Break those bad habits
Before we get too far into this post, I want to pimp Guy’s Pizza in Chardon, Ohio, for what is the best pizza I’ve ever eaten in my entire life, and I’ve eaten….lots. Photo is relevant. I’ve eaten there a few times now on my weight loss journey, but I’ve obviously changed what I’ve ordered.
I’d like to spend a few minutes talking about slowly breaking those bad habits we ALL fall into in the course of an exhausting work week. I used to get home from work, thud down on the couch, flip on Netflix to a show I’d watched through four times (five now, for The West Wing), and then throw a frozen pizza in the over, and eat the entire thing.
This happened roughly 3-4 times a week, with the other nights being a burger and fries, or some other frozen and microwaved meal. It was, in a word, unhealthy. I got into the routine of eating at 5pm in college, and would, since then, find myself hungry at 8-9pm at night, and go for a snack.
I knew this was a habit I had to break, but I kept making terrible excuses:
I love to cook, I can deal with the extra calories if it lets me be creative.
I’m too tired to do anything more than this, or change up. I’m a creature of comfortable habits.
Work was too terrible today, I deserve a reward.
There isn’t enough there to be leftovers, might as well finish it.
This sent me into an obviously unhealthy spiral. I had to break it. Before I went big and started my current diet and exercise I had to STOP my downward spiral and set myself up for success.
I’ve talked about setting goals and rewards, but the easiest, fastest, and most effective way to make a life change without a huge commitment is changing when you eat by one hour. Seriously. If you’ve been eating right after work like me, push it back an hour. If you’ve been eating much later, push it forward.
When you’ve got too big a gap between meals, you start to get hungrier, crave more, and lose sense of portion control. If you’ve ever loaded up your plate when you were super hungry, and realized halfway through that you ordered WAY too much, you might benefit from moving up your meal a little bit, or grabbing some almonds or carrots as a snack. Experts seem to think we’re better off grazing than we are with three meals a day, but man, that’s inconvenient to keep track of.
Take that extra hour to go for a walk, do your laundry or chores, or really anything that keeps you active for a bit. Not only can you burn a few calories, but you’ll be able to avoid that late night craving by hopefully enough time to go to sleep. Just be sure not to skip breakfast.
I also suggest removing temptation from your house. When I got serious, I ended up filling a trashbag with poptarts, chips, cookies, and all those things that end up killing weight loss goals. You don’t have to do that, but start phasing in more healthy snack options. Carrots, almonds, raisins, etc. It’s possible to get the salty, crunchy, and spicy cravings from things that don’t cost 1500 calories. We’ve all seen that “If you’re craving this than eat this” chart. My go to “kinda weird till you get used to it” one is carrots sliced as chips, with salsa. Gives me the crunchy, spicy, nachos feel I’m craving for like, 15 calories. I can eat pounds of it.
I’ve found that just moving a craving father away gives me time to reconsider it. The impulse buy is a real, measurable thing. There’s a reason candy is right next to you when you check out, and that’s where 97% of people buy it, instead of in bulk in the candy isle. When you have time to have it sit in your cart you can realize it’s a terrible decision. Same thing with your house. If that bag of chips is right there, I keep eating them. But if I have a small amount in a bowl, and have to “go all the way” back to the kitchen I have time to realize I shouldn’t do it.
It’s the small things. Be considerate and take time when you’re planning your meals. You’ll figure it out.