Balance shift work and your diet (Night shifts and weight gain)

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ImageI have recently started working night shifts and I found it a real struggle both on psychological and physical level.

I am a typical dinner skipper and I’ve been replacing my dinner with healthy snacks, salads and soups for about 2 years now, but obviously you won’t survive the entire night on just one soup. 

I have been working for only two weeks now and I’ve gained 2 kilograms just from eating at night and not being used to it. I’m still exercising 4 times a week during the evening before my shift – but that doesn’t seem to boost my metabolism too much. I’ve tried to give it a good thought and find ways to adapt my diet to shifting work without having to gain weight. 

The worst is when your shifts are constantly jumping from day work to night work (that’s what happens to me) – because your metabolism goes bananas and slows down dramatically. Actually, this has been quite a challenge for me also cause I can’t do nothing about the shifting work and about my metabolism. Another ugly side of shifting work is that you’re constantly craving sugary, salty and energy boosting snacks that are of course causing nothing but weight gain. For all those of you who experience this – I feel for you, we’re in the same boat! 

Here are some ways through which I tried to balance my diet and eat healthily during the night and try to avoid snacking on unhealthy stuff:

– I started packing my own lunch/dinner which consists of big chunks of vegetables and ham or chicken and eggs. The most frequent lunch components are: bell-peppers, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, beans, egg, chicken, ham and low-fat cheese. The advantage of these ingredients is that you can mix any kind of salad out of them which is at the same time delicious and healthy. I am sometimes replacing the meat with tuna, salmon and some nuts  and I usually use olive oil or low-fat yoghurt as dressing. 

Now the reason why I have mentioned the “big chunks” of vegetables is because if you cut your vegetables in bigger pieces, you will feel fuller faster and you will most likely eat less. 

– Another trick for avoiding unhealthy snacking is replacing them with soup powders that are easy and fast to make and contain not more than 120 calories per cup of soup. You can buy these in any grocery store, they don’t cost anything and drinking them will take your hunger away and make you feel full again.

– My last trick is drinking a glass of fresh fruit juice or (if you don’t have it near by), a glass of green tea with lemon. Tea is a good hunger ditcher and it gives you energy.

– Last but not least, if you’re still hungry after a while, you can snack with an apple, orange or banana. They contain healthy sugars and they will most certainly take your hunger away.

Even though all these tricks might be very useful in keeping your weight stable, you shouldn’t forget about exercising. At least 3 days a week should be your norm ,especially when working irregular shifts. Sport keeps your metabolism running especially in this changing sleep schedule. 

I am still struggling as well, it is difficult and unpleasant to stay up during the hours when most of the others are sleeping. For those of you who really care about their diet and weight, I can assure you that these tricks will work for you. 

Keep yourself away from unhealthy snacks because during the night they tend to have a stronger negative impact on your body than during the day.

Stay calm, stay focused! Have a good shift everyone!

 

Health benefits of breakfast and more

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To be honest I myself am not a perfect healthy- breakfast eater because breakfast for me, is the time of the day when I allow myself some of the “forbidden” things to eat. Sometimes I even forget about the healthy oatmeal, eggs or bacon and I replace it with candy, pancakes and loads of honey – I confess. Has this happened to you too?

The question is, how important is it really to eat a healthy breakfast and how does it affect our body during the day? Well, as usually, I am going to share my own observations on this. For instance let’s imagine a healthy breakfast: a lot of protein (which means: eggs, low fat bacon and peanut butter for me), some complex carbs: beans or oatmeal and minimum fat. After having eaten that I’ve noticed that I have considerably more energy during the day than if I stuff myself with cookies and sugary cereal.

Another benefit of eating a healthy breakfast is more power (way more power) during your workout. I’ve noticed this by a positive change in the duration and speed during my workout (just for the record: I am a runner). As for the energy level during the day, it is undeniable that I tend to snack less and eat a smaller portion for lunch if I get a complex breakfast in the morning. 

I have also read a couple of articles with researchers saying that people that ate healthy breakfast on a regular basis, lost more weight over a longer period of time than those that didn’t. Now I personally cannot approve if that is exactly true, but I can surely say that you do have more energy during the day once you eat a proper breakfast. 

Another important aspect is of course that preparing a healthy breakfast is time-consuming, and many of us prefer spending another 15 extra minutes in our bed instead of preparing ourselves a good breakfast. Here are some quick tips and alternatives for a healthy and easy breakfast. They work for me at least:

– always keep some boiled eggs in your fridge

– always keep some sort of veggies in your fridge – any kind would do

– forget about cereal

– keep whole-grains in your drawer – bread, bagels, crackers 

– fresh fruit for breakfast can be very filling. The recommended fruit is: oranges, apples, banana, grapefruit, grapes. 

