Healthy Living Paradoxes


One of the biggest challenges I face in maintaining weight loss momentum is adhering to the practices of delayed gratification.  It’s my bratty, spoiled inner child throwing a tantrum, saying, “I don’t WANT to work out. I want to lay on the couch and watch HGTV.”  When I’m tired and feeling lazy, I tell myself I’m entitled to just about anything I want, which translates to a couple drinks, chocolate and skipping my workout.

But choosing the “adult” option is better for me in so many ways; and, as I’ve learned, I often feel about a million times better when I ignore the mental hissy fit. I’ve encountered a few paradoxical observations I thought I’d share:

Paradox #1: Vegetables are more filling than high-calorie junk food. In fact, junk just makes you hungrier.

This seems insane. How can that pile of broccoli fill me up and satisfy me more than 800 calories of Oreos? Crazy as it seems, I’ve found myself coming to this conclusion time and time again after making less-than-ideal food decisions. Exhibit A: Today at work I attended an educational webinar during lunch. Pizza was served. I had a small slice of cheese and a small slice of veggie. Ten minutes later, my stomach was grumbling as if I hadn’t eaten a thing. My mind was racing during the meeting as I seriously considered leaving to get something else to eat. I came back to my desk and made myself  a snack: some baby carrots and dried apples, about 70 calories total.

Within 15 minutes, my blood sugar stabilized and I felt fine. The insane, impossible-to-control hunger pangs disappeared. How did that pizza do more harm than good? For one thing, I believe I’m particularly sensitive to blood sugar spikes associated with carb intake. I basically can’t eat a bagel without feeling like I’ll fall asleep sitting up. Yet another paradox! For me, some food gives energy (lean protein, low-fat cheese in moderation, nuts, veggies, fruit) and other foods sap me of every drop of motivation and leave me feeling hungrier than before (pretty much any simple, non-whole grain carb or processed food).

Paradox #2: Exercise gives you more energy than being lazy.

A classic “Bad Sunday” for me: I sleep in until 10 or 11, drag myself out of bed, make breakfast, snack and nap on and off all day while never getting dressed or leaving the house, then proceed to get extremely anxious and emotional about the coming work week by dinner time. A classic “Good Sunday”: Sleep in until 10 at the latest, make coffee and breakfast, go to the gym, take Sydney for a walk, run errands and do some grocery shopping, make a delicious, healthy dinner, plan meals for the week, go to bed early feeling refreshed and prepared. See the difference? You would think the first scenario, in which I lounge all day, would be more relaxing and rejuvenating. But I need endorphins to regulate my mood and faciliate a positive outlook. Exercise does wonders for my depression and regulates my sleep. In short–it gives off much more energy than it takes.

Paradox #3: Water intake is about so much more than actual thirst.

I’m a pretty good water drinker, but I often forget to drink the suggested requirements. I shudder to think of my high school-era water habits; I’d frequently drink two bottles of Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi and call it a day. The horror!

Now I try to remember that even if I’m not actually thristy at the moment, I should at least have water handy to occasionally sip. I developed a little tracking system I use at work. On Monday, I make a little chart on a Post-It of  “water bubbles.” Every time I drink a 16-ounce cup of water, I fill in a bubble. This combines two of my favorite things: Checking things off a list and Post-Its.

What do you think? Have you experienced any of your own healthy living paradoxes?


5 responses »

  1. I 100% agree about working out giving you energy. People I know keep saying that they are too tired to workout. I keep telling them if they workout they won’t be so tired. Even when I’m tired, I come home, put on my workout clothes and at least get started. Within 5-10 minutes, my energy level goes up and before I know it, I’m giving it my 120%. Afterwards, I’m no longer tired and can do the things I thought I was going to put off.

    I also agree about the water. I have a 20 oz refillable bottle that stays on my desk. I also have a few at home. I try to drink 80 ounces or so a day. I drink 20 in the morning before I leave for work and 10 at work before I get my coffee. I already know I’ll drink 20 with my workout, so that just least 30 during meals, when I am thirsty, etc. to squeeze in quite easily. Sounds like you have a good systems as well!

    • Thanks for reading! Totally agree with you. Sounds like you have a great routine for water intake and exercise. I love when healthy habits become ingrained in your daily schedule–it takes so much of the “work” out of it! 🙂

  2. Your descriptions of ‘Good/Bad Sundays” struck a chord with me. Even if I’ve had a poor or so-so night’s sleep on Saturday — and this is often the case, because although I DVR “Saturday Night :Live,” I invariably end up sitting on my loveseat and watching it anyway — I nearly always have a more positive and successful Sunday if I drag myself out of bed, throw myself together and go to church, where I get a huge rush singing with the choir, soaking in a thoughtful and sometimes provocative sermon, partaking in communion and visiting with people. In starting my Sundays in this way, I find I make better choices throughout the day. I am trying to take aspects of my Sunday routine into the rest of my week. I feel this would not only help lift my chronic depression and anxiety, but my entire life.

  3. Hi Laur! Quick question, how many dots of water should one aim for a day. I, for some reason, thought filling up my 22 oz water bottle twice wasn’t too bad until I did the math on your post it! Enlighten me please 🙂 Love reading your blog – keep up the good work!

    • Thanks for reading, Shan! I believe minimum water consumption requirements are around 64 ounces a day, but I feel a lot better when I drink more like 100 ounces. I think thirst is mistaken for hunger really frequently. We recently got a Soda Stream machine, so I usually try to drink a cup of flavored seltzer before having a snack. If I’m still hungry after the water, then I’ll eat.

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