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Break the Rules to Lose Weight

February 7th, 2010 . by maria

There are lots of rules, or guidelines, that we learned growing up. Breaking a few of these rules might help you expend a few more calories, breaking your weight loss plateau. If you know me, you know I’m not much of a rule breaker. BUT I’m going to give it a shot…

Break this Rule: Clean your Plate
Cleaning your plate is important for a growing child, but not so much for an overweight adult. If you’re full, or there’s something you don’t like, do not force yourself to eat it. If you are making up your own plate, put less on it and skip the things you don’t care for. (As long as you’re still getting a healthy balance on a regular basis.)

Break this Rule: Waste Not, Want Not
There’s this little bit left on your plate, or on your child’s plate. Or, there’s this tiny bit of leftovers in the fridge, just going to waste. What do you do? WAIST not. Don’t eat it; don’t let it go to YOUR WAIST. I don’t care if you pitch it, feed it to the dog, or add it to a baggie in the freezer to be turned into casserole. but do NOT let that go into your mouth.

Break this Rule: One-dish Meals
OK, this isn’t really a rule. But we’ve all been conditioned that one-dish meals are easier. Here’s the thing – they aren’t healthier. Sometimes, they have more ingredients than they would probably have if you cooked a meat, veggie, and starch separately. Plus, everything soaks up the grease from the meat, and you can’t choose how much of which things you will eat. When you make separate items, the kiddos can load up on the mac-n-cheese, and mom can load up on the broccoli. If someone really wants theirs mixed together, let them do it on their own plate.

Break this Rule: Sit Still
We don’t need recent scientific studies to tell us that you burn more calories by fidgeting than by sitting still. I don’t want you to drive people crazy, but there’s nothing wrong with some musical toe-tapping now and then. And, if you’re in a cubical or office where nobody else can see you, break all the rules – get up and do a little dance when you complete a project. What’s stopping you? Nobody will know, and you’ll probably feel awesome afterwards!

Break this Rule: Be Efficient
We try to carry all our bags from the car in one trip. We look around and think what else we need before heading downstairs, so that we dont’ have to come back up the stairs. We save all the memos we need to deliver, and then give them all out at once. We email or IM instead of walking down the hall. We hit the bathroom, then get a drink, then check the mail – all in one trip. These things are more efficient, and some of them are like second nature now. Stop being so darn efficient! Really, would it kill you to go up and down the stairs a few more times? And, you’d probably have a better relationship with that difficult coworker if you met face-to-face once in a while…if not, well, at least you burned a few calories and got out of your cube.

Break this Rule: Eat 3 Meals a Day
I recently saw a TV show where the girl lost 50 pounds by skipping meals. All of them. She ate only the snacks she would normally have eaten. It wasn’t healthier, but it was less food. The show’s hosts, to their credit, did teach her how to choose healthy meals instead of skipping them. But…if you’ve been snacking all morning, and you’re too busy to sit down with a salad, you are better off skipping lunch than grabbing a Big Mac. Seriously. I give you permission to skip lunch…as long as you have eaten something else. (I do NOT advocate skipping eating all day, as you will only eat more/worse later, you’ll feel terrible, and you’ll teach your metabolism to hoard those calories when it gets them.)

Break this Rule: Save Money; Buy in Bulk
If you buy a 12pk of Coke each week, guess how much Coke you will drink? If you buy candy bars at 3/$1 instead of 50 cents for one, guess how many candy bars you will eat? Unless you have plans for those extra units to be immediately and irrevocably passed on to someone else, buying in bulk is actually NOT saving you anything. You may be spending less per unit, but those extra units are going “to waist”. (If I can continue beating you with this pun.) Instead, splurge for the single 50 cent candy bar once per week, eat only the one, and tell yourself that if it is worth the calories, it is worth the extra 17 cents. (Or, tell yourself that 17 cents is the fine for eating the candy bar. Whatever works for you.) Along the same lines, don’t buy those treats with your regular grocery shopping. That’s too easy. Instead, tell yourself you HAVE to make a special trip to the store just for that item, only when you need it. Chances are, it isn’t worth the trip most of the time, and you’ll be just fine without it. The few(er) times you do get it, it will be so much more special. The only thing you should buy in bulk are staple grocery/household items… and diet foods.

Break this Rule: A “Real” Workout is…
If you aren’t going to get a real workout, then it doesn’t count, right? A real workout is aerobics and weights, right? A real workout has to involve some kind of equipment, or an instructor, or at least gym clothes, right? You have to get 30 minutes. You have to sweat. You have to get your heart pumping. What other rules have you learned about exercise? Well, unlearn them.You burn calories just sitting there, and everything beyond sitting is an improvement. So, go play with the kids, dance to the music, take a swim, or swing at the park. If it is more than you are doing now, it counts!

Can you think of any other rules to break?

Relatedly, I have given myself a “100 walks” challenge. I want to take my dog for 100 walks, and when I have done that I will give myself permission to take $100 out of savings for a special treat. Given that there are 336 days left in the year, it should be no problem to get in 100 walks by year’s end…but it sure would be nice to have that money for a spring/summer mini-vacation.

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