Thursday, May 15, 2014

Starting right now

One chocolate bar.

Maybe it was a Twix, maybe a Mars, maybe a Baby Ruth.  Maybe it wasn't just one.  Heck, maybe it wasn't even chocolate - but maybe there was a night when you binged on chocolate until you felt like your insides were going to become your outsides.

Whatever it was and however much of it you ingested, the next morning you were not 60lbs heavier.

The fact is that one bad meal or snack will never make you fat.  Even a week of stuffing yourself with things that only barely pass for food can show little to no impact on the scale or how comfortably your clothes fit.

Makes sense, right?  It takes a long time to get fat and it's a gradual change.  Granted, "a long time" can mean different things to different people.  You might have gained what you consider to be a lot of fat in what you consider to be a short amount of time.  The point is that it takes at least several days to notice an impact on your waistline.

Let me say that again: it takes at least several days to notice an impact on your waistline.

So.  That exercise you just did?  That workout, maybe?  All that weight lifted?  Maybe some jogging?  Perhaps the most grueling 50 minutes of your life in the form of "The Circuit from Hell" (tm) that left you feeling like you might actually die?

I'm guessing it took less than a day.  Probably less than an hour.  And probably with a fair bit of rest during that hour or so.

Did you step on the scale after that workout, or perhaps the next morning?  Why did you?  I'm guessing it's because, like most people, you wanted validation.  You wanted to see the fruits of your labor, something to justify all the discomfort (and probably real pain) that you put yourself through.  You couldn't see any change on the outside, so you turned to the scale for a warm hug.  Instead, it stared you down with an expression somewhere between disdain and disinterest.

Let's try this: next time you eat something you think you shouldn't, or take your last bite and are filled with regret for eating it, go get on the scale.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that you'll see roughly the same weight you were right before you ate (or roughly what you were that morning, or the last time you weighed yourself; you get my point, I'm sure).

We get fat slowly.  We lose fat slowly.  The secret is to just keep making healthier choices with food and just keep exercising.  You don't have to run a marathon every day or live off of only lettuce (which would kill you, by the way).  Just do better.  Do better than you did yesterday.  Eat less of the bad stuff.  Move around more often.  Take a few extra steps.

Eat less.  Move more.

And please: don't weigh yourself in response to something short-term that you just completed.  That meal, that spin class...those things don't matter by themselves.  If you're going to weigh yourself, do it on a schedule and not very often.  Better yet, give up on using body mass as a measure of health or self worth and focus on what really matters: cardiovascular ability, how well your clothes fit, and making sure your body is properly fueled by the nutrients it needs.

Don't make it a diet or a plan.  Make it a lifestyle.  Make it just "what you do".  It's not about choosing to go for a walk or a run; it's just "what you do".

Say it with me: "it's just what I do".

Starting right now.