You, yes you…you, who are busy reading this article while at the same time chomping on that oversized and yes, delicious, candy bar. Uh, what’s that you said? You “hear a cupcake in your calling your name” from your pantry? Uhm, perhaps you’ve got some habits that are making you, well… heavy. OK, OK, making you “fat.” I don’t like using that “F” word, but apparently social media does. “Fat Causing Habits.” “Habits and Fat.” “Habits that are Making you Fat.” We see those phrases throughout every social media outlet and we al know “fat” has become not a “nice” word. This article, however is not about “fat,” it’s about those nasty habits of yours that lead you to well, have a larger waistline. OK, OK, habits that make you “fat.” How about “overbese,” a combo of overweight and obese? OK OK, “fat.”
So what are the top 5 habits that will absolutely, guaranteed, cross my heart and hope to…you get the idea…drive up those numbers on your scale? I wrote my thesis on the psychological aspects of obesity many years ago and have digested and devoured (no pun intended) almost every piece of research and nearly every article of any importance (and many that weren’t that important) since then, and I believe these are the 5 best, overall things you can do that lead to weight gain.
1. Go on a DIEt. DIEts mean weight gain. Absolutely promise that if you’ll just go on a DIEt, and especially if you’ll go from DIEt to DIEt, you’ll gain weight. All of that restraint, restriction and limitation leads to only one thing—gaining weight. Oh it also leads to lack of motivation, reaching plateaus, giving up the things you so like, all leading to eating more. If you want to shrink your waistline, focus on healthy lifestyle eating, realistic changes that you enjoy, and filling your pantry with plant-based, whole foods.
2. Skip Meals, Especially Breakfast. That muffin top and belly fat will love this move so much, that it’ll assure weight gain by turning you into a gorger. Why? Because your brain, which requires glucose for regulation, won’t have enough energy to help you say “No.” Research backs this habit up—people who eat breakfast have lower BMI’s than those who don’t. People who don’t eat breakfast are about 4.5 times more likely to be obese. Skipping breakfast causes you to snack more during the day, without the ability to say “STOP.” Did I mention how skipping meals messes with your metabolism? In order to ensure weight loss, eat more! I know that sounds odd, but make sure you don’t miss that morning meal.
3. Pig out on the Weekend Weekend gorging will ensure those extra large jeans stay in use. It has to do with hormones that regulate appetite. Having a chowfest of saturated fats on the weekend blocks your leptin and that means you are likely to attack Monday like a person who has no appetite control—because you won’t. If you include lots of salty snacking over the weekend, you’ll find what salt does to you—it causes an increase in unaware, mindless eating. Add a few of libations, which cranks up the calorie count and depletes your motivation to control what you eat and likely lead to more impulsive eating. To steer away from weekend gluttony, you might try cutting back in small steps, don’t try to stop the weekend fun all at once. Munch on veggies instead of salty snacks, lay off the booze and see what a couple of weekends adding a little mindfulness does to your waistline.
4. Eat in Front of the TV. Mindless eating when you aren’t burning calories is a great way to gain a bad habit and some extra lbs. Research plugs the number of added calories at about 300 when you nosh in front of the TV. Other research tells us that you’ll eat 5-10 times more when you watch TV. If you just can’t miss an episode of Modern Family or Breaking Bad, try to stay active while you watch. Do squats, try sit-ups, stretch. Something that is more than nothing. And stock your pantry, fridge and freezer with healthy-only options. Rather than digging into an endless bag of Doritos that will leave you more hungry, snack on frozen berries and greek yogurt if you’re craving something sweet, or a cup or two of air pop popcorn with a little sea salt if you’re craving salty.
5. Stay Stressed. That’s right, you’ll thank me for this one if your goal is to lose some extra pounds. You see, stress, regulated by cortisol, affects your metabolism in a way that’ll increase your eating behavior, especially those super high calorie items that call your name—cupcakes, cookies, ice cream. Stress also plays strange games with your thinking, causing you to erroneously believe you “deserve” special treats and are deprived, or believe that healthy eating is not something you can do so why bother—that somehow your self-esteem is mixed up in eating more, feeling like a victim, telling yourself that you are starvvvved when you are barely hungry, and fooling you into unhealthy behaviors. Just in case you can’t fit into those jeans on Sunday morning, ask yourself if what you are THINKing is True, Helpful, Inspirational, Necessary and Kind. You may find that a change in thinking leads to healthier eating and better fitting jeans.
So there you have it, five, harmless-sounding habits that are actually keeping you from reaching your weight loss goals. Yes, habits are challenging to break, but your body and your mind will thank you if you commit today to making small changes to break these unhealthy habits one at a time. You can do this!
If you need a little help along the way, visit our Ask The Expert page to get advice and tips from PFC Fitness Camp Health Coaches, or consider coming to our award-winning weight loss camp!