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?