Last year, when I first started focusing on getting in shape, I used to have a major fear of getting on the scales. I’m sure many of you will relate.
Every time I went to weigh myself I was filled with fear and doubt: “What if the scales don’t reflect my hard work?” and, “Surely it would be better just to continue not knowing my weight?”
I hated it. And I knew if I was going to keep up with my healthier lifestyle, I needed to make some changes.
In the past 6 months, I’ve cracked the code and figured out how to finally enjoy getting on the scales and measuring my progress. I’m still not where I want to be, but compared to where I used to be, I feel like the fittest man on the planet.
Here are my 5 favorite tips that will make jumping on the scales a little easier.
1. Replace snacks and desserts with healthy options
I have a sweet tooth and it’s been my downfall for many years. Popping to the shop at lunchtime would always result in me returning to my desk with a chocolate bar to get me through the afternoon.
I’m not alone in my love for snacks. In fact, over the past 30 years, snacking has become a bigger part of our daily routines. Research shows that snacking accounts for roughly 480 extra calories per day on average, while another study found that Americans went from eating an average 3.8 meals and snacks a day to 4.9 a day over the last three decades — a 29% increase. The average American now consumes about 2,375 calories per day, about a third more than in the ’70s.
Over the same 30 year period, portion sizes have increased by 12% but the real driver of our increased caloric intake is snacking – data suggests the amount of snacks we eat per day has almost doubled.
The right kind of snacks
There’s nothing wrong with snacking per se, as long as you focus on eating the right types of snacks and keep your other meals to a reasonable size. Heading off to get a chocolate bar every few hours won’t help your diet or weight goals in any way.
Replacing your unhealthy snacks with healthier alternatives can go a long way to help you lose weight and maintain a healthy diet. Here are some quick ways to improve your snacking habits:
Try a new fruit each week: Only a few months ago I discovered I loved passion fruit after setting out to try a new fruit each week. This can be a fun way to discover new foods you enjoy and start weeding out some of the more unhealthy, unnatural sugars in your diet.
Replace your desserts: Food cravings often are a result of habit and association–if you have always had something sweet after a meal, you do not feel closure unless you meet that need. So instead of cake or ice cream, you could try replacing your dessert with a fresh fruit salad.
Drop the soda: Soda and snacks are a dynamic duo—but not the good kind. A typical soda has 9 grams of sugar per 100 grams (that’s around 33 grams for each 12-ounce can). The AHA recommends that women should have no more than 25 grams of sugar and men should have no more than 38 grams of sugar per day. So no matter your gender, one can of soda is most, if not all, of your recommended daily sugar intake. Instead of a soda, try having a cup of tea or glass of water to accompany your meals and snacks.
2. Prepare your meals
When it gets to dinner time and I have no pre-prepared or planned meal, my diet goes downhill quickly. After hitting the gym in the morning and eating well during the work day, it’s amazing how a good day’s eating can be ruined in the 30-minute slot between 7-7.30pm.
One common mistake people make is not having healthy meals readily available. When we don’t have food prepared or healthy snack options, we tend to reach for items that may not support fitness goals.
Meal prep and planning has been a game changer for me, and as someone who doesn’t love cooking, it saves me time both in the kitchen and as I wander the supermarket aisles. According to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, spending time on preparing and cooking meals at home is linked with better dietary habits.
3. Keep track of calories
As Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured, gets managed.” This quote can apply to many areas of life, especially dieting and fitness. If you’re trying to improve on something you need to track the progress.
Many studies and research have found that keeping track of what you eat can help with long term successful weight management. It’s easy to kid yourself about how much you’re eating but writing it down makes it a bit harder.
When people record what they eat and how much they eat, they usually eat less and cut out more junk food, and lose weight as the result.
The simple act of recording your calorific intake, body weight, or activity levels is more important than how accurate you are or what method you use.
5 apps to track your calories:
Bonus: Connect whichever tracking apps you’re using with Addapp to receive personalized insights into your data.
4. Get more sleep
When it comes to weight loss, people often focus purely on diet and exercise and sleep is an afterthought. It shouldn’t be this way, though. Sleep really can affect your weight.
One large study on population found that people are more likely to be overweight if they sleep less at night. In a smaller, more controlled study scientists found that when people are allowed to sleep eight hours one night and then half that amount on another, they end up eating more on the days when they’ve had less sleep.
The link between sleep deprivation and calorie intake has recent been linked to brain activity after a lack of sleep. Researchers found that on the morning after sleepless nights, heavily caloric foods produced intense activity, whereas the more healthy food choices were less tempting.
If you want to lose weight and stick to your diet plan, then sleep should be seen as an integral part of your plan.
5. Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach
There’s some age-old diet advice that says: “You should never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.”
The theory behind this advice is quite simple: if you go shopping when you’re hungry you’re more likely to pick up higher calorie, higher fat foods. Many pieces of diet advice like this don’t hold up when they get tested in the real world, and some researchers at Cornell University recently decided to put this age-old diet maxim to the test.
The study was made up of two phases. During the first phase 68 men and women were brought into a lab on two separate days after having been told not to eat for five hours. Before they went sent out grocery shopping, half of the subjects were given a snack and half were left hungry – those who shopped while hungry picked the highest-calorie foods.
In the second phase, researchers followed 82 actual shoppers in a grocery store. They found that the people shopping at times they were most likely to be hungry purchased the higher calorie foods.
To maintain a healthy diet, ensure you don’t head to the grocery store or shopping center on an empty stomach. If you do, those high cal, moreish foods will be all the more tempting.
Bonus: Avoid getting overly hungry
Avoid skipping meals and going too long without food. It may seem like a good idea to hold out for as long as you can at the time, but inevitably when you do finally eat, you’ll be prone to overeating. Eat at regular mealtimes and drink plenty of low-calorie drinks in between meals to tide you over.
What are your tips?
Do you worry about getting on the scales? I certainly used to and the tips above have helped me a great deal. I still don’t see my weight as the be-all and end-all of my health and fitness efforts, but I no longer worry about jumping on the scales to measure my progress.
So how about you? Have you had any success with weight loss? Do you regularly weigh yourself as part of your health regime? What are your top diet tips?
Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!
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