#198 Avoiding Diet Disasters

Tell a friend

"You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six."

Yogi Berra

4 Worst-Case Diet Scenarios—What Would You Do?
By Jude Buglewicz

RED ALERT! Dessert cart coming down the aisle! Another potential diet disaster. In fact, they're everywhere. You probably know by now that changing your lifestyle to achieve your weight loss and fitness goals involves much more than stocking your fridge with fresh fruits and veggies and making time for exercise. The real test comes when you're faced with temptations that could send you barreling straight down the "just this once" spiral of diet doom. Be honest now—what would you do?

Scenario 1: The Decadent Dessert Cart
The celebratory dinner was divine. You had the small house salad (dressing on the side, of course), the grilled salmon with steamed asparagus, and wild rice. You washed it all down with imported mineral water and a single glass of dry white wine. But look! Here comes the waiter pushing a silver cart—with chocolate mousse, apple pie, cr�me br�lée, fried bananas in caramel sauce, and carrot cake with half an inch of cream cheese frosting. What would you do?

  1. Order whatever you want. You can handle the extra calories—look how many you saved by not ordering the fettuccine Alfredo! It all evens out in the end.
  2. Berate the thoughtless waiter mercilessly. Isn't it obvious you're watching your weight? You had grilled fish and steamed vegetables, for crying out loud! Does he enjoy trying to ruin people's diets? Threaten to sue for psychological distress.
  3. Choose the apple pie. It's fruit, and fruit is good for you—all those antioxidants. The bananas are obviously out because they're fried.
  4. Go for the carrot cake—carrots are vegetables and you can never have too many of those. You can always scrape off the frosting. Or maybe just most of it.
  5. Order one dessert for the whole table. Everyone gets a bite and nothing is wasted. Portion control is key to weight loss success.
  6. Order whatever you want; eat all of it; then go home. Set your alarm to get up two hours earlier and do Turbo JamTM Cardio Party until you drop. No way are those calories ending up on your thighs!
  7. Politely refuse all desserts and suggest that the restaurant offer more healthful options, such as fresh pineapple chunks with fat-free yogurt and a sprinkling of coconut shavings. Foods high in processed sugar and saturated fat are just not good for the human body.

If you picked "g"—what are you? A mutant? No, no, no—congratulations! You're our hero. But the next best choice is "e." You'll recognize the rest as the deluded sorry excuses you're too smart to fall for anymore. Except for "b." No sense in punishing him—he's just doing his job.

Scenario 2: The Catered Social Event
You're at your cousin's wedding, your company's annual party, or your class or family reunion, and trays of little gourmet finger-food delights are floating all around you like islands of temptation, borne aloft by the friendly and efficient waitstaff. "Would you care for a wild mushroom and cheese puff?" "Pepperoni pizza?" "Fried shrimp in coconut batter?" "Mini zucchini quiche?" On and on. Everything smells delicious. Looks delicious. Probably is delicious. And they haven't even started with the dessert trays yet. What would you do?

  1. Try one of everything. Maybe two since they're so small, and then leave early—why torture yourself?
  2. Eat a filling, healthy meal before the event. You won't be hungry after that, so your powers of resistance will be strong. You can try a couple of treats, but that's all you'll really want.
  3. Fill up on the free liquor. You're trying to lose weight. You can't have that fancy high-calorie finger food!
  4. Eat anything and everything. This is a special occasion, and how often do you get the chance to eat food this high maintenance? Take advantage of life's golden opportunities. Just do P90X Plyometrics as soon as you get home.
  5. Avoid catered food entirely. It's probably either fried in saturated fat or full of artery-clogging cheese. Maybe both. Ask for a plate of baby carrots and celery instead. And keep your glass full of mineral water.

If you didn't choose "b," you've still got a few things to learn. And if you thought "e" was the right answer, then maybe you're taking this lifestyle-change thing a bit too far. In any case, it's important to enjoy time with friends, enjoying life's pleasures—as long as you don't overindulge and you stay on track with your exercise regimen.

Scenario 3: The Fattening Gift
This occurs most frequently around Valentine's Day and other major holidays. Someone sends or presents you with a basket of Cadbury Creme Eggs, or a rum cake, or one of those giant tins of caramel corn. A friend sent me a big box of smiley face sugar cookies last year on my birthday. These people mean well, and this is how they express their love. You don't want to be ungrateful or throw the thing back in their face. So what would you do?

  1. Throw the thing back in their face. They know good and well you're watching what you eat and they're making it their business to ruin your life. With "friends" like these, who needs enemies?
  2. Thank them graciously and say you'll "save it for later." Then immediately cram it down the garbage disposal. All of it. Destroy all diet dangers swiftly and utterly. It's the only way.
  3. Food is a terrible thing to waste, and really tasty, fattening food is no exception. Bring your gift to work or school and offer it to your pals. That way, the calories will be dispersed among a larger number of people, causing less dietary harm.
  4. Have a chocolate egg, or a sliver of cake. Or a handful of caramel corn. A cookie. Then put the rest in the freezer (well, maybe not the caramel corn). And have a bit more a few days later—or once or twice a week, after you've worked out and eaten a healthy dinner. Think about how dear your friend or loved one is to you—but value yourself just as much by keeping the portion small.

