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!

 

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!

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! 

A recipe for easy and efficient weight-loss! Baby steps into dieting

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ImageStill struggling to drop some weight off? Guess what, I’ve developed another efficient and at the same time delicious recipe for weight loss. The main advantage of this type of dieting is that it doesn’t involve a lot of challenges like resistance, struggle and hunger cravings as most of the other types do. There are only a few basic things you have to avoid doing, and there is a “refreshing” touch to it. 

I decided to call this diet the “don’t eat after 5 pm diet” and the fact that you cannot eat, doesn’t mean that you cannot drink – getting the hint?  And by saying that you are actually allowed to drink, I am going to present you one of my most favorite creations: smoothies!

Having a smoothie is a perfect, healthy and low-calorie solution, especially in case you’re struggling to get through the evening without eating. For more encouragement, from my own experience the “don’t eat after 5 pm diet” was the first efficient type of diet that I ever tried. I ate normal during the day without too many food exceptions and limitations, and as soon as it was 5 pm I had my last bit of food and smoothies for the rest of the evening. That shook off the first few pounds off my body without a lot of effort. 

Since it was relatively easy for me, I thought it would be wise to tell you about this type of diet in case you find it difficult for yourself to change your food habits straight away. So let’s get to business:

The main diet principles:

– have a good breakfast early in the day

– have a small snack 2 hours after your breakfast

– have a good lunch 

– your last food intake is at 5 pm

The main foods to avoid:

The main “beauty” of this diet is that you can actually eat almost anything you like. There are no drastic portion size limitations and as long as you can stand the time after 5 pm, you are going to progress. There a few obvious kinds of foods you have to stay away from:

– take aways

– really greasy foods (pizza, burgers, fries and all the other junk)

– snacks and chips

– cookies and chocolate

But I think if you’re on a diet, avoiding these kinds of foods becomes obvious. Try to stick to meats, grains, fish, veggies and fruits. 

How to handle the after- 5pm – time:

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This is definitely the biggest challenge of this diet. But you can find ways to manage it quite well and I am going to provide you with some useful recipes! 

When the clock hits 5 pm you have your last meal. The main point of the diet is that your last meal has to be relatively light and low-calorie too. I usually have a sandwich and a cup of fruit salad. Another option could be a full cup of soup with a slice of brown bread or a Caesar salad without dressing.

That’s where my recipe kicks in: The Melon-Apple Smoothie!

Here is how to make it:

1. chop the melon and one medium-size apple in small cubes

2. put them in your blender together with 3 table-spoons of plain low-fat yogurt

3. pour 3 tea-spoons of any berry yogurt

4. put 2 ice-cubes into the blender

5. squeeze a half of lime or lemon into your drink

6. mix everything together and here it is: fresh and fruity!

Luckily you can do this with any type of fruits, berries and vegetables that you prefer. Smoothies will fill your stomach and make you feel full without too much calorie intake. This will be your first step into losing weight and developing healthier eating habits. It’s a relatively mild way of dieting and still efficient! 

Have you ever tried this before? Has it worked for you? Let me know 😉

How to stay fit during the summer holidays – the HOT GUIDE!

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I have to admit, when I got the idea for this article, I checked about a dozen of similar articles on the net, and what can I say – most of them are rubbish. Rubbish because they are giving you a  general list of things you can’t eat and occasionally, an exercise plan you have to follow. But who cares about this bla bla bla, daily routine that you normally do when you’re on your diet? You’re on a holiday – you want to actually enjoy the food and the sun! Nobody wants to break their mood with calorie calculations and emotional frustrations when they’re on a holiday. So what about some real stuff? I am going to give you some real advice and some helpful tricks. You will be able to have some of the “forbidden” foods, enjoy your nights out and stay fit at the same time. I can’t promise you weight loss, and I must say, the extent of your “staying fit” depends solely on you. I am here to help, so here we go.

Before I rush into telling you all my secrets, I’m going to put you through a test. I want to see your ability to distinguish between low and high calorie meals. So here are 2 types of breakfast: 1) a creamy cafe latte with chocolate chip muffin and 2)  2 sunny-side-up eggs, 3 oven-baked chicken nuggets with 2 slices of grapefruit and ham on the side. Which one, in your opinion, has the most calories? 20 seconds – GO!

ImageDrumroll and …THE RESULTS! Option 1 has about 700 calories, while Option 2 has just 450 calories. Are you surprised? It’s all about the cooking methods and the ingredients used in these foods. This, my friends, are the basics of your summer holiday survival, and if you are aiming at having fun and holding your weight down – let’s start!

