We know losing weight and staying fit is a challenge for just about everyone. The cause of all the trouble really is the fact that our bodies and brains are optimized to live in a situation where meals are small, few, and far between. In such an environment, our biology only needs to drive us to seek out the richest foods we can find. Naturally, with such drives pumping away at every moment, we’re going to give in to temptation once in a while. To make things worse, we are also creatures of habit and tend to get stuck in familiar and comfortable patterns- and bad eating habits fall squarely into that category. But there are habits other than eating that also can lead to weight gain. As a weight loss clinic, we see it all; but for our patients, these habits can be hard to spot since not everyone necessarily relates them to their health. They have to do with when we eat, where we eat, and how we eat.
1. Zombie Eating
Eating in front of the television, eating in bed, eating for entertainment, and eating because everyone else is; are all dangerously unconscious ways to fill your tummy. All of these tend to involve snack foods, but that isn’t the worst part. The most damaging thing about zombie eating is that it tends to erode any discipline we have.
The Solution? Mindful eating!
The human mind/body combination is the most complex system known to science. If you think you can feel it in an optimal way without being aware of what you’re doing, then you might not be qualified. The way to eliminate zombie eating is to make a discipline out of taking your meals. Eat at the table exclusively, for a start. Turn your meals into rituals. This will add the all-important element of mindfulness that will transform your zombie eating habits into healthy eating habits.
2. Sleep Deprivation
The body performs protective and restorative functions at all times, but never so much or so well as during sleep. During deep REM sleep, your cell’s regenerative function is ratcheted up. Resources are directed toward resetting neurological abnormalities and pumping replacement materials into tissues that need healing. On top of that, being tired is like being drunk, it impairs your judgment, sensory acuity, and your willpower. All of this means that when you are under-rested, you do not metabolize your food as well.
The Solution? Sleep well!
Getting a good night’s sleep is a discipline all its own, and it can take a great deal of work and experimentation to get it right for some people. If you have a busy mind that keeps you awake at night, try meditation.
3. Eating in Bed
This really does fall under zombie eating, but it bears mentioning. Eating in bed is a rabbit hole of bad habits just waiting to be stumbled into. But the worst thing about it is, if you are laying down, you cannot digest properly. Your digestive track- not unlike your inner ear- works best when you are upright. You need your digestive fluids to settle in the largest portion of your stomach during ingestion- the bottom portion. Also, if you’re eating in bed, you’re probably watching TV- which means… dun DUN DUUUUN! zombie eating.
The Solution? Eat at the table!
We hate to be redundant, but the fact is that making this one thing into a habit will fix a lot of problems with your health.
4. Booze Clues
We’re all grownups here, right? Good. Maybe you’re doing everything else right- getting lots of exercises, eating lean foods at the right time, eating mindfully and sitting upright… Why then do you still have that unwelcome bit of poochiness around your belt line? If you’re this well behaved, there could be just the smallest iota of a possibility that you’re dropping your guard in some other area. It could be you’re partaking of the bending of the elbow without putting much thought into what’s in those beverages. The majority of body fat comes from your metabolism sequestering toxins from your vital organs to protect them- and alcohol is a major toxin.
The Solution? Drink sparingly!
Drink sparingly. When you do drink, consider skipping the beer and replacing it with wine. If spirits are your thing, consider vodka rather than bourbon. Did we mention, drinking sparingly?
5. Fitness Amnesty
Too many people believe that because they work out regularly, they don’t need to watch what they eat. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there are ways that working out and bad eating habits can conspire to make you gain even more weight. Putting on muscle makes you burn more fat, but it also boosts your appetite- making temptations stronger and more consequential. That means if you’re working out, your metabolism will take in even more fat from the things you eat.
The Solution? Make fitness a lifestyle-not an excuse!
Work as hard at being fit in the kitchen as you do at the gym. Think of it this way, you don’t pour cereal on the floor just because you clean your house regularly. Remember, workouts are not an excuse for pig-outs.