Everything In Moderation: 8 Dietary Sinkholes To Be Mindful Of
Sinkholes form by erosion due to frequent exposure to water.
Sinkholes typically develop as bedrock, which is slowly whittled away by water turned acidic from absorbing carbon dioxide and interacting with plants.
From a cover-collapse sinkhole (think sudden sinkhole that swallows cars, houses and people) to a cover-subsidence sinkhole (only a few feet across and shallow, normally becomes small ponds), sinkholes can affect our lives in various ways.
Science rules! (As Bill Nye would tell us, at least.)
Ok, let’s leave the science classroom and put our fitness hats on.
What do sinkholes and fitness have in common?
Just as sinkholes cause inconveniences in our lives and provide roadblocks, dietary sinkholes can swallow us into black holes of frustration.
You could be doing everything right, but if you aren’t careful, you can fall into a sinkhole and watch your progress come to a screeching halt or worse, witness your progress moonwalk backward.
In an effort to prevent dietary sinkholes from sabotaging your fitness goals, be mindful of these eight common ones:
1. Having an on-again, off-again relationship with your diet
One minute you’re in love and can’t keep your hands off each other. The next minute, you can’t stand each other, and you would rather be anywhere but in the same room with this person.
Just as relationships that are hot and cold never materialize into anything of worth, honoring your dietary relationships in spurts won't lead you to your desired results.
Your diets can’t be treated like one-night stands.
Most people see their diets as things with start dates and end dates. We, as a society, tend to want things immediately and with as little effort and struggle as possible.
We’ll try to cut carbs for six weeks in an effort to lose inches as fast as possible.
We’ll opt for a 30-day shred plan or 90-day transformation if it promises us all fitness woes will be solved.
Those methods serve little long-term benefit in terms of learning proper healthy habits.
Instead of approaching your health in a cyclic approach, experiment until you find an approach that works year round. View your dieting as a lifestyle change, not just a brief period of changes.
Slow, steady and consistent always trumps fast and erratic.
2. Submitting to the seduction of healthy buzzwords
Fat free. Sugar free. Organic. Free range. Natural. Reduced sodium. Extra antioxidants. Feel free to add the other hundreds of buzzwords that go along here.
While eating from sources that aren’t loaded with chemical additives is optimal, the most important tool you need first and foremost is awareness.
No matter if it’s sugar free, fat free or any other free, it still has calories. At the end of the day, fat loss comes down to a calories game.
Are you burning more calories than you’re consuming?
Just because the foods include trendy "healthy buzzwords" doesn’t give you license to eat anything and everything.
Fruit is still fruit. Sauces are still sauces. Cookies are still cookies. Calories are calories, no matter what the label states.
3. Fearing specific macronutrients
One camp is demonizing fats. The other camp is treating carbs like the plague. The other camp is telling us protein is bad and will pummel our kidneys into submission.
One specific macronutrient isn't the cause of people's general weight struggles. Each macronutrient plays a pivotal role in our bodies functioning properly.
Fats are essential for optimal hormone functioning, satiation and transporting fat-soluble vitamins throughout our bodies.
Carbs are essential for performing well in the gym, recovery and optimal brain functioning. Most importantly, carbs are freaking delicious.
Protein is one of the essential building blocks of life. From our nails, skin, muscle tissue repair and cells, protein does a body good.
Protein gets a bad rap because people equate protein consumption to the amounts that bodybuilders eat (don’t worry, none of us are on the juice, so we don’t need nor can handle close to those amounts).
Instead of singling out a nutrient, take a balanced approach with all three macronutrients and worry more about total caloric intake.
4. Not paying attention to dietary silent assassins
From calorie-loaded condiments, dressings and other meal additives, these silent assassins can slash our progress without us necessarily knowing.
While creams, dressings and other items aren’t evil, you need to accept that they still count toward your daily intake.
Often, salads at restaurants are upwards of 500 to 700 calories, which is huge for a salad.
Sometimes it’s the little things that are stopping the engine from running on all cylinders. Be aware of the small calorie assassins going into your foods.
5. Using external appearances to determine your progress
You’re bloating; you feel a little fluffy today.
You must have gained fat. Therefore, it’s time to cut the carbs out and eat less.
Bad idea. Often, we let the appearance of how we look on a specific day influence the way we eat.
This is a tricky predicament that plays games with your heart and mind.
Just because you’re an extra pound or two up on the scale doesn’t mean you failed and it's time to jump ship.
Factors like sleep, stress levels and certain types of foods cause some temporary weight gain and bloating. Both of these cases aren’t fat, but instead, simply water weight.
6. Giving food the cold shoulder (aka not eating enough)
“If I eat less food, I’ll lose weight quicker.”
Unfortunately, your body doesn’t operate this way.
Your body eventually catches on and thus, starts to conserve energy. This leads to a slew of negative metabolic changes within the body. A couple of metabolic changes within the body include:
Thyroid production slowing down: Our thyroids are responsible for the metabolism of protein, fats and carbs, among a slew of other things.
Our bodies will slow down thyroid output if they don't get enough energy. This step's purpose is to maintain an energy balance.
Decrease muscle mass: Maintaining muscles requires calories. When your body isn’t getting enough nutrients, it starts to break down muscle tissue for energy.
Our bodies crave fat and, more importantly, need fat for survival (especially our organs), therefore when worst comes to worst, muscle is the thing sacrificed.
Decrease leptin levels: Am I hungry or not?
This is the role that leptin plays as our main hunger hormone, which signals us as to whether or not we should eat.
Levels high in leptin relay to us that it’s okay to stop eating. Levels on the low end signal us to eat more since energy is needed.
In a calorie-restricted environment, leptin levels decrease.
Testosterone levels plummet: Testosterone is absolutely crucial to a properly functioning body for both men and women.
Extreme calorie restriction lowers your test levels, decreases sex drive and makes building muscle next to impossible.
Lower energy levels: From lack of motivation to a foggy brain to a sluggish body, a lack of calories has your body whispering to take it easy and slow down.
When trying to lose fat, eat as much as you can while steadily making progress. Only lower your calories a little once progress has stagnated for a bit.
7. Letting your weekend be all hands off deck
Monday through Friday, you’re the perfect fitness soldier, but then the weekend comes and all hell breaks loose.
From social gatherings to other various temptations, the weekends are dangerous to those who aren’t mindful of their actions.
While it’s okay to indulge with zero guilts given a couple times each week, it’s not okay to totally relax every weekend and then start back fresh on Monday. This approach is a great way to stay in neutral with your progress.
The weekends count just as much as the week does. Develop an eating plan that allows your favorite indulgences.
Don’t operate with such restriction, so that when you indulge, it doesn't turn into an all-you-can-eat feast.
Moderation is key.
8. Letting your diet stealthily start to rule your life
Are you declining invitations more and more or hangout with friends less due to worrying about your diet? Are you thinking about food 24/7?
If every decision you think about comes with “how will this affect my diet,” you need to reel the situation back to a more moderate position.
Allowing your diet to rule eventually causes resentment toward fitness.
Questions for yourself:
- What's a dietary sinkhole you need to be more mindful of?
- What do you plan to do in order to not let this sinkhole continually cause chaos in your life or become too big of a burden?
Julian Hayes II writes at theartoffitnessandlife.com, where he teaches people how to level up their fitness through inspiration from art, creativity, philosophy, music, love and superheroes. To get started on the path toward looking great with or without clothes on, join the community.
This article was originally published on theartoffitnessandlife.com