The cooking method:

Regardless to whether you stay at a resort where the buffet is usually overloaded with food, or whether you decide to cook together with your friends – this should be the first trick you should make use of. Deep frying, pan frying, any frying is not a good option. Choose for grilled, oven baked, boiled or raw food. Surprisingly, that would already cut down your intake in average by about 200 calories. You can even chose to make some fries and as long as they are oven- baked, they can have a go.

Portion Sizes

This should be your weapon number 2. Whether they are shelves in the supermarket or layers on your international buffet, they are overloaded with food choices. You are on a holiday and it will be hard to eat spinach and  drink carrot smoothies as long as your friends are savoring on desserts and snacks. Therefore, your portion size is of CRUCIAL importance. If it is a portion of chili tacos or a chocolate croissant, try to half the portion. If you’re not able to do that, have your dessert at least one hour after your main meal. If you’re a truly impatient person and you can’t handle waiting, my biggest advice is – don’t fill up your plate with excess of food. Rather fill your plate with only a half of what you think you’re able to eat, and come back for more later if you will need it. It is in fact a psychological factor – people tend to empty their plate regardless to the amount of food that is in it. Your psychological hunger is usually bigger than your real physical hunger. Taking a smaller portion will enable you to eat a smaller amount of food and will give you the chance to decide whether you want to have more or your figure is more important.

Re-think your snacks

I am not saying that holiday is the time of total restrictions and control, however you should keep some rationale behind your food choices. Nobody wants to tackle the depression and frustration of weight-gain after they’ve returned from their holiday, and for this, it is important that you keep some sort of control over your diet. Snacks are a perfect opportunity to diminish your daily calorie intake without too much stress. Instead of having a hot dog or a fat cheese sandwich as an afternoon snack, try to save some space for dinner by having fruit, veggies, yogurt or a few nuts instead. It is a snack – not a meal, so try to take advantage of that and throw something healthy into your stomach.

Water

The weather is on your side! It is already hot outside which is to your benefit. By drinking a lot of water, you will sweat more – which will release the toxins from your body and assure a neat flow of nutrients through your body. People tend to confuse the feeling of thirst with the feeling of hunger and start snacking as soon as they think they feel hungry. In fact, during the hot season it often happens that your body is actually craving for water instead of food. If you’re feeling hungry and dizzy, try water first – doesn’t work? well then have a piece of fruit!

Soft drinks

The consumption of soft drinks (sweet drinks) may disrupt your diet considerably. It is unbelievable how your body can pile up weight just because of the excessive amount of sugar that is present in all those famous sodas as well as in the “light” versions of them.  My advice to you – cut down your calorie intake by around 300 to 400 calories just by drinking amazing, refreshing and natural drinks. Examples of such drinks include: Lemonade (sparkling water with squeezed lemon), ice-cold fresh fruit smoothies (made of plain yogurt and fresh fruit) and even fresh juices mixed with sparkling ice water are a better replacement for the regular soda’s. Just make sure that there is NO additional white-sugar added to your drink.

Chose the right dessert

This should be the last one. I know that the temptations are high when it comes to desserts, and nobody will neglect them especially during a holiday. My only advice is: pick the more “innocent” desserts if I may say. Avoid desserts made solely of butter , cream and excess of sugar. Chose something lighter, for instance jelly desserts, fruity desserts or yogurt-based desserts. And yes, avoid using extra toppings! The absence of chocolate, caramel or chocolate sprinkles will save you at least another 150- 200 calories. If none of these sound appetizing to you, well then you’ll have to miss on the size of your dessert.

Sport, sport, sport

As bad as it sounds, when your diet is suffering, your exercise has to compensate to a certain extent. Try to find fun ways to spend your calories such as swimming for an hour (about 600 calories), playing tennis or volleyball (about 800 calories in 1 hour), or just by going for a jog in the morning/evening (about 600 calories in 1 hour). It is worth the effort since then you can enjoy more of the foods you love without having to blame yourself afterwards. Remember though: you can’t out-exercise a bad diet! I will have to repeat myself and say that you do have to maintain a certain control over your diet and eating everything at once and in big amounts can’t be repaired by any exercise!

I hope this has been helpful and I promise to come up with even more tips on how to stay fit during the season of HOT TEMPTATIONS! Enjoy the sun everyone!

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