Sunday, December 4, 2011

'Worth it Calories' & Weight Loss

One of the things that my friends ask me about most when I tell them I'm into nutrition is one 'easy to follow tip' they can implement immediately when it comes to weight loss. It usually goes something like this: 

Friend: "So you're into nutrition, that's awesome. I know that it's important to eat healthy and work out, but what do you think is the most important thing when it comes to losing weight?"
Me: "Decide what are your 'worth it calories' and get rid of the rest."

My mom struggled with her weight when she was younger, lost weight and has maintained her current weight for something like 20+ years. She is truly an inspiration to people of all ages, for many reasons. She eats lots of fruits and vegetables and really loves salads. She passed on many of her wonderful eating habits to me. One of the things she always says is, 'this is worth the calories' or 'these aren't worth it'. Now I am by no means perfect. I struggle with eating healthy and working out just like everyone else. But one thing I truly believe in is this philosophy. What does this mean? Well, decide what it is that you really truly love, eat it, but cut out what you don't care about. This is crucial. 

My 'worth it' chocolate. Photo credit.

Did you know we make over 150 food choices a day? Nonfat, whole or soy? Fries or a salad on the side? Ranch or balsamic? Cookie or carrot sticks? Soup or calamari? Iced tea or Frappuccino? We make so many food choices a day that it is exhausting. You might be able to resist the inter-office birthday cake, but by the time you leave work, head home and gear up to make don't have the energy to not call for delivery. 

While planning is very important, I also believe you need to be real with yourself. I have some friends who say, 'I could never give up alcohol! That's why I can't diet'. Well, how 'bout you keep the alcohol but cut out the late-afternoon snack you don't care so much for? It's about compromising and making decisions that you can live with, not dieting

Amazing 8-grain 3-seed bread from The Greenmarket. 
Oftentimes we embark on a weight loss plan and find ourselves cutting out our favorite foods (I was not a fan of Atkins!), and before we know it, we've fallen off our diet and are feeling defeated. I think what works is keeping the things you really love. If you really do look at your diet, you might notice that there is a lot you eat that you don't care about. That mediocre pastry you had for breakfast cause you didn't have time to grab anything else? Ditch it! The stale bread you ate at a restaurant because you couldn't wait for your entree to arrive, skip it! These are changes we can live with. 

Did you know that your body metabolizes calories differently based on whether you 'feel bad' after you eat something? This blew my mind! I mean, literally, two women can eat the same thing, and if one ends her meal with self-loathing while the other says, 'mm! that was so worth it', the former will actually hold on to the calories more than the latter. So what does this mean? Eat what you like, enjoy it, and ditch the rest. 

What are my 'worth it' calories? Pasta, wine, really good bread and the occasional dark chocolate. I'm not a big desserts person and almost always prefer something salty. I try to snack on fruit if I want something sweet. But I do crave chocolate about once a month- and when I do, I eat the best I can find. This might sound pretentious or unrealistic and yes, it's something I still struggle with as well. But I'm trying. 

So tonight when I had a craving for chocolate, I imagined what kind it was exactly that I was craving (dark chocolate, with some sort of fruit and nuts) and I left my house, and went down to the market (Whole Foods, lucky me!) to get it. And I'll enjoy a few squares without feeling guilt. That to me is healthy eating I can get behind. 

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