Why is it that we may eat well, exercise and still struggle with our weight and health?
For many of us, making healthier food choices is a way of life. We read labels, we’re mindful of our portions, we limit the amount of sugar, junk and processed foods we eat, we limit our alcohol intake and we make a concerted effort to eat “clean” and healthy.
Many of us also commit to a consistent fitness schedule where we’re walking, running, doing classes, DVD’s, yoga, or organized sports regularly. We put in the time and effort necessary to create a lean, toned and fit body.
So with this kind of effort, why aren’t many of us looking, feeling and living our best?
While eating and exercise are huge steps in the right direction, they’re only a piece of the wellness puzzle. The rest has to do with our lifestyle, our mindset and so much more. But, even with healthy eating and exercise there may be a few “holes” in your plan. We’ll take a look at how your nutrition and fitness plans may need a little “tweaking” and in a future post, we’ll dive into a few other areas of wellness that also impact your weight loss efforts.
If your choices are healthy for the most part, it’s worth taking a look at the “why” of your eating. Are you eating when your body is hungry, or do you eat based on the time, the size of the plate, or the event around you? There’s a big difference between hunger and appetite and while the body thrives when eating because of hunger, the body can only store fat when eating because of appetite. Here’s how to tell the difference.
Hunger is a physiological response to the body needing food. Your stomach may rumble, you may feel lightheaded and you want food quickly. Often, it doesn’t really matter what you eat as long as you get something into your system quickly.
Appetite is much different. It’s triggered by emotions, by something you’ve just seen, thought about, or even by a delicious smell. With appetite, you feel an immediate urge to eat something and typically, it’s something specific. Also, different textures are indicative of certain emotions when driven by appetite. For example, you may want something crunchy when you’re angry and something smooth and creamy when you’re sad. Responding to appetite vs. hunger is a recipe for weight gain because your body doesn’t need the food. When that’s the case, your body’s only option is to convert it to fat and store it for you.
It’s also helpful to see if you’re eating mindlessly. With mindless eating, you’re taking in much more than you need because you’re distracted while eating. Are you eating while cooking, passing food to others, or taking in too much because you’re reading or watching TV during a meal? We can take in thousands of excess calories through “mindless munching.”
Emotional eating may also be a factor where we eat to soothe, calm, numb and relax from our problems our pain. It’s a self-soothing technique where we self-medicate, using food as our drug of choice. Any of these food behaviors not only cause weight gain, but also can have us struggling with maintaining a healthy weight for years.
Just as we get bored with a fitness routine, if your body isn’t challenged it gets bored too. Are you doing the same routine consistently and has it gotten easier over time? If so, it’s time to shake things up and create some “muscle confusion.” That could mean varying your pace or throwing in some intervals or bursts of intense plyometric movements to dramatically increase the intensity for a short period of time. It can also mean using weights, resistance bands, machines, trying an organized sport, a new fitness class, DVD or different route to run.
Many of us have also become consistent with our cardio routines but neglect to do anything to build muscle. Building muscle is critical to any fitness plan because it fires up our metabolism, gives us a fit, toned body as well as improving our quality of life by simply making every day tasks easier to perform.
With fitness, it’s also important to look at the rest of your day. Sure, you may be getting in that workout, but are you sitting behind a desk for the rest of the day? While the workout may be great, it can’t make up for a lack of movement once your workout is through.
I invite you to closely monitor how your eating and exercise habits may be slowing down your progress. Once you make a few changes in those areas, get ready for the next installment, where you’ll see how factors like sleep, stress and more can speed up or slow down how quickly and effectively you create the lean, toned, energetic and healthy body you’re working so hard to achieve!