Dear Leah Renee,
I find that my weight fluctuates a bit, but I don’t like to obsess constantly about exactly how many calories I’m eating. Isn’t it enough to just eat healthy most of the time? I like to go out and have a good time with friends, and that usually means eating and drinking too. Is this all adding up to more than I think? –Alexa, CO
Small amounts of anything have the ability make large differences in the big picture. Each day, we make choices that have the ability to impact the way we look and the way we feel– both emotionally and physically. We can have a little too much each day, exceeding our caloric allowances which makes us put on pounds and feel icky, or we can choose to pass up those little snacks, temptations, or over-eating at a meal just because it tastes good. If you ever said, “I just want to taste it, have a bite, I’ll share with you, or just give me a little bit, please?!” We make ourselves feel dainty or think we’re only having small amounts when in actuality we could be having the equivalent of consuming the slice of cake we opted against in the first place. Calories are calories and by having a “little” here and there, it all adds up at the end.
Our diets are kind of similar to our bank accounts. It’s wise to remember what your balance is before you go overboard. A little here and there has the potential to deplete what you worked for. Going to the coffee shop each day for your coffee rather than brewing your own at home adds up to a lot at the end of each week, month, and year. So does reaching into that bowl of chips while socializing with friends. One at a time; one’s a small number! It becomes a lot larger when you multiply it by 20… or 30. It’s amazing how much you can really power through while chit-chatting. Choices made on the other end of the spectrum work the same way! Passing-up makes as much of a difference as giving-in. Each time you forgo that trip to the coffee shop, the more you’ll save and have to spend on something you may have been wanting for a while (you know, like that pair of shoes). The same goes with that bowl of chips. You can get a small plate and put some on there so you know how much you’re actually eating, or choose something else instead (or don’t eat if you’re not actually hungry). Save those calories for that dessert or meal that you’ll end up craving at some point or another. We only get a certain allowance each day, and we must budget accordingly.
Unfortunately, drinking can also be a major contributor to overdoing your daily allowance. Knowing what you’re working with in the first place as far as what drinks contain the least and most amount of calories helps. It becomes more like second nature when you’re familiar with what the things you typically have contain, and what your daily allowance actually is. Then you don’t feel like you have to be a mathematician or obsess all day about each little thing you consume. This past post highlights what drinks have what calories and the best way to pair them up. The easiest way to know how many calories you can have each day is to multiply what you want to weight by 13. If you’re active, then multiply by 15. If you’re really active (like burn it up each day of the week), multiply by 20. Just by knowing this information I feel like you can relax a little because you’re aware. The rest is easy, well, sort of. You don’t have to give to much thought about eating an apple, having a veggie omelette, or some shrimp with cocktail sauce. If you are having something you know is high in calories, like something fried or soaked in sauce, then it’s the volume (and frequency of which you have these foods) you should think about. For instance, if I meet up with friends at a Mexican restaurant, chips happen. So, instead of ordering a meal on top of that, I look at what side dishes they have to offer. I mean, if you ordered a bunch of appetizers at a meal you wouldn’t go on to have for a full course meal, and chips with salsa (or guac) are an appetizer just the same. Go for a side of black beans and veggies for your meal, or ceviche. Even the salads can be deceiving because they usually have sour cream, cheese, rice, and loads of other things in there. If it’s a sushi dinner you’re going out to, pick just one roll you want, and then if that’s not enough, fill up on veggies/salad, sashimi, edamame, and/or miso soup.
Simply staying conscious and mindful of EACH choice you make is the BEST way to live up to your own expectations. Let’s face it, nobody else can make these decisions for you nor will they have to pay for it, or reap the benefits of it, later. Remember, a little goes a long way.