sure it’s caffeine-free)
Not getting enough water
Next time you feel fatigued ask yourself if you’ve been drinking enough water. I almost always recognize the signs of dehydration when I start getting tired with a side of a mild headache. Water will not only give you energy but also help you curb unhealthy cravings.
With so many distractions in our lives (phones, news, TV, Internet) we often get out of tune with our own bodies. We may fail to recognize the symptoms for hunger vs. thirst. If you had a proper meal yet still thinking about food shortly after, it may be that you are just thirsty! So next time you feel like grabbing a snack, chug a bottle of water first 🙂
Do you know how much water you should be drinking a day? The recommended formula is half of your weight in pounds to make the number in ounces. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, then drink at least 100 ounces of water a day. Just make sure to avoid sugary drinks and soda. They will do more harm than good to your body.
How to get your water in:
- Buy a pretty water bottle (worth it)
- Keep your water bottle out on a visible spot
- Infuse water (cucumbers, lemon, strawberries give it a nice subtle flavor)
- Set reminders in your phone to drink water throughout the day
If you struggle with a few of these bad habits, my recommendation to you would be to pick one at a time to work on. Focus on improving one thing, then move on to the next. Yes it may take longer, but you will be able to achieve long lasting results without slipping back into old bad habits!
Lastly, remember that old habits die hard. It will take time and consistence to re-wire your brain with new good ones. Be patient with yourself and don’t give up. You got this my friend!!
What do you struggle with in your fitness journey? Any tips on how you overcome bad habits?
Have a great weekend, my friends!