– yogurt mixed with nuts, dried-fruit or fresh fruit is a great option 

– keep low-fat bacon in your fridge. If it is smoked you don’t even need to cook it 

– smoked salmon will be a great source of protein too

– a glass of milk will complete your meal and make you feel full

Just stick to the rule that you can make a sandwich out of anything. None of the things mentioned above need preparation and long-time cooking, therefore it will take you approximately 5 minutes to make yourself a healthy and filling breakfast. This little morning effort will fuel your day and benefit your body (at least from my own observations).

And please don’t forget to hydrate yourself! Hydration is sometimes more important than food! Don’t waste time for making your tea or coffee, just pour yourself a full glass of water and there you go! 

I hope this was interesting to read, and I am looking forward for your remarks. 

P.S – Next time I would like to talk more about low-fat products. Are they really making the difference and is it really the low-fat that makes you slim down? If you’re interested, please stay with me. 😉 

 

The overeating problem and it’s been a while…

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Update for my followers – if you’re not a follower you can skip this!

I know it’s been a while..been quite busy graduating from university and launching my career – quite an exciting and difficult moment at the same time. BUT, I’m not here today to talk about my laziness, I am here to inspire you, update you and finally hope for your forgiveness for not being a dedicated blogger.

A quick update on my healthy lifestyle routine – I’m still exercising 3 to 4 times a week, still eating healthy and still staying fit. My weight hasn’t shifted ever since I’ve been posting here, and I’m staying at 60kg at a height of 176 cm. I have been so passionately convincing you to stick to your habits and be perseverant in your diet that I would have been the biggest douche if I didn’t practice what I preached!

Now let’s get back to business!

Even though I’ve been away for a while, my interest for discovering new aspects of a healthy lifestyle hasn’t faded even a little. I’ve been visiting a lot of diet/fitness blogs were most of you “strugglers” are very concerned with the OVEREATING trouble. Most of you are posting questions like “How often can I overeat?”, “How much can I overeat?”, “Can I overeat once a week?”.

The truth is, if you’re scheduling specific days in your calendar on which you’re planning to overeat – you’re already setting yourself up for failure! You’ve only adapted a healthy eating lifestyle when you actually stop bothering about food.

Now let’s leave the theory and get to practice. I’ll give you an example from my personal life. When I’ve just started changing my food habits and I tried to eat healthier foods in a smaller portion, I used to think about overeating like daily, seriously. I used to tell myself “once a week is ok” and on that specific week day the grocery store suffered from an unexpected attack where some of the junk food shells were cleared out by me. What happened next? I gave in, I loved it and I hated it 2 minutes later. Luckily, later I realized what my biggest problem was.

For those of you who are wondering, I do think that planning on overeating once a week is not ok. The mere idea of “planning on overeating” is not ok in general. What you should really do is change your mindset! Talk to yourself! Try to genuinely fall in love with healthier foods and drinks and find them taste just as good as the unhealthy ones.

I’m sometimes comparing the food habit change to a breakup recovery. You’re craving, crying and hating but eventually you get over it. Relating this to food and drinks, you can be sure that you will always crave junk food if you allow yourself to eat it. Likewise, you will crave carrots, bananas or apples as a snack (for example) if you keep eating them for a longer period of time. Your body has the powerful ability to adapt to ANY kinds of foods and drinks that prevail in your menu.

I have a great example with coke! I haven’t been drinking cola for at least 5 months now. Whenever I wanted a sip I told myself it was not good for me and that water was way better. After a while I just forgot about it and stopped craving for it. 5 months on, I decided to give it a try -I took a sip. Believe it or not,  it just didn’t taste good to me. I’ve become so used to the plain taste of water that when I had a sip of cola it just seemed too sweet, redundantly sweet to drink – I didn’t like it anymore.

Having said that, you can be sure that this will happen to any kind of drink and food and even portion size that you adapt. If you keep eating a smaller portion than you’re used to for a longer period of time, it will eventually satisfy you – quite logical I know, but a lot of people don’t get that and give up! My biggest advice is: don’t try to force a healthy food/drink item on yourself – try to find healthy  foods and drinks that you genuinely love. Substitute your unhealthy options with them and stick to them. And again, remember to talk to yourself. All your troubles come from your mind and not from your body. Become a friend with yourself, and I promise that if you just talk to yourself and give it a thought before opening another bag of crisps – you will very likely change your mind!

