by Coach Amelia
Even as a 15-year career private personal trainer, I was shocked to find out that most adults are now exercising more than they were just 5 or 10 years ago. Just 5-10 years ago! Sounds great, right? Well… then why are we heavier than ever? Why are we taxing our health care system now… more than ever? Why do we feel even more terrible about how we feel, look and experience the world now… more than ever?
I mean, just look at these holiday commercials; adventure races, 5ks, super duper calorie tracking watches at every dollar point, in home DVDs, affordable cardio machines, online coaching at the ready, a booming personal training industry and more! So… what gives? Why are we heavier than EVER?
Better yet… what can be done about it?
Let’s take a closer look at the ‘why’.
1. We’re burning less energy throughout the day than ever before.
Sure, you could be ROCKIN’ out your 5-day split with one hour workouts, hitting all the metrics to drop the fats. But, they’re not budging. Why oh why! You probably also have a desk job that requires you to sit, hunched over, 8-10 hours per day. Yuck! Only 20% of jobs now require consistent movement and physical work in a regular work day. Burning 100 calories less per day just with your regular energy output, plus consuming 100 more calories per day… can add 10 pounds PER YEAR. Wow.
What can you do? Move more. Simple as that. Get up. Get out. Get moving. Set an alarm to get away from your computer. Schedule a walking meeting. Use your lunch or break to go for a 5-15 minute stair walk. Just, be mindful and move! Need some help? Ask a LIVFIT online coach for suggestions, and to get you MOVING in the right direction.
2. We’re eating MORE calories than ever before.
Check it out, ‘the average daily increase in calorie intake alone is enough to explain the rise in obesity’. Woah. Numero uno. We eat way too much. It might not even be your fault. Portion sizes are out of control in this country, because bigger is better right? We want never before seen steaks, sandwiches, burritos, sundaes and loaded fries! The only thing to outdo, is the past you that threw down monster level meals. Awareness is slowly eroding, because bigger and bigger portion sizes make ‘medium’ look ‘small’ and ‘grande’ look ‘poco’.
What can you do? Simple again. Be AWARE of how much you’re eating. That plate at Mad Mex (shout out to Pittsburgh) is HUGE and it’s filled with your favorite burrito that should ACTUALLY only be the size of your hand. Order a small. Use a smaller plate. Take half an order home. Split orders. For the love of all that is GOOD in this world (and for your health)… just. eat. LESS.
3. We’re eating more OUTSIDE of the house.
On average, Americans eat almost HALF of their meals/snacks/indulgances outside of their home. That’s 50% of the food we eat; we have no idea how many calories it contains, what’s in it, how much ‘bad’ fat it contains and worse… the gargantuan portion size it probably boils down to. Simple fact folks; we are awesome at eating at home, but we suck at choosing what to eat out in the real world.
What can you do? Again, it’s not your fault. Restaurants are making it pretty tough to stay on track with healthy eating. They don’t care about your health, they care about your money. Same rules apply. Look ahead. Make smarter decisions. Share a plate. Take half home.
4. The world is riddled with evil sugar monsters.
Just like the monster under your bed as a child, sugar is always there. It’s always lurking. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And you know what, sugar is WORSE than the monster under your bed. Because sugar really DOES want to do you harm. Listen, small amounts of sugar won’t completely derail your progress, especially if you’re a generally fit person. The leaner and more physically active someone is, the better their body deals with simple sugars; and on the other hand, the more overweight and sedentary someone is, the more harmful high levels of sugar intake becomes.
What can you do? Good rule of thumb? Cut it out. Check labels of the things in your home for sugar. Eat less dessert. Use dessert and other treats as simply that… a small treat. Stay away from using sweets as a solution to a bad day. Get out and get some fresh air instead.
5. We’re drinking our calories.
Whether it’s a venti-crappa-carb-loada-fatta-chino, pop, cocktails, juices or even ‘healthy’ grab n’ go concoctions… we’re drinking a HELL of a lot of calories. 30 years ago we drank water, milk and juice. Now, it’s a waterfall of empty calories out there.
What can you do? Water, water, water. Drink more water. And then, drink more water. Ditch the high calories drinks, you don’t need them. Check labels for unneccessary sugar. And again… be aware. Do a little homework as to how many calories your whiskey laiden egg nog will cost you. Make adjustments.
6. We don’t sleep anymore.
It’s trendy to be busy, to fill every waking moment (and hours beyond) with SOME sort of… something. Bright screens fill our days and well into our nights. We’re hooked on binge-worthy television, virtual reality gaming and social media fomo (fear of missing out). Guess what? You’re only missing out on ONE important component of living a healthy, happy life. Sleep.
Two awesome things happen when you sleep; your body is burning calories and a super helpful growth hormone is proudced. Not to mention, sleep provides you with more energy during the day, helps you reduce stress, makes you sharper and well… a much more pleasant person to be around.
What can you do? Get more sleep. It IS that easy. Take a look at your day. You can certainly carve out another 30 minutes to tack on your necessary sleep. Use a few minutes now to throw down a time audit to actually see where your time is spent. I guarantee you can find 30 minutes in the evening or night to get more sleep.
What category do you fall into? Where can you improve? What might be holding you back?
At the end of the day, the likely culprits are that we eat more and move less. It’s a little more complicated than JUST those two components, but it’s exactly where you need to start.
Coach Amelia is a Certified Online Trainer, CPT, CES and FNS. She is owner of LIVFIT, with clients in both Washington DC and San Francisco, CA. She also coaches clients through the magic of the internet; helping them reach their goals from anywhere in the world. Want to chat more with Amelia? Drop her a hello at firstname.lastname@example.org!