There you are…sitting on your magnificent leather couch, getting sucked into another episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills…which just so happens to be a re-run that you have seen 3 times since it originally aired. Your mind starts to wander and drift and you mechanically move yourself from the couch straight to your pantry. “Wait..why am I here?” You ask yourself. “Maybe I’m hungry…? Oooo…Quaker Popped Cheddar Cheese chips…” (Seriously, these things are delicious, ya’ll…) And boom, you find yourself back on the couch mindlessly munching away, dragged into another argument between Kyle and Brandy.
Does that story sound very vivid and detailed to you? Yes? That’s because it’s a true story and something that even happens to me every now and then. I find myself slipping into this state periodically with my husband being gone. While I’m still very busy, just due to the fact that my husband doesn’t come home at night (he’s deployed at the moment) I have added free time on my hands! And sometimes a girl just needs to veg out.
I believe these habits formed when I was growing up an only child on a quiet street. Building forts alone in the woods wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, so I would spend more time watching television and mindlessly gobbling snacks. Eating filled the boredom gap and was comforting. I wasn’t so extreme that I became obese from this, but I was a little bit…”chubby.” Still to this day, even being a bit of a gym fanatic, these habits can creep up on me. And I know I sure as hell am not the only one this happens to. It’s so common and we’ll joke about it, but really, it’s not a very healthy thing to do, especially if you have fat loss goals. Some people may even go as far as eating the whole pantry! That’s a whole different monster on it’s own called “binging.” I’ve never been at that point but I know many people in the “fitness community” have been there (or still are). This generally stems from other things such as over-restricting food and other issues. But I’m not going to touch that as it’s not my expertise. But eating out of boredom, that’s an animal I can attack.
Here are some of my tricks to prevent myself from falling into this trap:
1. Stay busy: Run errands, do chores, find a hobby, go for a walk, DO SOMETHING. These are my favorite tactics because they’re productive and can actually be fulfilling. Ever notice that when you’re super busy you forget or can’t be bothered to eat?
2. Or do NOTHING: And by this, I really mean GO TO BED! Especially if you’re a nighttime snacker. That’ll take your mind off of food for sure! Plus the extra zzz’s will help you burn more fat and recover from your workouts. Triple whammy!
3. Keep the food in your house ALL THE TIME: If you keep the food in your house all the time, you reduce your sensitivity to it. The more you eat it, the less exciting it becomes. My personal tactic is when I get home from the grocery store, I divide these foods up into single servings in little plastic baggies and treat myself to one baggie each day…unless I find I don’t really want it. This way, if I do go creeping into my pantry I’ll just have one serving and if I want another serving, I really have to think and be mindful. This sure beats eating the entire bag in a single sitting. I usually get my fill of that snack by the time I finish a serving anyways. Anything beyond that is mindless munching…
But if you still just cannot control yourself…
4. Get the food out of your house: If you try step 3 and that doesn’t work, you might want to keep it out of the house for a while and completely break the habit. I used to be that way about peanut butter. I could seriously sit and nibble on a jar of peanut butter for an hour. I had to stop buying it as it was getting a little out of control. Thankfully, I’ve come a long way since then and a single jar of nut butter will last me several weeks.
I have to admit that I don’t have it all figured out, but I sure have experimented with a lot of tactics to get me to where I am now. These tips have definitely helped me in the past (and even today). But I think it’s important for everyone to understand that it’s not just fat loss that is the challenge… Once you get to a point where you are happy and don’t feel the need to alter your body dramatically, where are you going to pull your motivation from? Maintenance can be just as difficult as fat loss. Every day can still be a challenge. There are always choices to be made about the food you put in your mouth and choosing the healthy more moderate way of eating is not always the easiest. You might always need some little tricks in your toolbag to get you through. Hope these help you as much as they have helped me!