When I was in my late teens and early 20's, I used to marvel at how easy it was to lose weight. I remember eating sensibility Monday to Thursday, having a weekly weigh-in and then heading to the local fish and chip shop to get a "treat" and wash it down with a bottle of wine. Saturday and Sunday I was very social so it normally involved lots of food and drink. Come Monday I was back to eating well and so the cycle continued. Unbelievably I still managed to lose 1-2lbs a week consistently!
That didn't last long.
Fast forward to my mid 20's and my metabolism soon made sure I knew it wasn't as efficient. Despite making what I thought to be "good choices" and exercising regularly, my weight stabilised and eventually started to creep up. At this point I was taking part in circuit training classes, going to the gym and running at weekends. I had also I signed up to do my first Moonwalk which was a 26.2 mile walk round London and I was training for that, so why wasn't the fat melting away as I thought it would?
I was getting it all wrong.
I was wrongly assuming that because I was doing all this exercise I could eat what I wanted, but without tracking what was going in to my body. I was running in the mornings for about 30 minutes, then getting into work and having a hot chocolate and a bacon roll. I am no mathematician but I am pretty sure that running for 30 minutes would not burn off all those calories. Lunch would be spent at the local pub where it would be a glass of wine, some bread based lunch and a slow, stuffed walk back to the office where I would sit for 3 hours. On a good day I would head to circuit training that evening, do an hour’s worth of intense exercise and then on the way home pick up a KFC and a bottle of wine.
Bye bye calories I have just earned.
For the long walks I was in training for I would take sugary protein bars and energy drinks, then on my return "top up" my calories with a big bowl of pasta with a sugary sauce and mopped up with more bread. I normally washed that, and snacks down with a bottle of wine. All after a maximum of 90 minutes walking. There were days of course that I was eating and not exercising at all. I did well to MAINTAIN my weight let alone gain it, but at least I was fit eh?
This continued and my weight was up and down for a long time. Excessively up during both pregnancies then comfortably down pre wedding. I was a yoyo dieter galore and it was playing havoc with my body and mind. Luckily I was able to have my “light bulb” moment for things to turn around for me, but this wasn't always the case.
Eat to your needs
Think about how many calories you NEED for the day. If you wake up, get in the car, sit in the office, work through your lunch, drive home and then sit in front of the telly you are burning very little active calories. Yes your body will be burning its base line calories, but bear this in mind before you reach for that sugary snack or second helping of dinner. Do you NEED it? Of course if you are going to the gym, running around after the kids all day and pottering around doing housework then you calorie needs will be different. THINK about your levels of activity before you eat in excess.
They are there LURKING in everything we do. They are the sugar and milk in tea, the spoonful of beans from our kids’ dinner plates, the handful of crisps from a bowl on the side, the glass of wine with dinner. These are the calories that are forgotten about as they are not part of a meal, or a planned snack. If you don’t think you have any secret calories try keeping an honest food diary for a week, you will soon see them!
So when you next reach for the extra snack or a second helping, ask yourself if you really NEED those calories that day.