Now that we’ve finished digesting our Thanksgiving Day food binges, we may be looking back on the copious amounts of delicious food with more than a little regret. If you’re like me, Thanksgiving and the holidays can be the most difficult time when you’re trying to lose weight. How do you even begin to estimate how much you’ve eaten? Counting calories is notoriously unreliable and it can be more than a bit obnoxious, especially during this time of year. I used to wonder if it was possible to leave the counting behind and still lose weight. Then I discovered some tips of what to focus on instead of counting calories. These 5 tips worked for me and I am sure they will work for you, too:
Think big picture: where are my calories coming from and what does my body need for fuel?
Is it mostly carbs, proteins, refined foods, fats? According to Harvard Health Publishing, diet is often a bigger factor than exercise when it comes to weight loss. Your diet is meant to fuel your body and provide you with the energy you need to conquer those sweat-pumping workouts without leaving you feeling drained. To conquer your breast sweat, check out Top Curves at pinkontop.com.
- Use visual cues for portion sizes
Instead of trying to guess how many calories you’ve eaten or measuring out your food (which can be very time-consuming, aren’t you busy enough?!), use visual cues to determine how much food you should be eating. Over-estimating the sizes of portions leads to underestimating how many calories we’re actually consuming. Before trying this tip myself, I was eating double and triple portions at every meal! The US National Library of Medicine and Weight Watchers of America have outlined a simple guide: use your fist to measure carbohydrates and vegetables, your palm for proteins, the end knuckle of your thumb for fats and cheese, and the tip of your pointer finger for oil and butter.
- Eat slowly and really listen to your body
Did you ever eat so quickly because you felt famished and then later you were stuffed and wished you didn’t eat that second helping or that sugary dessert? Take your time while you eat and savor the flavors of your meal. Enjoy some good company and conversation. I bet you’ll find yourself eating less than you normally would by giving your body the time it needs to acknowledge that it is full (30 minutes for your stomach to send a signal to your brain). You can also ask yourself if you are hungry or maybe just thirsty. Food contains a lot of water and our body will take that as a second resort if it’s feeling dehydrated. And remember, if you just had a tough workout where you found yourself sweating a lot and probably wanting to control breast sweat (easily fixed by using Top Curves), make sure you focus on replenishing the fluids you lost as well.
- Incorporate one dietary change and see how your body responds
Maybe give up refined sugars, try eating more veggies, or switch to whole grain products versus white flour. If you are counting calories, WHERE they come from is much more important than HOW MANY. 100 calories from a nutrient-dense food with a low glycemic index is processed completely differently than 100 calories from soda (sugars processed directly into fat). So often it can be easy to get caught up in a number and forget that our body doesn’t work on a number system. I’ve learned a lot from reading the updated dietary guidelines (US Dept of Health & Human Services 2015-2020).
- Track your activity instead of your calories
As I have said before, weight as a number is pretty arbitrary. Eating a well-balanced diet and focusing on maintaining good cardiovascular and muscular strength far outweigh the benefits of losing five pounds of water weight due to cutting calories. Anything that helps to get you to move and to sweat not only improves your actual fitness but boosts your endorphins, helps flush out toxins for more radiant skin, and can keep you from developing issues from living a sedentary lifestyle. And while the benefits of getting sweaty are great, dealing with the sweat in certain places (aka boob sweat) can be a real pain. Help stop boob sweat with Top Curves (pinkontop.com).
Try some of these tips if you’re struggling to lose weight. Understanding the role of nutrition, using visual cues, paying attention to your body’s signals and how it responds to diet changes, and incorporating more activity into your daily life are useful ways to lose weight without having to get out your calculator and your food log every time you sit down for a meal.