I eat like a trainer.
•I eat veggies at every meal.
•I don’t do grains unless I’m training for something specific (like a race).
•I stick to my 3-4 opportunities per week as deemed by my 90% rule.
•I drink tons of water. The only other drink I’ll typically have is coffee or tea… mostly coffee.
I don’t struggle with my food choices: I really like eating healthy and I can feel the difference when I do!
The thing I struggle with most is eating at night.
I veg out on the couch with remote in hand at the end of a long day and just want to stuff my face like everyone else in America. Sure, it’s with apples and almond butter or cashews or blueberries and strawberries, but it’s still wayyyy more than I need.
And I’m not even hungry when I do it sometimes.
Any trainers reading this? Please stop scoffing because I’m sure you have your vices, too.
I have a really strong connection to this night-binging as I’m sure a lot of you out there do as well. It’s so hard to kick this last horrible habit!
Are you struggling with a dietary vice right now?
Here are some typical ones:
I can’t give up my unhealthy breakfast
I can’t give up soda
I love my wine/beer/champagne, so I can’t give that up at night
I just can’t resist the vending machine in the afternoon
Can you select one from that list that applies to you, or do you have one that isn’t on there? There are plenty of other options.
The thing is, you have to weigh how much you would be giving up with how much you would be gaining (or losing… yay, trainer humor!).
Eating mindlessly at night is keeping me from my own personal goals.
So, in the spirit of Strong Inside Out, I’m going to challenge myself:
I will not mindlessly eat at night for the next full month.
Now, of course, I’m hoping that this will be enough time to instill this habit in me for good (Leo says it probably is :)).
First, I need to deal with some things.
If you’re planning to take on that one last thing along with me, you’ll want to pay attention here, too:
What need does this vice serve?
There is a reason you do whatever you do, even when you know it’s hindering your health.
For me, this vice serves to:
relax me- I literally zone out while surfing Pinterest or watching SYTYCD with goodies.
comfort me- I can’t lie: eating, chewing, and tasting delicious food is one of the most comforting things in the world to me. It’s addictive in a way, especially if I’ve just trained 5 clients and written for 5 hours. I want something to “reward” myself with at the end of a long day. This need worsens with stress.
justify my fears- I eat well all day, then it’s almost like I give up at night. In my head, I know that this is the one time in which I have the most trouble. So, it’s almost as if I just do it in order to prove to that voice inside that I can’t do it.
Looking at these needs, I see that there is an emotional attachment to my nighttime noshing. The best thing I can do to rid myself of this habit is to find something else to fulfill those needs.
What are other healthy ways to fulfill these needs I have?
•TV still does that
•cardio (running, yoga, walking, eliptical-ing) does that for me, but I know it’s not for everyone
•snuggling with the honey
•talking to a friend
Justify my fears
•Ok, let’s aim NOT to fulfill this old-habit-of-a-need. I don’t need to justify my fears; I need to tell them to shut the hell up and take a backseat so I can live the life I deserve to live. No matter what your vice, it’s likely fear is something holding you back from kicking it. Don’t justify that fear. Become aware of it, then drop kick it out of your life!
After making that list, I can see that “reading” fulfills both my needs for relaxation and for comfort.
Now, your dietary vice might NOT be emotionally related. You could just be hungry or getting low on energy! This is especially true in the case of vending-machine-addiction.
Those afternoon snacks aren’t necessarily a bad thing; just jot that down as a need.
There are a bunch of options that may be more personal to you, so feel free to brainstorm away!
Identify Your Triggers
TV is my main trigger. If I sit down to watch TV at night, I feel like I’m missing something if I don’t have a snack with me.
No matter what your dietary vice, it’s more than likely provoked by a trigger.
A trigger is a time of day, activity, or environment that triggers those emotional cravings within you.
Here’s how to find out what your trigger is:
What are you doing when you feel the need to eat?
What time of day is it?
Where are you?
Who are you with?
Keep a log for a week; every time you feel that craving to go for your vice, answer each of these questions in print. This way, you can read them at the end of the week without attachment to the emotion that’s present while you’re in the situation. This will help you gain some perspective.
After a week, take a look at your log and take note of the similarities between certain answers.
Do you always eat from the vending machine at the same time of day?
Are you going straight for the sugary cereal in the morning because it’s the first thing you see?
Do you feel like you lose all willpower when forced into meetings and there are free donuts available?
Do you drink way more than you intend to when you hit happy hour with friends?
Repetitive answers will likely be your triggers. Awareness of these are key to doing something about them. Now we know what to take action on!
Make a Plan of Action
So we’ve figured out both your need that this vice fulfills, and the trigger that provokes said vice.
Now let’s make a plan to replace this vice with something better for us: either a healthier version of what our vice, or something different completely.
For instance, there are a couple ways I can go about not eating mindlessly at night:
I can turn off the TV and read a book instead, which would avoid the trigger as well as fulfill my emotional needs that eating provides me.
I can determine one, healthy snack to have in front of the TV and leave it at that.
The latter is the technique I’m personally going to try and I’ll tell you why: The TV trigger is bound to make me want to eat more.
Learning to eat just one healthy snack in front of the TV would allow me to keep my relaxing TV time while separating it as a trigger.
I want to re-educate my brain to stop interpreting TV to be a trigger… it’ll just be difficult the first month or two.
Turning off the TV and reading a book instead would be the other way to go, and I may try this on the most difficult nights.
So let’s go over some other examples here, too:
If your vice is eating candy in the afternoon and you realize that your trigger is hunger and an energy slump…
You could have a cup of tea, and apple and a handful of almonds instead. Pick a healthy snack, as much as you want that candy.
You could take a break and go for a quick walk to get out of that trigger environment and energize yourself with nature!
If your vice is wine at night because you love the way it relaxes you at the end of a long day. You realize after looking at your log that it’s part of your routine to drink while you eat dinner…
You could have a glass of water instead, or ONE glass of wine. Then, as you get used to one glass, ween yourself down to every other night, then 2-3 nights/week.
We don’t want you taking dinner out of the equation, so changing your trigger isn’t the way to go here. Changing the amount that you drink is going to be what makes the difference.
If your vice is an unhealthy breakfast that you eat every morning, and you realize you see it in your kitchen so you want it immediately…
STOP BUYING IT. That cereal, pastry or fast food breakfast item won’t tempt you if it’s not available to you.
Find a suitable alternative. Check out my lazy-healthy breakfast post for yummy options to healthify your morning!
So I’m coming clean about my vice, and challenging myself to change for the better.
Now I’m going to ask you the question that you knew was coming:
Are you coming with me on this 30-day challenge?
We all have our vices. You know the ones: that one or two last habits that are the hardest to break.
How long are you going to wait to nip them in the bud?
Why not start now? With me by your side, doing it right along with you?
You can join the challenge in 2 ways:
1. Comment here with the vice you’re giving up for 30 days (and feel free to use the pin it button below, too!).
2. Come over to Facebook and comment on this image with what you’re giving up for 30 days:
Orrrrr, feel free to do both!
Looking forward to having you guys with me during this challenge.