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Routine Modifiers : Cutting Back on Snacking

I am human.  I have so many vices.  I certainly don’t wish to pretend otherwise, but I try to put my best foot forward each and every day.  However, after a long day at work and coming home to complete the blogging, cooking, scooping litter, and cleaning that is required to keep my space the way I love it best, sometimes I just run out of steam.  Emotional snacking or eating is the number one reason why people are or become overweight.  I definitely succumb to that itchy trigger finger for a candy bar every once in a while, during lunch break or after a long day.  A month ago, I took control of my snacking habits and changed my dietary course.

While I wasn’t – medically speaking – unhealthy weight-wise, I still didn’t feel happy with the way I looked.  I knew what the problem was but I denied it every step of the way; I exercise, am on my feet most of every work day, and generally eat fairly healthily overall when it comes to mealtimes.  Snacking, however, was a different animal altogether; pretzels, chips, chocolate bars, you name it – none of my snacking habits could be considered healthy by any stretch of the imagination, portion controlled or no.  When I was snacking on these things, it was mostly out of boredom, a triggered emotional response, or something I chose to do mindlessly while watching television with Sawyer.  Instead of a healthy breakfast I made a quick stop to Starbucks for a hot chocolate before work, instead of a healthy lunch I had processed ramen noodles, instead of a healthy dinner…you get the gist.

I’ve always been a grazer – I don’t eat big meals three times a day but rather have little snacks every couple of hours to keep me going (always difficult on Thanksgiving or holiday dinner parties) – and previously to when my snacking got out of control, I ate healthy snacks like granola bars, fruits and veggies.  So when did my snacking turn sour?  What triggered the change from healthy to not-so-much?  I believe it started when I began working 7 days a week to start saving up for our move to Philadelphia, on top of traditional holiday tendencies toward overeating and a little bit less exercise due to heavy, wet Vermont snow.  Thus the spiral downward (or upward, in this case) began, and put me in a position where I did not like the numbers I read on the scale.

Overeating causes physical changes in your body regulation of food intake.  Once you make a habit of eating a little bit too much, your brain and stomach don’t recognize that you’re full and should stop eating.  Not only that, but overeating can affect your internal body clock, pleasure receptors, and it can become an addiction.  Most times on Thanksgiving I tend to end up in a food coma – a state of lethargy caused by overeating – where my body has told me enough is enough, that I’ve spent too much energy on eating and now I need to rest and digest.  Resting and digesting doesn’t do anything for those calories, though, and they race straight to the fatty storage lockers.

When I realized what I’d done to my eating routine, I took immediate steps to relieve the situation.  I threw out all of my junk foods (excluding Sawyer’s, he has a sweet tooth but is much better at food intake than I am) and replaced them with carrots, celery, apples, granola bars, yogurt and other healthy options to help me regulate what snacking choices I was making.  I also kept a food journal (the myfitnesspal app for smartphones was incredibly helpful) of sorts that allowed me to monitor my calorie intake for a couple of weeks.  Knowing how much I was putting into my body was informative, but I also kept track of how much I was expending.  My mother bought me a Fitbit for my twenty-fifth birthday that I wear on a daily basis.  While not my first choice when it comes to fashion, I enjoy watching my step count, calorie burn status, and active minutes add up to a day’s worth of activity (technology really is something else!).  Fitbit’s newest slogan is “motivation is your best accessory” and I couldn’t agree more with that statement.

These small changes were enough to shed the five extra pounds of puppy fat that I had gained over the holidays.  It took a month and a half to reach the weight I call “normal” (although, normal is always a matter of perspective).  Be healthy, be happy.  I have learned that, at whatever jean size, I am beautiful (thanks, Sawyer!).  I’ve learned a lot along the way on this one.  Now, I’ve given up my grazing habits and switched over to three meals a day plus a snack.  These photos are from my breakfast this morning – the time I save for myself and my mental health.  Another routine modification that paid off in the long run.

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