Ten Dieting Excuses and Ways to Overcome Them

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Have you ever made an excuse for why you cannot stick to your healthy intentions? Almost everyone has! Though they made not be as obviously silly as the one in the Lark DPP check-in (“The dog ate my sneakers!”), they can often be overcome. Here are 10 common dieting excuses and ways you can fight back.

 
  1. I’ll start tomorrow. Or Monday. Or next week. Or after the next birthday party. The problem is that tomorrow never seems to arrive. That can mean the unhealthy eating patterns continue for an extra day, week, month, or even year, while the pounds continue to pack on. Today is a great day to start losing weight!

  2. One bite won’t hurt. That may be true, but one bite often turns into two, and then a full serving, and often an accompaniment or two. Consider a single chip that turns into a handful, along with some dip, and then a soda. Suddenly, that innocently-intended “bite” has become a 600-calorie carb and fat fest!

  3. I’m too hungry. Some foods are more filling than others. In general, protein and fiber are considered filling nutrients because they delay hunger for longer, and water makes foods “bigger” without adding more calories. (For example, 1/4-cup serving of dried grapes - raisins - has 130 calories, while you could eat 5 times that amount - 1 ¼ cups - if you choose grapes instead). Eating more vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, and high-fiber beans and whole grains can be more filling than eating the same number of calories from fatty, sugary, and low-fiber starchy foods.

  4. I deserve a break. Of course you do, especially after a hard day at work or a stressful day managing the kids! What about shopping at the mall, getting a massage, watching a movie, phoning a friend, or reading a book in the backyard? A high-calorie food or beverage is not going to make you feel better for more than a few seconds, and it certainly will not solve any problems.

  5. I already blew it for today. It is never too soon to get back on track. Stopping before eating the second half of the pizza is not at good as avoiding the pizza entirely, but it does save about 1,600 calories, or roughly a half-pound of body fat that you will not need to lose once you get back on track.

  6. Healthy food is too expensive. It does not need to be. Instead of pre-made deli meals and pre-bagged or pre-cut salads and produce, purchasing raw chicken and fish in bulk and opting whole or unsweetened, unsalted frozen produce can save money. Dried beans, peas, and whole grains such as brown rice are inexpensive, and store brands can be less expensive but equal in quality to name brands. Another trick is to buy in bulk and portion your own instead of buying in single-serving packages.

  7. I don’t have time to cook. There are plenty of shortcuts to get healthy meals and snacks without spending much time. If you ever do have time to cook, you can make big batches and freeze them in single-portion containers so a healthy meal is always ready. Using leftovers for lunch also saves time. It takes nearly no time to wash a piece of fruit or some raw vegetables to munch on, to throw raw vegetables and dried beans or lentils into low-sodium broth for a nutritious soup, or to top bagged salad or spinach leaves with tuna, cheese, or tofu plus olive oil and vinegar. Quick healthy meal options are limitless!

  8. Diets do not work for me. The truth is, diets do not work for most people in the long term. Instead, healthy lifestyle changes are best for losing weight and, the tricky part for many people, keeping it off. Small changes that make sense for your lifestyle are best for long term success with losing weight and eating healthier to lower diabetes risk.

  9. It’s too hard to eat healthy with kids around. It is definitely tough when members of your household insist on having junk food around. Your kids may have cookies, crackers, and other snacks in the pantry for their lunches, and your spouse could insist on bringing back leftovers from lunches out during the workday. It can help to dedicate a shelf of the pantry to your kids’ foods, while keeping the rest of the pantry stocked with healthy alternatives. Your spouse might be willing to compromise similarly by keeping high-calorie leftovers in one back corner of the fridge while allowing you to place ready-to-eat healthy foods, such as carrot sticks and hard-boiled eggs, right at the front so you see them first.

  10. John Smith is eating it, and he’s skinny, so I can, too. John Smith could have any number of health conditions, regardless of whether he is skinny. Keep in mind, too, that you do not know what else he eats (does he eat like that 10 times a day or is that all he eats in a day, or is this a once-a-year treat or is it something he eats every day) or how much he exercises (is he a distance runner who runs 10 miles a day before the sun comes up, or is he does he have a sedentary lifestyle?). Finally, and most important, you are not John Smith. What John Smith eats really does not matter for your health or weight.

  11. I don’t have time to log my food. Logging food can be cumbersome, but it has been shown to increase your chances of losing weight and keeping it off. Logging with Lark is easy, plus it gives you more bang for your logging buck with instant personalized feedback and daily summaries to keep you motivated and aware.

 

It is easy for excuses to come to mind, but rest assured you are not the only one fighting diet excuses. With some reasoning, along with good intentions and practice, you can fight back against the excuses and stay right on track to lose weight and lower risk for diabetes. Lark DPP is there whenever you need a tip or a nudge, too!

 

Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Assistant Professor of Public Health

Snowball Effect of Weight Loss: Ride Your Momentum!

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Losing weight can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes, but does weight loss seem like a daunting task? Will you need to focus on each choice you make all day, every day?

