Many eating and exercise plans focus on weighing yourself constantly and counting calories. I find that is not necessary and can even be counterproductive when trying to lose weight.
Counting calories (keeping a food diary) can cause someone to become very focused on what they are eating and helps them to keep track of what they have eaten all day long. It is a great way to prevent mindless eating. It is very easy to snack on a few things here and there and not notice how they build up over time to contribute to weight gain.
Counting calories can cause someone to become too focused on what they eat though. I believe that if you watch what you eat most of the time, you don’t have to watch it the rest of the time.
If you eat at home 80% of the time, or you eat at home 40% of the time and pack food from home 40% of the time, then you can control 80% of the food you are eating. With a little knowledge you can make sure that the food you pack from home is something that you like, it is something healthy (because you know everything that was put in it) and it will generally be less expensive than what you would pay in a restaurant.
This 80% can consist of 4 out of 5 breakfasts during the week, 4 out of 5 lunches during the week, and 3 out of 5 dinners during the week. During the weekend it is a little harder to watch what you eat, but as long as you are watching what you eat throughout the week, it’ll give you the lee-way to eat less healthy during the weekend. Eating less healthy during the weekend will affect you less if you are eating healthy and exercising throughout the week.
This is just one strategy that you can employ to eat healthy. It is not necessary to eat healthy all of the time. As a matter of fact, I believe that it is impossible to eat healthy all of the time. If you try to, you will crack and fall off of the wagon. But as long as you are eating healthy most of the time, it is not necessary to count calories.
In the Pain Free Lifestyle program I worked in 1 day a week where you don’t want to watch what you eat. For that 1 day out of the week you can eat whatever you want to, guilt free. It will be guilt free because you will have earned it. You will have earned it by eating right and exercising throughout the week. So when the weekend comes around you don’t have to be as hyper-vigilant about what you eat as you would otherwise.
The same goes for watching the scale. The scale can be a very intimidating thing to many people, especially after the holidays. According to a UK survey some women would rather be dumped by a boyfriend or be seen naked by a colleague then weigh themselves after the holidays. This is a shame. It doesn’t have to be like that, if you watch what you eat 80% of the time, and you exercise consistently. Consistent exercise and eating right most of the time will prevent you from putting on more weight during heavy periods like the holidays or vacations.
Some people get too focused on the scale and how much they weigh. Your weight does not determine how healthy you are or how good you feel. If you take someone who is overweight but exercises consistently compared with someone who is skinny and doesn’t exercise at all, the overweight person will be healthier and probably feel better overall. Just because someone is skinny doesn’t mean that they are healthy or they are in good shape or that they feel good.
I wrote an article about a study that showed how if someone is overweight, but exercising consistently, they will not have the biological and metabolic markers that someone who is overweight and unhealthy will have. The consistent exerciser, no matter their weight, will have lower risks for diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and so on.
Someone who is skinny may look healthy, but if they are not exercising they will be unhealthy and probably in some degree of pain on a regular basis. Granted they will have less stress on their joints from the less weight, but they will still have joint issues and metabolic issues as they age. They may look healthier because they are thin, but they will be susceptible to the same health issues as someone who is overweight and not exercising or watching what they eat.
Those who have been thin all of their lives may have been able to eat sweets all of the time when they were younger and never gain any weight from it. They never had to exercise to stay thin. If they gained any weight they could just starve themselves for a week and go back to their normal weight. It is easy for them to still eat the same way when they were younger, but it will catch up with them as they age. This will set them up for getting diabetes as they grow older. It will set them up for gaining weight as they age. They will be susceptible to getting heart disease and high blood pressure if they aren’t careful and exercising.
Everyone has to exercise, there is no way around it. If you exercise consistently, then you won’t be susceptible to gaining weight over the holidays, and you won’t gain the 1 to 2 pounds per year that most people gain. Or if you do gain any weight, you are exercising so it will come off very quickly. Exercising consistently and eating right most of the time gives you some lee-way to eat a little more during the holidays or other of celebration.
Exercise along with eating right most of the time gives you lee-way to eat badly when you want to and not have to pay for it for the next 20 years. It will prevent weight gain. You may not lose much weight when you exercise, but you certainly won’t gain any more.
You can gain weight when you begin a new exercise routine because you will be replacing fat with muscle. It can be discouraging to not lose weight, or actually even gain weight, when you start on a new exercise routine. This is due to muscle weighing more than fat. As you replace fat with muscle through consistent exercise, you will reshape your body.
During the first 6 months to a year of working with a new exercise routine, you clothes will start to fit you differently. You will reshape your body. This is why it is not important to weigh yourself all of the time.
Your weight will fluctuate on a daily basis. It will depend on what you ate for the past few weeks. Your weight can mirror what you ate 2 weeks ago rather than what you ate yesterday. If you eat something really salty then you will retain water and be a little heavier the next day. If you haven’t moved your bowls in a day or two you will weigh a few pounds more than you would otherwise.
Your weight is an arbitrary number. It matters more whether you are eating right and exercising consistently. It is more important to eat right most of the time and exercise consistently than it is to be a certain ideal weight. Even if you aren’t an ideal weight (and who is?), if you are exercising consistently and eating right, you will feel better, have less overall pain, be more active, and not have the signs and symptoms associated with being overweight (such as: high blood pressure, hear t disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, greater susceptibility to arthritis and joint pain).
If you are exercising consistently and watching what you eat most of time, you will not have to worry about putting on more weight and becoming obese. You may not ever become the ripped Adonis that society tells us everyone should be, but you will look and feel better, and be healthier.
It is not necessary to spend all of your free time obsessing over how much you weigh, what you are eating, and what exercise you should or should not be doing. Eating right and consistent exercise is the best and most effective way to lose weight and to manage pain. Making it easy and doable with small, easy to incorporate changes into your lifestyle without obsessing over the details is the Pain Free Way.