Just for the record: I haven’t visited McDonald’s for at least 1 year and I haven’t had a glass of cola in at least 5 months. I haven’t been craving for them either. Believe it or not but I am completely happy and satisfied with my healthy food options and I enjoy them just as pleasurably as I enjoyed the unhealthy ones. And what about the overeating habit? – It eliminated itself. At the moment I cannot stuff myself with a lot of food anymore just because it will make me feel sick. I’m not able to eat a full bag of crisps anymore just because my satiety comes way faster than before. If I do occasionally overeat, it is not an eating festival or a grocery store attack anymore just because my attitude to food has changed.

I must admit, this takes time. It won’t take 1 month or 2, it will probably take a year or 2. During this time, you will probably feel guilty a lot of  times, you will question yourself a lot  and probably shift in weight. But if you learn to talk to yourself and if you learn to stick to your choices, you will get there! My weight has shifted throughout the year as well – I’ve lost and gained in average from 2 to 4 kilograms, but I never stopped trying. For the last 6 months, my weight has remained stable, and I stopped caring so much about food. I used to weigh in daily and go bananas when I saw weight fluctuations…now I weigh myself once in 2 weeks and my weight hasn’t changed since. I do eat more sometimes, everyone does – but a single fat meal is not going to make you fat, right?! So leave the guilt aside and keep on working on yourself!

I hope this has been helpful. PLEASE feel free to comment cause your comments will motivate me to create new articles! Thanks for listening. Goodluck everyone!

4 most common “healthy” foods to AVOID!

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EMD-ICON-SQ-LARGEThanks to food industries‘ multi-billion advertising campaigns many of us have been fooled to eat food products that carry the “healthy” label. Unfortunately, some of these products are only healthy on the label, but in fact, they could be contributing to making us fat. Today, I would like to discuss some of these products and show you that what is believed or advertised as “healthy” is not always true. 

If you’ve noticed that despite of your healthy diet you’re still gaining weight, you could be lured by those “healthy” labels and low fat products.

Before we start, I would like to point out one very common “crime” most of us commit. Whenever the label of a product states that it is “Fat free” or “Reduced fat”, most of us tend to eat 50% more of that product just because it seems healthy, and should logically have less calories. Well my friends, this is a dramatic misunderstanding and lack of knowledge. In fact, the amount of fat in a product doesn’t necessarily mean that the product has less calories. Food industries tend to compensate the fat in “Fat free” or “Reduced fat” products by adding sugar and other food enhancers that have the same amount of calories as the fat does. So, as a result, your “Reduced fat” yogurt or chips may have exactly the same amount of calories as the ones with a regular fat content. In order to avoid this mistake, always read the calorie content of the product and check the sugar and carbohydrate amount stated on the label instead. 

As you’re more informed now, I would like to show you which products you should better avoid or eat in smaller amounts even though they carry the “healthy” or “organic” label. 

#1: Muesli/Cruesli/Cereal – Muesli bars or muesli for breakfast have been always considered one of the healthiest things to eat. People tend to believe that if those goods are healthy, they can have more of them. A regular 40 gram portion of muesli has about 200 calories, plus you’re probably eating it with milk –  so add another 50 to 60 calories to it. As a result, one portion of muesli has around 250 calories, and from my own experience I can tell that 40 grams is a rather decent portion. People tend to eat 70 – 90 grams of muesli with milk, which adds up to 500 calories per portion only for muesli. im_healthy

#2: Yougurts – With fruit flavors, cereals,  jam – there are hundreds of yogurt variations that claim to be super healthy. In fact, most of these yogurts have a huge amount of added sugar to them in order to make them taste better. A regular cup of fruit yogurt with cereal has the same amount of calories as a crispy doughnut. It’s all about our perception of those things – doughnuts are seen as unhealthy and fattening and yogurt must be good for you. Try to avoid sweet yogurts even if they have attractive fruit pieces in them. Buying a cup of plain Greek yogurt and adding freshly chopped fruit to it will be way healthier for you than eating the processed factory yogurt with God knows how many taste enhancers and sugar in it.