I hope you picked "d," though "c," the regifting option, is also okay, and you get kudos for sharing to boot. And while "b" sounds the safest—it'll help preserve your daily calorie goal, that's for sure—it's a bit extreme. Fattening treats really aren't as dangerous as Sentox nerve gas and you don't have to channel Jack Bauer to deal with them. Meanwhile, teach by example and send your candy-giving friends Beachbody workout programs as gifts—or other exercise and fitness-related products.

Scenario 4: The Movie Concession Stand
You're on a date or out with friends seeing the latest blockbuster from Hollywood. You're headed to your seat, but your companion wants some popcorn or extra-cheese nachos or a box of Goobers or something to munch on. With a Coke. Your defenses are down—you're relaxed and having fun. What would you do?

  1. This is exactly why you should just stay home and rent DVDs. You don't have any junk food in your cabinets anymore and you only eat air-popped corn, so why put up with loud talkers who'll just ruin the movie and people with big hats who sit in front of you at the last second, even though you draped your sweater over the chair to make it look like someone was sitting there?
  2. Wink slyly to your friend and point to your knapsack, then sail right by the concession stand. Once in your seat, break out the bottles of organic juice and the bag of seedless grapes you bought just before you met up.
  3. The movie lasts only two hours. You can surely refrain from eating or drinking that long. You're here to see a film, not have a picnic. You can always go out for a cup of tea or a frozen fruit bar afterwards.
  4. Order a small popcorn, no butter, and a diet soda. It's not perfect, but when in Rome . . .
  5. Stop going to those gigantic movie complexes. Expand your horizons and improve your cinematic taste by frequenting art house theaters that offer quality independent films along with healthier munchies and herbal teas.
  6. Express outrage at the exorbitant prices of the junk behind the counter. Demand that theater chains take responsibility for their part in America's obesity epidemic. Implicate all who are complicit in this gluttonous conspiracy—the clerks behind the counter selling the junk, the people buying it and perpetuating the demand, the managers ordering it, and of course the manufacturers. Storm out of the place and start a movement calling for a national boycott of movie theaters until they offer healthy snacks and decent beverages.

If you answered "f," who are you, Steve Edwards? Just kidding. (But please read Steve's latest Nutrition 911 article to find out why you should stay far, far away from soda pop.) Your best bet is "c." Try giving all your attention to the movie for a change. You don't need to distract your taste buds at the same time. Use going to the movies as an opportunity to train yourself not to eat mindlessly. But if the idea of movies without munchies is absolutely inconceivable, then "b" and "e" are your best options.

With a little effort, some common sense, and the nutrition information you get from Beachbody (via our general diet guidelines, program-specific diets, weekly newsletters, TeamBeachbody.com, and the Message Boards), you should be able to handle most worst-case diet scenarios. And if that's not enough, just post your questions on the Boards to the Fitness Advisor or the Advice Staff. Or if you're a Team Beachbody® Club Member, send your queries to Tony's Mailbag in Tony's Corner. Or log on to chats with your favorite trainers and ask them for advice. There are all kinds of ways to get answers. All you have to do is ask.

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6 Ways to Avoid Nighttime Snacking
By Steve Edwards

One of the worst times you can eat is at night. Yet our society forces this upon you with "late night happy hour" abandon. How many nighttime activities can you think of that don't include at least an offer for food and/or drink? However, this is the last thing your body needs before it shuts down for eight hours of sleep. Here are some tips to make it easier to adhere to the "three-hours-before-bedtime" rule.

  1. Make a ritual. The easiest way to not eat (or drink) is to get yourself into a pattern that doesn't include eating or drinking. No matter what you decide to try, continue long enough so that it becomes habit. Then eating and drinking will feel like the wrong thing to be doing, instead of the norm.
  2. Stretch out. Stretching at night is beneficial in many ways. Stretching out those muscles that you've used all day long helps you both recover and sleep better. It will also help you not eat, since eating is usually the last thing you feel like doing while stretching.
  3. Work. If you've eaten at night, why not use up those calories and get some work done before hitting the hay? You can challenge yourself in this way by adding an amount of time that you'll work for each drink or hors d'oeuvre that you give in to.
  4. Work out. This one requires that you learn about yourself because some people can't sleep if they work out at night. I'm not like that, so I'll often replace a night out with a night in the gym. Or, if I've eaten too much, I'll use a light workout to help digest some of those calories before winding down for the evening.
  5. Read. Better than TV in so many ways, reading not only engages your brain (which burns calories) but it makes it hard for you to snack. Getting into a book makes time fly and before you know it, that "late" dinner will have happened hours ago.
  6. Learn to love herbal tea. Its zero calories are the perfect nighttime snack, especially "sleepy" teas, like chamomile. It usually takes a little effort to trick your brain to truly enjoy tea. But once you do, the positive effects of warmed herbs that will ease you into sleep mode can be addicting themselves and turn going to bed into a meditative and scrumptious affair.

And, finally, a note on your TV. Let's be honest, most of us watch a lot of TV. The average American watches over three hours per day. And, while it's often the case, your television doesn't have to derail your fitness goals. You can use this time to do other—beneficial—stuff, too. Stretching and TV go together like peanut butter and chocolate, with the opposite effect. And, since none of us claim to enjoy commercials, making a point of doing something else during these timeouts (dishes, cleaning, laundry, sit-ups, or anything active) can turn a night in front of the boob tube into a productive and healthy evening.

For questions and/or comments on this article, please email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. Responses to your questions may be seen at Steve Edwards' Mailbag.

For Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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