It’s a typical pattern: you start dieting, commit to a daily routine of elliptical and weights, maybe join a challenge or a boot camp—but pretty soon, you’re having happy hour Mojitos and nachos at your favorite Mexican restaurant. Oops! The mistake here is a common one—the all or nothing approach. This really doesn’t work long term, because you are on a roller coaster. You lose weight, you gain weight, you do it all, or your do whatever you want.
Instead of this faulty dieting approach, I suggest making a few switches that will stack the deck in your favor. “Doing this can lead to more weight loss than you ever imagined,” says Marissa Lippert, RD, author of The Cheater’s Diet. In addition to some good old fashioned tools like a food diary and an exercise log, following are a few ideas of small changes that you can make that will add up to big weight loss in the long run.
Do you eat out a lot? Eating out does make it harder to keep track, and restaurant portions are notoriously generous. Cutting back on your outings can help. Instead of 3-4 times a week, try cutting it down to 1-2 times, and learn to cook a bit more at home. Don’t like that idea? Change up the choices you are making at the restaurant. Eschew the bread basket and pasta, and go for grilled options, salads, grilled vegetables, and fresh fruit. Dip your fork in the salad dressing prior to a bite, instead of drenching your salad. Cut your food in half if the portion is large, and have a to go container brought right away, so you can get that extra off your plate. Try ordering extra veggies instead of the starch, or ordering the burger without the bun. Most restaurants are pretty accommodating.
Do you buy chips? You don’t have to tell me, I already know many of you do routinely bring that home, and if you have it in the house, you will eat it. So at the grocery store, pass up that whole middle section. Don’t bring it home, and it won’t tempt you. And if you do get a craving, you will have to go all the way to the store to get the offending items—this acts as a deterrent—who wants to leave the house at night, in the winter, anyway?
Do you skip breakfast? Articles have been written on both sides of this issue. Some say you should eat it, some say not—what do you do? I’m on the side of having food earlier in the day, even if it’s just something small—apple and peanut butter, plain yogurt and a cup of berries. It gets your engine revved up, and you will be able to control your hunger and cravings better if you aren’t starving by lunch or dinner time. I have run into a few people who say if they eat earlier in the day, it sets them up to be hungrier. It’s not the norm, but if that’s you, try having a mid-morning snack, instead of eating first thing in the morning.
Are you skipping exercise due to a lack of time? Just because you are busy, doesn’t mean you have an excuse not to workout. Exercise can be done in 5 minute bouts, at home or in the office if need be. Think about a wall squat for a minute, and a few wall push ups. Later on, you can walk to the end of the parking lot or block and back, and then at home, a set of crunches. No excuses.
Are you a hungry guy or gal? I know I am. So try filling up your plate with veggies to pick up the slack, and add vital nutrients. Try a homemade pizza (you control the crust and ingredients), or when you make a meal, make 3 vegetable sides. I usually do a salad, and two vegetables, plus whatever the protein is, or you could do a one dish meal (my family can tell you I’m a big fan for the ease of it) that’s full of vegetables like soup or chili. No, you don’t need a starch. If you’re still hungry, have a cup of berries for dessert. I’ll bet with the high quality nutrients and fiber you won’t be hungry, and you won’t succumb to cravings, either.
Stop the roller-coaster dieting and get on the steady train to fat loss and better health today.
Written by Melissa Abramovich, ACE CPT, NASM CGT, AAHFRP Medical Exercise Specialist and Personal Trainer at Elite Sports Club-River Glen
Melissa Abramovich went into Personal Training and Group Exercise instruction after successfully losing 140 pounds through healthy dieting and exercise. Her desire to help others drove her forward into a career helping others to make healthier choices. She is an ACE certified personal trainer and now also a Medical Exercise Specialist (AAHFRP), helping clients with a myriad of health issues at Elite Sports Clubs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree, and many group exercise related certifications as well.
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.