Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Breaking the habit of nibbling and snacking to prevent weight gain

Prior to my vacation trip I had gained three pounds when I increased my calories to slowly transition to maintenance. That was incredibly frustrating because I was eating ~1800 calories and burning on average ~2200 daily so I shouldn't have gained anything. But I was. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. It just didn't make any sense.

Now that I've lost everything I had gained on vacation while doing pretty much the same thing as when I gained those three pounds pre-vacation, I still don't know what caused that initial gain. My calorie intake is generally about the same (at least what I've counted). I exercise just as much, except that I've switched to biking over running because I like it better. I have added body-weight exercises in the last week or so because I want to tone up.

Maybe those slight changes have been the key to losing/maintaining weight? I really don't know.

The one major difference I did notice, though, was that I was snacking on things a lot beforehand. Maybe that increased my calorie intake by 100-200 calories and thus led to weight-gain? I'm not convinced because even if it did, the gain shouldn't have been so drastic (3 pounds in 10 days), which makes me think my scale was off, I had water weight, or my hormones were messing with the numbers.

Regardless of the reasons behind the gain, I decided I needed to break my snacking and nibbling habit because it will eventually lead to legitimate, long-term weight gain. To do that, I've been making it a point to eat only when sitting down. This not only slows down my eating so I'm not wolfing everything down, but it also prevents me from "trying" my meal excessively during its preparation.

Now, when I go into the kitchen to prepare a meal, I no longer "try" my food multiple times. Usually all the trials are completely unnecessary for the quality of the food and I end up full before the meal is even fully prepared. Making this change to only eat while sitting down has prevented me from tasting my food excessively and has left room in my stomach to enjoy the meal I just spent 30 minutes making.

Additionally, a big part of feeling full is mental for me. If I feel like my meal is a diet food or if I'm simply scavenging for food, I will feel hungry regardless of how many calories (good or bad) I consume. I need to have a meal in order to feel satiated, and part of the thing that makes something a meal in my mind is the need to sit down to eat it.

Since it's become clear to me that my body is very efficient at running itself (stupid slow metabolism) and I'm not willing nor will I have the time to exercise excessively to burn lots of calories, I need to learn to be happy with a lower daily calorie intake. Feeling happy is synonymous with not feeling deprived/hungry. So this new habit of sitting down for a meal instead of eating in a hurry or while standing up will definitely help with that.

Overall, I'm trying to transition from calorie restriction to developing good lifelong habits. Since I made sure to make my weight-loss sustainable by learning to eat better and all that, I've picked up a bunch of good habits along the way. But there are still a few more I need to incorporate to make my weight-loss more permanent and make maintenance a bit easier. Sitting down to eat is one step towards that very lofty goal.

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