NOTE: Please check with your doctor, therapist, life coach, Wiccan priestess or congressional representative before listening to anything I say.
Did you miss Part I? Don’t worry! You can read it by clicking this here button! BUTTON.
You know what I hate? Cheez-Its. I really hate Cheez-Its. Little squares of color not found in nature that taste like flavored floor tiles. Still, I have gorged myself on handfuls of Cheez-Its, barely chewing them. Just inhaling them like they were pot smoke. Now that’s what I call a Bad Habit. Both the Cheez-Its and the pot. Well, not necessarily the pot. But smoking pot can certainly lead to inhaling handfuls of Cheez-Its. So consider that.
Breaking Bad Habits is the key to this part of the Change-Your-Life Eating Plan. We rarely think of eating as a habit, but that’s what it is – a rote part of daily living that becomes so routine we hardly think about it. And therein lies the problem – people who “diet” try very hard not to think about food, when actually they should be thinking about it all the time, and making more conscious decisions about what they eat.
When I first starting training with Son of Sam, I dropped a few pounds. Very few – like three or four – and gained them back soon afterwards. Then I started teaching fitness classes. I was working out – hard – every day. With the amount of time I exercised, I should have been looking like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. But I wasn’t. I was in good shape, but I weighed too much – both for my own comfort, and for my health.
I was a pretty decent eater. Oatmeal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, healthy dinner. For snacks, I ate yogurt. Pretzels. Smoothies. Cereal. Cheese and crackers. Wine.
Wine. Wine. Whoops!
I didn’t feel great, though. And I wasn’t happy with how I looked, either. Now, don’t go all Gloria Steinem on me – There’s nothing wrong with a little padding on the hip bones. But all of the time, I see overweight women at the gym who are sweating like ice cold beers in July, day after day, and they’re frustrated because they’re not losing weight.
Here’s what those women don’t want to hear: no matter how much you exercise, what you weigh is about 80 percent related to how you eat. That is a nonscientific number that I just made up, but you get the gist. You can do three hours on the elliptical every day, but if you’re consuming 3,000 empty calories for the rest of your waking hours, you’re not going to change that scale, nor are you going to feel very well. That really is based on science: calories in, and calories out. If there’s not a deficit there, your bulk ain’t budging.
So let’s talk about bad habits.
Bad Habit #1 – Skipping Meals
Here’s an exception to the calories in/calories out rule: If you don’t eat enough, your body will think you’re starving it to death and hold on to every fat cell it has. For real! Isn’t it cool how our bodies can think?
Then your metabolism gets all whack and you’re screwed. So you absolutely must eat meals, and you must snack – not only for energy, but also to give you something to anticipate. I eat Emerald Cocoa Roast Almonds nearly every day after my morning workout. I adore them. I drive home from the gym thinking about them. They’re like a hot boyfriend I’m allowed to have.
Bad Habit #2 – Grazing on kid stuff
When my kids get home from school, I open their lunch boxes to see what’s left. The Pterodactyl rarely eats all of his PB&J, and I LOVE PB&J, especially when it’s all squished together by his dirty little fingers. I know, I know. And I can’t figure out why my kids are so weird. Anyway, I had to start opening their lunch boxes and directly dumping them into the trash so I wouldn’t scavenge.
Same goes for their leftover snacks. I realize it takes a really superhuman effort not to eat the rest of an Oreo or grab the last handful of chips. So here’s what I did – I stopped buying that shit! Because it’s all about me! But also because that crap isn’t good for them anyway. I don’t forbid them from eating it, and believe me, there are plenty of opportunities for them to gorge on donuts and Doritos and sugar-crusted fruit rollups. Their favorite place to go is the neighborhood convenience store. I actually know the clerk’s name! But we don’t have junk food at home. As a result, I’m not too worried about how much they eat. The Pterodactyl can have whatever he wants after school – and it’s usually ham, cottage cheese and cashews. So what? The Diva has noodles, just like she had for breakfast. I have no idea what the Tyrant eats, but I haven’t found a stick of butter in her closet for quite some time, so that’s progress.
In short, rid the house of tempting stuff. When you do splurge on something for the kids, buy something you don’t like. My kids love vanilla ice cream, for example. I’m a heath bar crunch kind of gal. So guess what I never buy?
Bad Habit #3 – Grains
Bread. Rice. Chips. Pasta. Muffins. Bagels. Shall I go on? Okay. Cereal. Pretzels. Crackers. Waffles.
Don’t panic! All is not lost! You can still sink your teeth into an occasional sandwich. But you absolutely must cut back on grains. Now you might be thinking this sounds like a low-carbohydrate diet. But it’s not – because guess what? VEGETABLES ARE CARBOHYDRATES! And so are fruits! Isn’t that shocking? And you can eat spinach and broccoli and carrots and apples ALL DAY LONG! But if you do, make sure you’re always close to a bathroom.
Here’s my general rule: I don’t eat grains after 2 pm.
Bad Habit #4 – Pain Avoidance
What’s the worst pain you ever felt? For me it was when the Diva dropped a metal barstool on my foot and broke my two big toes. I would have been relieved if someone had cut off my leg at that moment. For many of you, maybe it was childbirth. I can’t imagine pushing a baby out of your vagina is particularly fun, although I’ve heard that some women have orgasms during delivery. Good for you! But that seems like an extreme way to seek pleasure.
Our tolerance for pain varies, but we can all put up with a little discomfort. So why are we so frightened of hunger pangs? If you eat a bowl of oatmeal or a couple of eggs, and feel like you’re hungry an hour later, JUST TELL YOUR STOMACH TO SHUT THE FUCK UP. It’s being a weenie. Drink a glass of water. If you feel really desperate, drink some skim milk. Wait an hour, and eat a snack.
Okay, that’s all. Next installment, we’ll talk food specifics. In the meantime, stay away from french fries, marshmallows, Cheetos and any kind of bar drink containing more than one type of alcohol. That last item is just to prevent unseemly behavior.