#3: Juices – I know that for some of you this is a reality check, but juices are not as diet friendly as they seem. One 150ml bottle of multivitamin juice bought in the “healthy” section of the supermarket has the same amount of calories as a serving of chocolate cream cake. Again, always look at the calorie amount and not at the attractive package that says “organic”, “fresh” or “healthy”. Juices have a lot of sugar in them – both fresh juices and factory juices. It will take you about 12 apples to make a 150ml bottle of apple juice, so by drinking it – you’re drinking the sugar content of 12 apples – Think about it! Instead of drinking the juice, I would suggest eating the fruit alone. The same applies to  “beverages”. Supermarkets offer a wide range of fruit beverages, and they are called so, because they only contain a tiny-tiny amount of fresh juice in them – the rest is sugar, sugar and more sugar. organic-logo

#4: Supermarket salads – These are my favorite topic of discussion, because people have no idea how fattening these salads can be. A regular supermarket “salad to go” can have the same amount of calories as a Big Mac from McDonald’s. Why is it so? Because of the sauces that go with it and because of the preparation method of that meat that goes with it. If you’re having a chicken Caesar salad, it will probably be accompanied by a Caesar dressing and fried pieces of chicken that have been stabilized with chemicals to make them taste good. The truth is, all together your salad will have about 500-550 calories, which is quite a lot for a salad. Be careful with “salads to go”, and the best way to avoid the redundant amount of calories is by NOT adding the sauce that goes with it.

I hope this has been a wake-up call for some of you. Always read the labels carefully instead of getting fooled by the catchy label! And don’t forget about exercise! If you know some more of such products, please feel free to share!

Cheers x

You have to eat- to lose weight! Tips from my own experience

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Quote of the day: “You should treat exercise as your job! It requires commitment, regulartiy and devotion. Only then you will succeed!”

First of all, apologies for not posting for a while, I am graduating from university this year and it’s been quite busy for me.

Despite the fact that I’ve been busy, I kept working out and experimenting with my body. Due to the study load during these weeks I have been eating quite irregularly, with a lot of sugar cravings and feelings of hunger in between. I also ditched my regular sleeping routine which has also impacted my body. These, of course, resulted in a slight weight gain (about 1 kg – 2.4 Ibs) in about 10 days.

Nothing can set me back and obviously I am going to drop this sugar weight, however, during this experience I have observed a very interesting pattern that I would like to share with you. I decided to name it “you have to eat – to lose weight” and there is no hidden message behind it, it’s just as obvious as it sounds.

From my own observations, I’ve concluded that irregular eating and skipping meals will definitely lead you to weight gain. During this study week I’ve had, I tended to skip my meals and tried to hang on to fruit and sugar snacks instead. I ate a light breakfast, lunch and dinner, and snacked about 5 times a day.

I must say, after an entire day of this kind of nutrition I felt exhausted, tired and most importantly – I was starving. I had to take extra sugary snacks to be able to perform during my workout.

When I realized that my nutrition was rubbish and it only harmed my body, I started finding time to eat full, balanced meals instead of snacking and getting through the day with convenience foods.

I started having a full breakfast: egg, two toasts with a slice of cheese and bacon and a piece of fruit.

Lunch was something like: chicken salad with a slice of brown bread and fruit

Dinner was: some kind of fish with rice/beans or salad.

The results once again proved that eating healthy, full and balanced foods is 10 times more beneficial for your weight loss than trying to starve yourself and hang on to various snacks. I have returned to this healthy way of eating 5 days ago, and with no effort and no changes in my workouts I’ve again lost around 1 kilogram (2.4 Ibs).

I felt more energy during the day, I didn’t have to snack more than 2 times in between meals and I felt energetic enough to exercise in the evening. Moreover, the quality of my skin improved considerably. The sugary diet gave me a lot of pimples and dry skin.

Through this I wanted to show you once again the importance of eating 3 times a day and eating the healthy food: fish, meat, diary, fruits and vegetables. Snacks such as nuts, peanut butter and bananas will help you ditch your sugary cravings in a fast and efficient way.

Everyone have a great day and please share your opinion about this!

Breaking more diet myths – Lose weight faster!

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ImageThere are some more common mistakes that people consider to be beneficial for their diet and weight loss, and since I haven’t managed to mention all of them in my previous article, I will have to bust a few more myths. 

The purpose of this is to make you realize that dieting and eating healthy is way more simple than it sounds, and can be quite efficient if common mistakes are avoided. Let’s start:

– A very common statement I have heard from many dieters is: “If I eat before sleeping, I will gain weight”. This is wrong simply because your body doesn’t shut down when you’re sleeping. It is a 24/7 machine that doesn’t slow its processes down even during your sleep. The reason why “late-night eaters” or “midnight-snackers” do gain weight, is because of overeating, which doesn’t have anything to do with the time when the meal was taken. Studies prove that people that have the habit of eating during late/night hours, tend to exceed the healthy amount of calories per day which therefore causes weight gain. So if you’ve just had your meal and you’re tired – relax and go for it!

