Are you tough enough on yourself?

I recently read that 80 percent of people who consider themselves on a diet have a false understanding of how much they actually consume each day.  The study gave reference to the fact that most people only assess the quality and quantity of food they consume at each meal, leaving out all the food (and liquids) they consume between those meals. 

These “forgotten calories” include sugary and coffee drinks, the walk-by-dip-into-the-candy-jar at work, the mid-afternoon Coke, the post-work beer or glass of wine and the ice cream sandwich before bed.  Each of these cheats (or treats, as we like to call them) not only adds useless calories to your day, they also sabotage a regular eating schedule.  If you satisfy your cravings with these, you’re not going to be hungry for the real food you need.

Should you eat every four or five hours?  Absolutely!  And, you should embrace the idea of snacks between meals, but the term “snacks” may need some better defining.  A snack needs to be of substance.  It should contain protein, and preferably some carbohydrates or healthy fats.  Examples of small snacks include a handful of almonds, yogurt, fruit with cottage cheese, a small sandwich on whole grain bread, or some sort of meal replacement bar or shake.  Each person can make their own favorite snack as it fits with their taste.  The key is to keep your body nourished, so that your metabolism will not slow.   When there’s no digestion happening, the body stops working hard and fat burning decreases.

Finally, you need to be more disciplined about what goes on your plate.  Overeating and eating unhealthy foods in unhealthy quantities is something that can be avoided.  The crime isn’t happening as you eat, but rather as you plan.  If you buy it at the store, cook it on the stove, or put it on your plate, you’re going to eat it.  The mistake was made before you ever sat down.  If you don’t want to eat it, then---don’t buy it at the store, cook it….you know the rest.

So, what’s the first step to remedy all this? Journal!   In order to know exactly what you’re eating, you need to write it down- at least for a day.   And, your food journal should represent every thing you’ve put in your mouth, including liquids. 

It’s a well known fact that some coffee drinks and alcohol concoctions can pile up as many as 500 calories per serving.  Eliminating those, along with sweets, is the best place to start a habit of better eating.  If you get the craving for something that you should be avoiding, follow this process.  Write it down on your journal and list the number of calories.  Wait five minutes.  Then, if it’s still worth having, have it.  The obvious goal, though, is to make it a conscious decision.  Eventually, your decisions will change for the better.

Now, start a food journal. You’ll be glad you did.

Jeff Howerton is a trainer and owner of LEAN personal training, where he and his trainers work with clients to lose fat, develop lean muscle and implement strategies for healthier living.  LEAN (615) 279-1900 or  Call today if you’d like help reaching your fitness goals.


This program consists of TWO (or THREE) Fast and Fit sessions per week at $30 per session. Each session includes 15 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of resistance training with a LEAN personal trainer. The program lasts one month, but clients who take advantage of this are welcome to continue at the same rate if they wish to do so.

In addition to helping develop an exercise routine, a LEAN trainer will offer some basic nutritional guidelines that will help meet personal goals, as well as offer testing on flexibility and strength.

The 4 WEEK FITNESS can begin any day. In order to learn more or schedule a session, please contact Jeff at (615) 279-1900 or

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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