Over eating, we all do it. You know that feeling after Sunday lunch and you and your cousins are laying on the floor wondering how and why the hell you just did that to yourself?! Yeh, it’s uncomfortable, but did you know overeating isn’t always that extreme and in fact it is VERY easy to do.
You may have heard the saying “you can’t out train a bad diet” which is true, however if your idea of a bad diet is take-away, chocolate and deep-fried food, think again.
As most of us know, in order to lose weight, we must be eating in an overall calorie deficit, meaning we’re burning more calories than we consume in a day/ week. You can actually be doing ALL the things to try and eat healthy and lose weight and still not see any results and this is because it is very normal and easy for people to overestimate how active they are, and under estimate their food intake. But this is really frustrating so what can we do about it and what does this look like in reality?
Well, in the gym, burning 100 calories on average looks like this:
· 15 minutes of stair climbing
· 5-7 minutes of running (not jogging)
· 80 burpees
· 10 minutes of vigorous non-stop push ups
In food, 100 calories on average looks like this:
· 1 medium sized apple
· 1 mini fredo frog
· 1 tbsp peanut butter
· 1/3 avocado
· 15 almonds
You can see how, over eating by 100 calories per day is very easy to do. A bit of extra avocado here, a handful of almonds there and that’s before even taking into account the couple of vino’s you had on Friday and your ‘cheat’ meal you allow yourself on Sunday for being so ‘good’ all week. An average portion of chips from the fish and chip shop has 840 calories. That’s half a day’s worth of food for the average person trying to lose some weight. This means by the end of the week, you could be eating nearly an entire days worth of extra food.
So you see how easy it is, that despite your best efforts if you’re not seeing results, it’s likely you’re over eating. It’s very unlikely that your metabolism is broken or slow. If you’re eating in a calorie deficit, you will lose weight. Understanding calorie balance and the nutrient and caloric density of food will enable you to make the right choices for you and your goals. I recommend everyone, at some point in their wellness journey, track their calories using an app like My Fitness Pal (do NOT use the app to estimate how many calories you need as it's not accurate). Tracking your food takes the guess work out and gives you a really good understanding of the caloric density of food.
Some additional tips:
· Plan your meals and snacks, right down to your two dark squares of Lindt chocolate you have with a cup of tea after dinner. I find planning my treats and knowing when I’m going to have them eliminates excess snacking throughout other parts of the day.
· Monitor your portion sizes. I like using the fist (carbs), thumb (healthy fats), palm (protein) method for portioning my food and filling the rest of my plate with lots of veggies.
· Review your diet week to week and month to month, rather than day to day. This gives you a full picture of your food intake, rather than only parts of it.
· Review your upcoming social events and decide which ones you’re going to participate fully in (let your hair down!) and which ones you’re going to have a plan for. This might include eating a healthy meal before you go to avoid the platter trays or looking up a restaurant menu before you sit down so you know whether or not there will be healthy options for you (if not, you can usually throw a healthy meal together from the sides menu – I love doing that!).
I personally like to view exercise as a celebration of all the things my body is capable of and how GREAT it is possible to feel. I never think of it as a punishment for something I ate or to try and ‘offset’ the caloric balance. I have disassociated this for myself altogether. No longer do I think “it’s okay if I eat that because I worked out this morning” or “I’ll work this off later at the gym.” Exercise and food are two separate ways I go about living well and feeling my best.
It is also unrealistic to expect that 1 hour in the gym is going to offset all the sitting around and general inactivity we experience for the other 23 hours of the day. Studies show that those who live longest, happiest and free of disease around the world all have the commonality of being ‘nudged’ into incidental exercise every 20mins throughout their day. Whether this be walking up a hill or flight of stairs, digging a hole in the garden, walking to the store, carrying groceries etc. I have made a conscious effort to increase the amount of general ‘activity’ in my day by parking my car further away and walking to do my errands and always taking the stairs no matter where I am.
If you do happen to overeat, how you speak to yourself afterwards is important. I used to queue self -loathing almost immediately and really beat myself up or say ‘stuff it’ and continue the food fest for the rest of the day. However, what I’ve learnt is that obsessing over it, won’t change it. And punishing myself by skipping lunch will usually mean I overeat at dinner and am miserable throughout the day. If you do over eat or eat something you wish you hadn’t just remember, you wanted it in the moment so enjoy it, appreciate it and move on. Don’t write off the day or wait until the following day or Monday to start again. Make the very next meal you have a good one and get right on with it.
The other thing that I have learnt is, there are no good or bad foods. It’s just food and it is your diet as a whole that will either contribute to health or disease. You’re a walking representation of your daily habits. Nourish your body often and enjoy the treats occasionally. Move your body in a way that you LOVE and practice self-love and patience daily. Focus on falling in love with the process of taking care of yourself, and the results will take care of themselves.