Sweet Treat Yourself

 Crush Fitness Nutrition

Chocolate. Cinnamon buns. Ice cream. Let’s admit it, we all have sugar cravings.

When striving towards a healthier lifestyle the first thing we think we need to do is cut out all sugary foods from our diet...which is not entirely true. We don’t need to deprive ourselves of the foods we love, we just need to be smarter about how and when we eat them. There are ways to enjoy yourself and reach your goals simultaneously. A balanced diet is extremely important when trying to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. That being said, if you find yourself eating a whole container of ice cream every night and calling it balance; that probably isn’t setting you up for success. It’s important to learn how to identify your cravings, indulge when you need to and learn to show your sweet tooth who’s really in charge.

Don’t deprive yourself. Completely avoiding foods that you don’t consider ‘healthy’ is not going to last very long. This isn’t a diet or a short term fix. This is a lifestyle and therefore you have to be realistic about these changes. Having food that is off limits most of the time results in craving that food even more. Remember that balance is not eating a pint of ice cream every night, it’s having a reasonable portion of something you enjoy every so often. Food is fuel but it is also meant to be enjoyed.

Meal prep. Often times we’re so busy with life that we tend to want to grab the fastest and most convenient options when we start to feel hungry. Setting aside a few hours to prep your meals and snacks for the week is the key to staying on track.

Don’t skip meals. Having healthier snacks to eat throughout the day will ensure that your blood sugar levels remain stable. It’s when your blood sugar levels drop that you will feel tired and flat and crave sugary foods to give you a short burst in energy. It’s important to not skip meals either as this will cause your blood sugar levels to drop and increase the risk of you overeating at your next meal or making poor food choices. 

Try an alternative. If you love eating chocolate, instead of reaching for a sugary chocolate bar you could opt to make a healthier alternative like chocolate covered strawberries. This way you still have the sweetness from the strawberries and you can still get in your chocolate fix. There are always healthier ways to satisfying your sweet tooth and the internet is full of recipes.

Hydrate. Often times we search for food when we are actually just thirsty. Staying hydrated is so important to not only feel good but to keep your body from knowing when you’re hungry or just thirsty. If you keep on top of your hydration then when you do get hungry, you will know that it is food that your body wants and not just your body’s reaction to dehydration.

Eliminate temptation. If you know that buying a bag of chips results in eating the entire bag in one sitting then being smarter about the serving size you purchase is going to help you. Instead of buying the family size opt for the smaller snack size option. It’s important to be honest with yourself - if you can’t trust yourself around certain foods then not having them in your pantry is probably a smart idea. The easier access you have to food the more likely you are to eat it. Try keeping healthier foods right where you can see them, and hide away sugary ones. This goes back to the saying, out of sight out of mind.

Identify your triggers. The next time you feel your sweet tooth going into overdrive ask yourself a few questions - Are you bored? Upset? Is it just a habit? Your brain loves routine and if you’re normal routine is to grab a bag of chips to snack on while watching TV then your body is going to automatically expect that every time you sit down to watch TV.

Another reason we crave foods are because of emotions. Cortisol is a chemical in your brain that causes you to seek out rewards. When you’re sad and reach for that pint of ice cream, the next time you feel that way your brain will want the same thing. We associate food with comfort and this can lead to indulging too often. The habits you create shape who you are so being aware of them and working on making healthy habits is important.

On-Track Travel

A set routine. Prepping your meals. Scheduled workouts. A good night’s sleep. Then all of a sudden you need to travel. Whether it’s for business, pleasure or vacation, we all do it. The inevitable anxiety that goes along with not having a set routine can be tough. However, I’ve learned that it is possible to stay on track without having to sacrifice the enjoyment of your trip. Simple changes, choices and being prepared can allow you to have a relaxing and enjoyable trip while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few things to keep in mind next time you find yourself having to venture away from your set routine.

Snack smart. Trying to find healthy snacks on the go can seem almost impossible. When we get hungry we tend to go for whatever is the most convenient. Unfortunately, those options aren’t always the best for us. Being prepared and packing your own healthy snacks like trail mix, veggies and hummus, rice cakes and protein bars is always a good idea. I know that too many sugary fried foods can leave me feeling sluggish, so being mindful of that can help you feel your best while on the go.

Drink your water. I know I’m not the only one guilty of neglecting their water intake while on the go. The change in altitude, stress and the jet lag is hard on your body so make a conscious effort to fill up your water bottle as often as you can to prevent dehydration and feeling bloated. Also, when going out to eat opt for water instead of a soft drink and not only will your body thank you but it will also save you money as well.

Make the right choices. I’m all for enjoying yourself on vacation but moderation is always key. It’s important to not stress over not having the best food choices but making the healthiest and most informed decisions can help you on your way to your goals and overall healthier lifestyle.

Here are some things to keep in mind while eating out:
  • Search the menu for the most protein packed item
  • Choose meat that has been grilled instead of fried
  • Ask for dressing on the side so you can determine the amount you want to use
  • Restaurants always have the option of steamed vegetables

Don’t be afraid of splitting a meal with a friend or taking part of your meal to go as restaurants tend to always serve bigger portions

Find ways to move. We all stress about not being able to get to the gym while travelling that we forget that you don’t always need a gym to get in a good workout. The best workout is right in front of you - explore the city! You can walk miles without even realizing it. If your hotel has a pool, challenge yourself to see how many laps you can do. Also, most hotels have a small fitness center. High volume workouts work great when you don’t have much equipment or only bodyweight to work with. Here’s a fun circuit to try out:

5 rounds. Rest 45 seconds after completing all exercises and repeat.
  • Jump Squats x25
  • Push ups x15
  • Single Leg Hip Thrusts x20 (each leg)
  • Burpees x10
  • Russian Twist x20

Enjoy yourself. In my opinion, this is the most important tip and often times the hardest one to actually do. Traveling, especially if on vacation is a time to make memories, relax and enjoy yourself. We workout and keep active to enhance our life, not to cause stress in it. Don’t be afraid of indulging but also be mindful when you do. If you end up indulging more than you expected to, don’t worry about it. Treat the next day as a new opportunity to make the right choices. Traveling isn’t and shouldn’t be your same old daily routine so don’t feel bad about rest days or having a slice of cake. It’s okay to do things different while travelling - taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

So the next time you find yourself departing from your set routine – don’t stress. Having a plan and being prepared can make all the difference. If you want long term results, you’re going to have to make long term changes. There’s nothing wrong with being mindful of staying on track while on vacation as long as it’s not taking away from your enjoyment.