|Wire my jaws, please|
I hate dieting, but I love eating. And drinking. And sitting around in my jammas like a sloth, munching on crisps and drinking wine.
This can make it a touch difficult to stay in shape and, although I force myself to the gym as often as I can bear, it turns out I don't have to deprive myself of all the things I love in order to drop a few pounds.
I have a big appetite. Like, really big, and the portions at dinner time in our house are sizeable. Since it would appear that I'm physically unable not to eat everything on my plate, I now cut down on the amount of spaghetti or rice I usually cook in order to eat less. It needn't be a massive amount each night, but it does mount up over the course of a week or two.
For years, I bought semi skimmed milk from the store and hated the thought of drinking anything else. I am addicted to coffee, so I drink a LOT of milk in the course of a day. This means quite a few of my calories are consumed in this way. I have tried to cut down on my coffee intake, but it makes me cranky and life's too short to be thin and miserable when you can be chunky and caffeinated. What I decided instead was to change my milk. I now buy skimmed milk and, again, it might be a small change, but it mounts up over the weeks and reduces my calorie and fat intake without disrupting my daily routine too much. I'm afraid I can't drink fruit tea or black coffee because...well, they're awful.
It's amazing how having one of these things keeping an eye on you during the day can actually encourage you to up your exercise game. I have the Samsung Health app on my phone and it follows me around whether I want it to or not. It's a great way to assess how active you usually are and how you can up this without going crazy. I keep track of mine all the time these days and I try to get out of the office during my lunch break to go for a walk with the sole focus of upping my step count. It's a great motivator and can spur you on to exceed your totals over the week and convince yourself to go that little bit further.
I have a very sweet tooth and, although I don't like cakes or baked goods, I do have a complete addiction to sweets and sugary rubbish. This means I eat a lot of sugar and tend to come home from the gym or work and grab a handful of sweets while I cook dinner; telling myself that it's just to keep me going until Les comes home and we can eat. I hate to think about how many extra calories I consume during the week within this tiny window each day. What I try to do now is replace sweets with rice cakes or fruit, combined with not picking up sugary stuff when I hit the shops. It's not always entirely successful, but it does work the majority of the time. After all, it doesn't take a genius to work out that if you don't have sweets in your cupboard, you won't be able to eat them, will you?
I spent years drinking Coke or Irn Bru (I'm Scottish, it's the law) but in recent times I've replaced this with low calorie sparkling water. Aside from the reduction in sugar, there are some fabulous flavour combinations that work well on their own AND when combined with say, gin or vodka. Or schnapps. Or white wine, if you're a monster.
Swapping out your regular red or white wine for a spirit can also help you cut calories to a certain extent. Replacing a large glass of red with a vodka and a splash of apple sparkling water can help cut down on sugar. Obviously, cutting it out altogether would be even better, but this isn't about making yourself miserable. It's just about stripping back some of your calorie intake. Wine makes me happy. I'd rather be a chunky wino that a grumpy, skinny woman.
Beware of Low Fat:
I went through a spell of eating a LOT of cereal bars, granola, and low fat yoghurts thinking that, because they were low fat, they were obviously good for me. Oh, how stupid I was... The sugar content in my favourite yoghurt is sky high and makes eating it a complete waste of time. The same can be said for the cereal bars I was happily munching on and feeling all smug and virtuous. Discovering the sheer amount of sugar in the granola I like was a rude awakening, too, I can tell you. Now I always check sugar, calories and fat content and try to at least take account of these factors before I buy something, which helps me to make real changes without missing out (too much...)
What do you do when you need to cut back?