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Friday, April 29, 2011

But I Like Cheeseburgers!

You can't have this. ... You can't have that. ... This has too many calories. ... That has too much sodium. ... This is loaded with saturated fat. ... That has too much sugar.

Sound familiar?

If you're trying to adopt new habits, drop some weight, or just be healthier, those little phrases can be enough to make you scream.

And if all you do is scream, you're lucky.

You might scream, then say "screw this" and go the nearest fast food joint to spitefully order the worst thing on the menu, plus some. Then eat it -- all of it.

Once when I was getting ready for a figure competition, I was eight weeks into my diet and training with four more weeks left until the show.

I had been on a very strict diet. Lean meat, mostly baked chicken, no sauce. Lots of veggies, no salt, no butter. Oatmeal every morning with sugar-free jam, no butter. Occasionally, I'd have small portions of brown rice or sweet potato.

That was it.

Forget sneaking a little piece of chocolate, I wasn't even having fruit! At this point, I was beyond cranky and just a pill to be around. This is when Hubby made me have a brownie. OK, he didn't make me. He strongly encouraged me to have a little piece -- you know, to ease the crankiness, maybe making life better for both of us.

I ended up eating the whole pan ... in one night.

Being too strict is a terrible idea. We all love foods that have too many calories, an abundance of sodium, the wrong type of fat and an overload of sugar. My favorites are cheesecake, brownies, cheeseburgers, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate ice-cream, those new pretzel M&Ms and I really love Cadbury eggs. (Wow, I just realized that's a really long list.)

It's better to treat yourself from time to time. Here are some tips for how to indulge occasionally while keeping focus on your ideal weight.

1. Schedule. Every week plan a cheat day. One day where you have a meal that is by no means healthy. This way you're able to look forward to one of your favorites and allow yourself to enjoy it.

2. Portion. If someone at the office baked a delicious cake from scratch or you're at an event like a birthday party, have the smallest possible serving -- a taste. This way you don't have to worry about being rude or overdoing it.

3. Reduce. If there are recipes that you just can't live without, find ways to reduce the calories. If a cupcake recipe calls for oil, try applesauce instead. Use egg whites instead of whole eggs. Swap white flour for whole wheat flour. These small changes add up and will allow you to have something you enjoy without all the extra calories and fat.

4. Share. Order the dessert at the restaurant and share it. Or bake those cookies you've been craving  -- with oil and white flour if you must -- then have one. Give away the rest.

5. Adjust. If you slip up when you didn't plan on it, adjust the remainder of your day's meals. Too much office birthday cake? Omit some carbs from the rest of your day. So, if you were planning on brown rice with dinner, skip the rice and replace it with veggies.

If you think about being healthy and fit as a punishment where you can't have the things you love, you're not likely to stick to any program.

Everything in moderation (another phrase that probably makes you want to scream). But it's true. Have a little here and there, just don't go overboard.

If you allow yourself small indulgences from time to time, you probably won't end up eating an entire pan of brownies.

By the way, after eating all of those brownies, I was in such a great mood. But to say that feeling was short-lived would be an understatement. Before the night was over, I felt so sick.

I had crashed. It was like I could feel the sugar pulsing through my veins. First a headache set in. Then guilt set in. I suddenly felt tired (due to my insulin levels being all out of whack). At the end of my brownie overdose, I felt terrible and completely disgusted with myself for my lack of control. Needless to say, I haven't done that since.

The goal is not to be perfect 100 percent of the time. That's impossible. Strive for 80/20. Be good 80 percent of the time, the rest of the time have a few calories, some sodium, a little saturated fat and some sugar. It'll keep you from screaming.

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