I was scanning through my copy of The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps: 100 Easy Changes to Start Living a Healthier Lifestyle the other day, when a list of the top 10 reasons for weight gain and poor health in the book’s Introduction by Cheryl, Forberg, RD, nutritionist for The Biggest Loser, caught my eye.
As I scanned the list I realized that it could be used to describe me before Weight Watchers so I decided it was worth jotting down here as an important reminder of what to avoid if you want to live a happy, healthy and slim life.
Top 10 Reasons for Weight Gain and Poor Health
1. Not knowing how many calories your body needs or how many you are consuming each day. This was me, absolutely clueless about just how much I was eating. I had no idea that the bran muffin I ate lots of mornings had more calories than a Boston cream donut or that the large glass of orange juice had as many calories as a can of Coke. I thought I was being healthy. Now, I make it a point to know the PointsPlus values of what I eat before I eat it (most of the time).
2. Frequently skipping breakfast and other meals. I sometimes skipped breakfast and lunch and made up for it later in the day by snacking the whole time I was getting dinner ready and then eating a big plate (or two) of food, before enjoying a big bowl of ice cream in front of the television. These days my meals are much more regular.
3. Not eating enough fruits and vegetables. I often didn’t get in my 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day. Now I know there’s a direct correlation between meeting my daily fruit and vegetable quotient and maintaining my weight. The more I focus on eating vegetables the better I feel.
4. Not eating enough lean protein. I often opted for sugary carbs over protein back in my pre-Weight Watchers days. Now I know that lean protein is key for keeping me satisfied for hours.
5. Not eating enough whole grains. I sometimes ate whole wheat bread, but that was about it, so I was missing out on all the nutritional benefits of whole grains. These days I eat a lot more brown rice, oatmeal, barley, and bulgar and I do much of my baking with whole wheat flour.
6. Eating too much “white stuff”, including white flour, white pasta, white sugar, white rice and other simple overly refined carbohydrates. This certainly was me. Coming of age during the “Low Fat” years, I ate way too many bagels, breads, muffins, pasta, rice, crackers, cookies and starchy snacks. Now I limit my starch intake to 3-5 servings a day.
7. Not planning meals in advance and grabbing something on the go, eating while standing up, in the car or at your desk. As a student and then a young, married, hard-working professional, I ate most of my meals on the go, choosing whatever was quick and convenient. Lunches included greasy burgers and fries, big burritos and cheap Chinese buffets. For dinner, we ate lots of pizza and Chinese take-out.
When I did cook, I used lots of packaged highly processed convenience foods like Hamburger Helper and Stove Top Stuffing. Now I plan my meals out for 2 to 3 days at a time and keep a well-stocked pantry, fridge and freezer so there’s never an excuse to hit the drive-through or dial for pizza delivery.
For most of the holiday season (from the end of October through December) I began most days with a Starbuck’s grande pumpkin spice latte (10 PPV) and cranberry orange scone (13 PPV). Yikes!! (Now when the holiday’s roll around I opt for one of these slim pumpkin drinks and a slice of homemade lightened-up cranberry oatmeal bread instead.
8. Drinking too many of your calories, sometimes your whole daily calorie budget in sugary drinks alone, while not drinking enough water or milk. I never thought about the calories in my large glasses of orange juice, cream and sugar-filled coffee, frozen strawberry margaritas, and those grande sweetened and blended coffee drinks. It still makes me sad to know that a margarita has 9 PPV and my favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte 10 PPV, but now I realize what it takes to plan for them!
9. Not getting enough exercise. I’ve never enjoyed exercise, preferring to hang out with a good book on the couch. Moving more is something I’ve had to focus on. The key is doing what I enjoy – walking and yoga.
10. Prioritizing other things, such as family, friends, and jobs over your own health and well-being. It took me a long time to move myself up on the priority list and realize that I’m worth it. For years I tried to be the nice girl, nice daughter, nice employee, nice friend, nice wife at the expensive of my health and happiness. I now do a much better job of taking care of myself.
What do you think about this list of top 10 reasons for weight gain and poor health? Are any of them contributing to why you’re not living the happy, healthy, and slim life you desire?
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