“You may ask yourself: Well, how did I get here?”
– David Byrne of Talking Heads

Identifying your weight gain issues may help your journey toward a healthier future. Self-examination is harder than it sounds. Here’s a little help.

Self-Examination

We likely have more than one reason our figure betrayed us. We expected it to keep its healthy figure despite the pitfalls we experienced or the trials we endured. Does it go back to childhood or was it habits that started in college, when we left home and went from home-cooked meals to fast food substitutes? A desk job can feel exhausting. A boss who brings in doughnuts every Friday, depositing them right near your desk? Awful. Then there’s late night snacks or the pizza craving that arises every Friday. You know, the one that attacks you and is stronger than a pregnant woman’s hunger. Were there just days when you didn’t care about your weight? Stress and anger can lay havoc on our willpower.

We often don’t notice subtle changes. We ‘forget’ how many times we have given in to our craving over the last few weeks. We remember exercising ‘just the other day’ when it was really eight days ago. I don’t think the majority of us are going to sit down and write out our thoughts and the path that led to our weight issues. It is a great idea. A lot of people suggest it. But, I think many of us will say, “Look. I’ll workout for an hour every day. But, I’m not going to sit down and write a journal about how I got fat in the first place.”

You can, however, focus a bit on your shortcomings. It may not feel valuable to identify your past issues. Someone may have issues that go back to childhood. When they were sad or angry, candy was the answer. For others, it is mindless, constant snacking in front of the television. For many, there is nothing healthy to eat at home, except for that frozen organic turkey breast. But, it isn’t defrosted and it would be four hours until it would be ready to eat. Then we find a bag of potato chips. Identifying how you got overweight can help you find better ways to resolve or cope with those weaknesses.

What’s the Advice?

Let’s examine some common advice and find some application or value in them. Everyone can create good habits. With practice and planning, you can overcome the pitfalls that may plague you.

“Eat what you are craving. Sit down and enjoy it.” In other words, give in rather than fight it for hours or days. Then the craving will allegedly disappear. This is poor advice. Some suggest the compromise either where you buy one slice of pizza or buy a bag of those miniature 100 calorie sized portions. It would be a good start. I tend to eat several bags. Try to think, how long is this craving going to last? Hours or days? Is there a healthier alternate? To be honest, I do keep a little chocolate at home. But, I often make hot chocolate with cocoa powder and skim milk without any sugar or just half a teaspoon. The alternate is a bag of M&Ms that I tell myself, “I will stop halfway.” I also read ‘palm oil, corn syrup’ on the label and stop myself from buying it.

“Eat broccoli every time you crave junk.” Great advice. Sounds like something Mom would say. Grandma would at least bake you a pie. And maybe the smell of warm apples with cinnamon was more satisfying than candy or fries. You can microwave an apple with cinnamon. It smells glorious and doesn’t have the fat and sugar trappings of store bought pie. Need crunch? Most pretzels are fat free or low fat. Try mustard dip instead of cheese sauce. I make not-fat Biscotti (3 eggs or just two eggs and a tablespoon of yogurt). They have sugar, but I sometimes need that crunch. Add almond flavor, anise, or gingerbread spices and you have a satisfying occasional treat. Or eat broccoli.

“Escape.” Dr. Oz suggests you turn off the television or computer and go outside. Breath deep. Relax or jog. Get out of the kitchen for a few minutes and occupy yourself with something. Clean your car. Or clean mine? Someone said my car looks like a homeless person lives in it.

Identify Bad Habits. Exercise during commercials instead of hunting for snacks. What do you do when you first walk in the door from work? Do you have healthy snacks at home? Air popped popcorn? There’s a lot of frozen smoothie fruits with little bits of kale. I make a frozen cherry shake with cinnamon and cocoa powder. Yum. If evil lurks in your cabinet, have a cabinet to keep your spouse’s or kid’s Pop-tarts, nacho chips, etc. This is a very difficult situation to deal with. But, you have to allow others in your family to live outside of your diet. The main problem is that you know it is there when you are depressed or stressed. Believe it or not, I know someone who put a lock on the candy cabinet.

Mindless eating advice: sit at the table, not in front of television, computer, or while updating your Facebook, Instagram, etc. Turn the phone off. Eat on a plate, not out of the container.

‘Fight your craving’ advice: one site says you should hold and melt an ice cube in your hand. Another says to drink a cup of black tea. Try massaging yourself. How about watching a Zwift race on YouTube? I tried some ginger. It is dried with a good bit of sugar. But it has a bold flavor that can knock out some hunger pains. Kiwi is a great snack. Try it with a dab of yogurt. Some people find if they concentrate on a puzzle that it helps get their mind away from demanding junk food. It is often our mind or heart steering us wrong, and not our true hunger driving us to eat.

I found one app that gives you reminders to avoid your nemesis snack foods, share accomplishments on social media, and keep track of your eating habits. It is called CraveMate, costs 99 cents and has good reviews. If it sounds like it may fit your needs, give it a look. It only costs the price of a small candy bar.

Let me know what works for you. You can always find me on Facebook at our ZwiftOff group. You’ll see our next scheduled group ride for burning fat off with Zwift. Come on and join us!