Take heart! There is plenty of good news for anyone who wants to lose weight and keep it off for good. Lark DPP can help you lose weight by making small changes that fit into your lifestyle and do not feel like sacrifices. 

Wait, there’s more! You can lose more weight with less effort with smart strategies. For example, as the Lark check-in mentioned, you can work different muscles to build more muscle and boost metabolism. Plus, you can take advantage of the snowball effect of good choices. Lark can help you build and ride weight loss momentum so you can keep the good choices going.

 

The Value of Habits


When your good choices become habits, you can lose weight without thinking much about it. You might burn a few extra calories, or consume fewer calories here and there throughout the day to build up a calorie deficit. You might find yourself...

  • Waking up and getting your shoes to go for a walk.

  • Mentally preparing the week’s menus and shopping list so you can get healthy foods at the grocery store.

  • Parking further away and remembering to set aside the few extra minutes it takes to walk extra.

  • Taking smaller portions of higher-calorie foods and larger portions of vegetables.

  • Reading labels to select lower-calorie products.

  • Packing up half your restaurant meal to take home for later.

Remember, it does not take much to build up a 250-calorie deficit to lose ½ pound per week, or to aim for a daily 500 to 1,000-calorie deficit to hit 1 to 2 lb. per week weight loss.

 

One Good Turn Deserves Another


You have a lot of chances to make good weight loss choices. You can cut back on calories, increase your physical activity, sleep more, and lower stress, for starters. While each of these approaches are effective on their own, they can work together for even greater results.

Consider this scenario. You add an early-morning walk to your day. This walk motivates you to eat better at breakfast and the rest of the day. The morning exercise can also help you clear your head and reduce stress. You might end the day with a slightly smaller dinner, inspired by those good choices all day. You can then sleep better because of a less-full stomach, less stress keeping your mind awake, and better circadian rhythm regulation because of your activity.

You are then working towards weight loss by…

  • Burning extra calories from that morning walk.

  • Eating a little less throughout the day.

  • Reducing hunger and cravings by getting more sleep.

  • Lowering your chances of stress eating.

 

Fat-Burning Fitness


You can reduce the number of calories you take in with smart food swaps. You can increase the number of calories you expend, or burn, with smart activities. To burn more, you can always exercise for longer and add extra bouts into your day - say, a walk at lunch or a few flights of stairs before leaving your office for the evening.

You can also think about the types of exercise you do to increase your fat-burning capacity. You burn more calories when the activities are higher-intensity, which makes sense when you think about higher-intensity running versus lower-intensity walking, high-impact versus low-impact aerobics, and hard versus easy cycling. 

Another strategy for burning more calories is to choose activities that use a lot of muscles. The more muscles you work, the more calories you burn during the activity. You also get the benefit of higher calorie burn the rest of the day as you build muscles, since muscles are highly active metabolically.

The activities that burn the most calories tend to be the ones that are weight-bearing, because it takes energy to hold yourself up. So, upright bikes burn more calories than recumbent, for example. Another rule of thumb is that using your legs burns a lot of calories, since the leg muscles are so big. Finally, you can burn more calories when you use a lot of muscles, such as an elliptical trainer or rowing machine where you use your arms and legs, or playing tennis or basketball where you are using your arms and legs.

 

Revving Metabolism around Your Workout


Are you getting more active, or thinking about it, as part of your plan to prevent diabetes? That is great if you are - you can lower blood sugar and burn calories by doing so. Support your efforts with proper fueling - you will feel better, have better workouts, and boost metabolism to be able to burn more calories overall.

You can fuel your workouts better by:

  • Hydrating properly all day with water.

  • Eating a small meal or snack a few hours before you work out if you find that you need it.

  • Eating a small meal or snack with some healthy carbohydrates and protein right after you finish exercising.

Your post workout snack can have about 100 to 200 calories, be based on healthy carbohydrates, and have a bit of protein. The carbs can be from fruit, whole grains, beans, or low-fat dairy products. Examples include:

  • Half a whole-grain English muffin with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.

  • ½ cup fat-free cottage cheese with ¼ cup of oats.

  • 1 cup fat-free yogurt with 1 cup of strawberries.

  • 1 apple with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.

 

Keep Aware of Habits


Take heed, though, if you are starting an exercise program for the first time or you are upping the intensity or length of time that you are working out. Some people end up eating more when they start exercising - in fact, so much more that the extra food nearly negates the calories burned from exercise! 

One reason this can happen is that exercise makes you hungrier. It can cause you, without thinking, to eat more calories than you just burned. Another reason is that you may be so proud of your exercise that you feel a license to eat anything - just like some people fall into the trap of overeating sugar-free or low-fat foods because they think they are “calorie-free” foods.

There is a lot to think about when losing weight, but there is an upside to that: there are opportunities everywhere you turn to lose a little more weight. Also on the positive side is that Lark can help you find those weight loss chances, turn good choices into habits, and keep you riding your momentum as you lose weight and improve your health.

 

Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Assistant Professor of Public Health