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Tackling temptation and eating healthy

When you have zero willpower and delicious treats surround you, how do you stay on the healthy track?

A display case shows delicious-looking pastries. I'll have one of each, please.
Credit: Google Images

I have zero willpower. Never had it, maybe never will.

I pass Burger King, Wendy's, Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks and countless other restaurants every day. In our office building, there's a deli and a chocolate cafe — where you get a free piece of chocolate with every coffee.

Last week, there was red velvet cake in the office. Not only did I manage not to eat the whole thing, I didn't even have a bite.

I feel like Alice in Wonderland, and everything around me says, "Eat me." So how do I keep eating healthy without cheating?

The answer appears not just to be eating the right things, but making sure that I'm eating enough.

The first few days of last week, I was hungry all the time. When I looked back at my food diary on MyFitnessPal.com, it turned out I was only eating about 800 calories a day — and exercising, too. I should be in the 1,200 to 1,400 range, near the high end on the days I work out. I was so concerned about eating too much that I went too far in the other direction, and could have sparked late-day binges.

Alanna Cabrero, nutrition program director at New York Health and Racquet Club, recommends that I "check in" with myself around the middle of the day. By then, I should have already had the bulk of my calories.

"Protein is the most satiating food, so every meal and snack should have protein," Alanna told me. "Planning is key. Even though you don't want to eat when you are not hungry, you don't want to go more than three or four hours without eating either."

And not all protein sources are the same. Most of us know about animal sources like fish, poultry, eggs, meat and dairy products — they're considered "complete proteins," since they have all nine of the essential amino acids that our bodies don't naturally produce.

But there are also "complimentary proteins" from vegetable sources like beans, rice, pasta, cereals and breads, which have some of those amino acids. Soybeans, quinoa and hemp seeds are the exception — they contain all nine. I've been adding chia seeds (which contain two grams of protein per tablespoon) to yogurt and smoothies, and except for an extra crunch, I don't even taste them.

When I feel surrounded by temptation, sometimes it can help by running away... sort of. Alanna says there are non-food things I can do to distract myself, such as taking a short walk or having tea with a friend or co-worker. Encouraging my co-workers to share healthier snacks around the office might help, too — not as yummy as cookies and chips, but better for all of us.

Surprisingly enough, I'm less hungry after working out — which I had expected would make me ravenous. I guess a lot of it has to do with retraining not just my body (including my stomach), but also my mind.



Progress Report


I'm finally under 200 pounds for more than a day or two, and determined to stay there.

Starting Stats (as of Jan. 29)
Weight: 209.5 pounds
Body Mass Index (BMI): 36
Chest: 48 inches
Waist: 41 inches
Hips: 48.5 inches

Current Stats (as of Feb. 25)
Weight: 198.5 pounds (11 pounds lost)
BMI: 34 (2 points lower)
Chest: 44.13 inches (nearly 4 inches smaller
Waist 39.75 inches (finally inching down)
Hips: 44 inches (4.5 inches smaller)

Amanda Art is Metro’s social media manager. Over the next few months, track her weight loss progress as she readies for her May 3 wedding. Follow Amanda on Twitter at @NYNewsgirl.

 

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