Living LifeWise is a regular column provided by LifeWise Ambassadors – LifeWise employees whose healthy choices are helping them live better lives. Today’s column is provided by LifeWise Ambassador Aaron Reid.
When it comes to eating right, you can learn as much from people’s failures as you can from their successes. In that spirit, I looked at a few of my worst eating habits and reverse-engineered them into something approximating good advice:
1. Don’t eat after 8 o’clock.
The relationship between me and my stomach changes at night. During the day, my stomach is a serves a specific and necessary purpose to my body. At night, he is a separate entity—a malevolent nocturnal creature (I call him Snarfles) who lives in my belly but has his own will and agenda. When he awakens, he responds in the same way that you or I would if we woke up and found ourselves armless and legless in somebody else’s abdomen: with a furious bout of rage-fueled stress-eating. You don’t need to be an expert in biology to know that guys like Snarfles are absolutely real. I have found that the best way to handle him is to make it a personal, inviolable rule not to eat anything after 8 p.m. Ever.
2. Get enough sleep.
As soon as you start to feel sleepy at night, you should go to bed. Pushing yourself past that point makes your mind weak and your decision making poor—giving Snarfles the advantage. When I’m up late, I eat a full-sized meal about once every two hours throughout the night. (These are not healthy meals, by the way; they typically come in a bag and are crispy, puffy or cheesy.) If you want to keep yourself to just breakfast, lunch and dinner, I suggest going to bed when you’re tired.
3. Select food based on how it makes you feel five minutes after you’ve eaten it.
In my experience, the foods that are the most pleasurable when they’re in my mouth are the same ones that make me sad about my life after they’ve made it to my stomach. If I could only rewire my brain to be motivated by the pleasure of digesting healthy food, rather than the pleasure of chewing on unhealthy food, I would be much better off.
Some would argue that this is all unnecessary because healthy foods can be just as satisfying and delicious as unhealthy foods. While this is true, I have found that it requires you to change your definition of “satisfying” and “delicious.”
4. When your significant other asks “What sounds good for dinner?” do not answer honestly.
Why do I say this? Because here’s what sounds good for dinner: fried chicken, pizza or fried pizza. Don’t be honest. Pretend you want something healthy. (And then thank yourself five minutes later—see rule #3.)
5. Remember that all calories count.
Sometimes, you’re tempted to believe that certain calories don’t count. For instance, when you’re alone in a dark room where nobody can actually see the food go into your mouth, or when you’re eating so quickly that it’s like the calories don’t have time to hop on board. Unfortunately, you can only lie to yourself like this for so long before your body starts to change. When this happens, I am grateful that I can suck in my stomach—but angry that I can’t also suck in my face. (I try sometimes, but it creeps people out.) The better bet is to skip all that drama and remember that food always has calories.
I hope this advice helps you. I am going to pretend that somebody else wrote it and see if it helps me too.
Aaron Reid is a lifelong non-athlete, husband, and father of two. Aaron lives in Tukwila near a nice running trail with rabbits, most of whom have never seen him. He began running in 2012 and ran his first 5K that same year. However, his most impressive fitness accomplishment is that he has been sucking in his stomach from the age of 12 to the age of 38. Living LifeWise is a part of Aaron’s quest to one day enjoy running and have washboard abs. Meet Aaron and hear more about what Living LifeWise means to him on the LifeWise Health Plan of Washington YouTube channel.
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