All you have to do is watch your portion size! If you have a 700 calorie Pasta/Cheese meal before you go to sleep – it will tend to deposit somewhere on your body!

– Another common nonsense that I’ve heard quite often is “If I only eat healthy stuff, I can eat as much as I want of it – it’s healthy” – dear reader, don’t be fooled by this. Obviously, healthy, nutritious foods are beneficial for your health, but overeating them will also lead to weight gain. Seeds and nuts are very healthy for instance, but they contain about 600 calories per 100 grams, and if you overeat those – weight gain is guaranteed! Healthy doesn’t mean you can have tons of it! If you’re aiming at losing/maintaining your weight, you will have to discover the virtue of small and balanced portion sizes. Don’t snack too many times during the day even if those are all the healthy snacks. Don’t overeat with your healthy foods because they won’t prevent you from getting a big belly – believe me.

And, to make it short for today, I would like to finalize this with one last tip: “Don’t weigh in every day!”. Don’t do it for the sake of your mental sanity and motivation, since I have experienced it all on my skin. Your body tends to accumulate and absorb water in higher or smaller quantities throughout the month. Sometimes it absorbs less, and sometimes more (especially for the ladies during their period). If you hop on the scale on a daily basis, you are going to go bananas! Your body is able to accumulate 2.4 Ibs (1 kilogram) of water weight overnight, and I can imagine your facial expression in the morning! Don’t do it! Relax, watch your diet and your exercise and I guarantee you are going to be fine! 

Everybody have a great day and see you soon in another post!

Major mistakes to avoid when losing weight – Diet Essentials

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ImageToday I am going to talk about “the forbidden”! There are a few things that might mistakenly seem like helpful for your diet, but in fact they only make things worse for you.

I have had a lot of women complaining to me that “oh I almost don’t eat anything and I’m not losing any weight”, and having heard enough of that, I want to break the most common dieting myths for good. 

Myth 1 – Skipping meals will help you lose weight! This is the most common and the most ridiculous thing to do when you’re on a diet. Besides the fact that it won’t make you lose weight, it will leave you feel hungry and irritated at all times. The worst case that this can turn into is actually weight gain, since your body is starving and desperately clinging on to calories. The best way to avoid this is obviously having 3 good meals a day, since it is not the meal itself that makes you fat – but the portion size and the content of your meal. 

If you’re having balanced, healthy and nutritious meals 3 times a day, and you’re not putting garbage in your stomach, you are more likely to lose weight!

Myth 2 – I can replace my breakfast with coffee and cut out some calories! No, no and again no. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and by skipping it, you’re leaving your body starving until the afternoon. What will actually happen should you decide to skip your breakfast – you will eat more during the rest of the day, and you are very likely to exceed your calorie limit for the day. 

To avoid this, have a healthy, filling breakfast on a regular basis. Studies show that people who tend to have a regular breakfast are less likely to exceed their calorie limits during the day. 

Myth 3 – Fat free and low carb food is the most important during diet! This is not necessarily true. Foods that are rich in healthy fats (monosaturated fats) such as nuts, avocado and fatty fish are actually good for your diet. Saturated fats (the unhealthy fats) are the ones to avoid. They are present in almost all the processed foods, such as: snacks, junk, sweets, white breads, etc. The same applies to carbs. Foods that are rich in healthy carbs are: oats, whole-grains, dairy products, etc. 

Diet doesn’t mean you have to avoid all foods that are rich in sugar, carbs and fats. It is all about knowing which kinds of foods contain healthy, nutritious fats, carbs and sugars, and I can assure you, they won’t harm your diet. Your body needs these essential nutrients to carry out a healthy living. 

Myth 4 – I can eat rubbish as long as I exercise hard! This is not exactly true. If you’re aiming at losing weight, you cannot out-exercise a bad diet. Eating rubbish food is not good for you from many perspectives, not only the losing weight point of view, but also for your general well-being. I bet you don’t want to have anything to do with heart diseases, high blood pressure, fat on your liver and clogged vessels. These reasons are already enough to make you quit eating rubbish food. So, for the sake of your health in the first place – stop making a waste bin out of your stomach. Exercising won’t help you lose weight if you’re not eating proper foods, and it will only bring your motivation down when you’ll see that you don’t progress. 

To avoid this, have a balanced diet and exercise. Exercise will tone your muscles, strengthen your immune system, help you lose weight, and finally, make a healthy person out of you!

If you can’t survive the temptations with all the sweets and junk in your closet – throw them away or feed them to birds. Don’t buy them if you know you will eat them. Gradually, you will stop craving for them once they are not there – out of sight, out of mind!

Goodluck everyone!