Find Joy in Fitness Not Food

I read an article recently,  If You Find Joy in Exercise, You’re Less Likely to Look for Joy in Food, and the title really stuck out for me. There was quote that I found really spot on and I wanted to share it here:

It concluded that those who perceived exercise as a fun activity (and not just a ton of effort) were less inclined to compensate with junk food after their workouts.

These findings appear to support something that Precision Nutrition refers to as “hedonic compensation,” wherein if people feel like they’ve been deprived of pleasure in one place they will compensate by seeking it elsewhere (i.e. “I had a tough week, I deserve to relax and have a beer.”)

I agree! I found that once I started eating healthy and exercising on a regular basis, I didn’t want to “ruin” it with junk food. My taste buds changed. My cravings changed. Instead of wanting a king-sized candy bar, I was leaning towards fruits and vegetables. It was a slow shift in my brain, it surely did not happen overnight, but once I started to FEEL BETTER, I started to make BETTER CHOICES. (Body Love Week: Structure, Perfectionism, and Authentic Living)

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Then I came to a point where I looked at junk food as what it was: junk. It wasn’t fuel for my body. It didn’t help me in the gym. It didn’t make my body feel good. (Read this post: Healing Your Body.) And the more candy I ate, the more I craved it. But when I cut it out, those cravings went away. Is there anything better than fresh fruit in season? Yum, I want those raspberries!

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The above quote talks about “hedonic compensation” — if you deprive yourself something you seek it elsewhere, you want it more. While I was cutting out junk food from diet, I wasn’t DENYING myself treats entirely. Like I’ve written about many times before, living a life in moderation is what helped me STAY SANE while I lost 110 pounds. I never felt like I was denying myself things I wanted because I ate certain things in moderation. After I lost the weight I continued with that method and it worked. For 7 years I kept the weight off.

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Now let’s talk about exercise. So many people have told me that they wished they could lose weight but they hate exercising. (5% of Americans Exercise Daily) I think if you rename it and not look at exercise as a punishment you won’t dread it. Here are a few posts I wrote awhile ago about this topic:

I Hate Going to the Gym

How to Exercise Regularly

Learn To Love It

Overcoming Exercise Obstacles

Too Busy to Exercise

I think the biggest mistake people make when starting to work out is this: they pick something they don’t inherently enjoy. If you pick an activity you don’t enjoy, force yourself to do it, hate every minute of the activity, you start to think “I’ll reward myself for this workout with ____!” Pizza, ice cream, whatever! Fill in the blank. It’s easy to sabotage your efforts with a “I deserve this! I worked out!”

If you hate running, don’t run. Start with walking. If you hate the treadmill, join a running group at a local running store–they are usually free and super fun! And running outside is so much better than being stuck running in place.

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Try the elliptical. If you have aches and pains in your body and it hurts to work out, try swimming. Trust me, when you are overweight or obese and your body hurts, swimming is AMAZING.

If you hate the gym–don’t join one! There are SO many options out there. Get a bike trainer and ride your bike in front of your TV in the comfort of your home. Read this post by Michael: How to Watch More TV! 🙂

Try hiking. There are hiking groups you can join. Meetup is a great place to find new friends, join activity groups and I know in my area there are TONS of hiking groups!

Do you have a dog? Join a local dog training group that includes fitness! A friend of mine posted about a group here in Portland that I’d love to try someday. A quick google search has shown that there are a ton of groups like this all over the country. See if there’s one in your area.

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This is not to say that you CAN’T find joy in food. There is so much joy in food. I love baking and am learning to love to cook. There is nothing more rewarding than trying a new recipe and it’s a success. I love cooking for other people and throwing dinner parties. I like creating appetizers. Don’t we all love going to a nice, new restaurant with a group of friends and sharing good food and a bottle of wine? But is it really JUST about the food? Isn’t more about the process? The people? The socializing? For me, the joy in food is sharing it.

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What do you think? How do you balance the joy in food with healthy eating? Have you figured out a fitness method that brings you joy?

Reducing My Calories – Part 3

Here is Part 3 of the series. It’s for last week (the week before I went on vacation) so my hope is that I make some progress before I leave and that I don’t do too much damage while on vacation!

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Day One

Breakfast: Cereal with milk, toast, unsweetened iced tea and coffee with creamer. Calories: 359

Snack: Blueberries. Calories: 83

Lunch: Homemade tuna salad (with curry powder and lite craisins) with celery and baby carrots. Small piece of chocolate. Calories: 261

Snack: Whey chocolate protein shake. Calories: 100 

Dinner: Baked tilapia with Brussels Sprouts and quinoa. Calories: 430

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Dessert: 2 small Butterfinger minis and half a glass of milk. Calories: 151

Fitness: It was a rest day but I did a lot of walking!

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Day Two

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs, English muffin with cinnamon and splenda, unsweetened iced tea and coffee with creamer. Calories: 338

Snack: Green grapes. Calories: 92

Lunch: I made 2 ham wraps with Swiss cheese, a little mayo and mustard, kale and spinach and then guacamole with celery and carrots. I kind of loved this lunch! It was delicious and low calories and very filling. 1 piece of chocolate. Calories: 334

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Snack: Pre-swim snack of plain Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries: Calories: 111

Dinner: Quinoa, Brussels sprouts and Trader Joe’s Chicken Shu Mai with some sriracha. I was SO hungry after swimming and needed something fast. Calories: 480

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Dessert: Half a glass of milk and 2 mini Butterfinger bars. Calories: 158

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It was a really decent day.

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Breakfast: 2 fried eggs, piece of toast with some jelly (my homemade jalapeno jelly), unsweetened iced tea, coffee with creamer. Calories: 345

Snack: Green grapes. Calories: 92

Lunch: Homemade tuna salad with sliced cucumber and a Laughing Cow cheese wedge. This lunch was not quite filling enough for me. Calories: 261

Snack: Plain Greek yogurt with blueberries. Calories: 111

Dinner: I was really craving a grilled cheese sandwich so that’s what I had! I made a salad with kale and Swiss chard and spinach with a piece of bacon crumbled, cucumber, tomatoes and Caesar dressing. Calories: 509

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Dessert: Fun size Butterfinger and glass of milk. Calories: 240

Exercise: Did a walk during my lunch break and then went to the gym where I did some weight lifting and the elliptical. My back was really cranky at the gym so I quit early.

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It was an ok day. Could have done better.

day-4

Breakfast: Rice Krispie cereal with milk, piece of toast with jalapeno jelly, unsweetened iced tea and coffee with creamer. Calories: 396

Snack: Green grapes. Calories: 92

Lunch: Back with my new favorite lunch! The ham and cheese roll up with spinach and guacamole and cucumber slices. Calories: 290

Dinner: Quinoa, bratwurst, steamed broccoli with Goddess dressing and sauteed onions. It was a kind of “throw everything together” kind of dinner. Calories: 570

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Exercise: Just walking, it was a rest day.

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I went over my calories for the day and I was disappointed but there was a small victory–I really wanted a glass of wine with dinner but I refrained. It was either have quinoa with dinner or the glass of wine but not both and I made the decision to eat instead. Aw well, I was still a little over for the day but it wasn’t too bad.

Day-5

Breakfast: Chocolate Whey protein shake on the way to the airport! I see a bagel or sandwich and coffee in my future.

 

I have some ideas for meals and snacks for when I get home from vacation. I think they will be helpful. Question for you readers: is this of interest to you guys? I don’t usually post food diary type posts and only intended on doing this for a few weeks but as I make progress I think I will continue what I’m doing. Do you guys want some more food diary type posts? Maybe not weekly but on a semi regular basis?